Friday, June 06, 2008

Steps to reduce Greenhouse Gases in this Region

1) Improve traffic flows:

In Greater Victoria there is a lot a fuel used by drivers sitting in traffic and not moving, if you get the cars moving again, you reduce the greenhouse gases produced. Now here comes the part that will make people flip. The easiest way to do this is to make Hwy 17 and Hwy 1 full freeways.

The addition of interchanges at Mackenzie/Admirals and Tillicum on Hwy #1 will move the traffic faster in and out of town and will reduce the stop and go of the traffic to one location and not three at the moment.

Mackenzie from Hwy 1 to Hwy 17 needs to all the traffic lights removed - as time goes by this road will gain more and more traffic as people live in western communities and work in Central Saanich. Right now using that stretch of road you deal with four traffic lights.

Hwy 17 needs to have all the lights out to the ferry terminal removed - that is six traffic lights. The fact that we have the ferry terminal at the end of Hwy 17 means we have 'intsa' traffic jams because when each ferry empties its load. The first two or three lights you can watch your fuel efficiency drop as traffic slows and stops.

Doing all this will improve fuel efficiencies by about 10 to 15% on most trips on these routes. Given that the vast majority of people travel via private cars, doing this will have a huge impact on CO2 emissions in this region.

The cost of building all the interchanges would be in the region of $500 000 000. Less than the cost of any light rail system but with a huge impact on CO2 emissions. Over a twenty year period, this would imply a cost of about 25 to 50 cents per kilo of CO2 avoided. This is a dramatically lower a cost than comes from any rail system per kilo of CO2 avoided.

2) Introduce trolley buses

Vancouver has used this buses for several generations. They are slower than conventional buses, but would be a good a fit on the heavy load routes such as the ones going from downtown to UVic or the routes operating with a lower average speed such as the #1 or #5.

The CO2 emissions from trolley buses are very low. Though the cost of the buses is higher than conventional buses and the city does not have the infrastructure in place to run them.

I figure trolley buses will not happen because the NIMBYs of the city will scream about the wires.

It should be noted that trolley buses, while more expensive, slower and less flexible than conventional buses, they beat streetcars on all those fronts.

3) Toll the highways:

Once you get all of Hwy 1 and Hwy 17 freeway, you introduce tolls for use of them. You also vary the toll based on the time of day. The heavier the traffic, the higher the tolls.

By putting tolls on the highway, you reduce traffic demand and speed up the traffic and thereby reduce CO2. You also raise the money to look after the road and pay for the construction of the highway.

Higher commuter costs will move more people into buses.

4) Have a countdown on each traffic light:

If people could see that they are going to sit for 30 seconds at a light and can prepare for when they will be allowed to drive, they can turn off their car at the intersection. Less idling means less fuel used and less CO2.

I try to turn off my car at intersections as much as possible. Doing this saves me about 10 to 15% in fuel. I reduce my CO2 emissions by about 5kg per 100km by doing this.
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