The Gap between Perception and Priorities
Further to the Sun story on February 26 – “Committee to study effect of development around tunnel” – there was this rationalization for addressing congestion on the George Massey tunnel:
A Delta staff report suggests the proposed mall development (being developed by the Tsawwassen First Nations) would be equivalent to “all three floors of Metrotown or six times larger than Richmond Centre,” and would result in an additional 700 daily vehicles heading through the George Massey Tunnel by 2031.
Let’s repeat that: “… an additional 700 daily vehicles heading through the George Massey Tunnel by 2031.”
Clearly an unacceptable consequence, justifying study, reports, recommendations, actions, revisions of the transportation plan, perhaps the regional growth plan – and ultimately the capital plans that authorize the hundreds of millions of dollars needed.
I’ve noted before – in Puzzle Picture – the difference in how we perceive, much less assess, what our transportation priorities should be. In the case of the Port Mann Bridge, delay of drivers was a cost that justified the billions spent on the widest bridge in the world. In the case of TransLink, an audit recommended a reduction of service.
In one case, reducing delay is an investment; in the other, inducing delay is an efficiency. That’s the gap between motordom and transit.
In the case of the Massey tunnel, congestion assumed by 700 more cars two decades from now is sufficient to start a process to address it.
An ad from provincial government on page A8 in today’s Sun:
And yet, literally flip the page to A11 and you get this:
Two heavy-weight regional leaders – the mayor of our largest city, the president of our largest university – are making the economic case for Broadway rapid-transit. And noting the already overloaded demands on the existing system: 2,000 pass-ups now, with an anticipated increase of 150,000 new users by 2040.
Compared to 700 more cars two decades from now.
Do you recall a demand by the Premier for an audit of the Ministry of Transportation to see whether they were spending existing resources efficiently? Or auditors suggesting that there was sufficient capacity on our roads if only “service was optimized”? Or that the mayors of the region first had to determine their most important highway project? Or that a new tax or increase would have to be first identified, with broad public support and no negative effects on the economy?
Of course not. It was just assumed the need was there because of traffic congestion, and the money would follow. The imperative was speed, for both process and politics.
The gap between business as usual – i.e., Motordom – and our outstanding needs with the most positive outcomes – i.e. transit – has become grotesque. And, for illustration purposes, only one page apart.