More Transit Fares for More People

TransLink has done it again: they’ve raised fares for the fourth time in less than 8 years. This time across the board (passes and tickets, too). Oh joy.

That’s a 40% increase at the farebox; the ever-helpful Bank of Canada tells me that inflation over this period has been less than 16%, meaning fares have gone up 2 and half times faster than everything else. Since the last fare increase in 2005, inflation has been less than 4%, but this latest fare increase is 10% (2 and half times more again). Not quite what TransLink wrote back in May: “transit fare revenue increase of six per cent is proposed, representing general inflation over the 2005-2007 period.”

But of course, it’s worth it, right? No pain, no gain. Wrong.

To justify the fare increase in 2000, we were promised 500 new buses.

To justify the fare increase in 2002, we were promised 400 new buses.

The only new buses that have come since any of the fare increases in 2000, 2002, and 2005 are replacement buses that were needed 10 years ago.

This time, TransLink heralds the largest bus expansion in 31 years (better sit down for this one): 90 buses. That’s not even 10% of what we have already and a far cry from those earlier promises.

It fits the trend though; each time they promise less and deliver the same: nothing.

That would all be bad enough, but now TransLink is trying to brainwash us into thinking that Transit Service equals Fares. Want more Service? Pay more Fares. Want Peace? Go to War. Want freedom? Give up your Rights. TransLink is spinning with the best.

Let’s look at a few of the details of their latest missive, titled: More Transit Service for More People.

Read: More Transit Lies for More People.

Let’s start with the obvious: “Since the last fare increase in 2005, TransLink has significantly expanded and modernized its bus fleet.” Hello? The only “bus” fleet that has expanded is the Community Shuttles, aka minibuses, whose drivers get less pay and benefits than regular bus operators. Aha.

The “modernized” part of that lie, I mean advertisement (same thing), above must refer to the new trolleys, which were supposed to go into service in 2001. These long awaited trolleys are so modern that they can’t take bikes in their racks after dark! But they do have signs that can say “Sorry, Bus Full.” Now that’s More Transit Service.

The specific new promises (34 new SpyTrain cars and a 3rd Seabus) won’t be fulfilled until 2009 (don’t hold your breath), but the fares go up now. Nice.

But wait! There’s more…we will get “continued expansion and modernization of the bus fleet” and “new routes and more frequent service.” Gee, how will that be measured? And why would we believe it?

The one promise made that you can bet on is that fares will go up again within 3 years. If the current TransLink management remains, they may break this one, too…in order to raise them sooner.

Too bad they didn’t use the money spent on this propaganda to buy the new buses that they keep promising and not delivering; I’d guess this latest bit of propaganda is worth at least one and maybe even 3 or 4 new buses more.

So what to do, what to do?

If you’re a parent in the ‘burbs, I bet you’re not going to bring your 3 kids with you into the City by bus. That would put you back at least $30; gas still doesn’t cost that much and there is lots of free parking to be had.

If you’re a commuter, or “regular customer” in TransLink-talk, maybe you have the resources to stock up on “FareSaver” tickets or you buy a FareCard. Or maybe it’s just cheaper and easier to drive. Only 10% of commuters before the fare increase would have disagreed. How many more will be driving in 2008?

Okay, before the doom and gloom sets in, let’s get to some action plans to lift our spirits…

1. write a letter, if you haven’t already. I’m sure this will make a big difference in the fares imposed by TransLink.
2. attend a TransLink Board meeting. Oops, sorry, these have been privatized by Kevin Falcon and TransLink’s CEO Pat Jacobson (you know, the woman who created Canada’s first private highway for Ontario’s version of BC’s Liberals). But hey, weren’t those old meetings fun! The Chair was always so friendly and encouraged everyone attending to share her/his thoughts with them.
3. write a blog entry. I recommend this especially for any parents reading this. Not only will this make you feel much better but it will make it look like you are doing something…so that when your child looks you in the eye just before the planet dies, you can say you…wrote a blog…
4. write a letter…oh wait, we did that already.
4. write a series about Fare-Free Transit to show how easy it can be and how evil fares are. That will show TransLink!

