Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Planning for the Future

Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas

 

Lecture Series Photo_SkyTrain-small

 

Hello Buzzer readers, if you are looking to join an interesting conversation about transportation, this is the event for you.

 

Breaking the Political Gridlock to Address the Transportation Challenge: Lessons Learned from the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, lecture by Dr. Anne Golden will address many important issues facing Metro Vancouver regional transportation.

The lecture takes place on January 28 at 7 pm at Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (at SFU Woodwards), 149 West Hastings, Vancouver. Admission is free, but reservations are required. RSVP here.

Dr. Golden brings the unique and relevant experience of leading the Transit Investment Strategy and Advisory Panel in its recent work on identifying a viable transit investment strategy for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. She will describe the political and financial context that was blocking progress in Toronto, and set out Making the Move, the plan that she and her 12 panel members hope will break the political and transportation gridlock.

Like Metro Vancouver, which will add one million new residents  over the next 30 years, the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is projected to see its population increase by 40 per cent in the next 20 years. Both Metro Vancouver and Toronto are seeking ways to give their residents new transportation choices, ease congestion, better connect people with jobs, and enable people to travel efficiently in all directions.

This is the first lecture in the speakers’ series ‘Rethinking Transportation: New Voices, New Ideas’. The series, focused on key transportation issues and opportunities facing the Metro Vancouver region, will explore new perspectives on the movement of people and goods in cities with thought leaders, decision makers, and experts from across North America who have tackled some of the most pressing transportation challenges.

For more information and to RSVP, visit the lecture page.

Do you know someone who would be interested in attending this lecture? Feel free to share the lecture information with your colleagues and friends or post it on your social media channels. Help us spread the word about this important conversation! For Twitter mentions, the hashtag for the lecture is #sfucity.

Poll: How can we best communicate with you in 2014?

Tell us how you want us to communicate with you.

Tell us how you want us to communicate with you

It’s a new year and time to start fresh. When I look ahead to what’s on TransLink’s to do list this year, saying it’s a busy year is an understatement.

For one thing, Compass Card integration to the entire system will be in full swing in 2014. If fundamentally changing how people use transit in Metro Vancouver wasn’t enough, we’re also continuing to upgrade our Expo Line stations, rolling out more service optimization to best use the resources we have and change some schedules during our four annual service changes. Those are just a few items that TransLink needs to tackle this year and communicate to you our customers.

In an effort to make sure we’re doing all we can to inform you the customer about the above items as well as service disruptions and other factors that affect the movement of people and goods in Metro Vancouver, we’d like to know how you would like TransLink to communicate with you so that you feel informed.

There are 1.2 million transit trips on our system every day. We know you rely on our transit system to get to work, school, medical centers, friends and family. So, we want to make sure you have the information you need to get to where you need to go quickly, efficiently and safely.

Below is poll we’d love for you to take, share with your family, friends, colleagues and whomever else you think would benefit from hearing from us. We’ll use these poll results and any comments you leave to help us administer our communications resources more effectively.

When considering the options, think of your typical commuting day. Where are you and what are you doing if there is a service delay on a bus, SkyTrain or TransLink operated road or bridge? How do you usually find out about TransLink and the services we provide? We’re excited to read you answers!

How can we best communicate with you in 2014? (note: you can select up to three answers)

  • Through posts and tweets (69%, 100 Votes)
  • Posters, ads on the system (48%, 69 Votes)
  • In person help at stations and stops (43%, 62 Votes)
  • Through journalists and media reports (37%, 53 Votes)
  • Other (9%, 13 Votes)

Total Voters: 145

Some of the bigger projects in 2014 we want to communicate to our users

Some of the bigger projects in 2014 we want to communicate to our users

 

Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan Phase 2 interactive survey is now live

It's time to look long-term transit planning in the Northeast Sector!

It’s time to look long-term transit planning in the Northeast Sector!

Attention residents or riders who travel regularly in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore or Belcarra. It’s time to help us with long-term planning of the Northeast Sector transit plan.

Be Part of the Plan!

The second phase of the Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan (NESATP) starts today! Building on key issues and opportunities for transit in the area learned during the Phase 1, Phase 2 looks to identify a 30-year transit vision for the sub-region. The end result of this four phased plan will be both a 30-year vision and transit priorities for the next 1-10 years.

Take the interactive online survey

We’re doing things a little differently for phase 2. We have a really exciting online interactive tool that lets you act like a planner of transit for the sub-region. First you pick your priorities from a list of important trade-offs required in transit network design.  Next, a series of maps illustrate conceptual scenarios based on different ways the network could change – and show how those scenarios relate to your chosen priorities. After scenarios you can drill down further to different opportunities for the region — all for you to determine!

