Cites for Everyone’s Agenda for Efficient and Equitable Transportation identifies four specific regional strategies for more diverse, affordable and efficient transport.
Better planning can significantly increase transportation efficiency and equity. Residents of compact, multimodal communities own fewer motor vehicles, drive less, rely more on walking, bicycling and public transit than they would in more automobile-dependent communities. This provides many direct and indirect benefits, as summarized below.
Benefits of Compact, Multimodal Community Planning
|· Transportation cost savings and increased affordability (savings to lower-income households).
· Improved fitness and health.
· Reduced driving stress.
· More independent mobility for non-drives, and reduced chauffeuring burdens for drivers.
|· Parking cost savings and more efficient development.
· Expanded worker pool.
· Improved employee recruitment and retention.
· More spending on local goods.
· Agglomeration efficiencies, more economic productivity.
|· Reduced crash risk to other road users.
· Reduced congestion and roadway costs.
· Energy conservation and emission reductions.
· Openspace (farm and habitat) preservation
Improving transport options and reducing automobile travel can provide many benefits.
Although few people want to stop driving altogether, surveys indicate that many want to drive less and walk, bike and use transit more, provided they are convenient, comfortable and affordable. Similarly, many communities want to reduce traffic problems and costs. Experience demonstrates that more multimodal planning and TDM incentives can significantly reduce vehicle travel, as illustrated below.
Multimodal planning allows travellers to choose the best mode for each trip: walking and bicycling for local errands, public transit when travelling on busy urban corridors, and automobiles when they are truly most efficient overall, considering all benefits and costs.
These and other examples indicate that an integrated program of multimodal planning, which shifts investments from automobiles to resource-efficient modes, TDM incentives, and more compact neighborhood planning can reduce affected vehicle travel by 10-30%, and even more if supported by provincial/state and federal policies such as Pay As You Drive vehicle insurance and registration fees, decongestion pricing and fuel or carbon tax increases.
The following are specific strategies for improving and encouraging resource-efficient travel modes in the South Vancouver Island region.
1. Accelerate implementation of the BC Transit Transit Future Plan. This strategic plan can significantly improving public transit service, including rapid (grade-separated) and frequent transit service on major corridors, more local services, and better integration. The only problem with this plan is that it is scheduled to take 25 years, so most current residents will be retired or dead before it is fully operational. With increased funding (the funding that would otherwise be used for fare-free transit) we could implement this plan in a decade, similar to Los Angele’s Measure M, a referendum approved by 67% of voters which will fund implementation of the region’s 30-year transit plan in just ten years.
2. Improved interregional transit connections. Currently, transit connections between Victoria and Vancouver are often inconvenient and uncomfortable, and between Victoria and Cowichan Valley or Nanaimo almost non-existent. Transit-ferry connections could be improved with better user information, integrated fares, transit ticket sales in ferry gift shops, bus shelters at ferry terminals, all-door bus loading with prepaid fares, and more frequent bus service to ferry terminals. Frequent and affordable bus service over the Malahat would reduce driver stress, traffic congestion, accidents and consumer costs, and improve mobility options for non-drivers, both on the Malahat Highway and downstream, as described in Rethinking Malahat Solutions: Or, Why Spend A Billion Dollars If A Five-Million Dollar Solution Is Better Overall?
3. Transportation Demand Management (TDM) incentives. TDM includes various strategies that encourage travellers to use the most efficient option for each trip, including commute trip reduction programs, campus transport management, parking management, pedestrian and bicycling improvements, rideshare matching, carshare services, improved user information, and mobility management marketing, to name a few. Some employers and campuses have TDM programs, but we can do much more. California and Washington states, and cities such as Kelowna, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle mandate and support TDM programs. So could we!
4. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) policies. TOD (also called Smart Growth and location-efficient housing) refers to development policies that create compact, mixed neighborhoods along frequent transit routes, to maximize the number of jobs and homes located where residents can minimize automobile travel and rely more on walking, bicycling and public transit. Consumer preference surveys indicate that many households want to live in such neighborhoods, and everybody benefits if they can (residents of such areas generate far less traffic and parking congestion, accident risk and pollution emissions). This requires reforms to allow more compact development, reduced and more flexible parking requirements, and improved walkability in such areas. Peer communities including Edmonton, Hamilton and Saskatoon have guidelines and incentives for TOD.
These four strategies are key to creating efficient and equitable transportation system were residents can use each mobility options for what it does best. Everybody wins!
For More Information
CfE (2019), Our Agenda for Efficient and Equitable Transportation, Cities for Everyone (http://citiesforeveryone.org).
FBC (2009), Transportation Demand Management: A Small and Mid-Size Communities Toolkit, Fraser Basin Council.
Sarah Jo Peterson (2017), Seattle’s Transportation Transformation, Urban Land Institute.
Marc Schlossberg, et al. (2013), Rethinking Streets: An Evidence-Based Guide to 25 Complete Street Transformations (www.rethinkingstreets.com), University of Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Initiative.
SFPD (2018), TDM Menu of Options, San Francisco Planning Department.
SSTI (2018), Modernizing Mitigation: A Demand-Centered Approach, State Smart Transportation Initiative.