Category Archives: Transit

District of North Vancouver council delves into transportation plan

Comment from Voices:  This article is very timely given the total traffic gridlock earlier this week during the morning rush hour.

Quoting in part from Councillors Hanson and Muri:  “We need to integrate our efforts with the other civic governments of the North Shore, who are contributing to density without in any way contributing to infrastructure, which is overtaxed,” and “it may be time to pull up the drawbridge on the North Shore. “I envision there’s room for 100 people at the party and there’s 500 in the lineup out the front door and they all want to come into the party. I just want to say to the 400, ‘You know what? We’re full now. You’re just going to have to wait your turn.’”

from the North Shore News:

Source: District of North Vancouver council delves into transportation plan

The District of North Vancouver is preparing to embark on a major review of its transportation master plan.

District council members met as an informal committee Tuesday afternoon to discuss what should be emphasized in the review, which is to begin in 2017.

Staff’s suggestions included a protected bicycle network, updating the district’s parking policies, a focus on the Main/Marine transit corridor, better co-ordination of traffic signals and whether the district ought to become a vision zero community – a growing movement among cities vowing to design their streets in such a way that there are zero traffic-related deaths or injuries.

But the informal session quickly turned to an airing of grievances as the morning commute of many councillors had been particularly exasperating with near-simultaneous crashes on the Cut, Stanley Park causeway and Westview overpass.

Coun. Jim Hanson said he faces the prospect of losing staff at his North Vancouver law firm, as their commute from across Burrard Inlet saps their quality of life. Hanson said the plan ought to come with some immediate steps that will alleviate congestion.

“I don’t sense the level of urgency in the plan that I sense in the public,” he said. “I’m just really frustrated with being a public official witnessing this failure – this systemic failure – of transportation infrastructure, which after all, is a core function of government.”

And, he added, it’s not just the district but also the province and the North Shore’s other municipalities that need to get on board.

“We need to integrate our efforts with the other civic governments of the North Shore, who are contributing to density without in any way contributing to infrastructure, which is overtaxed,” he said.

Coun. Mathew Bond, who is a transportation systems engineer, said his morning commute to Coquitlam took twice as long as it normally would have with a lineup of stop-and-go traffic on Highway 1 stretching 20 kilometres past the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.

While creating major new infrastructure takes years and billions of dollars, governments can help influence people’s decisions and improve traffic flow, he said, referring to things like incentivizing carpooling or charging drivers for using the roads at peak times.

“People can change their behaviour today if they so choose,” he said. “Doing some small, incremental things over time over the next two, three or five years, will buy us some time to make those major infrastructure investments and do those plans that are going to provide long-term relief.”

But Coun. Lisa Muri questioned whether residents could be persuaded to leave the car at home, especially when their work, errands or family commitments may require them to travel to several neighbourhoods, numerous times in the day.

“I don’t know how to change my behaviour to get from Lonsdale to Seymour without changing my whole family’s life,” she said. “It’s awesome to think that if you build it, people will get out of their cars and onto a bus or another mode of transportation but is it going to happen? . . .  People have cars. They want convenience. They want to be able to get to their destinations quickly.”

Instead, Muri suggested it may be time to pull up the drawbridge on the North Shore. “I envision there’s room for 100 people at the party and there’s 500 in the lineup out the front door and they all want to come into the party. I just want to say to the 400, ‘You know what? We’re full now. You’re just going to have to wait your turn.’ But we’re not doing that,” she said.

Coun. Robin Hicks rubbished the notion that trying to stop population growth would solve any problems, noting that banishing the North Shore’s service workers to the farther-flung suburbs would only add more cars onto local roads.

“We can’t put up barriers or walls like Trump might try to do. People are just going to come here from everywhere,” he said. “We’ve got to learn to live with the population.”

The district has, in partnership with senior levels of government, a number of transportation projects under way, including the new five-lane Keith Road bridge, which should open this fall, separated bike lanes on Lynn Valley Road scheduled to start this month, Spirit Trail connections, upgrades to Phibbs Exchange and $150 million in rebuilds of the Lower Lynn interchanges.

Coun. Roger Bassam and Mayor Richard Walton were absent from the meeting.

 

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North Vancouver says goodbye to bus depot

West Van buses are garaged in North Vancouver, North Vancouver will be garaged in Burnaby.  Makes sense?

from the North Shore News today:

It’s the last stop for the North Vancouver Transit Centre.

Starting this weekend, TransLink is decommissioning the bus depot on Third Street at St. Davids Avenue and moving the buses to the Burnaby Transit Centre.

The decision, which TransLink first announced in 2012, has been fought over the years by the City and District of North Vancouver councils and UNIFOR Local 111, the union representing the drivers.

All three lobbied heavily for the transit authority to find a new location on the North Shore so, in the event of an earthquake shutting down the bridges, the North Shore would still have a fleet of buses available.

“We did an extensive search of alternatives that included building a new facility on the North Shore; however, current estimates put the cost at $100 million – something TransLink cannot presently afford,” said Chris Bryan, TransLink spokesman.

In 2012, TransLink estimated consolidating the Third Street depot with the Burnaby one would save $20 million over 10 years, eliminating the need for costly upgrades.

In the event of a catastrophe, West Vancouver’s Blue Buses, which are marshalled at a facility off Lloyd Avenue can be pressed into service, Bryan added.

Bus drivers will have to make their way to the Burnaby depot at about 5:30 a.m. to start the morning run and deadhead back at night, but residents who ride transit shouldn’t notice any difference in service, Bryan said.

Neighbours around the depot, however, are welcoming the change. The depot has prompted complaints over noise and diesel fumes since it opened in the early 1940s.

“There’s a celebration that’s going to occur when it closes,” said Jeff Murl, a Fourth Street resident who lives across from the depot.