The online interactive survey will be open until 4 p.m. on Friday, January 6, 2014. Your input, along with financial and technical information, will help TransLink develop the plan, expected to be completed by fall 2014.

Take part in our workshops and drop-in sessions

There will be three workshops in the Coquitlam Centre area on November 25, 26 and 30. Check the Get Involved page for more details including registering in advance.

Riders can also take part in four drop-in sessions on November 22, 25, 26 and 30. Again, you’ll want to check the Get Involved page for more details including time of day and locations.

More to come

Stay tuned! There will be more opportunities for you to give your input on the future of transit in the Northeast Sector coming up in the next phase.

Storify: Moving the Future – A New Conversation on Transportation and the Economy

 

On October 31, Buzzer blog editors participated in the conference ‘Moving the Future: A New Conversation on Transportation and Economy’. We heard some great ideas about the future of transportation and the economy in Metro Vancouver, and got a first-hand insight into experiences from other North American cities. For all those interested in this topic, here’s the storify of the tweets shared at #movingthefuture. Read more »

Share your thoughts on the draft 2014 Base Plan!

2014 Base Plan

The cover of our draft 2014 Base Plan!

It’s that time of year again! We’re looking for your feedback on our draft 2014 Base Plan and Outlook.

By legislation, TransLink must prepare a base plan each year, which goes to the Mayors’ Council and Transportation Commissioner at the beginning of November.  The base plan outlines the programs and services that TransLink will deliver over the next three years, using existing funding sources. Read more »

I Love Transit 2013: An interview with Dr. Patricia Daly

I Love Transit 2013

It’s the I Love Transit Week and we are talking to Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Health Officer and the Vice President, Public Health for Vancouver Coastal Health. Patricia is originally from Toronto, and has made Vancouver her home for the last 20 years, where she and her husband have raised their three sons. You can follow Vancouver Coastal Health on Twitter at @VCHhealthcare.

 

Patty Portrait 2013

Dr. Patricia Daly, Vancouver Coastal Health

Why do you love transit?

When I use transit, which usually means I walk about 3 blocks from my house to a bus stop, I am happy that I am getting some physical activity without having to schedule it into my busy day.  I like the fact that I am making a positive contribution to the environment by leaving my car at home.  But what I love most about transit is that it is a much less stressful way of navigating a busy city than getting behind the wheel of my car – I like someone else to do the driving.

What’s your favourite mode of transportation?

I love the Canada Line.  There is a station a block away from my Vancouver office, and it has become my preferred route to get to and from the airport and to meetings in Richmond.

Being an expert in public and preventative health, what exactly is preventative health and why did you choose that area of medicine?

I spent the early years of my medical career working in Emergency Departments, treating patients with many preventable conditions, including diseases related to smoking, alcohol consumption and injuries.  I wanted to work further upstream to prevent these conditions from occurring.  Public health and preventive medicine focus on three areas: promoting good health, preventing diseases and injuries, and protecting population health.

What are the key areas of health promotion?

Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over and improve their health, by ensuring that the healthy choice is the easy choice. Some of our key health promotion activities include working with municipalities to design neighbourhoods that encourage people to walk, cycle and be physically active, ensuring healthy, nutritious food is readily available to everyone, and initiatives that discourage young people from starting smoking.

What about health prevention?

Prevention activities include such things as immunizing children, injury prevention initiatives, and maternal-child health programs for newborns and their mothers to help everyone get a healthy start in life.  Health protection programs include food safety, water quality and air quality programs to protect the population from contaminants in the environment.

How are health and transportation connected?

We know that if we design neighbourhoods that encourage people to walk, ride bicycles and use transit rather than use cars, that people will be more physically active.  Daily physical activity is very important for maintaining good health and preventing disease.  Also, because many chronic diseases, including respiratory and cardiac diseases, can be caused by or exacerbated by toxins in the air, choosing modes of transportation that are less polluting can also help improve the health of the population.

What can we all do to increase the health of our population?

Encouraging people to be physically active seems like an easy way to improve the health of the population, but the truth is that it can be difficult for people to incorporate the recommended amount of physical activity in their daily routine (60 minutes daily for children and 30 minutes for adults).

Does active transportation factor into this?

