It’s I Love Transit Week! A week where we celebrate our riders, transit enthusiasts and all the things we love about transit. For the first time this year, we have a theme: Beyond—the future of transportation in Metro Vancouver. Who better to ask about the future than a planner that’s helping to plan for the future!
By Derrick Swallow, assistant transportation planner, TransLink
It’s an exciting time to be a transit planner! Incredible innovations in technology have already changed the experience of taking public transit – for instance, instead of having to use a paper map or bus schedule to plan a trip in advance, people can now get real-time information on their smartphones. Upcoming innovations in technology – such as the shift towards electric vehicles and the development of autonomous cars – will only continue to change the way we travel.
That being said, when we at TransLink think about the future, we think about not just how technology is changing, but about how the needs of the residents in our region may or may not be changing as well. We need to develop a transportation system that helps residents get where they need to go today with the technology we have now – and we also have to prepare the transportation system to help residents get where they need to go in the future with the technology that is coming.
Here are a few of my thoughts on what that future might look like, and what we’re doing to prepare for it now:
The Future is Multi-Modal
As our roads become more congested, our society is realizing that a one-size-fits-all future where everyone has their own car isn’t as efficient, sustainable,or healthy as it once seemed. That’s why one of the long-term goals of the Regional Transportation Strategy is for half of all trips to be made by walking, cycling and public transit.
To make this possible, it’s critical to invest in infrastructure now. Better walking and cycling infrastructure help make the entire transportation system more efficient – after all, most trips begin on foot! We’re already been working to expand the regional cycling paths and improve walking infrastructure to transit in Phase One of the 10-Year Vision and we’ll continue to do so in the upcoming phases.
The Future is Frequent and Fast
Whether or not our personal vehicles, buses or car shares run on electric batteries or drive themselves, there will always be demand for fast, frequent transportation between major destinations.
That’s why we’re developing new B-Line bus routes, including on the North Shore and between Coquitlam and Maple Ridge, as part of Phase One of the 10-Year Vision. That’s also why we’re investing in new rail transit – a technology that has been around for centuries – along King George Boulevard, 104th Avenue, and Fraser Highway in Surrey, and along Broadway in Vancouver, with construction to be completed in the upcoming phases of the 10-Year Vision.
These are important investments that will increase people’s access to major destinations and shape the region’s economic development for decades to come.
The Future is Human Centered
In order for these fast and frequent routes to be useful to people, they need to serve complete communities with affordable housing options, local grocery stores and retail and office space.
Imagine a young parent in Langley walking with their child to daycare before stopping at the local coffee shop and catching the LRT line to their job at Surrey Central. Wide sidewalks make them feel comfortable walking with their child and the frequent train service means they don’t have to stress about the schedule.
We’re working with municipal and local government partners to support the development of transit-oriented communities as outlined in the 10-Year Vision. This is not only a sustainable economic decision, it has environmental and health benefits as well.
The Future is Ever Changing
While we can never know for sure what the future holds, we know that we have to start planning for it now. According to regional population forecasts, one million more people are expected to call this region home by 2045! That’s why we’ll be updating the Regional Transportation Strategy next year, just as we do every five years (as required by provincial legislation). The Regional Transportation Strategy sets the course for how accommodate a growing and changing demand on the transportation system over the next 30 years.
At the same time, we’ll be implementing the rest of the projects in the 10-Year Vision, such as establishing an Innovation Lab to explore new mobility concepts, technologies and services. We want to make smart and strategic investments that meet people’s transportation needs now as well as in the future.
As I said before, it’s an exciting time to be a transportation planner. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s ideas for the future about how we can improve the lives of all Metro Vancouver residents. Keep an eye out for more opportunities to get involved!
Looking for more ways to celebrate I Love Transit week? Come to our in-person event, or check out the blog for more opportunities to share your stories and win! Follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too!