Mayor’s Council Updated Regional Transportation Vision

Here’s the highlights of the Metro Vancouver Mayor’s Council vision of regional transportation. This updated vision was prompted by Premier Christy Clark’s insistence on sending transit funding issues to a referendum in the Fall 2014.

mayorscouncil_vision_map

 

  • Rapid Transit (current rapid transit in blue, new expansion in red)
    • Extending Millennium Line from VCC-Clark to Arbutus
    • Light Rail transit for Surrey to connect Surrey Centre to Guildford Town Centre, Newton Town Centre, and Langley Centre
  • Patullo Bridge Replacement (fuzzy red dot under the New Westminster name)
    • Replace the bridge with a new, tolled crossing. The crossing could be anywhere just west of the current Queensborough Bridge to just east of Sapperton in New Westminster.
  • New B-Line services (in greencriss-crossing much of the region)
    • Current bus services upgraded to more frequent, all-day B-Line status
      • Current #20 from Downtown to Victoria/SE Marine Drive
      • Current #43 express from UBC to Joyce-Collingwood Station
      • Current #130 from Metrotown to Capilano University
      • Current #135 express from Downtown to SFU
      • Current #319 from Scott Road to Newton Exchange
      • Current #321 from Surrey Central to White Rock
      • Current #430 express from Richmond-Brighouse Station to Metrotown
    • New direct B-Lines
      • Downtown Vancouver to Lynn Valley Centre
      • Dundarave in West Vancouver to Phibbs Exchange in North Vancouver
      • Coquitlam Centre to Maple Ridge OR Langley
  • Major Road Network
    • $36 million to maintain or upgrade the current major road network, which includes Dollarton Highway, Knight Street Bridge, Fraser Highway, Golden Ears Bridge, Lougheed Highway, 200 Street, and many, many more.
  • Others
    • Buses: 25% more buses across the region
    • Seabus: increase to every 10 minutes in peak times and every 15 minutes for the rest of the day
    • West Coast Express: 1 more locomotive and 10 more fleet cars

 What do I like?

  • I like that the City of Vancouver has compromised on the Millennium Line extension by ending the line at Arbutus. This way, there’s money to share with the rest of the region.
  • The criss-crossing B-Lines across the region is what we need. Fast, frequent and cost-effective bus service is what the region needs. B-Lines that run more frequent than every 15 minutes and with limited-stop service will do a lot for transit riders. With that kind of frequency, riders don’t have to plan their trips as thoroughly. Also, if the buses get people from town centre to town centre quickly, then the region will build up those nodes.
  • There’s some money thrown at roads, especially the Patullo Bridge. Buses need to use these same roads as cars after all.

What I think is missing?

  • The plan is very heavily transit-focused. That’s fine for a transit geek like me. However, the money thrown at roads is not specific. The vast majority of the reason is made up of car drivers. What’s in this plan for car drivers? Except for the Patullo Bridge replacement, there are no immediately obvious improvements that benefit car drivers. I think the vision could have fleshed out the concrete improvements to roads that this vision will provide.
  • The only possible “loser” in this vision is Tsawwassen and Ladner. There are no direct, immediate benefits listed in the vision for these two South Delta areas. Of course, that part of Delta is probably much more sparsely populated. So it’s hard to justify ramping up services in that area. However, let’s not forget that the ferry terminal is in this area and creates a lot of traffic.

How do we pay for this vision?

  • The Mayor’s Council proposed reallocating part of the existing carbon tax towards this plan. However, soon after this vision was released, the Minister of Transport, Todd Stone, quickly shot that idea down. The BC Liberals insist on keeping the carbon tax completely tax neutral. In other words, the carbon tax simply replaced other taxes and is not meant to create new revenue for the province.
  • Todd Stone did leave the possibility of a slightly higher carbon tax in the region to pay for part of this vision. So a carbon tax increase in Metro Vancouver could be in the cards, but no guarantees here.
  • Staged introduction of mobility pricing – in other words, there will be more bridge tolls and possible congestion charging similar to London, England. Most cities with complex road and transit systems have such systems in place to pay for things. Heck. Even the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco maintains its tourist good looks and good condition through bridge tolls. Doesn’t it make sense that the same happen here.  Roads and bridges don’t just magically maintain themselves.

I still wonder why Premeir Christy Clark has decided we need a referendum just for transit, but not for other transportation projects. Double standard.

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2 comments

  1. I am conflicted how to vote. I like the idea of more transit options in general and less cars.

    HOWEVER: I do not like the idea of more buses on major routes, as opposed to RAPID transit, i.e. subways. Slow buses, often slower than cars, do not give enough incentives to car users to switch modes. Waiting for a slow bus in the rain, as opposed to a subway is not a great choice for car users.

    Cars are also not tolled, neither in its driving state (on key choke points) nor its parking state.

    As such, there is no way this will result in any meaningful decongestion in MetroVan.

    I also do not like the excessive waste on excessive salaries & benefit packages for all things delivered by governments. No where is his waste analyzed, and compared to the private sector, to transportation firms such as WestJet who’d go out of business with the cost structure of a public system (be it teaching, BC ferries, ICBC, BC Hydro or transit agencies here).

    1. If all 11 of the planned B-Lines were converted to rapid transit lines, I would imagine that the price tag would push $22 billion instead of the current amount. At this time in history, Vancouver is not populated enough to be the next Tokyo or London. It’s not cost-effective to run rapid transit everywhere. The technology is not the key. The key is that we move people to where they need to go in a reasonably cost-effective way.

      All the executive salaries at TransLink total about $2.4 million. Your proposed projects would potentially total $22 billion. These salaries are 0.01% (a hundredth of a percentage point) of what you are proposing. That’s pretty good overhead to pay executives to run potentially $22 billion in projects.

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