Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Transit

Success of Compass rollout on West Coast Express suggests new program is finding its feet

In the welter of unhappy news from Translink, there are welcome reports of a very successful rollout of the Compass Card on the West Coast Express.

Although a relatively simple proposition, given the nature of the commuter rail service, the confirmation that Compass was fully operational on the WCE is good news both for Translink executives — if any are left — and Cubic, the Compass supplier, which has implemented much larger systems in other cities.

Implementation of the Compass program, delayed for many months by policy issues at Translink, is now under way in earnest, with U-Pass users joining the system this fall. After that, the rest of us regular riders should be a straightforward proposition.

July 29, 2015

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

Toronto council votes 44-1 against keeping Gardiner Expressway as it is – at least part will be torn down

Former Toronto Mayor Rod Ford, who rode to power only five years ago on a promise to end the “war on the car,” found himself on the losing end of a 44-1 council vote Thursday on whether or not to demolish  all or part of the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway.

As someone who lived in Toronto for many years in the 1970s, it’s hard to imagine the Gardiner being removed, even though it was a parking lot for most of the day just 20 years after it was built, effectively severing the city from the Lake Ontario waterfront.

Clearly, though, the Gardiner is nearing its last days. Right across Canada — even in the freeway-heavy GTA — there’s massive public support for more people-friendly transportation and transit options. (Vancouver will consider the future of the much smaller Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts in September.)

Once it had agreed that change was required, council split 24-21 on what that change would be, with a narrow majority rejecting a complete teardown in favour of the so-called “hybrid” model, which would keep the elevated freeway west of the Don River while reducing it to an at-grade boulevard to the east.

Proponents of a complete removal —  the entire eastern section of the Gardiner would be replaced with an at-grade boulevard — have already vowed to keep the debate going.

The council split along urban/suburban lines, with downtown councillors overwhelmingly in favour of converting the entire eastern section to a boulevard. Vancouver council, in contrast, voted unanimously two years ago to pursue studies on replacement of the Viaducts, with staff to report to council this year.

June 13, 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