Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category
This was actually my first visit to the SFU Woodwards campus: tribute was paid to Warren Gill – this was the third lecture in his honour – and he was credited with the initiative to establish SFU in downtown and in Surrey.
The lecture was also live streamed and attendees were encouraged to tweet using the #sfucity hashtag. I have produced a storify from them. Credit should also go to SFU for providing free wifi access. Thank you.
Chief Planner and Executive Director
City of Toronto
At SFU Woodwards
Cities are our greatest hope and our greatest risk. Vancouver and Toronto (where the mode share for transit is 23.3% for the journey to work is comparable to ours when using the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) rather than the city.
She has identified critical success factors that are going to be necessary for securing a different future to business as usual.
Canadian cities are suburban, auto oriented. We are not as rich we thought we were. WE have a number of perverse subsidies that have led to suburban sprawl. We need to increase density to increase the utilisation of existing infrastructure. Areas that don’t change will be left behind. The legacy we are leaving our children can be seen in the weather. Echo boomers want something different whether the city changes or not.
Illustration of city suburbs “expensive mistakes”. [For an instructive comparison see also the recent SFU lecture by Charles Marohn on "Strong Towns" which is one I missed but the video has now been posted on the Stroad to Boulevard tumblr.]
In the city of the future everything will be within short distance, which means less commuting and more time for everything else. Is this vision what our suburbs might become? We continue to build suburbs. Consensus on how to change eludes us.
Three Critical Success Factors
1 the need to believe in a better future
She used the frequently cited prescience of the builders of the Bloor viaduct, which had the ability to accommodate the subway under the roadway 48 years before the subway opened. [As a transportation economist I have a somewhat different view of overbuilt infrastructure]
“I don’t get the baby platforms of the Canada Line” [I agree with her there]
Leaders don’t use polling to determine direction
2 the need to cultivate deep understanding about drivers for change
Clear coherent vision for the future essential for consensus. Walkable neighbourhood is better term than ecodensity
Learning and respect – fundamental to democracy
3 the need to engage to build broad and deep constituencies for city building
Chief planner round table
Our urban fabric
Next generation suburbs
Partnered with LEGO
One imaginative giveaway was used for on platform TTC surveys and other locations giving respondents free pack of tissues with the feeling congested? web site address on them.
80% of those polled after this exercise now agree with new funding sources for transit
[Saw this today in the National Post "I don’t much care where the money comes from, just tax me however you see fit and build, for God’s sake."]
Belief understanding and engagement
Individual action ..every time you make a choice
Collective action .. Finding ways to shape political decision making
q Do City staff follow the advice of living where they work?
a City of TO is actually very weak at walking the talk for staff. Divisions working together on Complete Streets initiative building internal consensus. Water
q What Provincial and Federal policies are needed?
a Social housing … Regent park … Impossible for muni tax base to support affordable housing. Transit funding reward for density.
a Compare the NY subway to TTC and Canada line. Capacity!!
q Affordable housing
a Mid rise stick construction lower price point
q How to frame conversation with professionals
a Not everything worked … you have to take risks
Look at what worked best practices as reference
Right now took it in house with councillors to ward level workshops
TO has not been as ambitious as other cities to get great buildings ( “Despite the talk, it’s now clear Keesmaat has succumbed to the same timidity that has kept Toronto from achieving the greatness it so badly wants.” Christopher Hume Toronto Star)
Canadian cities do pretty well
Building is not the lynch pin
Great urbanism is about the neighbourhood not the building. [She said that we visit New York to see Greenwich Village or Soho not just the iconic buildings. Don't say that to the people who run the Empire State Building, or Rockefeller Centre, or the Lincoln Centre. Or am I alone in being an architectural tourist?]
Profound mistakes with heritage
“I’m very concerned with the implication that sexy buildings define a city. I don’t have stars in my eyes about starchitects.”
Gehry thinks that only two buildings in Toronto are worth preserving
q Cities to watch?
a Washington DC currently mid rise but now looking at variances for high rises
Portland OR they did it in the seventies. They stuck w the plan
New York resilience legacy of Blomberg
Removing cycling lanes “Other people do dumb things too!”
