Transport Action BC

2014, December 17

SkyTrain Expo Line Station Upgrade Project – 1

Filed under: Buses, city transit, Pedestrian, Rapid Transit, Regional transit — Tags: , , , — Rick @ 10:05 pm

TransLink is upgrading several Expo Line SkyTrain stations. The upgrades are needed due to the age (some are almost 30 years old) of the stations and to improve passenger flow, accessibility, capacity and security. This is a large, multi-year project. Details are found here. The second phase of public consultation for Joyce-Collingwood and Metrotown Stations was recently completed.

Transport Action BC is supportive of this project but has some concerns based on information provided during the latest round of public consultations.

Joyce-Collingwood Station :

The Joyce-Collingwood Station east station house exits are underused while the bus loop (west station house) generates significant congestion at its exits. Also, note that Route 43 generates pedestrian congestion between Bus Bay 5 (Joyce St., south of Vanness Ave.) and the station.

The long-term vision addresses these issues but the current project phasing does not as it only proposes to upgrade the east station house. The re-location of the Joyce-Collingwood Station bus loop should be concurrent with the east station house upgrade to improve the transit customer experience.

At the December 1, 2014 open house, it was mentioned that the bus loop re-location required more funding to acquire the necessary land. The City of Vancouver owns this land so an agreement allowing TransLink to use it, without purchasing it, should not be impossible to negotiate. A funding shortfall could be addressed by re-scheduling the installation of the bike storage room.

Issues with the long-term vision include:

• There will be several intersections (streets, laneways and bus loop entrances) in this short section of Joyce St. These may negatively impact pedestrian, transit and traffic operations around the station. TransLink and the City of Vancouver should work together and consider merging laneways and bus loop access/egress to mitigate excessive mode conflicts. This will especially be true at the northeast access from Joyce St. as redevelopment of 5050 Joyce St. is proposed.

• The bike storage area could be better located next to the east station house rather than in the middle of re-located bus loop which is seen to be very busy.

• Similarly, the taxi stand could be located nearer the east station house to improve accessibility and visibility from station exits and Joyce Street.

Metrotown Station:

The proposed design re-locates the “major bus routes” to the south side of Central Boulevard. Thus, buses will be facing southeast as they load but their destination is west (Routes 49, 430) and north Willingdon (Routes 129, 130). This is a concern because it implies routing these vehicles along Central Boulevard, Imperial Street and Willingdon to route. This will increase passenger travel time by several minutes for those heading west and north. It will also increase operating costs of these routes.

We suggest that Bus Bay assignments be reviewed to reduce passenger travel time and operating costs. For example:

• Routes 49, 129, 130 and 430 drop-off on South Central Boulevard and pick-up in the existing bus loop.

• Routes arriving from east Central Boulevard drop-off on North Central Boulevard and pick-up on South Central Boulevard, east of the existing bus loop.

• Local Routes C6, C7 and 116, serving South Burnaby drop-off and pick-up on North Beresford Street.

We also suggest that the design of the station houses be refined to maximize the waiting area for bus patrons along South Central Boulevard and reduce the walking distance between the SkyTrain platform and bus bays. A direct pedestrian access to the bus loop island from the passerelle should be considered as well.

These concerns have been given to TransLink. We will update as responses become available.

2014, December 5

“BC on the Move” Online Survey Closes Soon

The BC Government’s online survey for its latest 10 year transportation plan closes on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone announced the next 10-year transportation plan (“BC on the Move”) and consultation in October 2014. Consultation documents and details are here. Take the survey here.

SFU’s Gordon Price notes that funding for the planned projects is not subject to voter approval even though Vancouver area transit projects are subject to a “Yes” vote in the upcoming transit funding referendum. According to Price, the plan continues the province’s current highway projects with a bit of a sop thrown to cycling and transit.

The plan does mention rail but only as a mode for moving bulk goods and containers efficiently. Improvements to / support of intercity bus and rail passenger services are not considered.

