Back to the south side of the Fraser River where there is now a meaty discussion occurring about the Massey Tunnel replacement, and questions  arising on how to manage “congestion” in the tunnel prior to any new tunnel replacement. A robust commenter in the Delta Optimist points out that they “regularly use the tunnel in both directions at various times of the day and am never delayed more than a few seconds. Most of the time I barely have to slow down before heading into the tunnel.”How? This individual travels by “motorcycle, taking the #601 bus (public transit is a wonderful thing) or driving with one or more companions. That means I get to use the HOV lane, travel at reasonable speed and merge seamlessly into traffic heading under the river. In case you are not familiar with the term, HOV stands for “high occupancy vehicle.”
HOV was introduced in Canada in Metro Vancouver and Toronto in the early 1990s. In 2010 there were 150 kilometers of HOV lanes in Canada, with 130 kilometers of arterial HOV lanes. They are a great invention and are underused in the Massey Tunnel context. As the Delta Optimist writer states: It is true that during rush hours one can’t help but notice a significant back-up of cars and trucks not using the HOV lane. That is because they are what you might call “low occupancy vehicles” – one person taking up an inordinate amount of road space and burning an unconscionable amount of climate-destroying fossil fuel. This is exactly what we need to discourage: the most inefficient form of human transportation ever created. First, by not facilitating it with irresponsible highway and bridge expansion and secondly by creating efficient and user-friendly public transit alternatives.”
Instead of  the Corporation of Delta continues their campaign for a new bridge with no support from other Mayors or  the Metro Vancouver region, they could be encouraging and organizing ride share for their citizens, and running campaigns to increase bus usage. This way the municipality could decrease tunnel congestion by promoting ways to have fewer vehicles through the tunnel,  and could actively encourage that large truck traffic not use the tunnel during “peak times”. One simple solution is to run Port Metro Vancouver’s port 24 hours a day like every port in North America  to alleviate truck and tunnel congestion, and limit trucks in the tunnel at peak hours.
Planetizen writer James Brasuel reviews the futility of widening freeways to lessen congestion, and this also applies to the proposed ten lane Massey Bridge- “the idea of widening freeways to lessen congestion has been “thoroughly debunked…[e]conomists now talk about the ‘Fundamental Law of Road Congestion’–each incremental increase in highway capacity generates a proportionate increase in traffic, with the effect that congestion quickly rebounds to previous levels–accompanied by more sprawl, longer trips and increased pollution.”
You can’t build your way out of congestion. As Lewis Mumford said, ‘No one, it seems pays heed to our own grim experience, which is that the more facilities that are provided for the motor car, the more cars appear”. And  that was written 64 years ago.


  1. A 4 lane tunnel on THE major N-S highway is a joke. A 3 lane bridge to W-Van is a joke (built in the 1930s). Both bridges are frequently clogged. Just like “more buses” is a joke to congestion or to “encourage” folks to use less cars !
    Only robust RAPID transit works. And sensible tunnel / bridge upgrades say at least 6 or better a minimum 8 lanes here at Massey.
    Where have you EVER seen a condo development that advertised “we are on a major bus route” ?
    The utter disconnect with reality of the MetroVan Transportation council is APPALLING.

    1. You’re only half right. Transit is preferable, but improvements to that service are moot if you just add loads of vehicle capacity. Carrot and stick. Make driving harder while making transit easier.
      I’m quite happy with Metro Vancouver’s general strategy. If you want the sprawl of Edmonton or Houston, nobody’s stopping you from moving there. If you want Vancouver, buck up and get a Compass Card. I for one am sick of hearing the endless whinging of entitled suburbanites who choose to drive everywhere yet won’t accept the consequences of their decision to do so.

      1. Fair enough. But Mr Horgan just removed some of the stick (i.e. bridge tolls) .. a sticklet at best really .. and the carrot ie RAPID transit is a long LONG way off !!!
        Doing nothing seems the modus operandi ie frustrating growth, users and voters. WHY ?

        1. Yes, that was unwise. To answer your question, though, doing nothing is cheap – both financially and politically. A new bridge or tunnel costs too much of both.

        2. Well SOMETHING has to be done here .. at the very least upgrading existing ones and another parallel tunnel with 2 more lanes. Where is this proposal ?
          What does the 2040 plan say here ? I see NOTHING in here that even remotely addresses a new bridge or a new twin tunnel. Just more buses and LESS lanes for the non-HOV folks ?
          Furter debate on this 2040 plan and required updates here

        3. If you want people to get out of their cars, you have to build the realistic alternative (rapid transit) first. It’s not fair to put in a road pricing or toll scheme until you have given them a realistic alternative. I agree that governments have been doing nothing for too long. I would love to see all levels of government working together to find a solution instead of using transit as a way to score political points and having a “not my problem” attitude. When people and goods can get to where they need to go faster, all levels of government win.