Vancouver West End plan
Old Montreal “architects with a gentle touch”
Rob Abbott Executive Director
Climate Action Secretariat
Another of the lunchtime Carbon Talks at SFU downtown today. Held in a room that not only has no public wifi but also no cell phone signal – at least not from my network, which was at 5 bars outside at the bus stop. So not really much response to their suggestion that people tweet. Even so, given the paucity of my notes you might glean something from the storify I put together. The event was live streamed and will also be available in due course as a web cast.
I must admit I was a bit puzzled given the announcement yesterday about the Carbon Trust – which has now been moved inside the Secretariat. No one asked about that – or about the referendum. If I had got a change to ask a question, I would have asked if he really did work for Christy Clark as I was very conscious of a lot of cognitive dissonance.
Below unedited for the cognoscenti are my raw notes. I am not sure when I will be able to get them into shape – and I am out all day tomorrow at the pricing mobility thing at the Wosk Centre. By the way I am pleased to note, given what I wrote yesterday that Bob Paddon is now acknowledging “Mobility pricing may not be a solution in the shorter term” – but I suggest that we do actually need some short term solutions. Not just to deal with transportation in the Lower Mainland but also to deal with Climate Change – and what Canada, and BC in particular, are both intent on doing does not seem to be going in the right direction at all.
Here as a provocateur. Open up a space about a conversation that matters. Ties to dialogue tomorrow.
Portfolio approach includes ng for commercial and light trucks TOD
Behaviour change is hard esp wrt cars iconic far more than mobility
Land use mixed, complete community etc
BC target GHG down GDP and pop both up
More we can do
Clean Transportation Strategy
Need to couple bldgs to transport
Claims 20 to 30% reduction in GHG for NG trucks compared to diesel
10% reduction in intensity of fuel
Warranty provisions for liquid fuels
Expansion of urban transit
$14bn inc Evergreen Line
BC Transit data
No TransLink data
Make it something you want to take
Calgary growing car2go fastest
TOD is the big one
Affordability is goal = congestion reduction
Paddon oped in Sun today
Climate Action Charter for LG
(Lots of motherhood and apple pie does he really work for Christy?)
Wholly new paradigm
How high can transit fees go
Govt going in wrong direction re coal and oil exports
Need for pt plan provincially
1 massive failure of communication narrative shld raise fees context ppl aren’t reflexively opposed
2 yes we have to be responsible citizens what
3 need to open up something quite different …how ppl g&s might flow province not there quite yet
Production is more important than consumption in GHG
Biodiesel can go much higher
Corporate culture ..no need to commute
3 part of the solution waffles at length
2 lcf is sexy can go higher
1 embodied carbon must account for it and reduce it -how to do that w/o reduced q of life
2 port emissions will double in next few years – truck traffic
3 how much do you look at other places?
3 easy to beat ourselves up. Our planners go to Sweden. Would these ideas work here
2 good at parts much less at integration
1 lynch pin investment lifestyle aspiration and land cost how we connect those communities will still need roads
Multiple levels of trust
Stadium of our egos
A lot is happening which shows that the trust is there
Collaboration with stakeholders
You do follow me on Twitter, don’t you? It’s not that I tweet a lot – though if you do not use RSS it’s not a bad way to know when a new blog post has gone up. It’s more that I often see things there that I think are worth reading – but I do not have a lot to add. It usually means I agree with much of what is there. Not always a total endorsement but usually “this is worth looking at”.
So when someone calling himself Neil21 (I know no more about him than that) posted a link to an article on robotaxis I retweeted it. Prompting this exchange
I was a bit taken aback actually that someone who follows me on twitter, and therefore presumably reads this blog too, could have ascribed such an opinion to me. And since I don’t know who he is, this medium not being restricted to 140 characters seems a better way to respond properly.
