Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Douglas Busway

This issue is heating up here in Victoria. There is all manner of new opposition coming from people who are concerned about the impact to businesses on Douglas, but I fail to see where the worry comes from.

Issue One - The Best Location for the Busway

Some people are suggesting the busway be put on Blanshard. There are numerous reasons this makes little sense. The buses would all have to shift over a block somewhere at the end of downtown and make a left turn onto Blanshard. The buses going out to the western communities would then have to shift back to Douglas sometime again, likely at Saanich road, this would cause more traffic problems and slow the buses down.

Blanshard also has many fewer destinations along its route that have transit demand.

Number 70 and 75 already run up Blanshard and seem to do well enough.

Douglas meanwhile has the 30, 31, 50, and 61 running the whole length which come once every three minutes in peak times. There are four more heavily used routes use the southern half. Douglas is where the buses are at the moment.

Issue Two - Loss of on street parking

As is stands, there is very little street parking on Douglas in north of Bay. South of Bay there is an average amount, but not a lot. Almost all the businesses along the proposed busway rely very little on Douglas for parking.

Could there be an isolated business on the south end of the Douglas that relies on free parking from the city? That is likely, but why should we be providing free on street parking for these businesses in any case? The lanes of the roads are there to move traffic - that is there highest and best use of the land.

Issue Three - the bus stops will be in the middle of the street

This is a bizarre concern to me as I am not sure why people think the public will not be able to cross to the centre to get on the busses.

Issue Four - We should be considering rail

Rail transit is very expensive. To build an at grade LRT out to the western communities from downtown would cost something in the order of $200 000 000. To move it above the other traffic in the manner of SkyTrain would boost this cost to $300 000 000. The interest alone on this would cost $10 000 000 a year.

For an LRT to make sense, you need to be looking at 100 000 trips per day. The whole Victoria transit system has about 55 000 to 60 000 per day.

For an LRT to work you have to work with existing density. The two locations the most people are trying to get to are downtown and UVic. Secondary nodes are Camosun Interurban and CFB Esquimalt. The problem is that none of these locations are bookends to a route that makes sense or have a clear place that people are gathered from.

An at grade system is a traffic nightmare. Each and every level crossing would have to block traffic when the train came.

Existing rail lines and former rail line locations are not well located or ready to be used. The E and N line is not built to run rail transit. The route is one that the trains have to be limited in speed.

A single rail car that run commuters into town costs more than twice the same cost as a bus that can carry the same number of people. To put it in other terms, each rail car would mean two less buses on the roads. Rail cars are limited to where they can go, buses are flexible. BC Transit has also diversified the type of buses in use to reflect the demand on a route. You can not do that as easily with rail

Issue Five - Loss of left turn bays

There are very few left turn bays along Douglas. A few will be kept but most of the locations where one can turn left at the moment do more to hinder movement than provide anything useful for movement of traffic. It is my neighbourhood that will be most effected but the problems will be minimal.

On the south end it will help a lot not allowing left turns. Right now a single car can effectively block a lane of through traffic.

Issue Six - South end of Douglas business

This area is ripe for redevelopment. The area is a rundown and ugly eyesore. The area between Fisgard and Bay and Blanshard and Store is filled with run down commercial buildings. This is an area that could and should be rebuilt with office commercial in towers and condos. This redevelopment will happen and has been proposed in several different areas already. The busway is no problem for the redevelopment.
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