Transit gaining little ground against car use
Published: October 30, 2012 5:00 PM
Updated: October 30, 2012 6:01 PM
The car remains king – despite the aim of getting many more Metro Vancouverites taking transit, cycling or walking.
TransLink’s trip diary survey takes a 24-hour snapshot of residents’ movements every three years and newly released results show transit use hasn’t caught on as fast as many advocates had hoped.
The share of trips taken on transit in the region edged up only slightly from 13 per cent in 2008 to 14 per cent in 2011.
Walking has stayed unchanged through multiple surveys at about 11 per cent.
And cycling grew from 1.5 to 1.8 per cent in the three-year period.
Meanwhile, 73 per cent of all trips were taken by car – down only slightly from 75 per cent in 2011 and 77 per cent in 1994.
“I think we’re going in the right direction,” SFU City Program director Gordon Price said.
But he acknowledged the latest numbers are a long way from the goals set out in TransLink’s Transportation 2040 plan, which aims to have the majority of trips in the region taken by the sustainable modes of transit, walking or cycling by that year.
“It does tell me that people are still in the learning mode,” Price said. “You don’t get instant conversion. There really is a learning experience you have to go through.”
Price is among those who saw the 2010 Olympics as a major turning point for transit in Metro Vancouver, converting dyed-in-the-wool drivers when they saw how effective good transit could be.
He’s still optimistic that more detailed trip numbers still to be released for each sub-region will show big gains in cities served by the Canada Line.
But he also expects the regional average numbers released so far mask big disparities in transit and car use between the rapidly growing outer suburbs and Vancouver and other areas where transit has taken off.
“It suggests to me we’re seeing the emergence of two different kinds of regions – one car-dependent and the other with transportation choice.”
He noted transit capacity has been significantly expanded in recent years, although some of it is now slated to be pared back.
TransLink board chair Nancy Olewiler thinks transit’s mode share may be higher than the 14 per cent found in the new trip diary survey.
She noted transit ridership numbers have climbed six to seven per cent a year and she says TransLink’s ongoing count of that may be more accurate than a one-day sample from 22,000 households.
“I wouldn’t put that much emphasis on it,” Olewiler said. “I trust the numbers from our passenger counters more.”
The trip diary numbers show more trips were taken on every mode of travel and overall trip numbers also rose by 5.9 per cent, slightly faster than the rate of population growth.
The average number of trips taken each day per person rose to 2.77 from 2.7 in 2008.
Cycling trips up but mainly in Vancouver
The number of bike-only trips rose 26 per cent from 2008 but that gain was concentrated in the City of Vancouver
More than half of the 106,500 cycling trips a day were made to or from work, according to TransLink’s trip diary results for 2011.
Region-wide, it found there were 4.9 bike trips per 100 residents.
That soared to 12.1 trips per 100 residents in Vancouver, with particularly heavy concentrations along the Broadway corridor and Strathcona-Commercial Drive.
Richmond/Delta was the second highest sub-region at 3.4 trips per 100, followed by 2.8 on the North Shore, 2.6 in Burnaby/New Westminster, 1.7 in Langley/Surrey/White Rock and 1.7 in the Northeast sector.
The 1.8 per cent mode share of overall trips by bike would have to hit 10 per cent by 2040 to reach the goal set in the Regional Cycling Strategy.
The survey shows 22 per cent of commute trips by car drivers were less than five kilometres and many of those could be taken by bike instead.
TransLink has put plenty of money into cycling infrastructure, including the Central Valley Greenway, the BC Parkway and the Canada Line bike/pedestrian bridge.
Here we have another clash between ideology and true planning. Now, after billions spent on transit, and much of it funded by gas taxes, an assessment is made…Drum Roll……
Yada Yada Yada…this is where one looks at the Stats and how they are interpreted. Here percentages get deceiving. I would rather look at the gross numbers per category. Clearly the vast majority of people prefer their vehicles. FOR EXAMPLE: if we look at the increase in number of trips by Bus( 126,000) versus Cars(118,000), the difference is not significance…or the buses didn’t really reduce the number of cars on the road…..BOTH categories showed increases.
Cyclist ? I notice and increase, but they should be limited to roads with bike lanes. The other day, I was out driving on a busy road and traffic was getting chaotic. A cyclist was driving northbound in curb lane ..and was slowing traffic and people had to change lanes to get around them.
Also, a more detailed look at vehicular traffic versus Public Transit is the economy. If people cannot afford their cars…they will take cheaper options…thus a contradictory “good news versus bad news” message.
When I assess Public Transit, I look at both cost and time. I have used the Canada Line, mostly to get to downtown, and sport events. What we do is park our car at a relatives house…walk a couple of blocks…get on….takes 20 minutes and we are downtown and walk to the given event. It is both time and cost effective.
Buses ? My spouse works in Burnaby, and before her company moved, it was right next to the Skytrain. However, it was the old line…and does not connect directly with the new line. Her trip to work over the past several years has not really taken any longer….she arrives literally the same time each day. The odd time she has had to take transit..and it expands her day one way from 30 minutes to over an hour with all the transfers.
I think its fair to say that the average work day is long enough,….and people want to or need to get home ASAP . If you have an active family, involved in outside activites, you need a vehicle ….PERIOD.
However, given this is UNaccountable Translink……what are they going to do ? Oh probably piss away more money in a futile attempt to again try to force the issue. Translink is simply a shadow organization that the BC Gov’t fobbed off onto the typically dysfunctional Metro Van Local Gov’ts.
An old concept from science was the Limiting Factor……ie when all variables are considered, the equation is dependent on the lowest denominator. I won’t get into the funding..more like infrastructure capacity.
Canada Lines are maxed out…other than the politicized Evergreen expansion. Each mile of this overrated system costs millions.
Buses ?…..nah….they should attach a dollar value for each bus purchased ie the annual cost. Each bus on the road simply adds to gridlock. Keep in mind that while it appears to a co-ordinated initiative ie Planning and Transportation, I don’t think the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. Urban planning seems focussed on re zoning mixed uses to residential, thus reducing workspaces and jobs….and Transit seems focussed on moving people but where will the jobs be ?
I am not saying I have answers, but then again are their any REAL problems. Gridlock at peak times is a given. I just don’t think Translink should continually yell ” FIRE ” and extort more tax dollars to put out their ” self – defined FIRE “.
One Final Thought…in a modern society, a car is an expression of freedom….where you can turn the key and take off to wherever you wish, and get away from the urban jungle. Why would they want to take this away from you ? Always check the flip side of ANY argument.