Friday, June 10, 2011

That Chicken and Egg Thing

The more I look at the recommendation for the LRT for the CRD and the more I read the BC Transit Transit Future Victoria Region, and when I look at their planning for neighbourhoods like James Bay or UVic, the more I realize there is a fundamental flaw in how BC Transit is approaching all these plans.   BC Transit is not developing their plans based on the planning of the municipalities, but is effectively trying to develop land use plans.

Local land use and transportation is a function of local government.   They have to develop Official Community Plans and have detailed zoning maps for their city.   Any planning for transit should be being done by the local governments and then implemented by BC Transit.   I am not sure how BC Transit ended up doing any sort of planning at all?

If one looks to page 66 of Transit Future Plan Victoria Region, you get some interesting quotes:

What We Need to SucceedBC Transit has begun to take steps to guide the Transit Future Plan from a vision to a reality. These efforts will only be successful if done in partnership with the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, the
CRD, the region’s 13 municipalities, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and the community. A continuous dialogue between these partners is required to ensure strong links between:
• Land use planning and transit planning
• Provincial and regional transportation planning and transit
• Transportation policy and funding availability
How will BC Transit use this plan?• As a tool to communicate the region’s vision for transit to partners, stakeholders, and the public
• To identify where and in what order key transit investments will occur
• To strategically move projects through the capital planning process
• To inform the three year service planning and budgeting process
• To work with partners on integrating transit plans and investments with other major infrastructure plans and projects
• To respond to planning and development proposals
What actions does BC Transit need from local and regional partners to succeed?• Integrate the Transit Future Plan into regional plans, Official Community Plans and transportation plans
• Integrate and consider the Transit Future Plan network when developing local corridor plans or any road infrastructure projects. For example, incorporating transit signal priority measures with an intersection upgrade project
• Integrate and consider the Transit Future Plan network when developing active transportation infrastructure plans and projects. For example, a pedestrian and cycling infrastructure project on a transit corridor could improve access to transit by providing or improving sidewalks
• Ensure that local and major development proposals and projects are received and reviewed by BC Transit to ensure support of the Transit Future Plan
• Implement Travel Demand Management strategies that encourage shifting automobile trips to transit such as, implementing High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, transit priority measures, marketing efforts, restructuring parking fares and reducing parking availability/requirements in areas well served by transit
• Support and encourage Transit Oriented Development
• Work with BC Transit to explore incentives to attract high density and mixed use development to areas well served by transit
• Work with BC Transit to pursue new funding options for transit service and infrastructure (e.g., developer cost contributions (DCCs), cash in lieu of parking, land acquisition through rezoning and subdivision etc.)

I read through the above and it seems like BC Transit wants to control land development in this region, that it wants to control all transportation planning.    BC Transit is way over reaching their mandate.

Decisions on transit service locations, modes and frequency are all the responsibility of elected local government representatives.

It is the 13 local governments and the CRD that decide the form and function of development in this region.   It makes no sense to add a new layer to this from an agency that has no mandate or expertise in zoning, community planning, or general transportation.

The vision that they have for 25 years down the road for Transit has been written as if there is only one local government and that there is currently no OCP in place anywhere because the Transit Plan is the OCP.

Transit exists as a service to improve the quality of life for people in the city, it does not exist as an end in itself.  If we could move everyone with no delays and no greenhouse gases without transit, we would do so.  Transit is a solution to a problem and can only fail when it becomes the goal in itself.

Transit has to be responsive to the needs of communities and not be seeking to make communities conform to the needs of transit.   Transit has to be primarily directed by the planning departments in our local governments and make potential recommendations for service based on the OCPs of the local governments.   This one quote makes me seriously wonder how far out of touch with reality BC Transit has become:

• Ensure that local and major development proposals and projects are received and reviewed by BC Transit to ensure support of the Transit Future Plan

We first have to have the communities decide what they want their future to look like, then we can make plans for transit.   Local councils and planners are the ones with mandate and skills needed to make transit plans.
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