Active transportation is any form of transportation that is “human powered”. Encouraging people to use active transportation to get to work, school and run their daily errands is an easy way of helping to achieve physical activity targets.  Using transit is also considered a form of active transportation as people usually walk to the bus stop or transit station, and even 15 minutes of walking each way will allow adults to meet their daily recommendation for physical activity.

What’s an example of a simple transportation choice that can improve the health of the region?

Walking is my favourite mode of transportation. Try walking to one errand a week – if there are no local stores in your neighbourhood, consider those stores near your workplace; I make all my bank and pharmacy visits near my office.  If these ideas don’t work, how about occasionally using the stairs while you are at work?  Employers can help by ensuring stairwells are accessible and inviting.

Fare tariff changes several programs

I’d like to share some important news about recent decisions affecting TransLink’s fare tariff policy.

As a result of a review of the TransLink Board of Director’s examination of discounts and programs in our bylaw tariff, several programs will be discontinued.

Here’s a link to the media release regarding this news.

The changes to the tariff include the discontinuation of the following:

  • Employer Pass Program effective January 1, 2014. This program provided an extra 15 per cent discount to members and required a 12 month commitment. Customers can continue to purchase monthly passes.

 

  • FareSaver tickets will begin transitioning out as early as January 1, 2014. A discount on regular fares will be provided within the new stored value option for Compass Cards.

 

  • Free travel for family members of monthly pass holders on Sundays and holidays effective January 1, 2014.

 

  • West Coast Express 7-day pass effective January 1, 2014. Existing ticket machines will begin transitioning out in November.

 

  • West Coast Express 28-day pass effective January 1, 2014. Customers will be able to purchase a calendar monthly pass. Existing ticket machines will begin transitioning out in November.

 

  • West Coast Express $1 fee for bikes. Customers on West Coast Express can now transport bicycles for free.

These changes are intened to create more equity and fairness in the system; TransLink took a good, hard look at our programs to determine which ones still make sense. With these changes, riders will see fairer discounts to their fares – on all modes of transit throughout the region.

TravelSmart will continue to work with companies, municipalities and customers to promote healthy and sustainable transit options for riders. For more information on these changes, check the tariff changes FAQs.

 

 

Introducing Borjana!

Borjana

Greetings!

Hi Buzzer readers. My name is Borjana and I recently joined TransLink to support the work of the Regional Transportation Strategy team. I love the work this team has done on preparing for how we’ll travel in Metro Vancouver in the next 30 years and I’ll be sharing those ideas and plans with you. I already posted about the Regional Transportation Strategy twice here and here.

I’ve been a transit commuter for years and so far I’ve used SkyTrain, buses, West Coast Express and Seabus to get to work. You can probably tell I moved quite a bit, right? My favourite commute option is SeaBus because of the stunning views of the coast line on a sunny day. My transit commute is great for reading. It’s so great I sometimes get so absorbed with a book and I miss my stop!

I hope you’ll enjoy my future posts.

Walking, cycling and transit – the path to healthier living

Active transportation

Let’s talk about health and transportation in our region

Post by TransLink communications advisor Borjana Slipicevic

Hi Buzzer readers, a few weeks ago we started a conversation about the future of transportation in our region. Considerations of health play a large role in transportation planning for our region.

Did you know that every hour you spend in a car each day makes you 6% more likely to be obese? And, every hour you spend walking each day makes you 4.8% less likely to be obese?

Taking transit encourages commuters to walk or cycle to a station or a stop, so by choosing active transportation, you can fulfill more than 25% of your daily required physical requirements.

As research shows, sedentary lifestyle is a major cause of many chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and some cancers. Many chronic diseases are preventable and sustainable transportation choices offer the possibility of prevention and even treatment through increased physical activity.

We are rethinking transportation and the health, economic, environmental and lifestyle benefits it has for the region.

The research report “Transportation and Health: Context Report”, published by UBC’s Health and Community Design Lab, and funded by TransLink and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, shows that transportation and health are closely linked and health outcomes need to be considered in transportation planning.

This report is a part of the process to update Transport 2040, the current regional transportation strategy.

In Transport 2040, the region agreed that the most affordable and efficient way of achieving our livability, economic and environmental goals would be to make it possible for people to make half of all trips by cycling, walking and transit and to reduce distances driven by one third. We believe that if we achieve those two goals, our population will be healthier, economy will be more stable and our air will be cleaner.

What do you think? Fill out the survey on translink.ca/rts so you can be part of the plan.