        4. Governments are the people’s reps.
          It appears we do not want rapid transit nor wider bridges. We voted for congestion. We pay in time.
          Who will educate people that congestion relief costs money ? Either through higher income taxes, higher consumption taxes, lower expenses (mainly wages & benefits of excessively paid civil servants in secure jobs as they eat up 70%+ of all taxes), road tolls or road pricing schemes. There is no free lunch here, although of course far too many reps pretend there is.
          Let “the other guy” pay. Guess what: the other guy is you !

  2. Interesting that the article seems to ignore instances of the very positive effect proper transportation networks can have in modern society. Classic example is the critical positive effect the the building of the interstate highway system had on the blossoming of the USA as the preeminent industrial power of the 20th century, for better or worse…

    1. That was the common thread of thinking until people like Newman and Kenworthy did the math. There is a clear worldwide trend toward a plateau in car km driven, and recently a decline in some cities.
      Moreover, freeways and cars have decoupled from wealth and GDP in jurisdictions where mass rail transit has appeared. Car use and freeway km went down while per capita wealth went up.
      You need to catch up on your research.

        1. As indicated by the removal of tolls on bridges, eh ?? Some sound transit planning & decongestion device, eh ??

        2. Toll cancellation aside, the new government will be working with the Metro on all kinds of transportation issues, including fair and likely universal road pricing. That alone will make up for any toll revenue shortfall.
          The previous government preferred to ignore the Metro, or worse, treat it with arrogance. They paid a price for that.

        3. The toll removal was pure vote buying in Langley & Surrey.
          As to road pricing, we shall see. There will be tons of resistance from the burbs ! TONS !! Maybe if they reduce gasoline taxes and at the same time introduce per km charges it may fly.
          I believe it once a senior politician says “Infrastructure like highways or transit costs a lot of money. As such, you either pay in time (when doing nothing) or in money. Money comes from taxes. We have to live within our means”. Likely they will do nothing significant, kick the can down the road, and massively increase the debt as we have seen in AB, MB, ON and the federal level. BC economy will deteriorate and nothing major will change, except for more public sector hiring.
          Perhaps a UBC line by 2040 and one through Massey by 2060 or likely far later than that. Likely nothing of significance to the congested North Shore either. Maybe another seabus.
          Something BOLD is required to decongest MetroVan. I do not see it anywhere. Do you ?

        4. You mean rack up the debt like the Liberals did in BC? I doubt the NDP could match that flagrant abuse of future generations.
          Meanwhile, constraining transportation leads to more liveable cities as more people choose to live close to their daily needs. European cities were built in an era of transportation constraints and they are wonderful places. They took a wrong turn with allowing cars to dominate for a few decades but have largely undone that in their cores. Yes, they built excellent public transit since – as we should. Vancouver is dense and liveable in part because for a long time we had constrained transportation networks.
          Something BOLD is happening. We’re creating many dense multi-use nodes connected by rapid transit. For those who choose to live in the sprawl it’s their choice to have no choice but to deal with car dependency.
          But you make a point. Add road pricing and reduce gas taxes. Abolish the TransLink tax which does nothing but give motorists the false impression they are funding transit.

        5. Europe’s cities have been designed 200+ years ago in the age of horses and pedestrians ie walkability was key, plus no elevator ie no highrises.
          North America, by and large, grew the last century with the car. That will take a century to rebuild / adjust.
          I see no boldness whatsoever in Metrovan as it relates to transit. Merely more highrises along Skytrain that appeals to some folks but the rest flee to the burbs due to this uglification and undesirable densification. Many prefer a townhouse in Langley or Surrey or Tsawwassen to a condo on the 19th floor in Burnaby. Many. Most I’d say !

  3. If the province consults with the directly affected First Nation, this is what they will hear.
    “The Tsawwassen First Nation, which is both the oldest resident community south of the Fraser and the region’s newest municipal entity, will work with whatever crossing materializes. But Chief Bryce Williams said a bridge would make life easier for everyone.
    “We’ll be successful on this side of the Fraser because we have a lot of great developments on the go,” Williams said, but emphasized that the status quo isn’t working. “There needs to be a solution to alleviate the traffic problems. We look forward to seeing what that solution is.” “

    1. Then let’s push for a 2-lane transit bridge with outriggers for bikes and pedestrians and leave the tunnel for everyone else. A smaller bridge may not sink into the deep, deep muck at quite the same rate as the overblown 10-laner.