I guess that’s it for law abiding, good people like us. Oh wait, we can talk about the issue with all our friends and family…yeah, that’s number 5. And my personal favourite:

6. Vote next November for transit-friendly politicians. Unlike when they governed TransLink during the last 4 fare increase, they won’t have any influence over TransLink’s policy or staff. But you voted for a change! Well done.

Unfortunately, most that can, will probably opt for number 7: drive a car. And who could blame them if the planet wasn’t burning?

Of course, blogs like these aren’t read by only good and nice people like us. Which means, of course, there’s hope…so here’s a list for those “other” folks:

1. Stop paying fares. Why pay for something that we own and already paid for with taxes and rent and hydro bills and gas taxes. Of course, drivers gotta do their job, which is drive the bus and inform you of the fare. But remember, the driver is a working stiff like most of us, so do give a smile and a hello/thanks. It makes all the difference. In short: don’t just dream about it, be the Fare-Free Transit system you desire!
2. Share your transfers/tickets, if you have one. Despite TransLink’s propaganda that tries to scare people into unlearning decent, common behaviour, it is NOT a crime to share. Even with strangers.
3. Get a ticket from the only Transit Police in the country (with the only Police board that has cops) and challenge it in court. Hey, “those” folks are often rich and the rich write the rules. Besides, “Fare-Paid Zones” are public property paid for by you and me. Sharing is as human as breathing. Taking transit is good communal behaviour, not a crime! Or is it driving alone in a noisy, polluting, greenhouse gas emitting, one tonne killing machine? I can never remember…

Speaking of killing machines, all of the guns and tasers and cars and uniforms and salaries for the only Transit Police in the country, could have bought 40 new buses by now.

That’s new buses, as in an expanded fleet, not empty promises.

i Viva la farestrike !


Fare-Free Transit: is it finally time?

I’ve had the pleasure to research and write a series of articles about Fare-Free Transit around the world and how these systems compare to what exists in Vancouver and Nanaimo.

You can find these articles on the daily on-line newspaper, The folks at the Tyee were so supportive and helpful from start to finish and I can’t thank Dave Beers and Bryan Zandberg enough for the polish they put on every article. They also helped facilitate these resulting radio interviews about Fare-Free Transit.

Kathryn Gretsinger hosted the first of these, which you can find right on the Tyee’s site.

On Wednesday, July 11th, I was in the studio for CBC’s afternoon show; you can listen to the portion which featured a Q & A and call-in about Fare-Free Transit here.

That night, there was a short Q & A on CKNW, which you can listen to here.

Saturday afternoon, I was asked to be a guest on CKNW’s Sean Leslie show; I called in from the Folk Music Festival and you can listen to that here (alternatively, here is the link to their Audio Archive: select July 17th @ 4pm after logging in).

CiTR‘s Pedal Revolutionary show devoted the last half of their show to Fare-Free Transit on Thursday, July 19th. You can listen to the whole show or their previous shows by clicking on Podcasts and then their show name from You can listen live here.

KPFK Los Angeles, Pacifica Radio’s affliate for Southern California, ended their August 6th edition of Beneath the Surface with Suzi Weissman with a discussion on Fare-Free Transit. You can listen to their whole show here or listen to KPFK live here.

UPDATES SINCE THE TYEE SERIES WAS PUBLISHED asked for an US-focused summary of the Tyee series and published it on 26 July 2007.  You can read it by clicking here.

Community Transportation Association edited the Tyee series (with permission) and published a short article in their magazine that you can also find on their website by clicking here.

Malaspina College (now Vancouver Island University) student paper, the, published an article written by Morgan Vanderree entitled, “Fare-Free Transit Equals Fair Transit.”  You can read it by clicking here and scrolling down to page 6.

Planetizen asked me to write a follow-up piece that was published on 23 Feb 09; it’s entitled, “Why Is Fare-Free Transit the Exception Rather than the Rule?” and you can read it by clicking here.


