Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Rapid Transit!

As an MLA, one topic people regularly bring up with me is traffic. We’ve been debating for years how best to address our transportation problems. I believe strongly that we need to invest in a public transportation system that is zero-emissions, efficient, cost-effective and pleasant to use.

Click to see close-up
Creating such a system for Victoria and the surrounding areas is very exciting - but it is also a complex and expensive undertaking that has long-term implications. It requires careful consideration and wide consultation.

I am happy to report that this work is well underway and BC Transit has developed a regional rapid-transit plan which has widespread support from the municipalities of Saanich, Victoria, View Royal, Colwood and Langford.

The image to the right shows where BC Transit’s rapid transit alignment would be developed in the Victoria/Saanich area. (You can click on the image to see a regional map).

We are still debating what kind of system this should be – the biggest question is whether it should be rail-based (such as trams) or road-based (such as high-speed buses). BC Transit sums up the argument like this: “A rail-based system would cost more, but would have more capacity, attract more ridership and the vehicles would last longer. A rubber-tire-based system would cost less and could be implemented faster, but would reach capacity sooner, not attract as many riders as rail, and the vehicles would require more frequent replacement.”

I agree with the Municipalities of Saanich, Victoria, View Royal: we are all supportive of a rapid transit system that is rail-based. As Councilor Dean Murdock argues, “a rail-based system offers environmental, social, and economic benefits for our region. It will cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase transit ridership, improve transit travel times, stimulate economic growth, and cut sprawl.”

There is no way to escape the fact that transportation is a significant contributor to global warming. We need to get serious about climate change. Rapid transit – and especially light rapid rail - is an important and necessary step to help us reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Costing and other details continue to be worked on. We should soon have enough information to make a decision about how to move forward. Municipalities, regional governments and community leaders have shown initiative and vision. It is time for the provincial government to prove it is serious about fighting climate change and willing to help address the south island’s transportation needs.

Click here to learn more abou the Victoria Region Rapid Transit Plan.