Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Traffic

Toronto transit improvements would raise the bar with more frequency, night service, time-based fares

The Toronto Transit Commission is proposing a rider-focussed set of service improvements for its sprawling system, with more frequent service; a commitment to operate all routes all day long, every day; more night service; more transit priority; and a switch to fare payments that buy two hours on the system, not just a single trip.

It’s a package that raises the bar for transit improvements, particularly when major capital investments like streetcar and subway expansion take decades to implement. Most of the cost in the TTC plan is driven by wages, fuel and maintenance.

But the proposal has much in common with the Mayor’s Council 10-year plan for Metro Vancouver, which includes many of the same reforms. The cost of the Toronto plan: $69 million a year by 2018, with $288 million in new capital over over five years.

August 18, 2014

Translink riders need to hear from the top about system shutdowns, what will be done about them

After two massive transit system shutdowns in less than a week — one of which saw hundreds of passengers risk injury or death by fleeing cars along elevated guideways — it’s time to hear from Translink CEO Ian Jarvis what happened, why and what will be done.

If Translink doesn’t quickly organize an inquiry, someone else should — perhaps the Translink Mayor’s Council, which now has slightly expanded powers to direct Translink’s affairs.

So far, only public relations officers have been thrown out to the media pack, which is demanding answers on behalf of hundreds of thousands of stranded riders. The message box: it’s a “glitch” or a “short circuit” and “we’re 95 percent reliable.” Oh, and “we apologize,” and there won’t be any refunds. It’s neither fair nor appropriate to make these staffers the human shield. (Skytrain president Fred Cumming was quoted in some news reports last week.)

Both internal and arms-length investigations are warranted into these extraordinary events, which caused massive disruption and exposed many to risk of injury or death.

Contrast what happened in December in New York, when the derailment of a Long Island commuter train left four death and scores injured. More serious, certainly, but who knows what factors helped avert casualties here?

Within hours, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the scene, MTA chairman Tom Prendergast had announced an internal investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board began its own review. Investigators quickly concluded the train driver had fallen asleep. [Read more →]

July 22, 2014

Metro Mayors review Stone’s comments in Legislature for hints on future of transit referendum

Metro Vancouver Mayors are poring over the transcript of this week’s Legislature exchange between Transportation Minister Todd Stone and George Heyman, the opposition critic and NDP MLA for Fairview.

The takeaway: no breaking stories in this debate during estimates, but confirmation of some important developments in the continuing transit funding saga, including funding for a Pattullo Bridge replacement and a willingness to implement road pricing if it’s approved by voters.

Here’s the transcript, which can be found here: [Read more →]

April 4, 2014

Urban Futures survey shows massive and growing support for public transit investment to tackle congestion

Do Metro mayors face a tough sell on the upcoming transit referendum, as Ken Cameron suggests in this Tyee review of the new Urban Futures survey? Or is public opinion waiting for elected officials to catch up?

In fact, as Cameron notes in his analysis, this massive 2012 review of Metro public opinion found support for transit investment growing very significantly since the last survey was conducted in 1990. The relevant chart is on page 46 here.

Not so reassuring: the declining anxiety about the housing supply.

March 26, 2014