Tag Archives: traffic

Joint application with Victoria to accelerate Douglas st planning

Saanich Council supports funding application to expedite Douglas Corridor planning
May 28, 2012 CFAX 1070

Saanich Council has supported a report regarding the securing of funding that would expedite the planning process for the future of the Douglas Corridor.

Saanich Councilor Dean Murdock the request for funding would be made of the UBCM, in a joint application with the City of Victoria

“to apply for planning funds from UBCM, part of the gas tax funds for planning purposes, and the idea is that we would accelerate the planning process in the Douglas Corridor”

Murdock says the funding would be around $1 million dollars.

He says it would be the first time the two municipalities have jointly applied for funding for a planning purpose.

Let’s get moving: Interim traffic fixes

We need to get moving. Traffic snarls on our major roads are an everyday occurrence. Gridlock costs commuters time that could be spent at home with family. It costs businesses money when customers are too frustrated to drive to their store.

Solving our traffic woes has long been a priority for residents and municipal councils across this region. It now seems that we might actually get moving.

Victoria and Saanich Councils met last month to discuss transit on Douglas street. Both Councils supported working with BC Transit to design and implement interim fixes for Douglas street. Last week, Saanich Council passed a motion to get started.

We know rapid transit will attract more riders and free-up congested vehicle lanes. But we also know it could be years before a shovel goes into the ground for LRT. What can we do in the near-term on Douglas and all our major streets?

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes and Bus Only lanes during peak hours are one quick fix. These lanes give preference to buses and multi-passenger vehicles by getting them passed the traffic. A higher number of passengers per vehicle results in fewer cars on the road. Fewer cars means faster travel times.

Queue-jumper lanes are another way to get the bus down the road faster. These lanes give transit vehicles their own lane at major intersections. When the lights change, the bus gets ahead of other traffic with its own time-advanced signal.

Synchronized traffic lights and extended green lights to get buses through can also speed up trips.

Getting buses through traffic improves travel times. Better travel time creates an advantage for transit riders and encourages more people to ride the bus.

Let’s make changes now that will improve travel times and get people to where they need to go. It’s time to get moving.

Seeking interim improvements to get commuters moving

Saanich Council supports report on Douglas Corridor traffic improvements
CFAX 1070 March 26, 2012

A report authored by engineering staff on traffic improvements proposed for the Douglas Corridor received unanimous support from Saanich Council Monday night.

Saanich Councillor Dean Murdock says council wants to ensure that this issue is a priority.

“I hear from commuters that travel along Douglas and all our major corridors, that we can’t wait for a rapid transit system to begin addressing traffic, we have to start implementing changes now, to get people moving”

Murdock explains what potential changes to the corridor are being considered.

“so that could possibly include HOV lanes or bus priority lanes, particularly during peak hours, cue jumper lanes that allow the buses to move past traffic at intersections, and signal coordination, all along Douglas, so that buses can move seamlessly from one end of the corridor through to the other without getting stuck in line-ups”

Murdock says they would ensure that any changes would compliment a rapid transit line in the future.

Traffic improvements in the Douglas Corridor are being planned for in conjunction with BC Transit and the City of Victoria.

Victoria and Saanich Councils support interim fixes to speed up transit trips

Councils debate state of bus service in Saanich and Victoria
CFAX 1070 February 29 2012

B-C Transit provided an update on its planning for a light rail rapid transit line to a special joint meeting of Saanich and Victoria Councils…but most of the politicians seemed more interested in what can be done to improve bus movements right now.

Victoria Councillor Pam Madoff was the only one who actually used the word “disappointed” in how little has changed since the last Council update on rapid transit. The current time frame suggests there might be a line built in four to six years…some Councillors, such as Saanich’s Leif Wergeland, fear it’s more likely 10 or 20 years, and he wondered what plan “B” is in the meantime.