2014, November 13

A Proposal for Transit on Broadway

Filed under: city transit — Tags: , , , , , — Matthew @ 10:06 pm

This proposal for transit linking Broadway/Commercial SkyTrain station to UBC was sent to us from Adam Fitch. It was posted to stimulate discussion about transit options for the Broadway/UBC corridor and doesn’t represent the views of Transport Action BC.

Tunnel_vs_Green

PDF Presentation:  Tunnel Vision vs Green Vision PPP Nov 6 2014

Some of our comments on this proposal are:

  • It misses a lot of the major transit destinations along Broadway such as VGH, Central Broadway business district, West Broadway
  • Some of the areas especially along 16th Ave are quite low density now and likely in the future
  • The cost estimates are ballpark and don’t reflect some of the estimates done in more rigorous studies.

2014, October 22

Proposed Society Act Changes Generate Controversy

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , , — Rick @ 8:32 pm

The B.C. Government is reviewing the Society Act , which governs Transport Action BC. The result is a lengthy discussion document detailing proposed legislation, including annotations explaining the rationale for the proposals. The document was posted in August 2014 with a review period that ended October 15, 2014. A conversation with the BC Registry Services indicated that legislative changes could be implemented some time in 2016.

Clause (Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b)) resulted in considerable on-line discussion because it seems to open Societies to Court action based on the undefined concept of “activities that are detrimental to the public interest.” The entire text of Section 99 follows:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Complaints by public

99 (1)   A person whom the court considers to be an appropriate person to make an application under this section may apply to the court for an order under this section on the grounds that a society

 (a) is conducting its activities or internal affairs with intent to defraud a person or to otherwise act unlawfully, or

 (b) is carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.

 (2)    On an application under this section, the court, with a view to remedying or bringing to an end the matters complained of, may make any order it considers appropriate, including an order referred to in section 98 (3).

(3)    Section 98 (4) applies for the purposes of this section.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 Detailed reporting about the issue is found on The Tyee  and The Huffington Post . West Coast Environment Law led the response to the clause  with a letter signed by 50 non-governmental organisations. 24 Hours dueling columnists’ discussed this issue on Oct. 20, 2014 here  and here .

 Transport Action BC expressed its concern over Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) in an e-mail to the Ministry of Finance:

October 15, 2014

Financial and Corporate Sector Policy Branch,
Ministry of Finance,
PO Box 9418 Stn Prov Govt,
Victoria BC, V8W 9V1

Dear Sir/Madam:

Re: Society Act Revisions White Paper (August 2014)

Issues have been raised over Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) of the Society Act revisions which proposes to allow anyone to take a Society to court by alleging that the Society “is carrying on activities that are detrimental to the public interest.” The section is very vague and provides no clear definition of “the public interest”. Indeed, defining “public interest” would appear to be a challenge in itself.

The vagueness of the proposed clause appears to open the way for frivolous and vexatious legal actions that could prevent a Society from carrying out its functions or even force it into financial insolvency. The White Paper’s annotations state the Courts will prevent abuse of Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b). However, the Courts can’t prevent claims from being filed or requiring that Societies use time and resources to defend against such claims, even if the Courts eventually decide the claim is an abuse of process.

No rationale for opening up Societies to potentially, open-ended, expensive court actions is provided in the White Paper. Illegal and fraudulent activities by a Society seem adequately covered by Section 99, Sub-section 1 (a) so what issue is Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) supposed to resolve?

Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) also appears to contradict statements made in Minister de Jong’s Introductory Letter to the White Paper in which he explains

The Minister states that “Each provision … is annotated to include … background information, such as the policy intent behind the provision …” No such policy annotation appears for Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b).

The Minister also states “stakeholders … requested the new Act be … simple and straightforward, so it could be used by all … including those without legal council[sic]”. As Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) involves the courts, legal counsel will be necessary for any Society that runs afoul of an action initiated under the clause.