On 29 January 2007, I rode my bicycle and took transit all the way to Whidbey Island, Washington State, USA (from East Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory) to research and experience Fare-Free Transit:

The start of my pilgrimage to a Fare-Free MeccaThe start of my pilgrimage to a Fare-Free Mecca; the fare: $4.50

A beautiful Pedestrian and Bike BridgeA wonderful Pedestrian and Bike Bridge

The prettier side of the imaginary line…The prettier side of the imaginary line…

…and the ugly; only bikes were sent this way!…and the ugly; only bikes were sent this way!

Round two, Blaine to Bellingham; the fare: 75¢Rounds two and three, Blaine to Bellingham and Bellingham to Mt. Vernon; the fare: 75¢

The breath of fresh air that is Island Transit; the fare: 0!The breath of fresh air that is Island Transit; the fare, everywhere: 0!

Isn’t something missing?  Nope, the passenger counter is all you really need here…Isn’t something missing? Nope, the passenger counter is all you really need here…

Just the facts…and not one trace of propaganda or misinformation, inside or out!Just the facts…and not one trace of propaganda or misinformation, inside or out!

Otis and another happy Island Transit rider…Island Transit operator Odis D. Jenkins and another happy Island Transit rider…

The Ultimate Commuting Machine

Yes, I think I’ve stumbled upon it…the ultimate commuting machine!Front view of the ultimate commuting machine

Why such a bold statement? Let me list the ways…it’s

Clean: when the battery is charged via solar panels, there are virtually no emissions (the manufacture of the solar panels created some emissions, as does the flatulence of food digestion…oops, pardon me). The reduction in CO2 emissions, compared to anything that consumes gasoline or diesel, is even more than the necessary 94% to save ourselves on this planet. It ain’t stone age but it sure is effective!

Comfortable: this recumbent design makes it possible to ride all day long with no strain on my body while using only my quadriceps muscles (thighs), one of the largest muscles in our bodies.

Top view of the ultimate commuting machineEconomical: by being human powered with an electric assist motor, you can fuel this machine with food and solar electricity only! It doesn’t get more economical than that.

Efficient: again, the design of the recumbent, especially with the fairing (windscreen) reduces wind resistance and the electric-assist motor allows you to pedal at a near-constant pace, especially up hills! No more struggling to get to the top – you can zoom up the steepest hills at 27 to 30 km/h!

Far-ranging: with one charge, the bike can reach 70 to 100 km, depending on terrain and wind. That’s when averaging over 30 km/h. The range could possibly be extended, if need be, by reducing the average speed.

Fast: in human terms, this machine pushes the limits of safety. The electric assist motor has been limited to 32 km/h, above which the risk of death in a crash with a pedestrian starts to rise quickly. In practical terms, it can average 33 km/h (I recently did this over a 40 km ride), which is faster than any motorized vehicle can do in any setting other than a highway.

Contact me for more information or the latest report on how it is performing. And please contact your city/municipality and province to get their butts in gear to provide safe, separated space (from both one tonne killing machines and pedestrians) for all bikes NOW.side view

BC Ferries misses the boat…again!

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. (a.k.a. BC Ferries) recently announced a $28 million dollar “upgrade” to four loading bays at Horseshoe Bay (near West Vancouver) and Departure Bay (near Nanaimo). This followed an announcement that they were having three new giant car- and truck-carrying ferries made in Germany (which will NOT create work for the very people that BC Ferries purports to serve). In total, this corporation plans to spend $200 million on ramps and bays and $2.5 billion on boats — bays and boats built for cars and trucks, no where near where the majority of people live or work.

Now on which planet do they operate again?

Washington State Ferries have been operating ferries out of downtown Seattle for decades. Their walk-on and bicycle passengers can work, school, play, or shop downtown knowing that they can get home without the hassle of a bus or the cost of a car. Conversely, since the majority of mainlanders live near downtown Seattle, they can – without a car or bus – get out of town by foot or bike. Nothing radical here, and it all works just fine.

Meanwhile, BC Ferries is still wholly owned by BC taxpayers but thanks to Gordon Campbell, it is no longer accountable to the people it is owned by and serves. I assume this is the excuse that this corporation would use to explain why there has been no public process regarding the huge hole that it is about to dig.

Now, I’m not saying let’s get rid of the car ferries. No, not yet. People have rightly said that they are a vital part of the highway system. People who drive depend on them. Fine. Let them keep using the recently overhauled ferries on the Horseshoe Bay/Departure Bay route. They’ll be fine for another decade or two, at least.