Dean Murdock agreed that some interim measures need to be taken…

“…begin planning for some of those interim steps that are going to free up the congestion in some of those corridors, while we continue to plan , uh, towards a bigger plan for, ah, rapid transit. I’ll be discussing that with some of the, some of my fellow councillors to see what we can bring forward in the very near future to get that started”

Interim measures could include extending a transit traffic signal exchange program, currently under development on Douglas Street, to other important bus routes; and more and longer cue-jumper lanes for busses.

Happy to support Denise Savoie’s Green Commuter Choices bill

‘Green commuting’ bill finds second wind
By Jeff Bell, Times Colonist February 11, 2012

With buses passing behind her and cyclists in attendance, Victoria MP Denise Savoie had the ideal setting Friday to announce that her 2009 private member’s bill on “green” commuter choices will be re-introduced in Parliament.

Since she is Deputy Speaker, Savoie cannot bring the Commuter Tax Incentive Bill back herself, so fellow NDP MP Jamie Nicholls, who represents Vaudreuil-Soulanges in Quebec, is taking on the task.

Nicholls, who was on hand for the announcement, is the NDP’s deputy critic for transport and infrastructure, as well as a University of Victoria alumnus.

Savoie and her supporters gathered at the busy corner of Fort and Douglas streets to talk about the re-emerging bill.

“It was an important piece of legislation in the sense that it got support right across Canada from mayors and councils,” she said.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association also favoured the bill when it was introduced.

“What this bill does is it allows employers to provide commuter-related benefits to their employees for either their transit or cycling or carpooling,” Savoie said.

The bill would also help build capacity for transit operations across the country by allowing for longer-term planning, she said. That is an important facet of the bill, Savoie said, pointing to figures that indicate 23,000 people were passed by because of full buses in the capital region last September and October.

Transit workers were represented by Ben Williams, president of Local 333 of the Canadian Auto Workers, who said the number of passengers being left behind shows that changes are needed.

“The system is basically beyond its capacity,” he said.

Nicholls – who did all his travelling by bicycle and bus when he was at UVic – said the bill can help with congestion issues, such as the Colwood Crawl, by promoting different choices for commuters.

Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock said traffic congestion is a big concern for local governments.

“A move like this bill encourages employers to reach out with transportation alternatives, encouraging the thousands of employees who are commuting to and from the workplace every day to invest in an alternative or use a benefit provided by the employer – freeing up capacity on the road.”

Few private member’s bills end up being adopted.

Saanich News: Traffic

We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on the transportation issues in Saanich (outside of the light rail discussion).

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

Traffic is a concern for most of the residents I talk to on the doorstep. We can reduce congestion with improved public transit service that has dedicated transit lanes to speed-up travel times on major corridors during peak hours. We should work with educational institutions and major employers to promote transit pass programmes to build ridership. We need to focus on pedestrian and cyclist safety. I propose a ten-year plan to fund and build new sidewalks and upgrade crumbling sidewalks all across Saanich. Let’s create proper bike lanes and invest in expanded connector trails between major centres.

Saanich News: Traffic Congestion

How do you propose to quickly alleviate some of the stresses caused by single-occupancy vehicles, which turns many of our major thoroughfares into parking lots at rush hour?

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

“We have to do what we can to promote alternatives to get people out of the single occupancy vehicle, into carpools having multiple commuters per vehicle. We need to do service improvements for transit on existing routes because the people who are being passed up by buses are not likely to continue to ride the bus if they can’t catch it – they’ll be getting into their cars. And at places like McKenzie/Borden, where it meets the Lochside Trail, we need to change some of the access points for pedestrians and cyclists, giving them points of access – a pedestrian overpass or a pedestrian scramble – because that intersection is recking havoc on traffic.”

An independent evaluation will prove LRT benefits

We know that other cities have seen incredible economic growth as a result of rail systems in their major corridors. We know that LRT can reduce emissions significantly and can do a lot to encourage new ridership — as much as double ridership — bringing more convenience and lower car-dependence to thousands of individuals and families.

Here in our region, we need an independent review of the proposed regional LRT system to give the public and decision-makers the information we need to evaluate these extraordinary benefits and the estimated costs to build and operate the system.

For me, there are four main components that need to be evaluated before we can proceed.