One of the Minister’s “objective[s] in publishing [the] White Paper is to ensure that any legislative obstacles preventing societies from functioning fully and efficiently are identified before legislation is introduced.” Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b) appears to be a new “legislative obstacle” to a Society’s functioning.

For these reasons – vagueness, lack of policy rationale, potential for unnecessary legal actions against Societies, apparent contradictions between the Minister’s direction on Society Act revisions and the Draft Legislation – it is respectfully requested that Section 99, Sub-section 1 (b), as drafted, be clarified, revised or eliminated.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the “Societies Act White Paper: Draft Legislation with Annotations”.

 

 

 

2014, July 3

CPR working on Arbutus Corridor – 2

The CPR continues to assess the Arbutus rail corridor for a possible return to operations. Some survey work and brush clearing has been completed. However, this work cannot be completed until encroachments on the R-o-W are removed. According to the railway’s web site, the encroachments on CPR property must be removed by July 31, 2014 to allow the railway to “… upgrade the rail line to ensure it meets the regulated safety requirements for our [CP’s] operations”

The well-established community gardens are considered encroachments so they, too, must be removed ( “transplanted” in CPR parlance). Obviously, this is upsetting residents who work on or simply enjoy the gardens. No official response from Vancouver city council as yet. However, 2014 is a civic election year so some fireworks will be forthcoming.

2014, May 25

CPR working on Arbutus Corridor – 1

The CPR recently caused a furore on Vancouver’s West Side by sending out a memoranda to residents titled “Notice to Residents – Train Activity in Your Community” regarding upcoming work on the Arbutus rail corridor. The company states that it will be surveying the line and evaluating track conditions with an eye to its ability to quickly access its Right-of-Way (R-o-W), make repairs and, possibly, run trains.

Crews have been clearing brush along the line, although, as of May 25, 2014, this had only been done south of Broadway. The “Community” Gardens that have taken over the R-o-W along West 6th Avenue are safe, at least temporarily. Update: May 28, 2014: Crews were clearing the tracks along West 6th Ave. but leaving the gardens untouched. Update: June 3, 2014: Crews had cleared to the north side of Broadway.

Anyone who has seen the R-o-W knows that it is useless for running trains and would require very large investments to make it  viable for train operations so what is the CPR’s real end game in this flurry of activity?

Unfortunately, local media have simply parroted resident’s concerns about the possibility of trains running by their back yards. Unasked are serious questions about the timing of this sudden interest by the CPR in its R-o-W, the line’s current condition, how much investment is required to re-build it, what businesses would be served by re-instated train services (the Bessborough Armoury  on West 11th?) , why has the brush clearing stopped at Broadway, etc.

Vancouver City Council is adamant that the line remain as a “greenway” until such time as it can be redeveloped as a north-south transit line. Unfortunately, the current “greenway” is also a convenient illegal dumping ground. Ironically, even crews installing transit stop concrete pads – a city responsibility –  at the WB  stop on 16th Ave.  at the R-o-W were seen dumping excess  soil on the R-o-W.

Gordon Price, the Director of SFU’s City Programme has commented that the CPR may be “softening up” local residents and Vancouver City Council for development proposals. This would fit with current CPR CEO Hunter Harrison’s drive to maximise shareholder value. The R-o-W is a valuable asset that is not generating revenue for the company.

Liability issues may be another CPR concern. An overgrown R-o-W, rotting ties, slippery rails and illegally dumped trash are potential hazards that could lead to messy and costly legal actions, if someone is injured on the property.

Or perhaps, the CPR is looking to the future and planning for construction of a subway line along Broadway. The Arbutus corridor is approximately midway between the Broadway rapid transit terminals – VCC/Clark and UBC. It could be an ideal staging location for bringing in heavy equipment for tunnel construction and also spoil removal. Using the rail line for these purposes would keep a significant amount of truck traffic off city streets.

This would provide the city with a north-south transportation corridor – just not the one it wanted.

