Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Transit in Greater Victoria

I would love to see better transit in this region, but we have a public that seems to be opposed to the changes we need. The obvious next step in the region is the creation of bus rapid transit on a number of routes, some routes to UVic and a major one out to the westshore. The first step was the Douglas busway.

The unholy alliance of local business nimbys and LRT evangelists killed this important next evolution in our local transit system. Business owners scared that the loss of a few unused parking spaces would harm their busineses annoys me. The public roadway is there to provide a space to move people and not there for free parking for businesses. The local governments should make it clear that no parking on any street is guaranteed and is only there till there is need for the lanes for traffic.

The other part are the LRT fanatics. People need to wake up and understand that unless there is a fundamental change to the world economics - and there are none on the horizon - we are never going to see any sort of rail transit in this region. There is no business case that can be made for rail that can not be better done with buses. The bus/rail debate was won by buses 60 years ago. The only place rail makes any sense as part of transit plan is where the volumes of passengers is high enough that surface streets can not handle the volumes - this only exists in the densest of centres.

Rail thinking is also one that assumes a 19th century/early 20th century model of cities. One where the majority of people worked and shopped in the core but lived outside of the core. This is not the pattern any longer. Most of us in Victoria do of some of our shopping in Langford - Costco and Home Depot are constantly busy. We have emerging destinations for workers and others in places like Keating Cross Road, Viatec/Camosun, UVic, the Airport, Langford and elsewhere. There is no way we can build a rail transit system that reflects where we live in work.

A basic LRT line from downtown Victoria to Langford will cost in excess of $500 000 000 to construct. Using the existing E and N line will provide an infrequent service at a huge cost per ride, expensive enough that it would bankrupt the rest of the system or force major reductions in services.

While the busway has been shelved for now, BC Transit has some interesting new services coming. There many new bus routes about to start out on the peninsula, including the new #70 that is an express service from the ferry into town.

Bear Mountain is going to get its first bus in the fall, this will be the new #49 bus.

Gordon Head - Cadboro Bay are getting two new buses, the #12 and #13 to serve the local area and I expect will be used by many people studying and working at UVic.

The #4, #6, #11, #14, #26, #27/28 and #30/31 are all schedule to run on at least every 15 minutes from 6am to 10 pm Monday to Saturday. A frequent enough service that no needs to see a timetable and can simply rely on there being a bus shortly.

Greater Victoria transit needs more and faster buses, this means bus lanes.
Post a Comment