      1. The Tsawwassens and others will then be able to rejoice. A 1% reduction in the tunnel traffic [“About 77 per cent of all vehicles using the tunnel in 2011 were single-occupant vehicles, with 10 per cent multi-occupant vehicles and one per cent buses ..”]
        They, and others, will be pleased to know that the traffic will massively decline from 80,000 vehicles a day to a much more manageable 79,200.
        They would also be able to bike across too. Yippee!

        1. You didn’t get it.
          An exclusive-use rail transit bridge with a fully networked service will provide a great incentive for the SOs in the SOVs to switch to save time and money. That is why the fast and frequent Expo Line is a success story despite the initial criticisms in the early 80s. That is why the Canada Line exceeded its most generous ridership estimates from day one. There is no reason to assume otherwise when the transit alternative provides a much superior service at less per capita cost than driving the 4 Runner alone on a daily commute.

        2. That is true Alex .. BUT this rail line is in no plans whatsoever. Maybe by 2080 ?
          Only RAPID transit AND far more expensive car use will force or incent people out of their cars onto other modes.

        3. I don’t think it’s necessary to force or incentivize people out of their cars. People are wanting to anyway. It’s not necessary to try to make it more inconvenient, it already is more and more inconvenient all by itself. There are just too many cars competing for space. Many people hate the driving experience and are hungry for alternatives.
          The bus plan for the North Shore is currently awful. If the buses ran more often up the slope and if they had some dedicated bus lanes then people could rely on it and know that it would get them to Marine Drive faster than sitting in traffic on Taylor Way.
          If there was a type of rapid transit (unaffected by traffic conditions) from Park Royal to Vancouver it would be very popular. (Light rail, BRT, etc.)
          On the other side, if there was something like that from Phibb’s Exchange to Vancouver it would be popular.
          To get from West Vancouver to North Vancouver all involves going down to Marine Drive and then up the hill again. This takes forever by transit. They should put in some new east/west bus routes along Highway 1.

        4. Hang this above Marine Drive or Hwy 1 on north shore: .. or even above reinforced Lionsgate ! Cheap. Green. Quiet. Eco.
          Once car users see these gondolas whipping by while they are stuck in traffic many many will switch !
          Why not do a trial from Park Royal in W-Van to Lonsdale Quay ? or from Park Royal to downtown Vancouver ?

  4. I agree that a fully networked service would be interesting and would draw riders. As you say, there would then be massive developments along the route.
    Has there ever been any rail proposal? What’s the route, to Ladner and Tsawwassen, North Delta, Panorama Ridge and South Surrey?

  5. Ron; do you think that Metro Vancouver and TransLink should be reduced in scope, perhaps stopping at Richmond to the south and Burnaby to the west and not including north shore municipalities at all? That way your ‘constricted transportation’ area would better represent the stated ideals and not be constantly irritated by distant ‘burbs that need to cater to their populations that are not served well by the central transit ‘dense-use nodes’ system?
    Perhaps Metro Vancouver really wants to be downtown, only.
    Setting the outer municipalities free would enable funding considerations to concentrate on the Broadway Line fixation and not be distracted with residents and municipalities like North Vancouver, South Surrey and Langley, etc., that have residents that do not have any transit service at all.
    There is certainly no restriction on building in these far flung ‘burbs. The gap between dense and distant is only growing because the housing product, the Missing Middle, is not available in Vancouver.
    The sentiment that existed during the failed transit referendum is increasing. The gap is growing. Another vote would go the same way, and some.
    Either Metro Vancouver needs to recognize that these people living in the outer ‘burbs are deserving of transit or bridges and highways too or Metro Vancouver should go it alone within only those municipalities that want to be part of their Grand Plans.
    Time for a referendum on Metro Vancouver itself!

    1. Maybe you haven’t noticed the urbanization of the suburbs. This is a result of planning done 30 or 40 years ago finally achieving the result that was intended.
      It seems any change in societal thinking takes a generation to come to fruition. There is absolutely no reason why people in Langley should commute to Vancouver. If we can create bedroom communities we can also create largely balanced communities with workforce matching jobs. In a transportation constrained environment this would happen organically. Instead we built free-flowing highways to induce sprawl and now need to chase it with expensive transit. That’s a lose – lose.
      The regional town centres have a lot of potential to alleviate the pain without any new investments in major transportation infrastructure. Not saying we shouldn’t improve transit. But the-big-road-first model is a loser.

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