2014, May 9

Victoria National Dream Renewed Town Hall Meeting

Fri May 9
7:00 to 9:00 PM
Town Hall meeting:
Ambrosia Centre
638 Fisgard St.
Victoria, BC
(250) 475-1948

Co-sponsors: Elizabeth May MP, Green Party of Canada
Dr. Judith Sayers, Island Corridor Foundation.

Location of Victoria NDR town hall meeting.

Location of Victoria NDR town hall meeting.

2014, May 8

Town Hall Meeting Tonight in Vancouver

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: , , , — Matthew @ 11:01 am

Harry Gow, president of Transport Action Canada, will be leading a town hall meeting in Vancouver.

Thu May 8, 2014

7:00 to 9:00 PM
Brix Studio, 102 – 211 Columbia St., Gastown
Buzzer #102 for entry.
Organiser: Transport Action BC
RSVP to bc@transport-action.ca

Transit Access to Brix Studio

Transit Access to Brix Studio

Vancouver -  POSTER ENGLISH - 2014-04-29

NDR BC Poster

2014, April 25

The National Dream Renewed – Western Town Halls – May 2014

TRANSPORT ACTION CANADA

The National Dream Renewed – Le Rêve national renouvelé
Tapping the Potential of Canada’s rail passenger service
Western tour: May 2014 – Consultant/Conférencier Dr. Harry Gow

Vancouver  (May 8 – 07:00 to 09:00 PM):
Town Hall meeting: Brix Studio, 102-211 Columbia St. (Gastown), Buzzer #102 for entry.

Organiser: Transport Action BC. RSVP to  bc@transport-action.ca

 

Victoria (May 9 – 06:00 to 10:00 PM):
Town Hall meeting: Ambrosia Centre, 638 Fisgard St.

Co-sponsors: Elizabeth  May MP, Green Party of Canada; Dr. Judith Sayers, Island Corridor Foundatioon.

Read Ms. May’s blog post  on the crisis in Canada’s passenger rail system here.

 

Melville, SK (May 11 – 07:30 PM):
Town Hall meeting: Community Works, 800 Prince Edward St.

Organiser: Ron Haskell, Melville; Transport Action Prairie

 

Winnipeg (May 13 – 06:30 PM) :
Town Hall meeting: Carol Shields Auditorum, Millenium Centre Winnipeg Central Library

Organiser Peter Lacey, Winnipeg;  Transport Action Prairie

 ==============================================================================
Dr. Harry Gow:

Harry Gow was born February 3rd, 1939 and raised at Invermere, British Columbia and Banff, Alberta inter alia.

He was Founding President of Transport Action Canada (formerly Transport 2000 Canada, from 1976) and is now its Past President and Newsletter Editor.

After serving in the Army in Calgary, Wainright and Camp Borden, Gow went on to five years with the Canadian Pacific Railway in engineering support roles. After graduation from Carleton University, Gow had a career in corrections and social work, which he began as Probation Officer, then Corrections Administrator.

After obtaining a Master’s degree from McGill University, he was a Health and Social services Director and then international consultant and teacher (York U., UQAM institutes). During all this time Gow maintained contact with the railways and found time to organise Transport 2000 (Action) Canada, as a passenger advocacy group. He led a seminar at Carleton University on economic and environmental aspects of transport for Honours engineering and geography students.

Gow was Field Placement Coordinator at the University of Ottawa Department of Criminology and taught intervention methods and seminars for practicum integration and other intervention, before retirement in 2001, when he became leader of a research action project for Health Canada on the effects of provision of rural transit to deprived populations.

Gow is now a consultant in rural community transit and rail and urban transit. He was a member of the Ottawa Mayor’s Task Force on Transportation which recommended the $2 billion Light Rail project now underway, and a member of a group consulting in the field of short line railways and commuter services. He is currently consultant to les Transports adaptés et collectifs des Collines, and for Transport Action Canada on a national speaking tour.

Gow brings a unique perspective on transportation with a blend of engineering, social and environmental knowledge and insights. He is often invited by media to comment on transportation safety issues and passenger concerns.