Share your thoughts on the future of transportation in the region

 

2045 Employment & Population Projection map - from the regional and economic growth backgrounder document of the Regional Transportation Strategy

2045 Employment & Population Projection map – from the regional and economic growth backgrounder document of the related documents section of the Regional Transportation Strategy

Post by TransLink communications advisor Borjana Slipicevic

TransLink is updating Transport 2040, with the current Regional Transportation Strategy (RTS) and we are looking for your feedback.

By 2045, Metro Vancouver is expected to welcome one million additional residents, adding 500,000 jobs and three million more passenger trips every day. We can’t have all of those people travelling the same way we do today and keep our quality of life. Improving our system in a way that protects our health, economy, environment and our future is more important than ever.

To ensure that we can achieve all that our region aspires to and within the resources available, we need to start rethinking transportation. We are proposing an approach where we make the most of existing investments, and plan new ones around more walking, cycling and transit.

At the same time, we need to provide more management measures, such as better information, regulation and pricing so people have the tools to make different travel choices. We are also committed to working closely with local governments to encourage community plans that locate jobs, housing and services closer to the frequent transit network.

How to get involved?

We have started a dialogue on this proposed approach and would like to hear from you. Please go to translink.ca/rts, to learn more and read the Draft Strategic Framework for Consultation. Between now and July 8, 2013 you can share your perspectives via an online questionnaire.

Your input is important to us, and will help us finalize the strategic framework and develop an implementation strategy that includes investment options for the future. This is just the beginning. We will continue this conversation in the fall of 2013.

 

Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan survey now live

Do you take this bus? Then you should take our survey!

Do you travel regularly in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore or Belcarra? Is so, we want to hear from you!

Be Part of the Plan!

We’ve started updating the Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan. The plan will identify a 30-year transit vision and transit priorities for the next 1-10 years for the area and is an opportunity for you to have your say on the future of transit in the Northeast Sector.

We’re in Phase 1 of the plan, trying to find out what the key issues and opportunities are for transit in the area. What do you think?

Take the survey

Tell us your thoughts by answering our online survey by 4 p.m. on Friday, June 14, 2013. Your input, along with financial and technical information, will help TransLink develop the plan, expected to be completed by fall 2014.

More to come

Stay tuned! There will be more opportunities for you to give your input on the future of transit in the Northeast Sector coming up in future phases.

Evergreen Line extension station names announced

Evergreen Line map

Have you been wondering what the new station names along the Evergreen Line extension project are going to be called? Well, we’re excited to tell you the names were just released this weekend and they are:

  • Lougheed Town Centre Station
  • Burquitlam Station
  • Moody Centre Station
  • Inlet Centre Station
  • Coquitlam Central Station
  • Lincoln Station
  • Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station

The line will provide a valuable transit link for Metro Vancouver residents when it opens in summer 2016. As TransLink’s CEO, Ian Jarvis said, “The Evergreen Line SkyTrain extension is a much needed link in the region’s transportation network and will be part of our communities for generations.”

To find out more, including a construction schedule for the next twelve months, check out the full news release, the Province’s Evergreen Line site or TransLink’s Evergreen Line page. There’s also a photo gallery from the announcement on Facebook!

Funding for the project is a partnership between the Government of Canada, the government of British Columbia and TransLink. TransLink will be responsible for operation and asset management of the Evergreen extension when it opens.

TransLink 101: keeping our system in a state of good repair

TransLink 101 blog feature series banner

For February 2013, we’re going back to basics with TransLink 101—explaining TransLink and its work!

SkyTrain, by Michelle Lee

As you travel around on the transportation network, have you ever thought about just what’s needed to keep the system running safely, efficiently and reliably — also known as a “state of good repair“?

Right now, TransLink has an estimated $10.2 billion worth of assets and infrastructure – from buses and trains to radio towers across the region that support the communication systems on our buses. And because they form the backbone of  a transportation system used by hundreds of thousands of people very day, keeping them in a state of good repair is crucial.

So while people often talk about transportation expansion to meet the growing needs of the region, we also have to make sure we keep our existing assets in a state of good repair so we can extend the life of the system already in place today.

In 2012 we conducted an in-depth asset inventory and analysis to understand what’s needed to keep our transportation assets in a state of good repair, today and over the next few decades.

To help us better understand the process, why we did it, and why it’s so important, I sat down with Dave Beckley, TransLink’s Vice President of Engineering and Implementation.

Read more »

Cathy McLay, TransLink CFO, answers your questions about the 2013 supplement

Cathy McLay, TransLink's Chief Financial Officer!

Cathy McLay, TransLink’s Chief Financial Officer!