Murl said he purchased his home knowing the depot was there, but found it to be an even more disruptive neighbour than he thought possible.

“On Sunday at 1 p.m. in the winter, they would just turn on all the buses and idle them for like 45 minutes. There were 20 buses just shaking my house,” he said.

This was in contravention of the city’s anti-idling bylaw, he noted.

“That was pretty annoying,” he said.

The yard was also a source of light pollution thanks to one large spotlight.

“I’m hoping they turn that off when they leave – last one out, turn the lights off would be a good way of doing it.”

What will happen with the site is now an open question.

“As far as its future life goes, our real estate division is going to take a look at that property and see what its best use and what the best option is for the future. At this point, we haven’t made any decisions,” Bryan said. “We always seek to derive best possible value for the properties we have when we decommission so we can return the best possible outcome for taxpayers.”

The city’s official community plan foresees medium-density mixed-use commercial/residential development on the site with a maximum floor space ratio of 2.5 and a maximum height of four storeys.

In 2015, the land was assessed at $5,089,500.

Murl said he’s not bothered by the thought of a four-storey building along Third Street, especially if it includes some kind of grocery store, but he’d like to see some of the land on the north side of the property reserved for community use.

“For me, ultimately, I’d love to see it turned into something that benefits the neighbourhood.

“Everything on Third is going to be sold to the highest bidder, real estate, maxed-out zoning, all that kind of stuff,” he said.

– See more at: http://www.nsnews.com/news/north-vancouver-says-goodbye-to-bus-depot-1.2334045#sthash.CNOZQ81e.dpuf

 

Insufficient Transportation Infrastructure (updated)

The letter  writer has provided the following update today (Aug 29):

Carol Reimer I gathered some facts about how long it currently takes me to use my car vs transit. I live in Central Lonsdale where transit is supposed to be pretty good. We have an Aunt in a Care Home in Coquitlam: 23 min by car vs 1 hr 24 min by transit with 3 transfers. We have friends who live in Surrey: 34 min by car vs 1 hr 54 min by transit with 3 transfers. We have friends who live on the Westside: 35 min by car vs 1 hr 15 min by transit. Our son lives off of Commercial Drive: 20 min by car vs 1 hr by transit. My friend lives near Indian River Park on the North Shore: 17 min by car vs 49 min on transit with a 14 minute walk up-hill from Deep Cove. If I visit all of these people in a week, I save 8 hours and 26 minutes by driving versus transit. I am NOT going to ride a bike to these places from the North Shore.

Transportation planners need to look at what real people are doing. City Councils need to put a hold on increasing density until the infrastructure issues are sorted out. The huge investment in bicycle lanes should have been put into mass transit.

We have received the following copy of a letter to the Editor, North Shore News (not yet published):

Good Morning!
For the North Shore News letters section:
I’ve been listening carefully to the announcements from ICBC about their requested rate increase and I’m not at all surprised by one of the causes since we are experiencing more and more traffic congestion EVERY day.  And now we have clear evidence from ICBC that this congestion is causing “a perfect storm” of more claims, more accidents, more injuries and higher costs.
.
 “It’s hard to put our finger on why — the vehicle population is on the rise, over 3 million for the first time to 3.1 million, up about 10 per cent since 2011, more vehicles on the road and we know they are driving more … the actual amount of gas consumption is up despite cars being more efficient, it’s up 11 per cent in the last three years.”    (from Mark Blucher, ICBC CEO)
.

Since 2011, most Lower Mainland areas have invested heavily in bicycle infrastructure and Folks, it’s simply not making enough of a difference to prevent a significant increase in public harm on our roads.  

At the same time our City Councils are ignoring the facts and continuing on with increasing density in our neighbourhoods
without the required  vehicle transportation infrastructure to support it.

 

Add to that the belief that if the buildings don’t provide sufficient parking, people won’t drive!  Ludicrous!

 
It’s obviously not working!  City Councils need to consider the facts.  Their beliefs  and the resulting decisions cost the BC public
 inconvenience, more accidents and more harm.  However, these
 costs are  NOT being considered when the developers come to call and  provide contributions to city politicians who support increased density beyond the capacity of our infrastructure.
 
More shameful is the public hearing process for new developments where the public input is completely ignored.   And most of the public input is about the lack of infrastructure to support the ever increasing amount of development.  All we can do it put our minds to the next election. Unfortunately we are going to have to live with the public harm that is being caused by today’s decisions.
 
Carol Reimer
CNV resident

Spin city – transit plebiscite

New article by Elizabeth Murphy, published in Common Ground and quoting in part:

Scratching the surface of the plebiscite

by Elizabeth Murphy

aerial view of city

• We must look beyond sound bites coming from the multi-million dollar, publically funded Yes campaign for the transportation plebiscite. The evidence shows that the plan for the Broadway Corridor is more about implementing Metrotown-scale development than it is about transporting people.

With foreign capital taps wide open into local real estate and development, Vancouver is demonstrating the kind of deregulated extraction capitalism opposed by Naomi Klein in her latest book, This Changes Everything.

Manipulated growth projections are used to justify development we do not need. This is leading to overbuilding of about 2,000 units per four-year census period. By 2011, this amounted to a total of 22,000 unoccupied units. The point is not how do we force these expensive new units to be rented out, but why do we permit overbuilding?

Like the 1950s and 1960s neighbourhood clearing and urban renewal highway projects, this current tower oriented redevelopment of established neighbourhoods will prove to be a mistake.

Affordable older housing stock is being demolished to be replaced by tiny-unit, expensive cookie cutter condo towers or new monster houses. These are not affordable or viable options for most people or families in Vancouver. Increased development pressure will increase rents and the cost of home ownership.

Link to full article here:   Spin city – transit plebiscite.

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