==============================================================================
Previous posts are here and here.

2014, March 21

Tolls and the Transit Referendum

Recent comments by Todd Stone, BC’s Transportation and Infrastructure Minister,  on tolling a new/refurbished Pattullo Bridge further muddy the issue of tolling and road pricing as a TransLink revenue source. He says a tolled Pattullo Bridge “…would seem…” to contradict the province’s tolling policy that a “free” (i.e. taxpayer subsidised) alternative must be available to any tolled structure

The Minister also hints that federal contributions to the Pattullo Bridge project may be jeopardised by proposed tolls as “… the feds have tended not to invest in [tolled] projects…”.  

Both statements are concerning because they contradict earlier indications that tolling was acceptable for the Pattullo Bridge project and, indirectly, insinuate the federal government into the transit referendum discussion.

In 2013 the Minister stated that tolling “possibl[y] … could” fund a new Pattullo Bridge. While not a ringing endorsement for tolling, the Minister’s statement did indicate that Victoria would not be averse to TransLink tolling a new bridge. And certainly, there was no mention of the Pattullo as a “free” alternative.

Concerns that tolls could jeopardise federal participation in the Pattullo project are misplaced.  The federal government is building the Champlain Bridge replacement in Montréal and it will be tolled “to minimise use of public funds”. Similarly, the Evergreen Line project has significant federal involvement and its users will be tolled (through their fares). So there seems to be no reason to assume the federal government will not participate in the Pattullo Bridge project, tolled or otherwise.

So what changed in the intervening months to cause the Minister to re-think Patullo Bridge tolls and also imply the provincial tolling policy also applies to TransLink?

A number of possibilities come to mind.

  1.  Is the Minister laying the groundwork to keep road pricing and bridge tolls out of TransLink’s funding options in the upcoming referendum? But this would contradict statements he made in the Globe and Mail  indicating regional Mayors could include road pricing and tolls in their transportation funding proposal.
  2.  Does his emphasis on the Pattullo Bridge as a “free” alternative indicate that TransLink is expected to provide the “free” alternatives to provincially tolled projects such as the Port Mann Bridge and the new George Massey crossing? Are Metro Vancouver’s taxpayers to be triple-taxed (provincial taxes, tolls, and TransLink taxes) to support purely provincial projects? And if the provincial tolling policy applies to TransLink, what are the “free” alternatives for transit riders who are tolled each time they use public transit?
  3. By limiting TransLink’s funding options on the Patullo project, is the Minister forcing TransLink to seriously consider a smaller replacement bridge – 4 lanes vs. 6 – or even a re-furbished bridge? A smaller Pattullo could increase traffic and revenue on the province’s Port Mann Bridge. This could also drive a wedge between Metro’s mayors. Surrey favours a 6-lane replacement while New Westminster wants only 4-lanes.

These are highly speculative considerations. The likely reason for the Minister’s changing statements is ongoing provincial uncertainty on the entire issue of transit funding, tolling and road pricing and the TransLink funding referendum.

The Liberal promise to hold a referendum on future sources of TransLink funding had a populist appeal during the heat of an election. TransLink was the ideal organisation to bully on the campaign trail; it spends a lot of money, it is perceived as unaccountable and not transparent, and allegations of waste regularly receive heavy media coverage. The fact that its structure is a provincial responsibility was simply ignored.

 However, the referendum discussion has opened the door (Pandora’s Box?) to serious public debate around tolling, road pricing, usage fees, vehicle levies and other revenue sources.  These new revenue sources appeal to the true believers in free market economics, a source of significant Liberal support. Unfortunately for the provincial government, they are anathema to much of the voting public – particularly motorists.

The province may have created a dilemma that will prove difficult to resolve – how to retain support from these two opposing and significant constituencies?

Thus it continues to bob and weave on tolls, road pricing and the transit referendum, with conflicting statements and positions being put forth. The unfortunate lack of provincial leadership on this issue is going to make getting a winning referendum question and winning the referendum much more difficult.

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