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Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Forty years of transportation predictions

May 29, 2012

The City is rolling out the next stage in its Transportation 2040 plan – an update to Council this morning by Jerry Dobrovolny, the Director of Transportation

Of special note: the plan will set targets for what’s called the modal split, or the percent for each mode of activity – vehicles, transit, feet and bike – used by travellers.

In 1976, for instance, the car was the choice of 90 percent of everyone who moved around within Vancouver’s borders.  The plan of that time called for the percentage to drop to 75 percent.  (There was no  target date, likely because the planners and engineers never thought it would be reached in their lifetimes.)

So what actually happened?

By 1992, the number was down to 70 percent for vehicles.  What might have seemed an unrealistic target in the heyday of Motordom was surpassed. 

Next up: the Transportation Plan of 1997.  It forecast driving would drop to 58 percent by 2021.  Even that far out, it seemed ambitious.

What actually happened?

We got to 58 percent by 2008.

So now the next plan, Transportation 2040, calls for a split of  50 percent by car in 2020, 50 percent for everything else.  Then, to up the ante, by 2040 driving would be down to 33 percent.   In other words, two-thirds of all movements would be by foot, bike and transit.  That means a drop of 25 percent in driving in roughly the same time it took to drop 32 percent from 1976 to 2008.

Seems unlikely?  Not, apparently, as unlikely as the odds in 1976.

If you want to take a look at the details of the plan – there’s so much more, including 140 policies and actions – as well as participate in the feedback, check out the Transportation 2040 site here.

Alan Garr provides some background in his column here.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2012 1:24 pm

    I hope there are no city drivers, and so no road deaths, in 2040. Transit along arterials become driverless 12-seaters with sub-7 minute headways, and the evolution of modo/zipcar/car2go is electric robotaxis that come when booked or called. (They can serve the dendritic burbs cheaply too.)

    Already today in 2012 the cost of a LIDAR (the hardware required to “see” 360-degrees at once) is around two years’ bus-driver’s salary (~$100 000) and software costs trend downwards pretty quickly, certainly on multi-decade timescales.

    If Vancouver’s transit system isn’t driverless by 2040, it will be for political reasons not technological or financial. Sadly this is very likely.

    Incidentally, this technology is what has convinced me Broadway rapid transit must be grade separated (underground) despite the higher up-front cost. Grade separated transit will still have a speed edge.

    Stanford Law: Planning for Autonomous Driving

    Legally blind Steve Mahan drives Google’s car

    “I don’t think we need to wait 10 years for the next model or body styles to come out to build this technology.”

    “SkyTrain provides very high-frequency service, with automated trains”

    I look forward to Fort St John (drunk driving capital of BC) passing Nevada-style laws to allow robotaxi testing, in partnership with Modo, UBC, Bombardier and the province.

  2. May 29, 2012 1:35 pm

    Driverless EVs are in constant use, unless fast-charging, so street space can be reclaimed for direct transit routes, bike lanes and widened sidewalks. Perhaps even for parks or buildings.

  3. Andrew Browne permalink
    October 25, 2012 11:06 am

    If it’s true that we dropped to 58% driving share by 2008, when in 1997 we had expected this to occur by 2020, I would think that getting driving down to 33% by 2040 would be practically effortless. It seems inevitable, really, so long as we continue to invest modest amounts in network improvements for walking and biking (and not so modest sums for transit but that’s another story).


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