On the wrong track?

The case against sub­ways

BC Business Magazine - - Front Page - By Matt O'grady

Van­cou­ver is a city that en­joys bask­ing in its own press. Each year, when the Econ­o­mist or Mercer puts out its “best” or “most liv­able” list, Lo­tus­land reg­u­larly cracks the top five. But ev­ery so of­ten, a con­trar­ian re­port puts Van­cou­ver in a less flat­ter­ing light.

Such ap­peared to be the case when the 2017 Sus­tain­able Cities Mo­bil­ity In­dex, pro­duced by Ar­cadis, was re­leased last fall. The Am­s­ter­dambased con­sult­ing firm ranked Van­cou­ver 28 out of 100 global cities on ur­ban mo­bil­ity, with Hong Kong, Zurich and Paris tak­ing the top three spots.

Although there are sev­eral big caveats with the find­ings —in­clud­ing the fact that the top 25 cities are sep­a­rated by about 10 per­cent­age points—the anal­y­sis points to Van­cou­ver show­ing weak­ness on is­sues of “peo­ple” (see side­bar), es­pe­cially the share of trips taken by pub­lic tran­sit, where it ranks 71 out of 100.

“What’s re­ally im­por­tant for us in the Mo­bil­ity In­dex is ac­ces­si­bil­ity of pub­lic tran­sit—and the in­vest­ment of pub­lic funds into those forms of tran­sit,” ex­plains John Batten, global cities di­rec­tor at Ar­cadis. Hong Kong ranks first, Batten adds, be­cause its tran­sit sys­tem, the MTR, “is by far the most su­pe­rior form of pub­lic tran­sit in the world. And it has to be, be­cause it moves so many peo­ple a day.” At the same time, he ad­mits, “Hong Kong is ter­ri­ble when it comes to bi­cy­cles.”

CASH AND CARRY For Van­cou­ver, ex­pen­sive sub­ways may not be the best plan to get more peo­ple out of cars

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