Much talk about this topic, and so much to say. It is my opinion that in this world, massive forces are at play, even in our tiny soggy corner.  And it is no accident that motordom is challenging at every turn.

First the final report from SFU’s “Moving In a Liveable Region”.  It nicely covers the unprecedented transit referendum we held in Metro Vancouver.

As to lessons learned:  “In a country where investments in infrastructure are generally made without direct public voting (though not without consultation), Metro Vancouver’s transit and transportation referendum is a political anomaly.

For campaigners and transportation professionals who worked to secure a positive result on the transit and transportation referendum, the No vote was a great disappointment. Many supporters were students, volunteers, low-income transit users, nonprofit workers, and young professionals.

In hindsight, the result was not particularly surprising: Asking voters whether they want to pay more taxes, with only 10 weeks to explain the benefits they will receive in return, is a nearly impossible task, as many visiting American transportation experts had forewarned. A global survey of referendum timelines indicates that 10 weeks was unusually short for a campaign on such a complex issue, and our early research revealed that opponents of transportation funding usually have an easier campaign (Weyrich and Lind, 2001).

The mayors knew this, but felt they had no choice; it was a vote or the prospect of no funding for transportation for years to come. ”

Second:  since transportation is largely dependent upon fossil fuels, and in some cases is transporting fossil fuels, a look at the enabling product is worth your time: ” Investors managing some $2.6-trillion (U.S.) in assets have signalled their intention to shift focus away from fossil fuels, a report released at a United Nations climate session this week states. ”

Third:  Who pays for roads?  Yet another report (this time from the US) that comes to the same conclusion as so many others — a conclusion that never seems to make it into public consciousness. (Bike-haters:  I’m lookin’ at you.)

But this massive subsidization goes mostly unnoticed, and affects us all, and most transportation decisions.

‘“We need to dispel the myth that user fees are paying for the building and maintenance of our road network. The reality is that these funds are barely covering a fraction of the cost,” said Gabe Klein, SVP of Fontinalis Partners, and former Commissioner of Transportation for Chicago and Washington, D.C. “The highest return on investment is on bike, pedestrian and transit projects,” he said.’

Thanks to Todd Litman for sending this around.

Fourth:  who’s profiting from motordom?  Well, the short answer is that lots of corporations profit.

But here’s a glimpse of just one corporation, and the profit from just one of its product families.  And if people have the option to switch to transit, biking or walking — some of this goes away.  It’s a powerful incentive to the rich and powerful to keep and expand the status quo of free (or subsidized) roads and lots of them, and to battle investment in walking, biking and especially the big one — transit.

On the Ford F-150, -250 and -350:  “The gross profit on each pickup is about $8,000. If Ford can continue selling more than 700,000 trucks a year, that’s a $5.6-billion cushion.”  Yearly.  Every year.
Ken Ohrn  |  Cypress Digital   |   604-307-8052