The Capital Regional District is considering a resolution to shift transportation investments from higher to lower-emitting types of transportation (i.e., from automobile infrastructure to walking, bicycling, public transit infrastructure, plus transportation demand management programs). This will be considered at the February 17 Transportation Committee meeting.
Cities for Everyone supports this resolution as part of local, regional and provincial efforts to create a multimodal transportation system.
Why Multimodal Planning?
To be efficient and equitable a transportation system must be diverse, so it can serve diverse travel demands, including the mobility needs of people who cannot, should not, or prefer not to drive. Even now, a significant portion of regional travel is by non-auto trips. According to the 2017 CRD travel survey, 14% of trips in the region, 26% of trips in Victoria, and 33% of downtown trips are by active modes, as illustrated below. The survey also shows that about 10% of regional households, 20% of Victoria households, and 40% of downtown households are car-free.
CRD Mode Shares (2017 CRD Origin-Destination Study)
About 21% of regional trips, 37% of Victoria trips, and 49% of downtown trips are by non-auto modes.
There are many good reasons to apply more multimodal transportation planning in the future. Current demographic and economic trends, including aging population, plus affordability, health and environmental concerns, are increasing demand for walking, bicycling and public transportation in every part of the CRD. Local, regional and provincial governments have ambitious goals to reduce automobile traffic and increase active travel. The CRD has targets that by 2038, 30% of regional trips and 50% of trips in densely populated areas will be by active modes. The Province has a target of doubling active mode shares by 2030. Victoria has a target that by 2041, at least 60% of all local trips are by walking, cycling and public transit. Similarly, the City of Saanich has targets to approximately double active travel mode share by 2036 and triple it by 2050.
Increasing roadway capacity is prohibitively expensive and contradicts other economic, social and environmental goals. Public transit, walking and cycling infrastructure are more cost effective, equitable and beneficial overall. More multimodal planning benefits everybody, including motorists who experience reduced traffic and parking congestion, safer roads, and reduced chauffeuring burdens.
In order to create a multimodal transportation system that serves everybody’s needs, we must invest more in transit, walking, and bicycling infrastructure, and avoiding projects that induce more driving. Although local jurisdictions have made progress, provincial and federal funding continues to favor automobile travel over resource-efficient modes, as indicated in the following map.
Most currently- transportation projects that are currently planned in the CRD region support automobile travel. More efficient and equitable transportation planning will invest more in resource-efficient modes and transportation demand management programs.
We recommend that the CRD Board support the following motion under agenda item 7.2.
“That the Board express its support for Union of BC Municipalities Resolution B143 – ‘Shifting Investment to Low-Emission Transportation’ which passed at the 2019 convention, and request that staff consider the commitment in the Pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, to shift investments ‘from higher to lower-emitting types of transportation’ in their work.”
This policy would:
- Accelerated implementation of our regional transit plan. BC Transit’s Victoria Transit Future Plan provides a strategic vision for improving our region’s transit network. It includes increased service (more frequency, destinations and operating hours), higher operating speeds (bus lanes, signal priority and faster loading), more comfort and amenities (better buses, stops and stations), plus improved user information and payment systems. It can include fare discounts for lower-income residents. The only problem is its 25-year completion target. Increased funding allows faster implementation.
- Frequent and affordable interregional transit services. Public transit service between the CRD and areas north is infrequent and expensive. Four buses depart Duncan weekday mornings and return each afternoon. There is no reverse-commute or evening service, and only three weekend trips. The fare is $10 each way, about four times a local fare. Service to Nanaimo is even worse; one or two daily trips, with $24-34 one-way fares. This combination of poor service and high prices explains why transit serves a tiny portion trips over the Malahat. Increased funding could provide frequent and affordable transit service to reduce congestion, crashes, pollution and consumer costs, and provide mobility for people who want to travel without a car.
- Improved Active Transportation (Walking and Bicycling) Conditions. Walking, bicycling, wheelchair and scooter travel play important roles in an efficient and equitable transport system. They provide basic mobility, connections to motorized modes, and healthy exercise. Improvements include sidewalks and crosswalks where lacking, more bike lanes and parking, separated paths, plus education, enforcement and encouragement programs. The CRD has a Regional Pedestrian & Cycling Masterplan, and local governments have similar plans, but implementation is slow due to inadequate funding.
- Implementing Transportation Demand Management (TDM). The CRD can advocate that re-allocated provincial and federal funds be made available for TDM incentives. The South Island Transportation Strategy identifies various TDM programs that could be implemented in our region if funding was available. Other successful TDM programs show what could be achieved: UVic’s Sustainable Transport program and Camosun College’s TDM program significantly reduced vehicle travel to these campuses. California and Washington states, and some cities, support TDM and mandate Commute Trip Reduction programs for some businesses. Washington State’s Commute Trip Reduction law has significantly increased transit ridership and reduced automobile travel in the Puget Sound region.
- Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Transit improvements complement local efforts to create compact, walkable neighborhoods. Presently, lack of transit investment is impeding local government and developer efforts to create TOD. This type of development maximizes the number of jobs and homes located in areas where residents can reduce their driving and transportation costs. Consumer surveys indicate that many households want to live in such neighborhoods, and many businesses want to locate in TODs in order to improve customer and employee access, and reduce parking costs.
- Reduce parking costs. Investing in public transit and active transportation creates the conditions for reduced parking requirements. This can significantly increase housing affordability and reduce traffic problems. It also allows unbundling (rent parking spaces separately from building space), so car-free households are no longer forced to pay for costly parking facilities that they do not need. Reducing parking supply and shifting to cost-recovery pricing typically reduces affected vehicle trips by 10-30%, and allows more compact and efficient development.