A once in a generation opportunity to shape transportation

A once in a generation opportunity to shape transportation

2018 was a big year, but we’re thinking even bigger in 2019 

Transit ridership continues to boom in Metro Vancouver, bucking the downward trend experienced by metropolitan areas across Canada and the United States. In fact, our region has experienced an unparalleled 17% leap in ridership since 2015. This presents us with a double-edged sword. These gains tell us we’re heading in the right direction, but we’re only just keeping up with the breakneck pace of demand – even as we’re activating unprecedented levels of new transit service across the region. 

We see ourselves at the confluence of surging demand and historic investments in our transportation system, all while entering a period of rapid change and innovative disruption. How are we going to leverage this momentum into the future? 

We kicked off 2019 in a big way with the second annual New Mobility Forum, convening a group of key players in the automated, connected, electric and shared mobility space. We heard from a lot of bright minds, and one thing was certain: we need to continue making transit an attractive choice for commuters, while actively planning for the opportunities and challenges of new technologies and services. 

TransLink New Mobility Forum
David Zipper

New mobility transformation is already underway in Metro Vancouver 

Vancouver is already the carsharing capital of North America, and we all know services like Uber and Lyft have plans to go online later this year. Think about how these developments will change the notion of individual car ownership. Beyond this, we can expect further disruptive innovation in the transportation space in terms of automation, connectivity, electrification, and the sharing economy, often referred to as the ACES. Changes are coming, and my bet is they’re going to happen quicker than we think. 

Technological disruptions don’t happen in a vacuum. How are we going to accommodate an ageing population or adapt to the changing nature of work? These are some of the questions that need to be considered as the demographic makeup, and the ways in which the people of this region live continue to evolve. We will be at the intersection of change between technology and society, making sure we’re protecting the public interest in terms of equity, affordability, sustainability, and digital privacy. 

Maintaining our commitment to the customer 

At TransLink, our mission is to navigate these changes while continuing to enhance the customer experience. The way we think about our core business and how we serve the region will inevitably change as we adapt to new realities. Right now, we have a unique opportunity to shape the impending disruption, rather than the other way around. 

People are hungry for new options and we understand the region can’t rely on public transit to get everyone everywhere they want to go. We’ll need a constellation of services to help solve mobility issues. We’re actively exploring Mobility as a Service (MaaS) – it’s the disruption that binds the ACES. Imagine planning and paying for your journey–whether it’s by transit, careshare or bikeshare–from a single app on your smartphone. By being proactive, we aim to harness these disruptive innovations to the benefit of all in the region. 

We need strong regional collaboration 

We can’t complete this work alone. We need strong regional collaboration to secure a more livable future. Initiatives such as our Open Innovation Call and New Mobility Research Grant Program seek to encourage partnerships between public sector, industry, and academia. For example, the first Open Call for Innovation partnership will assess how TransLink and three local companies (Evo, Mobi by ShawGo, and Modo Co-operative) can provide customers the convenience of bundled mobility services. Collaboration will be critical moving forward and this is how we envision the future. 

TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond and Modo CEO Patrick Nangle
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond and Modo CEO Patrick Nangle

Metro Vancouver is expecting to welcome 1.2 million new residents in the next 30 years. Keeping our cities moving as we continue to grow requires innovation and coordination among stakeholders with clear direction. We will closely align with policymakers to ensure governance works in the best interest of the public. We have a chance to get this right so let’s work together. Everyone has a stake in this. 

A once in a generation opportunity 

TransLink is shifting gears in 2019 and preparing for the future. #TransLinkTomorrow will be our platform – a jumping-off point to explore new transportation services and how we can improve customer experiences. 

Over the next year, we’ll be reaching out to as many of you as possible to hear what you want from regional transportation, and how we can meet your needs now and for decades to come. 

This spring we’ll begin public engagement to support updating the region’s 30-year transportation plan. We’ll be asking for your thoughts on what makes Metro Vancouver a livable region, what you most value in a transportation system and what ideas you have for future services that can support our quality of life. 

So, take a leap with us – we need you to join us in thinking big. 

Start by sharing your thoughts in the comments below, and sign up for updates.