The first is finding potential cost savings. Let’s have an evaluation of the selection criteria to see what was required in choosing the technology. I’m confident that a line-by-line breakdown of the costs will reveal areas where money can be saved.

The second component is evaluating the economic spinoffs. We’ve seen rail systems in cities like Vancouver, Portland, Calgary, and Montréal, generate new economic development. LRT will certainly have a positive economic impact in our region. Let’s look at the potential for economic growth to understand what we can look forward to.

The third component is an assessment of the environmental benefits. An electric rail system is more energy-efficient than diesel buses. Let’s calculate what kind of emission reductions we will see by replacing dozens of diesel buses with electric rail and by attracting new riders away from their cars and onto LRT.

The final component is ridership projections. Estimates of thousands of new commuters and doubled ridership need to be proven. Salt Lake City achieved its 10-year ridership projections on the first day of its service and the Canada Line in Vancouver has already surpassed its five-year ridership projections. Let’s look at the projections for the proposed system to see how they compare and if they’re realistic.

An independent review will ensure that we maximize the potential benefits of LRT and minimize its potential costs. It will demonstrate the true value for taxpayers and the soundness of the investment for our region.

Dean Murdock
Saanich Councillor

Regional leaders supporting LRT

Politicans join call for light rail transit in Greater Victoria
By Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist

Standing on a busy downtown sidewalk with transit buses rumbling by, politicians from three levels of government said the time has come for light rail transit in Greater Victoria.

Light rail transit “is the most cost effective form of transportation for our future in the region,” said MP Denise Savoie (NDP-Victoria).

“In public transit’s analysis — by any long shot — LRT trumps the bus rapid transit and that’s important. The economic benefits are clear: $1.4 billion in economic benefits,” she said.

The Victoria Regional Transit Commission, the Capital Regional District and the B.C. Transit Board have all endorsed plans for a $950-million light rail system between Victoria and Langford, but say they need support from senior levels of government.

Savoie said LRT cannot be funded through gas taxes or property taxes alone but senior governments have funds that could be tapped.

“The fact is, the money is there. From a federal perspective, the Building Canada fund has budgeted from 2007 to 2014 $10 billion and we know that one of the sub-funds still has 90 per cent unclaimed. So there’s $1 billion in one of the sub-funds that just hasn’t been touched.”

Savoie was flanked by Randall Garrison (NDP-Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca), New Democrat MLA Rob Fleming (Victoria-Swan Lake), Saanich councillor and CRD director Judy Brownoff, Victoria councillor and Victoria Regional Transit commissioner John Luton and Saanich councillor Dean Murdock.

The group supports the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s call for a third party review of B.C. Transit’s LRT plan. “I don’t know how many people need to be on transit every day in order for that system to be economically viable,” said Chamber CEO Bruce Carter. “I don’t know what that assumption is and what happens if we don’t make it. Those are the types of things we need to understand as well as construction risks.”

Savoie and the others say they are confident any independent analysis would validate the benefits.

“We know other jurisdictions have seen incredible economic growth as a result of rail based systems in their major corridors. We know that it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions considerably and we know it can do a lot to encourage new ridership — in fact double ridership,” said Murdock.

The chamber has endorsed the idea of holding a referendum on LRT — an idea floated by Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard for November’s municipal elections.

But the LRT backers gathered Tuesday were cool to the idea. “I think that would be premature. I don’t think there is a question,” said Fleming. “We have to have further discussions between the three levels of government and cement the partnership further and look at the financing.”

Brownoff, speaking as a CRD representative, said the Douglas Street corridor is plugging up. “Before long the commute time [from the West Shore to downtown Victoria] will be 80 minutes. That’s not sustainable or healthy for this region.”

The LRT proposal is facing opposition from the CRD Business and Residential Taxpayers’ Association. “The LRT will become a yoke around the taxpayer’s neck when costs go over budget, when ridership and revenue do not materialize, when the transit company drops bus routes and cuts service to trim costs and when infrastructure projects are delayed, becoming even more costly,” association chairman Bev Highton has said.