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.


Could someone please explain to me what is going on here?

I speak of what passes for traffic in the City of Vancouver.

On Thursday at 6:30 pm, it took me half an hour to drive from the Stanley Park tennis courts to the Burrard Bridge.

Most of that time was spend idling and inching along Beach Avenue and Pacific.

That trip usually takes 5 minutes. The Lions' Game was Friday, wasn't it?

Then it took me another 15 minutes to get from the Burrard Bridge to 10th and Sasamat.

Yesterday, driving east on Broadway, I was stuck idling again for a full five minutes while a construction truck turned around at Birch.

At Cambie, we were ushered into a single lane and that took another five minutes.

Is it just me, or has driving in this city become a complete nightmare?

I basically loathe driving into the downtown core at any hour of the day or night.

And this doesn't even mention the complete disappearance of the turn signal, the inability to use a traffic circle and the Happy Wanderers.

Come on, explain it to me.

Let me assure you, Mr. Premier and Mr. Mayor-to-be and Mr. Transclunk, let me assure you all that if there existed an LRT running down 10th Avenue that got me swiftly and safely to the Canada Line on Cambie, I would happily leave my car at home.

Until then, it will be the PNE and Bumper Cars year round.

But aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln...

At a social gathering recently, a young woman said what we didn't know it was possible to say.

Tall, beautiful and well-spoken, for over an hour she hovered by the food table and riffed on her favorite theme - only autocratic governments that can plan 50 years in advance are worthy of our attention.

Health care, transportation - if only someone had the vision to organize us all.

Then, just when it seemed she might run out of steam, the coup de gras.

"Hitler's legacy," she offered, "included large tracts of open land that could be used in the future for transportation corridors."

We were gone shortly thereafter.