What I’m saying is wake up and smell the half-cafe, double decafe latte (with a spritz of lemon) and spend a fraction of this money on people, not cars and trucks. Harbourlynx, the fast ferry that carried foot passengers and bikes from downtown Vancouver to downtown Nanaimo proved again that there is a growing number of people that don’t drive but still want to get to Vancouver Island and beyond. Not to mention, live on Vancouver Island and get to the big smoke without using a car. In fact, every holiday weekend BC Ferries sees it for themselves, if they would only look. On a service that is painful at best, and most often horrendous for non-motorized passengers, it sells out the walk-on tickets for every sailing. It’s time for faster, smarter, passenger- and bike-only ferries to Nanaimo, Victoria, and the Gulf Islands.

Actually, Victoria already has a passenger-only service from a major west coast city: Seattle. But not from Vancouver. Europe, New York, Latin America, Asia, the list is too lengthy to even begin to list the number of passenger-only ferries that serve major cities in the world. What do we have in Vancouver? Seabus. That’s it (but I can hardly wait for Harbourlynx to start again in a couple of months!!).

Meanwhile, TransLink and BC Ferries have both shown no interest in making it easy for people who don’t drive to use this ferry. When I sent an email to BC Ferries about the fact that at most 4 bikes can get to their sailings, I didn’t even receive an acknowledgment that the email was received. I’m sending this one to the same public relations email address; we’ll see if a response is forthcoming this time.

TransLink, to their credit, has one employee who has a job description that provides some time to reply to bicycle-related emails. I was told that my email raised some valid points and that they would see what they could do. Six months later, no changes or additions have been made, even during the peak of the summer season. Yesterday, 4 packed Express buses took most of the people who walked off the 5pm sailing, but most of the bikes rode without the bus because TransLink’s schedule gave no indication of extra service and it was faster and more comfortable to ride for 90 minutes than wait and get crammed into their sardine can, a.k.a. bus.

Meanwhile, work on the new ramps and ferries has begun. At a cost over 100 times of what it would have cost to buy and double the capacity of the high-speed passenger service from downtown to downtown.

And just what are we going to do with giant car-carrying ferries when the oil runs out or just gets too expensive to use so frivolously? Maybe we’ll sell them back to the manufacturer again for less than the cost of the materials to make them, just like last time. That will ease our tax burden, won’t it?

Gordon Campbell and his Liberal Party, with 23% of the eligible vote in the last election, have gone on a spending spree that is making even Wacky Bennett turn green with jealousy in his grave. No public process has approved these ferries and ramps. No public process has approved the twinning of the Port Mann bridge and the rest of the multi-billion $ Gateway project. Lies were told (e.g., it’ll be a tunnel, not cut and cover) to get the $2+ billion RAV a.k.a. Canada Line barely approved. And more blatant lies were spoken (e.g., all cost overruns will be covered by the Provincial Government) to get a slim majority of referendum voters in Vancouver (but only 14% of eligible voters) to “approve” the Olympics, which are doubling in cost almost every year (and we still have 3+ years to go!).

So far, that’s about $10 billion for 4 rich boy toys that I won’t use. In stark contrast, the cost of surface light rail from downtown to the airport, the cost of passenger-only boats and ramps to Vancouver Island from downtown Vancouver, and the cost of doubling the capacity of the Port Mann with HOV lanes (i.e., no paving at all) is about 1/100 of what we are already on the line for (I’ve consciously omitted the 2010 corporate orgy). These are things that I and a growing number of us would and want to use. They could even pay their friends to build them.

Must be nice to be able to funnel so much of our money to their friends. Probably very close buddies with many of them, by now. I’m guessing they haven’t imagined a world where people, like me and you, simply stop paying for their fun and friendships. But I can. Can you?

Vancouver City Staff prioritize North Van car commuters over local residents who walk and bus…again!

Imagine yourself trying to catch a bus to work, to an appointment or to school. You can see the bus a block away. You run toward the intersection but you can’t cross safely. You have to wait for 3 different lights to change. By the time you get to the stop, well, the bus is long gone. If you’re lucky, you wait another 15 minutes; if not, 30 minutes or more!

