Friday, June 29, 2007

Keep the Evergreen light rail!

One of our Get Moving BC members, Mike McBratney sent me the following post. He makes excellent points:
There is a movement afoot to switch the planned Evergreen line from light rail technology – as originally approved in principle by the TransLink Board in October 2004 – to SkyTrain technology instead.

I see no reason for this switch. Tranlink's light rail plan for the Evergreen line is well thought out and it has been thoroughly consulted on.

It's time for the Province to fully fund the Evergreen line and get the project under way. It's time to get moving on this project.

I agree that light rail is the way to go--and that the Evergreen line should be fully funded by Victoria.

We need it all

The Langley Advance has it right in its editorial today:
As our communities grow denser, and gas more expensive, we need more options, everything from bike lanes to rail links, from highway upgrades to HOV lanes. The region's leaders will be judged on how well they can plan for the needs of today and tomorrow.

We need it all--transit, roads, bike lanes, trails, everything. The south Fraser is so woefully underserved in every area of infrastructure. We are playing catch-up from decades of poor federal and provincial planning.

The Advance editorial is in response to the news that funding for several south Fraser road/rail grade separations have been announced by Ottawa, Victoria, local governments like Langley, Surrey and Delta, TransLink, the ports, and the rail companies.

For people who do not live in this area, it is difficult to explain how important these overpasses are from a traffic and transit point of view. A single train can cut the Willowbrook regional town centre in half for several minutes and leave hundreds of cars idling unnecessarily. For more on Langley's rail issues, click here.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

BC's GHG emissions go down

It's nice to finally see one of the leftie sites finally report that BC's greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2005, contrary to the doom-and-gloom criticism of the anti-government folks around the blogosphere.

The Tyee is looking at the why's and how's and attributes the drop to reduced industrial emissions, manufacturing emissions, and, specifically, the paper/pulp industry.

Personally, I think a lot of it has to do with targeted regulation and environmental education. The Tri City News reports that BC is taregting older diesel trucks for emission improvements. These 1989-1993 model trucks pollute 60 times more than their modern counterparts. Going after these trucks makes perfect sense and will pay environmental dividends down the road. Now we need to do the same with RVs, buses, and construction equipment.

The GHG goals set out by Premier Campbell won't be reached through some magic bullet, and certainly won't be hit by allowing the region to become completely gridlocked with traffic. We need to continue to look at what the heaviest polluters are doing, and how we can modernize their operations.

Friday, June 8, 2007

1,000,000 Priuses

The Toyota Prius sales boom shows no signs of slowing down, as the company just sold its one-millionth Prius, reports Treehugger. Toyota expects to sell one million a year by 2010, another testament to the driving public's concerns about fuel efficiency and climate change.

One thing Gateway opponents continually ignore is that cars are becoming more and more efficient every year.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Bus-only lane ineffective

Today's Vancouver Sun reports that a $270,000 bus-only lane in Vancouver has done nothing to reduce transit travel time:
On paper it seemed simple.

Spend $207,000 to create bus-only lanes during peak hours along Broadway so the 99 B-line express bus can whisk passengers quicker from the SkyTrain station at Commercial to the University of B .C. and back again.

That was the theory and the money was spent and special bus lanes were designated along one of the busiest traffic and transit corridors in the city.

But in practice passengers aren't getting there any quicker.

I suspect this item will be totally ignored by the anti-Gateway blogs just like the news that BC's greenhouse gas emissions are going down.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Congratulations, British Columbia!

Some absolutely incredible news in yesterday's Vancouver Sun. BC has experienced a 2.4% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in 2005--while the economy still grew at a 3.7% rate.

And this happened before a lot of the attention turned to climate change and GHG emissions! The numbers break down like this:
Environment Canada's preliminary analysis shows B.C.'s greenhouse gas emissions fell 2.4 per cent from 2004 to 2005. Here are the sectors.

Manufacturing -11.7%
Personal vehicles -5.2%
Marine -7.4%
Agriculture -3.8%
Landfill -2.0%

It's not a huge drop, but it's a start. And the best is yet to come, as we remove idling cars and trucks from freeways, continue to improve port efficiency, educate residents on the benefits of transit, cycling, and reducing household emissions, build more HOV and cycle lanes, open the Canada and Evergreen Lines, attract more ships to BC that would otherwise spend two extra days polluting the air as they sailed to San Francisco, develop hydrogen and biofuel alternatives, see cars become more and more efficient, phase out gas mowers, educate the agriculture industry, and more. There are hundreds and hundreds of things--big and small--that can be done to bring these GHG levels even lower over the next several years.

