TransLink’s CEO addressed the Real Estate Institute President’s luncheon this week with a general overview of regional transit. And though much was familiar, there were still items worth noting. Time for some bullet points.
Said Desmond: “This is the most exciting time to be involved in public transit in its history.” I believe him, especially when you’re running the most successful transit agency in terms of ridership growth in North America.
How successful? Up 18 percent between 2016 and 2018, when almost every other system is flat or dropping. And it’s not just because of SkyTrain expansion. It’s bus ridership that has led the growth in actual numbers, and it’s where the biggest growth is going to come in the next few years.
Big message to the real-estate industry: Don’t just think of development at the station areas; think transit corridors, especially the new Rapidbus lines. (Why the change of name from B-Lines? Because they were just big buses running more frequently with limited stops. Rapidbus involves a redesign of everything from the stops, the signs, the lanes and the land use.)
Irony alert: many transit users can’t afford transit-oriented development. This is not just an issue in the burgeoning station areas like those along the Millennium Line or potentially along the Broadway corridor; it’s also an emerging problem along the new Rapidbus lines, where the housing may be too expensive for the target population the transit is meant to serve.
The desirability of high-density station areas was affirmed when Marine Gateway (along the Canada Line in Marpole) sold out in four hours. That made the industry pay attention when the condo market seemed to be oversold. (It shouldn’t have been that great a surprise: many of the purchasers would have been familiar with similar development in Hong Kong, Singapore or Shanghai – where metro transit and high-density housing are indivisible and desirable.)
The Capstan station in Richmond, paid for by the adjacent development, changes the political message about how we fund transit infrastructure. More by the private sector, less by the public.
Expect Broadway subway service in 2025. Construction starts next fall.
If the money is approved for the a Surrey SkyTrain extension, service to Langley could also start in 2025, which would otherwise be the starting date for service to Fleetwood, the destination without the extension.)
As public consultation on the Transport 2050 strategic plan continues (phase 1 here), remember the previous one: Transport 2021 in 1993.
Almost everything proposed and planned was achieved. “We put it together and we stuck with it and we did it.” (Despite the BC Liberals sabotage by referendum, which they have still not acknowledged or apologized for.)
The future: electric, connected and self-driving. Autonomous cars may not be happening as soon as expected, but by the end of the next decade, 60 percent of the entire bus fleet could be zero emission. That’s especially notable given that a lot of housing will be constructed along the Frequent Transit Network.
Desmond also emphasizes the mundane: maintaining assets in good repair, even as we try to understand and integrate the disruptive forces in transportation.
*Photo by thestar