This is the reality for many commuters living around Dundas and Nanaimo. The #4 and the #7 bus routes join together and stop near this corner on Dundas to take residents downtown and beyond. But bus riders as well as pedestrians have to cross 3 busy and very wide roads to get to this bus stop safely because the north crosswalk across Nanaimo remains closed. And despite an excellent opportunity to improve this, the City of Vancouver Transportation Staff continue to hinder East Van residents from taking transit.

About 10 days ago, the traffic light pattern at the intersection of Dundas and Nanaimo was changed. The City of Vancouver Transportation Staff who made this change were well aware of the problems faced by residents in the area trying to take transit. Here is their response to a request to reopen this crosswalk (note: bold has been added for emphasis):

“The change does make a north crosswalk fairly easy to open though. We may do so in the future if it can be accommodated without causing too much congestion. The north crosswalk would operate during the westbound green. But the westbound green must be kept short for this change to work, and pedestrians require a long time to cross. I am hoping that we can make the change, see if it has the desired effect (reduce the use of Dundas east of Nanaimo), and then consider opening the north crosswalk.”

Although this change greatly improves motorists’ safety, it was motivated by a group called which is trying to stop through traffic on Dundas between Nanaimo and Renfrew. Similar to the situation that previously occurred east of Victoria on Venables, suburban commuter traffic is making local residents’ lives louder, stinkier, and very dangerous because there are no physical limitations to their speed.

Meanwhile, pedestrians have not been able to safely cross Nanaimo at the north side of this intersection for years.

The significance of this missed opportunity for change is that it flies in the face of what we in the City have clearly prioritized.

First of all, our 1997 Transportation Plan clearly places pedestrians first, followed by cyclists, then transit users (remember this one), then goods and services (some of the freeway traffic) and finally, but lastly, private motorists (the vast majority of this freeway traffic).

On top of this, the City has had an active program to eliminate the kind of situations that occur at Nanaimo and Dundas. It was designed to removed the “No Crossing” signs that only pedestrians have to endure. And despite being reminded of this information, yet another opportunity was lost when this change was implemented.

So not only are our highest priority transportation users (walkers) completely ignored, so are our third highest (bus riders).

Perhaps it is because the majority of our City’s Staff commute to City Hall from the suburbs that the will of Vancouver residents continues to be ignored and car users are prioritized over pedestrians and bus riders.

If you’d like to let our City’s Transportation Staff know what you think about this (and other) transportation situation(s), call the Traffic Management Branch at 604-873-7910 or email:

A highway built for 2…


Imagine a highway built for 2 cars…that’s right, a road where only 2 cars can reach the destination every 2 hours.

It certainly would solve traffic congestion and it would cost a lot less than the Gateway boondogle the provincial government is trying to shove down our throats.

Of course, no car owner would stand for it.

But this highway does exist for cyclists: TransLink and BC Ferries have created a system that allows only 2 cyclists to travel from Vancouver to Nanaimo (and vice versa) every 2 hours…except for holidays when nobody can use public transit for the first sailing of the day. That’s right, a public holiday and you can only drive or ride in the dark to catch the first ferry of the day (but then, who would be trying to get out of town for a holiday weekend!). And yes, I exaggerate: only 2 cyclists can connect with the first two sailings each non-holiday…the other 6 sailings each day can accommodate 4 cyclists!Typical Bike Parking on BC Ferries

Now we are talking about a giant boat here. Lots of room for bikes, thousands of ’em. And get this: BC Ferries makes money for providing nothing in terms of bike facilities each time a cyclist boards ($2.50 per bike for no racks, no dedicated space, no lockers, no change rooms, no showers, no rain shelter while waiting to load, nothing).

Most importantly, realize that the majority of the people in the Lower Mainland live in one of the world’s largest natural harbours: Vancouver! Why are we forced to travel to the megalopolises of Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen to get to Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands? Why are islanders forced to arrive nowhere near their destination?

