Monday, August 29, 2011

Alternatives to the LRT

The goal of the LRT, and of all transit, is to provide a reasonable alternative to getting their under you own steam.

The Westshore is growing and there is an issue with the commute, the question is what is the best solution to improve the travel time for the people on the roads?

Do nothing - this is always an option.   The implication of this is that nothing much will get better and slowly but surely things are likely to get worse.   There is a longer term possibility this may not be a bad idea because we may not need more capacity to move people in 15 years time.   If more people work from home, and those numbers are rising quickly, the daily rush hour crush could start to dissipate over time.

Build lots of road works.   Say we three lane the TCH and build a bunch of overpasses.   This would improve the situation but it would come at a large cost.   Two or three interchanges and five kilometers of extra lanes will run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The one piece of roadwork that makes sense is the Mackenzie interchange.   Mackenzie and #1 is a location where there is a major split in the traffic and demands more options in the traffic light cycle than most intersections do.   The traffic light is the cause of a lot of the problem and being able to eliminate it would allow a lot more traffic movement than now.

Together with the interchange, we should build some HOV lanes.   I do not mean very extensive ones, but just ones in the areas where the traffic is the worst.   Towards the Westshore, this would be from Uptown to just past the intersection with Mackenzie.   I would make it a 5+ HOV lane so that buses and van pools would be the vehicles using it.   This would not be an expensive change, but it would offer enough of a speed increase that the current buses could maintain their off peak times.

My whole point out of this is that there are many options that can be considered to deal with the Colwood Crawl and they all need to be considered.  Moving forward with the LRT without considering the bigger traffic picture is foolish.   At this point no work has been done to show if the LRT will have any impact on the traffic, in fact most of the data would seem to point the construction of the LRT making the Colwood Crawl worse.

What we really should be looking in this region is some form of BLine like in Vancouver.   The 99 BLine is one of the busiest bus routes in North America and moves 50,000 people a day.   The BLine moves quickly because it has limited stops and people at the stops have to buy a ticket before boarding.   The public can enter at anyone of the three doors which means people getting on and off is much faster for large groups that for conventional buses.

I think locally there should be a BLine along the #26 and the #14 routes.   Try them out and see how they work.  If our goal is to make it easier to move more people, we have to look at how improve the service for the people already using the system.   UVic is one of the primary destinations in this region.

I doubt a BLine to the Westshore would really make much difference.   The buses to and from the Westshore need a way to get around the most serious traffic backlogs.   There has to be some functional and inexpensive way to do that.
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