Tag: transit

How green is my city?

Everyone drives big cars
Seriously, this is a small car?

Canada has a reputation for being green – as in eco friendly. The recent survey by Siemens certainly agrees as Vancouver came in as the greenest city in Canada and the number 2 in North America, after San Francisco.

Vancouver was in the top 10 on all 9 measures, and came in number one for CO2 emissions per capita. Other Canadian cities did fairly well with Toronto at 9, Ottawa 12, Calgary 14 and Montreal 19 out of the 27 cities in the survey.

Vancouver is aiming to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. Is that likely?

Despite the reputation, I think there’s quite a hill to climb. One of the biggest issues is transit. It’s going to take a lot to get Canadians out of their trucks, SUV’s and vans. If you look at the traffic we have now there are Ford Behemoths, GMC Giganticas, Chevy Disturbans and the like choking up the roads, often with a single occupant.

It is understandable when the public transit system is straining to cope. Building bike lanes is not going to help for most people’s commutes.

The challenge is to fund and develop a public transit infrastructure with a relatively small population base to supply the money. No one wants to pay for these initiatives.

There’s no easy solution but at least Vancouver has made a start and is already better placed than many other north American cities.

What do you think?

Getting around to it

Fare zone map
The Vancouver Fare Zone Map

I was prompted to write this because one long awaited initiative in Vancouver’s transit system – the Evergreen Line – seems to have a glimmer of hope.

The Evergreen line will eventually extend the existing Skytrain system out to Port Moody and Coquitlam. It’s future has been, and still is, in doubt due to a funding shortfall. The Federal Government, B.C. Government and private investors are providing much of the money, but local municipalities have been stuck with finding the remainder. They are now proposing this is to be raised by a levy on our gas (petrol).

I am not going to debate that issue. Public consultations will air all our many grievances on gas prices, property tax and government inefficiencies!

Since many of our relocation clients come from outside of North America, I often need to educate them on just what commuting might involve here in British Columbia, and Vancouver in particular.

First and foremost the car is still king. And even carpooling is rarer than it could be. The HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes are not very busy, even though a driver with one passenger can count as a high occupancy vehicle in many areas.

If you do want to commute then there is the skytrain. This goes out to the airport and Richmond, Surrey, New Westminster and Burnaby. It is a surprise to many of our clients that there are no ticket barriers at the stations. These are going to be introduced. We are a trusting lot here!

Train services are common in Europe. I spent many years commuting by train in and out of London. So it can come as a surprise that Vancouver only has the Westcoast Express which connects downtown Vancouver to Mission via Coquitlam, Port Moody and Maple Ridge. It may be more of a surprise to find that this service is pretty much only 5 trains in the morning (5:25am to 7:25am) and 5 returning in the evening (3:50pm to 6:20pm). Outside these times there are buses, but stay too late in town and you’re going to be getting home some other way.

Buses are actually the most common form of commuting. What you think of the service depends on your expectation. Many people from rural areas think the service is great. If you are used to a big city, then you might not agree.

Translink has a great trip planning tool on their web site. Have fun finding your way around.

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