Earlier this week, we asked readers to submit questions about our 2013 draft supplemental plan and TransLink’s Chief Financial Officer Cathy McLay would provide answers.

We received a few questions, and here they are, along with Cathy’s responses!

[March 11, 2013: These have been updated with answers to all the questions we received.]

How will this supplemental plan impact TransLink’s operations and services?

Through operational efficiencies, and drawing on the cumulative surplus, TransLink is able to deliver the same service in 2013 and 2014 that was identified in the 2013 Base Plan.

What did TransLink do to improve your financial position since October 2012?

We’ve aggressively implemented some efficiencies earlier than planned. For example, shifting from conventional buses to community shuttles in less productive areas to reduce costs, reducing layover times on bus routes, reducing overtime costs, not filling vacancies, restructuring and streamlining operations, and not accessing the contingency fund.

Are you using your contingency reserve to absorb the shortfall in funding?

Even though TransLink has made great progress on improved revenues and cost efficiencies, the supplemental plan relies on drawing $3.3 million of TransLink’s cumulative reserve.

What is TransLink’s overall credit rating? Does the 2013 supplemental plan incorporate any possible downgrades to the organization’s credit rating? I ask about downgrades in the light of the funding difficulties.

TransLink’s credit ratings are AA-Stable with DBRS and AA2-Stable with Moody’s . We do not anticipate a downgrade with either rating agency and our plan is reflective of this. We do not believe that a downgrade would be warranted, as TransLink does not increase services or capital investments unless it has the identified funding to maintain the operating cost or debt repayments for our commitments. Generally speaking, TransLink revenues are diversified (multiple steams of revenue) and are fairly predictable. Our financial policies restrict TransLink to drawing down our reserves to a minimal level in order to weather economic shocks.

Do the numbers for 2013 include the impact of any possible decline in ridership due to the January 1, 2013 fare increases?

The plan includes price elasticity for ridership, which was also included in the 2013 Base Plan.

The trend in future will be to have more service hours through the use of community shuttles rather than conventional vehicles. If the cost per service hour is less with a smaller vehicle, shouldn’t that allow TransLink to operate more service hours overall in the region while keeping costs constant?

We manage to multiple priorities, looking at the best way to provide the committed service at the lowest possible cost, while managing overall risks. If there is a financial surplus, the organization looks to the most cost-effective ways to meet TransLink’s overall mandate.

Some routes are seriously overcrowded right now. Why doesn’t TransLink draw down on its cash reserves to operate more service hours?

Like all businesses, TransLink must manage its risks and be fiscally responsible. The reserves are intended to manage unforeseen economic shocks. However, we are drawing on the reserves in order not to be in a position to cut services.

The UBC and Surrey Rapid Transit studies have just been released. There doesn’t appear to be any financial planning for these future lines. Why is that given ten years of future comparative numbers are provided?

Our plans include only the services for which we have identified and committed funds. Once funding is identified and committed to these projects, our plans would be refreshed to reflect both the revenue commitment and the matching capital and operating expenditures.

If you have any other questions, ask them here in the comments and, as always, we’ll sleuth out the answer for you!

Remember, consultation on the 2013 supplement is open until March 15: give us your feedback on the plan, then we’ll incorporate it and present it to the Mayors’ Council later this month. (It’s up to the mayors then to decide whether to approve or not.)

Thanks again to everyone who participated with their questions!

Help wanted: volunteer to advise the Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan

Out for a stroll in Coquitlam. She could be on our Public Advisory Committee!

Out for a stroll in Port Moody. She could be on our Public Advisory Committee!

Are you interested in transit in your community? And do you live, work, or study, in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Belcarra, or Anmore?

Well, TransLink needs your help!

We’re looking for people to sit on a new Public Advisory Committee (PAC), to provide community perspective into our newly-launched Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan process.

If you’re interested, there’s more info and an application form over at translink.ca/nesatp. Applications, submitted online or through the mail, are due March 18, 2013.

What’s an area transit plan?

TransLink’s area transit plans identify long-term visions and near-term priorities for an area’s transit network and are undertaken for seven areas within Metro Vancouver.

The plans consider community input, current and projected land use and growth and transportation-related data findings, such as automated passenger counts. The Northeast Sector Area Transit Plan will coordinate transit planning with municipal land use planning while considering the future of the area.

Stakeholders and the public will have a variety of opportunities to provide feedback during the 18-month process, including through public consultation events and online surveys.

Check out the Area Transit Plan program overview page for more detail!