Tag Archives: transit

LRT: Getting our fair share of the Provincial Transit Plan

This week, BC Transit recommended a Light Rail Transit system from Victoria to the West Shore. The total project cost (downtown Victoria through a hub at Saanich’s Uptown to Station Avenue, Langford) is estimated at $950 million. Ending the rail line at Six Mile (the junction with the E&N) would be $770million. In my view, the critical passenger mass – where the train would collect the largest number of passengers – is at Six Mile. The track from Six Mile to Station Avenue can considered for a future phase.

Transit also revealed this week that just maintaining its current, bus-based service would cost $250million. A rapid bus service would cost about $550million, but would need to be converted to LRT within 10 – 15 years. That’s twice the cost for the same outcome.

For all the discussion this week about the plan and its price tag, the provincial government offered little more than platitudes when it comes to pitching in funds. Interestingly, when the Evergreen Line (Coquitlam to Vancouver) was announced, senior governments pledged over $800 million toward the $1.3billion project.

The long-ago announced $14billion Provincial Transit Plan ear-marked close to $1billion for the Capital Region. An LRT system that will cut emissions and double ridership is a perfect candidate for the provincial fund.

The federal government can be forgiven for its silence, as it’s in the midst of an election campaign. However, its willingness to chip in for the Canada Line and Evergreen Line on the Lower Mainland should extend to LRT in the CRD.

The two-thirds funding from senior governments brings the local share of Victoria to Six Mile LRT to $257 million. That’s equal to the cost of doing nothing – a cost that property taxpayers would bear alone.

It’s time for the provincial government to step up and deliver on its promised Transit Plan funding. Let’s get our federal partner at the table as well. Their combined support for transit helped Lower Mainland commuters out of traffic congestion and home to their families sooner. Surely Capital Region residents deserve the same.

Creating transportation options in large developments

Kicking the car habit
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

Saanich is getting serious about changing the municipality’s current car culture.

Last week, council started the process to create a policy to ensure alternative transportation funding is expected anytime a developer wants a parking variance for a multi-family residential unit in the municipality.

“We want to try to maximize the potential of alternative transportation because (developers are) trying to reduce the amount of parking required, and we want people to be encouraged to move from the default position of always using a vehicle,” said Coun. Susan Brice, who chairs the planning, traffic and economic development committee.

“At this point, where we’re asking developers for just a ballpark amount of money (usually $1,000 per unit), saying it can be put towards transit passes, buying bikes or scooters – I think it just waters it down and we run the risk of having money put into a pot that doesn’t contribute to alternative transportation.”

Coun. Dean Murdock said developments will be judged individually so those in areas well-served by transit and bike routes are given more stringent requirements.

“There are advantages here for council, land-use planners, developers and ultimately the residents, (that will come from) locating these new developments with considerable density in major centres on major corridors,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is contribute to traffic in those corridors. So incentives need to be created for people to take public transit, or cycle or walk to their destination.”

Council has seen transit pass programs, bike purchases, car sharing options and shared electric vehicle purchases as commitments from developers.

“We need to explore the success and challenges that go along with those components, so the proponent (of a development) understands our expectations in advance,” Murdock said.

“That way council can take comfort that the proponent has considered the best incentives to encourage residents to choose alternative forms of transportation.”

The reason this is only now coming to the attention of councillors is because of a shift in the types of development being proposed to Saanich.

“We’re seeing more dense residential development in major centres. When you don’t have the surface available for parking, it means you have to go underground, which is a considerable expense for developers,” Murdock said. “Council can say that we’ll tolerate a variance, reduce the amount of parking stalls, and, in exchange, contribute a portion of the money a developer saves to alternative forms of transportation, so residents will not need those additional parking stalls.”

Brice expects the committee will have a policy outlining guidelines ready for council by late spring.

“Up until now, we’ve been working with goodwill. I think everybody’s been trying to advance the issue but it has to be more than just token. We have to look for ways to quantifiably say this investment is likely to result in a change of behaviour.”

E&N integral to our transporation future

For many years, our region has suffered from double vision when it comes to our transportation future. One vision is an image of commuter rail on the E&N line, while the other is rapid transit on the Douglas corridor.

These two images came into a single, sharp focus this week with two important decisions. The first decision is a partnership between BC Transit and the Island Corridor Foundation to develop an intra-city transit system business case. This will see the development of a functional plan to bring commuters from as far away as Courtney into downtown Victoria, where they will link into the region’s transit system.

The second decision is the CRD Board directing the Transportation Committee to look into development of a bylaw for a $5.5 million contribution to a rail crossing on the Johnson Street Bridge. When the bylaw is approved, it will secure rail service from Courtney into downtown Victoria.

Commuter rail on the E&N line only works if commuters are connected to the regional transportation network. It’s a network that carries riders from downtown to the west shore and back on a rapid line, and across the lower island to and from UVic and the peninsula. Our transportation future depends on these two integral and integrated systems working in tandem.

Residents deserve a transportation network with frequent and dependable service to get to work, to shop, to schools, and for social purposes. It will help reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that we avoid the environmental, social, and economic costs of traffic congestion that plagues so many other urban centres.

This week’s two important decisions are major steps forward in securing that transportation future.