Sunday, August 24, 2008

This Commentary on "HELP!" deserves its own Post

David, the politically correct thinking at City Hall is that the car driver is bad. The more one hinders the car driver, with road congestion, etc., the thinking goes, he/she will take transit. This is known as 'carrot & stick' transit philosophy where the carrot is transit and the stick is road congestion.


Corey is partly right, SkyTrain is largely to blame for our traffic woes, because it (and BC Transit/TransLink) follows the 'spinal theory of transit', where all buses feed into a very expensive 'spinal' metro route (SkyTrain). The speed of the SkyTrain/metro spine, alone, will attract the car driver to transit.


The result is appalling driving conditions and a very expensive metro system that gets 80% of its riders from buses and for the past decade and a half only attracted about 11% of the regional population to transit.


What has found to work and work well, is a network of LRT/tram/streetcar lines, offering many destinations for the transit customer (and indeed the transit user is a customer). For the cost of 1 SkyTrain line, we could build at least 4 streetcar lines. Imagine, a tram/streetcar network that included UBC, Marpole, BCIT, Stanley park, Downtown Vancouver, 4th Ave., Beach Ave.; such a network would offer swift, affordable, and comfortable transit options.

This is called the 'push - pull' theory of transit, where the car driver is pulled to transit because of its convenience or pushed to it because of congestion. The majority of the roads in the transit network is freed up for people with cars, where the transit system doesn't satisfy their transit needs.


Instead of treating the car driver as malignancy, offer the transit alternative that will attract the car driver. This is exactly what happened in Dublin, Nottingham, Portland, etc.


Light Rail Guy said...

European transit philosophy primer.

In the 21st century, public transit is a consumer product and if the customer doesn't like the product, he/she will not buy it.

The transit customer wants his/her transit on-street, on the pavement where it is easily accessible.

It is not speed alone that attracts the transit customer, it is the over-all ambiance of the transit system.

One road lane has a maximun hourly capacity of about 1,200 persons per hour, with cars; about 7,500 pph with buses; and over 20,000 with LRT/tram.

The highways conundrum: building more highways to reduce congestion only attracts more traffic, increasing congestion, which again leads for demands for new highways. More highways create more congestion and demands for more highways.

To reduce transit costs, use existing railway infrastructure where possible.

Consult with the public at all times!

MurdocK said...

Public consultation?

In BC?


The whole idea of the 'public funded' model is a bit of a non-starter, in my view.

The problem is that 'public funds' are not really in the control of the 'public'. They are in the hands of 'elected' (read self-selecting) officialdom. This means that there are many 'incentives' to spend wayy too much for wayyy tooo little effect.

If the intent is to get commuters out of their cars, then it (the car driving) must be made either untenable or the option for mass transit must be made very attractive.

Better if both are done at the same time.

London has a 'congestion' fee that they are levying on all personal vehicles that enter the 'congested' downtown area.

Paris has long faught against having multi-lane roadways built into the city.

Vancouver has resisted the multi-lane (to a point with the pushing away of the Trans Canada Highway), yet not embraced any alternatives for the critical corridors.

Both of the large metro cities mentioned above have better underground and light rail systems precisely because over thier development they have had civic managers and long-range planners that have kept certain corridors available for such things as road and rail. Vancouver has not done this.

Retro-fitting the city corridors is what needs to happen, sadly there will be some pain (read economic and/or displacement) before the correct balance is re-established.

Consulting with the public, great idea. Taking everything that is called for by that public? Not so long as a $$$ can be made from the 'public purse' or until there are binding referenda that hold 'public' officials accountable.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed in photos of cities with trams, there are very few cars on the street.
On the other hand cities with extensive subways seem to have wall to wall traffic.
The message is people leave their vehicles at home to ride the tram, but not the subway.