Forcing folks to travel hours just to get on a ferry is precisely why TransLink’s lack of bicycle facilities is not just important, it is critical. The alternative is to drive (duh) or ride for 2 hours (guess what most people choose). And forget about taking the direct route (i.e., the highway) to East Vancouver or Burnaby because North Vancouver doesn’t allow cyclists on their part of the Trans-Canada.

Harbourlynx Fast Ferry realized this gaping hole in our transportation system a few years back and were poised to make lots of money exploiting it. They provided a comfortable, fast, inner harbour to inner harbour connection between Nanaimo and Vancouver that provided free passage to all bicycles. Unfortunately, they weren’t prepared for an unforeseen engine failure which has since bankrupt them.

However, the silence of BC Ferries and our Provincial Government has been deafening since this transportation tragedy ended a way of life for hundreds of commuters. Not only would the cost of reinstating this service pale in comparison to any other transportation project planned or underway (we’re talking a million or two, instead of multi-billions), it would facilitate the inevitable transition from our dependence on oil. But there I go again, expecting the government to work for all people, when we all know it only works for rich people.

But let’s not let TransLink and BC Ferries off the hook so easily.

TransLink has had access to “improved” bike racks for a couple of years now, but to date has refused to upgrade any buses. Granted these new racks only hold one more bike, but that also means one less car.

TransLink also steadfastly refuses to allow bikes on board our buses. All buses with bike racks have spaces inside to accommodate wheelchairs. Most of the time these are used by able-bodied folk, but they could accommodate 2 bikes each. One memorable Easter Friday morning, I took a bus with 7 bikes on board: 2 on the front, 2 in each wheelchair spot and one (sans wheels) behind the last row of seats. The bus was packed with people and not one complained.

And then there is the service. Buses are consistently packed to the ferries but rarely are extra buses put into service. For Horseshoe Bay, the Express Bus (257) is often an articulated (extra long) bus; great for more foot passengers (and for saving TransLink the cost of a 2nd driver) but it still only takes 2 bikes. If TransLink ever got serious about fulfilling the mandate it claims for providing services to cyclists, the 257 would turn into at least 2 buses and the racks would be upgraded. 6 bikes doesn’t sound like much, but for the short term, it would allow cyclists the consistency and reliability that car drivers usually get without even asking.

And let’s not forget BC Ferries in this fiasco. Not only does this publicly- owned corporation blatantly gouge cyclists, they refuse to adapt or expand their services to meet the needs of a changing transportation public.

Beyond taking over Harbourlynx and eliminating the bicycle tariff on all routes, they could provide bus service with a bicycle trailer (a la Deas Island/Massey Tunnel) to meet and leave from every sailing. This would increase their revenue (every cyclist pays the passenger fare, and almost every sailing still has room for more walk-ons/cyclists) and decrease their huge expense of providing parking for cars waiting to get on the subsequent sailings.

It’s no surprise to most that our transportation systems are stuck in the sixties. The surprise to many it seems is that the sustainable solutions are not only quick and easy, they are cheap and would help eliminate the recurring problems for which there is no solution. Congestion can not be solved, it must be managed. Cycling, like congestion, needs infrastructure to grow. We can build a $1 billion highway on Vancouver Island (with billions more in the Lower Mainland on the way) but our bicycle highway to the ferry, which would cost thousands at most, is simply left off the transportation map.

Please take the time to phone or email TransLink (604-953-3040,,, BC Ferries (250- 381-1401,, and the Provincial Government (604-660-2421 or 800-663-7867,, to ensure our bicycle highway allows more than just a pair of early birds to catch the ferry of their choice. The sooner we build it, the sooner we get outta town…by bike!

This is a Truly Terrible Twin!

No one likes to sit in traffic. That’s one reason why I ride a bike. Unfortunately for those who didn’t look at the big picture when deciding where to live, this isn’t much help. Thousands of folks bought homes in the ‘burbs to try to save money while continuing to work in or near the City. And while they’re stuck in traffic and losing their financial gamble, they aren’t the only ones fuming.

Now the BC Fiberals have their very own solution for this (and yes, I mean their very own). It is a solution much like everything else they’ve done over the past five years (i.e., good for big business, bad for people). They want to double the capacity of Highway #1 from Langley to Vancouver by paving more of paradise and twinning the Port Mann bridge.