I knew I had written about this topic before so I put the words “shared ride taxis” in the search box in the right hand column. So it starts with a plea to do a real reform of taxi regulation mainly to improve service but also to allow for shared rides. There’s a link to a story about shared rides on Pender Island and a useful summary of Auditing Translink which includes a lot of my thoughts on HandyDART (repeated earlier today). There was also an article about how to stop global warming which included this gem
Lets go for simple, easy and restrictive of car use. Street cars. Using existing lanes in the existing roads that are then closed to cars. And really cracking down on speeding – which wastes huge amounts of fuel and costs many lives. Use the fines from photo radar and bus lane violators to buy more trams. Car co-ops, and cheap shared ride taxis. Subscription based commuter coaches – commuters take the same route most days. It should be easy to sign them up for door to door services once the parking lots have been turned over to food production and the highway has only one lane for General Purpose traffic and all the rest of the capacity is dedicated to shared ride, essential freight and so on.
I am an enthusiastic early adopter of car2go. It already incorporates quite a few technological advances over other cars. For a start, I can easily find out where the nearest one available is: trouble is they are often not near enough (they are known around Main Street as Go2Car). It is quicker to walk or take a bus. Transit, someone once said, takes you from where you are not to not very close to where you want to be. In the low density suburbs that is a real issue. And taxis are as rare as hen’s teeth when you really need one – anywhere in the world, not just here where we are deliberately under supplied as a matter of public policy.
What would transform the utility of car2go would be bringing the nearest empty car to me when it is more than a short walk away. There are going to be autonomous cars, simply because the technology is now very nearly ready for prime time. The only question is how to use them. “It’s absolutely inevitable that autonomous vehicles will be shared” and the first application could well be a car2go that comes when you need it and vanishes once you have finished with it. It need not be an exclusive two seater car. It could be a larger shared unit – like a minivan. Tell the system not just where you are but where you want to go and the software links up the riders. So it then works like para-transit or HandyDART for everyone – or perhaps the commuter coach now favoured by many hi-tech firms for getting their employees to campuses out of town centres (though I think more of them will be just as interested in better urban locations for their offices).
Autonomous vehicles will “hasten sprawl repair.” We are stuck with much of our present built environment for another generation or two. It takes a longer time to rebuild whole suburbs than decayed inner cities – and that took long enough. Since our very silly provincial government thinks its a good idea to lock us into car dependency for much longer then we had better hope that the techno wizards building zero emissions self driving cars are a lot more successful than the people who have been promoting the very well known and established plan of more and better conventional transit (with protected bike lanes and comfortable walking streets) in denser urban areas. That doesn’t mean that the latter won’t happen as well – but since Premier Barbie seems to be doing all she can to prevent that, this will offset some of the worst effects of her decisions.
A Vision for Reducing BC’s Transportation Emissions
With nearly 40% of BC’s carbon emissions coming from the transportation sector, it’s time to talk about more efficient ways of moving people, goods, and services around the province. Transportation lies at the heart of our cities and the economy and plays an important role in shaping land-use patterns, communities, and our behaviour. Rob Abbott, Executive Director of Carbon Neutral Government & Climate Action Outreach at the Climate Action Secretariat, has a vision for the future of transportation in BC. His talk will address the challenges and opportunities for reducing transportation emissions in BC and will touch on the following ideas:
- The potential for natural gas to fuel commercial and light trucks in BC
- Expansion of urban rapid transit
- Transit-oriented development and land-use patterns that improve transportation options and affordability
There is much celebration to the south of us. In their state and local elections, despite huge expenditures, the coal merchants were unable to get the result they wanted. “Bad news for Big Coal in Whatcom County” is the headline in the Seattle PI.
In a nationally watched county election, a slate of four Whatcom County Council candidates, backed by conservation groups and the Democratic Party, took the lead over pro-development, Republican-aligned opponents. The county is a key battleground over whether Western Washington will become home to a huge coal-export terminal.
And this got tweeted as “Big coal can’t even buy an election these days”. This also got picked up by the Sierra Daily in a piece headed “Coal Train to Nowhere“
Understandably given local concerns over coal dust and its health impacts it seems likely that the export of more coal to China through Cherry Point is not going to happen.
“The coal industry is in a death spiral,” Eric de Place of the Sightline Institute said to Connelly. “They cannot even buy an election right now.”
