Three Improvements for the King Streetcar

There’s one thing that we can all agree on– the King streetcar is slow and needs some optimization. Why is it important to optimize the King Streetcar? It’s the busiest streetcar in Toronto’s network, and it often gets bunched up. There are a number of reasons why, but I’ll focus on just a couple.

  • Single door boarding
  • Sharing the road with other users, more troublesome at peak travel times
  • Close proximity of stops

As of late, the King Streetcar has been given some TLC and will see the introduction of all-door boarding in the new year. It’s the first step to improving service but I think more can be done.

Three things that will make the King Streetcar better:

  1. All-door boarding.
    • Happening in the new year.
  2. Make the downtown portion of King St exclusive to transit and taxis.
    • A similar tactic is used on Calgary’s 7th Avenue.
    • An old idea that has already been proposed a little differently.
  3. Ensure that stops are 250-350 metres apart.
Conceptualised streetscape for an exclusively transit and taxi King St

Transit Funding Options in Metro Vancouver

I recently wrote a paper that took a look at a variety of transit funding options for Metro Vancouver as proposed by several different sources. The funding sources that I’ve taken a look at are:

  • Vehicle levy
  • Re-directed carbon tax
  • Road network mobility pricing
  • Absentee homeowner surtax
  • Land value capture
  • Half-percent regional sales tax
  • Contributions from other levels of government
  • A combination of the above revenue sources

You can download the paper here.

Ladner Transit Hub Concept

Sorry, mobile users, only Android has an app for Google Maps Engine so you can view the map above.

A friend of mine started this brilliant concept of Ladner being a transit hub that I previously hinted at. What he conceptualized was an extensive makeover for the network in South Delta and adding a (much needed) FTN link to the Tsawwassen Ferries. In the map above, you can see the tweaks that I made to his idea.

Conceptualized Routes:

  • C89 BOUNDARY BAY // TSAWWASSEN PARK & RIDE
  • C86 LADNER SOUTH // LADNER EXCH
  • C87 EAST LADNER // LADNER EXCH
  • C84 ENGLISH BLUFF // TSAWWASSEN PARK & RIDE
  • C76 SCOTTSDALE EXCH // LADNER EXCH
  • C88 LADNER NORTH // LADNER EXCH
  • 404 BRIGHOUSE // RICHPORT
  • 601 SOUTH DELTA // BRIDGEPORT STN
  • 640 SCOTT RD STN // LADNER EXCH, VIA TILBURY
  • 650 SCOTT RD // LADNER EXCH, EXPRESS
  • 660 WHITE ROCK CTR // LADNER EXCH
  • 699 TSAWWASSEN FERRY // BRIDGEPORT STN, B-LINE

What if TransLink Executives were Volunteers?

There is always a lot of drama surrounding the fact that TransLink Executives make a lot of money– I’m not here to say that they don’t– but I just want to put some things into perspective about how people say that if we stop paying the executives so much, we’d have no problem funding transit. I’m sorry if this comes as a shock, but, we’d still have a problem.

Allow me to crunch some numbers and compare with something we can identify with:

Total amount of executive compensation for 2012 at TransLink:
Average cost per kilometre of SkyTrain projects built to date:

$2.5 M

$78.7 M

Length of SkyTrain network that could have been built if TransLink Executives were volunteers in 2012:

30m

 

What this leads me to conclude is: for all those who think that cutting TransLink Executive salaries, even to those in comparable positions in the industry, we’re still going to need more transit funding.

When I say “comparable position” I mean the Chief Executive of a transit agency. What most people don’t realize is our transit agency does a whole lot more than just transit. TransLink operates passenger commuter rail, public bus, a ferry service, automated rapid transit, a police force, motor coach, four bridges, and most of a city’s major roadways– among other things. Personally, I can almost justify their salaries.

If you don’t take the Bus, SeaBus, SkyTrain, Westcoast Express, or Canada Line, TransLink owns and maintains the Knight Street Bridge, the Pattullo Bridge, the Westham Island Bridge, and the Golden Ears Bridge as well as the “Major Road Network” which encompasses most major arteries in Metro Vancouver that the BC Government doesn’t maintain.

The upcoming referendum is a huge deal and it affects virtually everyone. Judging the wide scope of TransLink’s mandate, I’d call the upcoming referendum a “mobility referendum” rather than a “transit referendum”.

Update: SkyTrain cost per kilometre not adjusted for inflation.

South Delta Citizens and Rapid Transit

graph

Each year, Ipsos puts out a survey that surveys how people feel about their city. This year’s hot topic? Transportation.

Transportation is the number one issue concerning people and for 44% of the survey responses. Of that 44%, 6% of the concern was around public transit subcategory– the second biggest concern in the category. Where there is concern, there is demand. Most people just need a more frequent and convenient transit network to get them to leave their cars at home.

In a recent statement on expanding rapid transit to South of the Fraser, the CEO of TransLink, Ian Jarvis stated that “[he] wouldn’t say it’s a ‘dream.’ (Light rail) is something we need to look at in terms of how the Lower Mainland is going to develop.”

A comment made by Marvin Boutlier on that article made me think about expanding rapid transit to Ladner– and at first it seems like it would never work, but after taking a closer look at the idea, it makes a whole lot of sense.

Screen Shot 2013-10-10 at 14.50.46
A radical idea for a South Fraser LRT line.

Right now, 40 buses use the Hwy 99 corridor per hour at peak times. Most of these busses (the 351, 352, 354, 404, 601, 602, 603, 604 & 620 to name a few) run through the tunnel and feed an overcrowded Bridgeport Station.

If light rail were to connect South Delta in Ladner at Hwy 17 and Ladner Trunk, all the buses that typically run through the tunnel can connect at Ladner thusly reducing the cost to run them (noting that South Delta is the most expensive region TransLink operates in).

With a new Hwy 17 on the South Fraser Perimeter Road the repurposed Hwy 17a is the perfect corridor for buses to connect to Ladner, especially with the new separated lane at exit 28 on Hwy 99.

Transit Fares

Here in Vancouver, I’m frequently bombarded by negative conversation surrounding the (seemingly) high cost of public transit fares. It wasn’t too long ago that a friend of mine shared this info-graphic with me. It’s really an eye opener that compares fare cost with distance travelled. I’d say fares here in Vancouver are well worth it. IMO Metro Vancouver’s transit authority, TransLink is really doing a great job at being competitive when compared to other transit authorities across the country in other major cities. If TransLink could just generate more revenue and close the spending gap…

Link to Infographic