Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Posts Tagged ‘carpool

Port Mann Tolls

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Once again I got a last minute plea from the CBC to appear on the evening news to talk about the announcement of an increase in tolls next month. It seemed to me that there was little to say, and that over an hour’s travel for a few minutes screen time not very productive, but they sent a camera man to Arbutus Village and I stood in the park. I did not know that the new technology they use relies on the cell phone network, which is why those trucks with dish antennas are no longer needed. When my segment got broadcast it was very obviously cut short as the sign off was missing. I had been asked what the solution was to increasing tolls – and clearly the CBC did not like the answer. I had managed to get in a shot at how the much vaunted lowest income tax in Canada has been brought about by increases in all kinds of fees and charges – tolls, MSP premiums, ferry fares – and how wages were not keeping pace with the increasing cost of of living in the region.

But it was only later that I realized that I had missed on a real solution. My moment d’escalier was the memory of how people coped with tolls (and SOV line ups) on the Golden Gate Bridge by forming last minute car pools. These days no-one has to risk anything by lining up at on ramps. You can – of course – do it on-line. If the increase from $3.00 to $3.15 a crossing is a real issue for you go check out car pool, rideshare and van pool information on Translink ‘s web page. You can easily avoid the congestion on the Patullo and halve the cost of the toll. You can also share rides on Hitch Planet.

There were a couple of graphics that I had sent the CBC producer that did not make it to air, which is a shame. The first is a good effort by Jeff Nagel using recent data to show how people have been gradually getting used to paying $3. I personally doubt the $0.15 will cause much more than a short term blip, but I do think people are right to expect more increases in future. The toll company blames their rising operating costs – but if interest rates start increasing that will be the real stimulus for faster toll rises.

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The second one is a bit older, and is from Sightline, and shows how the real traffic data compares to the forecasts

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The red line should just dribble across a bit further. It certainly has not been sticking up like the forecasters thought.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 31, 2015 at 8:09 am

Turn your car into public transportation

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A decidedly jaded look at a new car sharing scheme called Avego from Mashable.

Avego lays out some great arguments for using their product, including:

-85% of cars travel with just one driver in a five seat car. That’s simply an inefficient use of our resources

-It saves gas and reduces the cost of rides
-No more public transportation-related stress

-Your commute becomes faster

-It’s environmental

-You make money by splitting the cost of the ride

And of course, this is aimed at Americans. Here such schemes have been tried in various forms and soon fall foul of our regulatory mechanisms once they start getting well known. A number of such ideas have fallen to legal actions brought by taxi and longer distance (private) bus firms.

Actually I am not against the idea of more car sharing – and I think the schemes that are promoted by the public sector – such as Translink’s rideshare – could probably be enhanced by a savvy IT firm. It is also a good intermediate step for areas which currently have very poor transit service, and little prospect of improvements any time soon. As usual, the best is often the enemy of the good. We stop people from ride sharing but fail to provide a better alternative, and in the suburbs and exurbs, smaller vehicles than bsuse are needed to better match the many to many trip matrix. It is also the case that ridesharing was the sector at UBC which was hardest hit by UPass. Ride share can also work as a feeder to rapid transit. Van and car pools should be getting the best spots reserved for them at the Park and Ride.

Unfortunately, our regulatory frameworks date back to the years when transit had to be protected from competition from unregulated jitneys and the beneficiaries of that protection are obviously very reluctant to give up that privileged position.  But we need to review these rules and regulations to make sure the public interest is protected, and in general the need for reducing gas consumption and all that goes with single occupant car use trumps the benefits of safeguarding bus and taxi operators.  Although they may need some other form of support in the transition to prevent undue hardship. The invisible hand of the market not being especially wise in terms of social (and other external) costs.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 9, 2008 at 9:59 am

Posted in cars, Transportation

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