Transport Action BC

2016, May 23

Federal Transit Funding

Filed under: city transit, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Rick @ 8:02 pm

The David Suzuki Foundation  is urging BC and Vancouver’s political leaders to put aside their differences and create a common front to negotiate transit funding with the federal government. The Foundation sent an open letter to various politicians on May 18, 2016. Transport Action BC is a signatory to this letter.
The federal government has started providing funding ($840 million to Toronto; $900,000 to Whitehorse) to other centres so it is urgent for BC’s politicians to work together and put forward a unified stance when dealing Ottawa on the transit funding issue.

The text of the letter follows.

=====================================================================

5/18/2016

The Hon. Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
Office of the Premier

Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council

Cc: Hon. Todd Stone; Hon. Peter Fassbender

Re: A call for leadership to invest in transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver

Dear Premier Clark and Members of the Mayors’ Council,

We the undersigned are a diverse group of organizations from business, labour, health, environment and student associations working together to advocate for investment in Metro Vancouver’s transportation system.

We are writing to urge you to act quickly and take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the recent federal budget to improve transit and transportation in our region. As you know, in its budget, the federal government made a commitment to a $370 million “down payment” toward the 10-year Metro Vancouver Transit and Transportation Plan. The federal government has also shown tremendous leadership by agreeing to pay 50 per cent of all capital transit costs provided agreements can be struck with the province and local mayors.

These commitments have changed the landscape for transit funding in our region, but with this opportunity comes a challenge: we need to be ready with regional and provincial funding, or else these federal dollars, collected from local taxpayers, will go to other cities and provinces that are ready. For the good of our economy and the health and livelihood of citizens, this cannot happen. We are calling on the province and the Mayors’ Council to work together to ensure that we are ready to get Metro Vancouver moving again.

Expansion of transit services — especially when they’re electrified — is crucial for Metro Vancouver to improve air quality and health, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote economic development and job growth.

A growing number of studies confirm that congestion costs our region more than $1 billion each year due to lost productivity, increased operating costs and lost business revenue and regional GDP. It has been estimated that investment in transit could save the health care system at least $115 million annually, and likely considerably more if the benefits of increased physical activity were also included as part of the cost-savings analysis.

We ask you show leadership by putting history and political differences aside to work together and ensure we are ready to take full advantage of federal support and start improving transit and transportation. Adding new federal dollars is an essential prerequisite for moving ahead with stalled transit improvements so badly needed for the Metro Vancouver region, and for B.C. as a whole.

Lastly, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of using newly available federal funds to implement the full set of regional transportation improvements outlined in the Mayors’ Council Transportation and Transit Plan rather than a few projects here and there. A regional approach to transportation investments will ensure that Metro Vancouver residents and businesses throughout the region will benefit. Local and provincial governments have the power to help us make history in B.C. and Metro Vancouver through implementation of a world-class provincial and regional transportation plan.

Should you require more information, we would be happy to meet with you or your staff.

Thank you for considering this request.

 BC Federation of Labour
 BC Healthy Living Alliance
 BC Teachers’ Federation
 British Columbia Golf
 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
 Clean Energy Canada
 Connecting Environmental Professionals – Vancouver Chapter
 The David Suzuki Foundation
 Dialog Design
 Disability Alliance BC
 Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association
 Downtown Vancouver Association
 Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association
 Dr. Lisa J. Jing Mu, Medical Health Officer, Fraser Region
 ForestEthics
 Gordon Price, Director of the SFU City Program
 Graduate Student Society at SFU
 Greenpeace Canada
 HandyDART Riders Alliance
 HASTe BC
 Heart and Stroke Foundation
 HUB Cycling
 Offsetters
 Perkins+Will Architects
 Peter Ladner, Columnist, Business in Vancouver Media Group
 Public Health Association of BC
 Renewal Funds Company
Transport Action – British Columbia
 Vanterre Projects Corp
 Victoria Lee MD MPH MBA CCFP FRCPC, Chief Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health Authority

2016, April 18

Robson Street to be Closed to Transit

The following was submitted by Transport Action BC to the Vancouver Sun as an op-ed piece. It was written in response to the City of Vancouver staff report recommending that the 800 block (Robson Square) of Robson Street be permanently closed to all vehicles, including transit. This proposal requires a permanent re-route of the 5-Robson bus along Burrard and Pender Streets.

The Sun declined to print the submission.

=================================================================================

Making Robson Square in Vancouver more welcoming to people is a great idea, if it is inclusive, accessible, and is not built at the expense of accessibility to other destinations.

However, if Vancouver wants more than a pedestrian island between two thoroughfares, it should start from a pedestrianisation strategy, making sure that pedestrianisation is not done at the expense of accessibility but enhances it and supports the city’s retail sector. Walking and cycling support many travel purposes but they have limitations in range and the ability to meet certain needs. Weather conditions, cumbersome shopping bags, travelling with children, personal mobility challenges or simply being tired are all issues that factor into a decision on how to travel: a good city transit network is needed to complement other active transportation modes, and to make sure access to the city core does not discriminate against people based on their ability to walk or cycle.

Many European cities recognize that vibrant pedestrian spaces must be accessible and inclusive for people of all abilities. Furthermore, with an ultimate goal to reduce auto usage in their centres, their pedestrian spaces are not built at the expense of transit. Rather, transit is seen as the connecting spine of pedestrian spaces. That is why European cities have mastered the art of seamless and safe integration of transit into their pedestrian realms. This is a recipe also successfully applied in Denver’s 16th Sreet Mall.

