Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Traffic

An outside expert’s opinion: the next “transit” debate must really be a “transportation” debate

Jarrett Walker’s lengthy but very constructive reflection on the outcome of Metro’s tranportation and transit referendum has everything you would expect from an expert with such wide international experience and Translink-specific local knowledge: sound insights, calm conclusions and a clarion call for leadership.

That leadership, as Walker points out, needs to come from “state/provincial” levels, and seek “solutions instead of pointlessly stoking urban-suburban conflict.”

In Metro, that means Premier Christy Clark and Transportation Minister Todd Stone — who are planning billions dollars worth of new transit investments to build a new Massey Bridge, without a plebiscite on funding — need to step up and stop trying to punt to the mayors.

They’re the provincial leaders, right? When we will see leadership?

The transportation and transit investments in the Mayor’s Plan are not a whimsical wish list. They are a carefully-considered response to the real challenges of the region, including car-oriented suburbs. The Broadway Subway, already years overdue, is at the heart of that regional plan.

Victoria is collecting tolls on the Port Mann, plans to collect tolls on the Massey Bridge and doubtless will toll the rebuilt Pattullo. When will Victoria’s plans focus on transportation, in all its dimensions, not just the concerns of car commuters?

July 3, 2015

Narrow majority of Toronto council ready to reconnect city to Lake Ontario by replacing section of freeway

Metro Toronto council is just a day away from an historic vote on whether or not to tear down the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway, an elevated freeway that has cut off the city from Lake Ontario since the early 1960s.

In early polling, a narrow majority of councillors responding say they favour the “boulevard” proposal to take the section down completely. A smaller group favours Mayor John Tory’s “hybrid” proposal to keep fthe reeway with some significant redesign. A third of the councillors are undecided or won’t say.

Only one favours keeping the Gardiner as it is.

Soon to come in Vancouver: new city consultation on technical reports on opening up the north side of False Creek with a new, large park; improved road connections to Georgia; and renewed links among the city’s core neighbourhoods from Yaletown to Strathcona. All that’s in the way: the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts.

That resulting report is expected before council in September.

June 9, 2015

Vancouver closing in on walking, cycling, transit goals five years early, but cloud hangs over transit’s future

Vancouver is on track to achieve its Greenest City goal of having 50 percent of all trips in the city by walking, cycling or transit five years ahead of schedule, according to a report to council today, but it will be a “big challenge to get more people on the transit system at this time,” says transportation engineer Lon LaClaire.

LaClaire was presenting impressive new numberson the dramatic changes in the city’s transportation patterns, including an 11 percent jump in cycling trips in the last year. This has been achieved without reducing the absolute numbers of car trips.

But LaClaire warned that additional progress will require more investment in transit because of the current crowding on Translink buses and trains. People make the shift to transit because they enjoy the experience, he told Mayor Gregor Robertson, and can switch back to cars because of a single negative trip.

So the possibility of a “no” vote in the transit referendum is casting a shadow over further progress.

May 12, 2015

Thousands of conversations: notes from the #yesfortransit campaign trail

“Where can I get my Yes button?” demanded the woman next to the back door on the Number 50. “You can have mine,” I told her. “I can’t wear it where I’m going now,” she told me in a low voice, “but I”ll put it on right after.”

It was just one of many conversations in the last week that tell me a real debate is under way across the region about the Better Transportation and Transit Plan as ballots reach every household. (Everyone is supposed to have one by tomorrow, but a number of UEL and UBC residents at a meeting last night were still waiting.)

It’s still unfashionable to be out and proud about supporting the Mayors’ Council plan, but many people do want to see congestion reduced, commuting times slashed and all the economic benefits that flow from the proposal.

The Translink haters have had their day. I think many will be voting Yes in the privacy of their homes.

Will it be in time to put the Yes team over the line? That remains to be seen, but in the course of four public forums in the last week and a number of other encounters, I find lots of room for optimism: [Read more →]

March 26, 2015