I think he is being a bit short sighted. While this is a triumph for people over corporations – if the votes continue to go this way – Big Coal is not going to give up. It simply takes the trains from the Powder River a little bit further. Over border to Port Metro Vancouver. There are no concerns about local accountability here. No-one who has to run for an election here has any ability to stop the coal trains. And the Port only has to meet the needs of shippers. It has no obligations at all to the local community. Indeed Prairie provinces have more influence than the Mayor of Surrey, say. So while her council objects to coal trains that has no effect at all.
The additional costs of a slightly longer train journey to Surrey Fraser Docks are unlikely to deter Warren Buffet. He doesn’t need to buy any politicians here. The Port is positively salivating at the extra business. They will do his bidding happily and ignore whatever protests there might be as the Directors are secure in their positions. The federal government has abandoned any pretence at trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and anyway these count against the country where the coal is burned. It matters not at all to Stephen Harper that we are headed for a 2℃ increase in global temperatures – because his only concern is his own re-election. Coal trains through White Rock will have no measurable impact on that.
Bruce Campbell executive director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives summarizes his own study into the crash of an unattended oil train in Quebec in an op ed piece for the Toronto Star. It is a disturbing read: I went on to read the entire study which you can also download as a pdf.
The buck, of course, stops at the top of the heap. US President Harry S Truman famously had a sign on his desk “The Buck Stops Here”. Our Prime Minister of course does everything he can to avoid acknowledging any responsibility even for the disasters of his own creation. I am not alone in fingering him. Campbell quotes an opinion piece published in Le Devoir “Explosion A Lac-Mégantic: j’accuse!” on July 25, 2013. The author Rodolfe DeKoninck is Canada Research Chair in Asian Studies at Université de Montréal. Oddly the way the pdf if formatted enables me to cut and paste the reference but not the quote itself
“In other words, I accuse you, Mr Prime Minister, you and your government, of being at the top of the pyramid of responsibility for the tragedy that occurred at Lac-Mégantic”.
I have regularly in this blog criticized deregulation in the transportation industry here and elsewhere. The report also contains another quote that I must transcribe
Corporations have a singular obligation “to promote their own and their owners’ interests. They have no capacity, and their executives no authority, to act out of a genuine sense of responsibility to society, to avoid causing harm to people and the environment, or to work to advance the public good in ways that are unrelated to their own self interest.”
Bakan, Joel. The Corporation, Penguin, 2007, 150.
Conservative ideology holds that deregulation lowers costs to business, which increases profits, which lead to more investment, which in turn leads to faster economic growth and increased job creation. There are no credible studies that demonstrate empirically the existence of such a causal chain. It is simply declared as fact by free market doctrine.
On the contrary there is much evidence that deregulation, including in the railway industry, has resulted in job loss …Profits have increased, but business investment …has stagnated.
I have a couple of cautions to add. Economic growth is no longer desirable – at least in the advanced western economies – since it is tied to further depredations on the environment which threaten our existence. Even if there were such a causal chain, I would dispute that the supposed benefits of economic growth and the type of job creation would be worth the damage that inevitably results to us and our planet. There are other models we could look at – Norway, Iceland and Cuba come top of mind – but there are others who manage to run our sort of economy with much more regulation, and see greater safety, security and better public health as a result. It is not actually necessary for the exceedingly wealthy to get any better off, but it is very important for us to reset some of the conditions that we used to enjoy up until quite recently. We did not have to revert to a Dickensian society to learn that unbridled capitalism was going to cause disasters.
The conclusion of the report is more a set of questions than specific remedies. But given events playing out now on Parliament Hill, it is my hope that the hold that conservatism has had on popular imagination will be broken. The election of the Conservatives only came due to the distaste that the electorate felt at the corruption of the Liberals. The Conservatives have now shown that they are no better, and just as concerned at feathering their own nest, as well as concentrating solely on the well being of their corporate sponsors.
The sequence of events that led to the derailment of the train and the destruction of Lac-Mégantic, with the loss of so many lives, can be seen to be the result of the federal government giving up a very significant level of responsibility. “Cutting red tape” sounds like a Good Idea, until you begin to realize that there was a purpose to regulation. And that regulation resulting from careful consideration and experience is far better than those slapped quickly into place as part of a public relations campaign to paper over the cracks. The regulation also has to be enforced effectively, and we cannot expect corporations – in any industry – to regulate their own activities in ways that put the pubic interest first.