The importance of transit to the success of pedestrian places was recognized by Arthur Erickson in 1974, when he was envisioning Robson Square: “The only traffic through the Square will be inner city buses, linking the West End and False Creek. Since buses function as people movers, they are seen as a compliment or enhancement to the pedestrian activity of the civic square…”.

The foundation principles for a good transit network, upon which a good pedestrianisation policy can be built, are well-known, and were recognized in the 1975 Vancouver downtown bus review . The most important is to have direct routes going straight to the center of gravity of an area to minimize walking. That is how the downtown bus grid network was built, why retail strips gather along it, and why the current Robson bus route is well patronized with over 3,000,000 passengers per year. A detour to avoid Robson Square may mean little for a motorist but for a transit customer, it means a less legible route with compromised connections to the rest of the network. It forces transit users on a circuitous routing, eliminates the quickest and most direct connections to the rapid transit system, penalises riders who wish to transfer to southbound buses on Granville, and inserts a gap in the transit grid on one of downtown’s few major east/west transit routes. Ultimately it results in a less accessible Robson retail strip, as well as a less inclusive Robson Square for the most vulnerable people.

Closing Robson Square to transit fails on all counts of accessibility and inclusiveness. Additionally TransLink estimates that the bus detour could add $300,000.00 to the route’s annual operating cost. Will the City cover those additional costs?

Robson Square has been a popular downtown meeting spot but the Canada Line opening and recent proposals for the VAG North Plaza indicate that a square facing Georgia Street could be the new ‘natural’ meeting place downtown since it closer to rapid transit and regional bus services than Robson Square.

Prudence dictates that a decision to close the 800 block of Robson should be delayed until the VAG North Plaza changes are completed and their impact evaluated. A successful public space rehabilitation of the North Plaza could render the Robson closure anachronistic, and even be detrimental to the North plaza success, without granting success to the Robson Square, since the level of pedestrian activity may not be great enough to activate both squares.

Rather than a case by case street closure policy built at the expense of transit and inclusion of people of all abilities, a better approach is to learn from the successes in Europe and North America, to develop an effective and ambitious pedestrian oriented space strategy; which doesn’t necessarily mean full closure of streets; but which is articulated around an efficient transit network, to effectively reduce the presence of cars in downtown without compromising its accessibility and inclusiveness.

2016, February 1

Transport Action BC Meeting Feb 22

Filed under: Announcement, meeting — Tags: , — Matthew @ 9:42 pm

The next Transport Action BC Meeting will be:

Monday February 22nd 2016

7pm to 9pm

Waves Coffee Shop on Howe St at Smithe

Vancouver, BC

 

2015, December 4

Transport Action BC 2015 AGM

Filed under: Announcement, meeting — Tags: , — Matthew @ 11:41 pm

Transport Action British Columbia’s Annual General Meeting will be held this month on Thursday December 10th.

7 pm to 9 pm
Waves Coffee House Howe
100-900 Howe St. (at Smithe Street)
Vancouver, BC
The AGM will occur first, followed by the regular meeting immediately after. We will meet in the small meeting room on the right when you come in from Howe St. It seat eight, but there is room for some more chairs.
RSVP to bc@transport-action.ca
Waves

2015, February 17

Transport Action BC Meeting Thurday Feb 19th

Filed under: Announcement — Tags: — Matthew @ 11:24 am

Transport Action BC Meeting

Thursday Feb 19th 2015
Vancouver BC

http://bc.transport-action.ca/

18:30 – 20:30 (6:30 – 8:30 PM) (Room Available at 18:15)
Terry Salman Library, 4575 Clancy Loranger Way (Route 33 eastbound from King Ed Station)

Terry Salman Branch of the Vancouver Public Library
http://www.vpl.ca/branches/details/terry_salman_branch

TransLink Bus #33
http://infomaps.translink.ca/Public_Timetables/89/tt033.pdf

Open Public Transport Lines Map
http://openptmap.org/?zoom=15&lat=49.24564&lon=-123.11279&layers=0B000TFTT

Meeting Location

Meeting Location details

Meeting Location details

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.

TransLink (TL) responded to the concerns on January 15, 2015.

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.

TL – The East Station House is being upgraded first as a result of the Upgrade project’s key goal of doubling the Expo Line’s capacity. The project’s funding agreement with senior governments is conditional on addressing this goal.

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.

TL – The land parcel in question is not owned by the City of Vancouver. The purchase cost exceeds the current project’s budget. The land will be acquired when funds become available and a purchase agreement is negotiated.

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.

TL – TransLink and the City of Vancouver are working to improve station area safety. Laneway access issues are within the scope of this effort.

• 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.

TL – The proposed bike storage area is within the East Station House as this is the closest station location to the densest part of the neighbourhood. Minimising conflicts between cyclists and other station users is being addressed by TransLink and the City of Vancouver.

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

TL – The taxi stand will be located as close to the East Station House as safely possible. Bus stops will be located immediately next to the station house, allowing safe and convenient transfers.

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.

TL – TransLink acknowledges that travel time for routes 49, 129, 130 and 430 will increase by several minutes under the proposed service design using South Central Boulevard. However, these are the busiest routes serving Metrotown. The design allows direct drop-off and pick-up at the station, improving connectivity between SkyTrain and surface routes. The City of Burnaby was involved in the development of this service design, ensuring “neighbourhood integration plans” were considered. [Rick: the decision to increase travel time on Route 49 is somewhat ironic. TransLink’s service optimisation identified the Champlain Heights jog on this route as a candidate for elimination – to reduce customer travel time]

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”. (Rick -link updated – 2015-02-10)

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.

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