It's a beautiful time to live, work and play in British Columbia!

Cycling around the region

Vancouver Magazine has a story on cycling to work. Great idea; of course, no one south of the Fraser can cycle north of the Fraser because none of the bridges allow bicycles. Just another reason to support a new Port Mann and the Golden Ears Bridge. Golden Ears, in fact, will connect with the Trans Canada Trail once completed.

Gateway should go ahead

BC Trucking Association president Paul Landry continues his well-reasoned support of the Gateway project with this column in Wednesday's Surrey Leader:
In W.P. Kinsella’s “Field of Dreams”, the main character hears a voice telling him “If you build it, he will come.” In the GVRD, there are people who think you can reverse that logic and apply it to roads – “If you don’t build it, they’ll stay away.” Unfortunately, if you follow their logic you’ll not only end up without a Field of Dreams, you’ll end up with a seriously impaired region when it comes to sustainability.

The problem with the “just don’t build it” argument is that it pre-supposes that vehicles are purchased and driven because highway capacity increases – which may not be true. According to the Conference Board of Canada, the most important determinant of travel demand is population density and average wealth, not highway capacity. Our roads are clogged because of tremendous population and economic growth, because land use planning has encouraged sprawl and because investments in roads and public transit have not kept up with changes in travel patterns.

Most commuters on an average day know that our transportation infrastructure is in serious trouble.

There’s been no increase in major regional road capacity since 1986, even though the population in the area has grown by 77 per cent in that time. Commuting times have gone up by 30 per cent in the last 10 years alone. And the economic cost of the congestion is staggering – about $1.5 billion each year.

The environmental cost is also staggering. It is estimated that “stop and go” road speeds experienced during congestion cause more than two and a half times the CO2 generation as free-flowing traffic conditions do.

The outlook for the future makes the picture even grimmer. The GVRD population is expected to increase by another 50 per cent in the next 15 years.

Don’t get me wrong, building roads is not a silver bullet. Neither is public transit alone because urban sprawl makes it an unrealistic option for many citizens.

The answer is a multi-pronged approach that deals with the whole problem, both in the short term and for the future. To start with, we need to become more disciplined in our urban planning and promote population density increases along current and future road and public transit corridors. Where possible, we should divert people onto mass transit by making it cost-efficient and convenient for them to use. Public transit’s market share has to increase to better than 20 per cent from the current 11 per cent. And, we need to provide facilities for, and promote the use of, park and ride and ride sharing programs.

We also need to look at a broad range of taxation and regulatory policies that promote greener transportation choices. Making better use of the current road capacity is crucial. Businesses must be encouraged to receive shipments during non-peak hours, preferably overnight, to make use of road capacity that currently goes unused.

Even with all these measures, we still need to expand our road network.

Increased road capacity will help reduce congestion, which will reduce cost and harmful emissions now, contributing to the “livability” of the region. In the future, our road network will continue to play a vital role in moving goods throughout our region. The bulk of goods movements in the GVRD is local and will not be easily transferred to alternative modes such as rail or short-sea shipping without its own set of problems.

What is required now is strong visionary leadership to take us forward. If we undertake all of these measures, not just some, then we will start to address our short term problems as well as build for the future to ensure that all modes of transport have the least environmental impact possible.

SFPR a must-have

Letter writer John Carson has a great letter in Wednesday's Surrey Leader regarding the need for the South Fraser Perimeter Road:
Have you ever tried to get from South Delta to Highway 1? You make the statement as if the perimeter road ends at the Port Mann Bridge. Its intention is to have the Perimeter Road interconnect with Highway 1 at 176th Street or Port Kells, not at the Port Mann Bridge. It’s meant to help movement of traffic south of the Fraser River. The main intent is to move freight between Highway 1 and Delta Port quicker.

One perimeter road reduces stress on three bridges and all the traffic coming from Stewardson Way onward to Highway 1. Take truck traffic off three bridges and there is a lot more room for commuters.

If you were allowed to sit in your lunch room for four hours of the day and be paid for it, your boss could not afford to either keep you or his or her business. Then why do commercial drivers (freight, trades, couriers) have to sit in constant congestion and consume 50 per cent of their time in traffic?

These transportation initiatives are all inter-connected. It would be poor planning to do one without the others. We need the SFPR, the NFPR, the Port Mann, HOV and extra lanes on Highway 1, the Evergreen Line, the Canada Line, more buses, rail south of the Fraser, bike lanes, all of it. There are too many different types of users--all of whom are being poorly served--to not do as much as possible. This is not either-or; it's all.