At the very least, we should expect that Transport Canada will require the introduction of Positive Train Control as is already happening in the US. (see footnote 20 in the report)
UPDATE December 4
The recent passenger train crash on New York has disabused me of the notion that PTC is actually being implemented – it is legislated to happen but the railways are dragging their feet (of course). And to understand more about the fuel the train was carrying I suggest you read the Globe and Mail series – even though it is paywalled.
I apologize for driving you to a paywalled article. Francis Bula is reporting on what Geoff Freer (executive project director for the Massey project) says about replacing the tunnel and why transit won’t meet that “need”
60 per cent of the commuters are travelling to Richmond or Surrey, the U.S. border or the ferries – so are unlikely to use transit anyway.
The chutzpah of this statement takes one’s breath away.
It is not as if the Canada Line was not already changing travel patterns in Richmond. And the introduction of useful inter-regional connections to the transit system (over many years since it was entirely focussed on downtown Vancouver) with direct service to Metrotown and Newton shows that when the transit system actually looks at how people are moving, as opposed to used to move, even ordinary bus services can be successful. When I first arrived in Richmond and had to commute to Gateway in Surrey I initially tried the #410. Then it was infrequent, with a huge one way loop through Richmond wand was always very lightly loaded. Over the years it has become one of the busiest bus services in Richmond and the only one in the Frequent Transit Network.
The other huge change was when Translink backed off the long held belief that it ought not to compete with Pacific Stage Lines and run a direct bus between the ferry at Tsawwassen and downtown Vancouver. The new service they introduced initially required a transfer to the B-Line at Airport Station, and now requires a transfer to the Canada Line at Bridgeport. It coincided with increased vehicle fares on the ferry so that walk-on traffic grew exponentially. (BC Transit had long met ferries with an express bus from Swartz Bay to downtown Victoria). The #620 now requires articulated buses and frequent relief vehicles. Just like the express bus to Horseshoe Bay.
As for cross border services, it would be easy to set up a “walk across the line service” at Peace Arch, with connections to Bellingham. There are just much more pressing priorities – mostly getting students to post secondary institutions thanks to UPass. But bus service across the line has seen significant commercial traffic with both Bolt bus and Quick Shuttle in head to head competition. Some of the casinos down there run their own shuttles too. The best thing that has happened so far on this route has been the introduction of a morning Amtrak train departure for Seattle.
What is actually needed is transportation planning that looks at the future pattern of development in the region, and integrates land use planning to meet population growth and travel needs. Strangely the desire of Port Authority for deeper draft for vessels in the Fraser River is not the first and foremost consideration. Port expansion is not a driver of economic growth. It is path towards calamity, since it is driven by the desires of a few very rich people to export yet more fossil fuel at a time when anyone with any sense recognizes that we as a species have no choice but to leave the carbon in the ground.
I think that one of the great benefits of rail transit development would be protection of the last bits of highly productive agricultural land left after the ruinous performance of the BC Liberals to date. People riding on trains get fast frequent service through areas which see no development at all, because it is concentrated around the stations. What part of Transit Oriented Development do you NOT understand, Mr Freer? Expand the freeway and sprawl follows almost inevitably.
It is perhaps a bit hard for people here to understand the idea of fast frequent electric trains that are not subways or SkyTrain, but they are a feature of most large city regions – even in America. As we saw in yesterday’s post even LA is bringing back the interurban. West Coast Express is not a good model as it only serves commuting to downtown on weekdays. All day every day bi-drectional service demands dedicated track – or at least the ability to confine freight movements to the hours when most people are asleep.
Transit to Delta and South Surrey has to be express bus for now, just because there is so much catch up in the rest of the region. But in the longer term, really good, fast, longer distance electric trains – which can actually climb quite steep grades equivalent to roads over bridges – must be part of planning how this region grows. It requires a bit better understanding of the regional economy than just assuming that somehow coal and LNG exports will secure our future, when they obviously do no such thing.