Transit's future: TransLink plans for automated vehicles, active transportation, more rapid transit
VANCOUVER -- Looking ahead at the next 30 years, TransLink is setting up its plan for how transportation will evolve in the Lower Mainland.
The transit authority is seeking feedback on its Transport2050 plan and TransLink's Eve Hou spoke on CTV Morning Live Thursday, giving more insight into what that strategy looks like.
Even though ridership was impacted by the pandemic, Hou said the company is focusing on three priorities as it looks ahead: managing the introduction of automated vehicles, supporting active transportation and adding more rapid transit.
"Ridership is definitely down, no doubt about that, and that's due to concerns because of COVID-19. We fully expect ridership to return at some point in the future," she said.
"This is still a very desirable part of the world, we still expect a million people to be arriving in this region over that time. So not only will ridership return, it'll increase. So now's the time to start preparing for that."
One thing the pandemic highlighted was residents' desire for moving around the region in active way.
"I think we saw that there was a lot of interest during the pandemic for active transportation," she said. "I think people could see that, not only is it a safe way to get around, but it feels good, it's efficient."
In a video, TransLink's survey explains some may feel they can't choose active transportation if the route is too close to heavy traffic or inconvenient.
"As we plan for the future, we need to make active transpiration an easy, safe, comfortable option for everyone," the video says.
The 30-year plan also anticipates automated vehicles will soon play a role in the region's transit system.
"It's something that we know is coming, and how do we manage that to make sure they're introduced safely and to the benefit of all," Hou said.
TransLink says automated vehicles could help make driving more energy efficient and reduce collisions. The drawbacks, however, could include trips running without passengers and more congestion. While few details on its plan were given, TransLink says fees and incentives to promote vehicle sharing could help mitigate those issues.
"By 2050, (automated vehicles) could become commonplace in our daily lives," TransLink's website says. "With the right approach, automated vehicles could actually help solve some of our traffic problems."
TransLink's third strategy for the years ahead focuses on rapid transit.
"Do we want to go with the way we've always done it with SkyTrain," Hou said.
"Or do we want to shift to a different option, which has more … street-level rapid transit and what are the trade offs between those?"
The survey proposes two network plans: one that focuses more on ground-level transit, another that focuses more on SkyTrain. Both have advantages and drawbacks, however, with SkyTrain being more expensive and ground-level transit requiring the use of road space.
Those taking the survey are asked what they think of TransLink's goals and to what extent they support the proposed actions. The online survey is open until May 14 and take about 20 minutes to complete.
Hou's comments were part of a four-minute interview that aired on CTV Morning Live on April 29, 2021. Watch the full interview in the video player above.