1. Regional Growth
Metro Vancouver is growing, by 2031 there will be one million more people and 500,000 more jobs in the region (1). By 2041, both Surrey and the Tri-Cities will have doubled in population size and number of jobs. A modern, efficient, and cost-effective transportation network will be required to accommodate all of the additional people and economic activity. This network will be key for keeping regular traffic flows and reducing congestion.
2. Our Economy Depends on Regional Connections
With Metro Vancouver growing by one million people and 600,000 jobs by 2041, we will need a modern transportation system to carry us to work, school, and play. Our road and transit network already stressed and strategic investments are needed to maintain and grow regional connections. Road building requires land acquisition and is expensive; buses, sky trains, and walking and cycling infrastructure can transport people more efficiently and cheaply than cars (2).
3. Transportation: a Big Part of Metro Vancouver’s GDP
We are a transportation hub and the connection between international economies. Goods and people move through Metro Vancouver’s interconnected ports, rail lines, highways, roads, and airport. The Pacific Gateway Transportation network employs 82,000 people and contributes more than $6.5 billion annually to the region’s GDP (3). Port Metro Vancouver is the busiest port in Canada and depends on timely goods movement over the region’s roads (4).
4. Congestion: an Economic Cost
Traffic congestion costs everyone on the road – drivers, bus users, and cyclists. In Metro Vancouver, drivers in peak periods have to contend with a 35 minute delay for every hour on the road (5). Congestion means more time fighting traffic than doing productive work or spending time with family. These time delays also hurt local businesses who depend on timely and affordable movement of people and goods; 21% of the region’s workforce is employed in trade, transportation, and warehousing (6). An efficient transportation network makes it easy for people to use different modes of transportation, freeing up the roads for quick and easy movement (7).
5. The Gas Price Squeeze
In Western Canada, gas prices are the biggest area of concern for household expenditure; more than two-thirds of Canadians say that gas prices are squeezing their household budgets (7). What’s more, 84% of Canadians say that high gas prices are the “new normal” and one-third of Canadians are considering switching to alternative transit modes. However most Canadians say that slow public transit is preventing them from making the switch. Transit investments will make it easier for people to use alternatives.
Top three improvements that would encourage Canadians to take public transit:
- Shorter travel times
- Shorter waiting times
- Better hours of service
6. Affordability and Transportation
Let’s face it, transportation is expensive; the less you spend on moving around, the more you can spend on other things. Studies have shown that households with access to more transportation options, like transit, walking, and cycling, spend less on transportation than car-dependent households – up to three times less (8). The average cost of car ownership in Canada ranges from $8,000 to $14,000 per year (9).
7. Transit and Local Jobs
An investment into transit is an investment into local job creation and business activity. For every million dollars spent on public transit 30 to 60 jobs are created, that is 20% more jobs than a similar expenditure on bridge and infrastructure projects would generate (9). Public transportation directly employs over 6,000 people in Metro Vancouver.
8. Which Transportation Modes are Subsidized?
For every mode of transportation, users only pay a portion of the actual costs. There are many hidden costs associated with getting around, and somebody else is paying for them. Whether it’s through taxpayer revenue, like road maintenance, or health care expenses attributed to air pollution, transportation is subsidized. In Metro Vancouver, automobiles are subsidized by nearly $3 billion per year (10).
9. Thinking About the Environment
The way we use land and the way we get around impacts the environment, influencing the region’s livability. Whether it’s air, noise, or water pollution or climate change, all modes of transportation have an ecological footprint. There is a strong correlation between energy use, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions; transportation modes that use energy more efficiently, such as walking or public transit, are more climate friendly than personal automobiles (11). In 2010, transportation was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia, accounting for 37% of the province’s emissions (12).
10. How Trips in Metro Vancouver are Made
Most trips made in Metro Vancouver are made by automobiles (13). However, people in cities with comprehensive public transit, cycling, and walking networks are increasingly shifting away from the car. For example, in Vancouver, 45% of trips are made by transit, cycling, and walking – that’s nearly twice the average of the rest of the region. If transit, cycling, and walking are convenient and safe, people will take them up.