Obviously, this appeals to the short-sighted folk sitting in the Trans-Canada parking lot. They don’t want to move, despite being in gridlock.

But this definitely doesn’t work for most of the million living in and around Vancouver. East Vancouver in particular, is already choked full of commuter cars. This is despite (or more likely, because of) most of our transportation tax dollars being spent by the bureaucrats in City Hall to maximize traffic flow and make mini, urban freeways through the Eastside.

So what to do?

We may simply have to battle it out with a fascist regime that is due to crack at anytime…not easy nor particularly fun but perhaps inevitable. Especially given their maniacal desire to privatize everything they can get their hands on.

If these fascists somehow stopped to listen for just a moment, we could find a way for everyone to win (well, except for Big Business, but they take care of themselves).

Let’s start with the obvious need to increase capacity. The general assumption is that increasing capacity on the highway means accommodating more cars. But the reality is we need to move more people, more efficiently.

Despite being the most efficient vehicle known to humankind, bikes are not the answer. Hell, people can’t even walk over the Port Mann bridge, much less cycle over it.

Translink, on the other hand, has put all its eggs in one expensive, privatized basket (RAV, now known as the Canada or Worm Line). Even if RAV is stopped, TransLink clearly doesn’t possess the skills or creativity to make a significant contribution (aside from doing the proposed paving or bridge building) to resolving this issue with bus technology.

So let’s take a quick peek at what’s happening now. There’s an average of five (5) empty seats per vehicle idling on that highway. Most vehicles (80- 90%) are completely empty (the cars can’t drive themselves…yet). Maybe the solution is simply staring us in the face!

Crunch a few numbers, and it is easy to see how we can not only double the capacity of the bridge and highway, but quadruple it or more! If 8 cars are currently carrying (at most) 10 people, and those cars have an average of 5 empty seats, it’s easy to see how we could reduce the number of vehicles dramatically and not pave over even one more patch of greenspace.

Okay, the numbers work. How do we actually do it?

Right now, there are two lanes leading from Langley through Surrey to the bridge. There are no restrictions on use. Hence the preponderance of Single Occupant Vehicles (SOVs).

Converting one of those lanes into a DOV (Double – 2), LOV (Low – 3), or – gasp! – HOV (High, as in 5 or more) would quickly change habits.

Thinking this through, let’s start with one DOV that is ENFORCED and continues right over the bridge to the current “HOV” lane. By the time this lane starts to clog up (a few weeks or months), we’ll have increased the capacity of the highway by 50% without doing anything more than posting a few signs and enforcing them consistently. We’re halfway home.

When the time comes (imagine, if you can, appropriate planning, not just planning for planning’s sake!), we can then upgrade the DOV to a LOV (3 or more people per car) or we can convert the other lane to a DOV. Both options achieve the current goal of doubling the capacity of this commute. I like the double DOV designation because it is simply criminal, not to mention extinction-making, to allow folks to drive around with empty vehicles. But it is safer to assume that the LOV option will be chosen.

When the LOV option starts to fill up, then we can move to a true HOV (5 or more) designation for one lane of the highway. This provides an opportunity to move more people than even the terrible twinning option could ever hope for. And it costs about $4 billion less.

Don’t let folks tell you that they need a passing lane or that no one will use the DOV, LOV, or HOV lane. Putting a few cops to a rare good use will ensure that the lane is used appropriately. A very important side benefit from this change of use will be a safer highway. Right now, drivers believe they have a “right” to pass, no matter how fast the other driver is moving. Speed kills, and on a highway where cars are moving in an uniform stream, many less people will die or be seriously injured. The twinning-spinsters can’t make this claim with a straight face.

Let’s put to rest the myth that we can build our way out of traffic once and for all. The private automobile has cost us all more than we can ever imagine. The population of automobiles continues to grow faster than humans in the Lower Mainland; putting billions of our money into an already failed experiment will only make it worse…even the fascists admit this.

It is time to stop the madness. It is time to rethink our current infrastructure. And even better, it is time to get back on my bike! See you at the Car-Free Fest on Commercial Drive…