SHIFT BEYOND THE CAR
2050 Vision: What does success look like?
A complete and connected transportation system makes active transportation and zero emission transit the easy choice for residents and visitors.
2030 Target: What’s the critical milestone?
Half of all trips taken in our communities are with active/assisted transportation or transit.
Every year between now and 2030, 600kms per resident is shifted to active transportation or transit.
The Actions: What needs to happen?
- Build safe routes for walking, cycling, and other forms of zero emission mobility
- Support a zero-emission transit network
- Identify and reduce policy barriers to e-mobility on demand, such as electric scooter sharing
Rationale: Why this, why now?
Walking and cycling are not just weekend recreational activities – they are viable, beneficial, economical and environmentally-friendly modes of transportation. Your government can design and build well-connected, accessible, safe and enjoyable routes. This will encourage residents and visitors to choose an active mode of travel such as walking and cycling. Good sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails make active transportation a viable choice when traveling through neighbourhoods, communities, and city centers. The same infrastructure also affords access for those who rely on mobility aids, such as scooters and wheelchairs.
Planning for a zero-carbon transportation system requires a paradigm shift. Rather than solve traffic and infrastructure problem by expanding roads or building more of them, communities can support all transportation options and facilitate alternative travel choices that reduce the need for more, or bigger, roads. Not only does this reduce transportation-related emissions, this shift can result in reduced infrastructure and maintenance costs down the road.
As part of the Province of British Columbia’s commitment through CleanBC to embrace clean and renewable energy across the board, the government developed Move Commute Connect – B.C.’s Active Transportation Strategy. The strategy established a new target for active and assisted transportation:
- By 2030, double the percentage of trips taken with active transportation
Federally, the Government of Canada’s Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change commits to supporting a shift from higher- to lower-emitting modes of transportation as well was investing in infrastructure.
Build safe routes for walking, cycling, and other forms of zero emission mobility
- Invest in a spectrum of accessible and equitable active transportation networks, from local upgrades to major projects, such as inter-community connections.
- Explore road and curb pricing as a means to curtail vehicle emissions and support zero-emission mobility.
- Encourage the use of electric bikes and electric cargo bikes, especially for longer commutes, steeper terrain, and for those with limited physical capacity.
- Encourage the provincial government to extend its CleanBC zero-emission vehicle incentives to electric bikes.
- Support e-bike/e-car share models to replace higher carbon (private motor vehicle, taxi, transit) emissions trips with lower emissions ones.
Support a zero-emission transit network
The municipal responsibility for public transit varies across the province, and is linked to community size. Where applicable, municipalities can lead the shift to zero-carbon transit by focusing on the vehicles they have most influence over: buses. Conventional buses already offer emissions reductions compared to single occupancy vehicles. For example, articulated buses generate just 25% of the emissions per person relative to a single occupancy vehicle. With electric buses, this improvement jumps to 5% per person. Electric buses are an attractive option for cities: they improve local air quality and lessen noise pollution, and their total cost of ownership can be cheaper than conventional alternatives. If your government has direct control over its transit system, you can accelerate the transition to zero emission transit:
- Set a procurement policy to exclusively buy electric buses from 2025, or earlier.
- Develop a project framework to plan the transition.
- Conduct analysis to understand technical and operational requirements; vehicle range, route prioritization, total cost of ownership, procurement model, and product availability.
- Design and implement a pilot to troubleshoot any issues of reliability, range, and charging time
- Evaluate grid capacity and plan e-bus route and infrastructure upgrades accordingly
Many local governments do not directly provide transit service to their residents, but they can work with transit providers to enable improved bus service, increase bus frequency and system efficiency, increase ridership, and collaborate to accelerate the implementation of zero emission transit. An example of a quick win is extending bus lane hours beyond current peak hours.
Local governments can collaborate with major employers, tourism associations and others in their community to offer shuttle service for employees, community members and visitors. There are several examples of municipally operated shuttle services, including in Tofino, Whistler and Port Moody. There is potential for these services to transition to electric shuttles in the near future.
Reduce barriers to on-demand e-mobility
Electric mobility or e-mobility, includes all street-legal vehicles that are powered by an electric motor and primarily source their energy from an on board battery charged from the grid. “E-mobility on demand” is an emerging transportation option in many cities, and increasingly an option in smaller communities. Examples include electric kick scooters available for rent through a smart phone app. Key considerations and tips:
- Know when and where on-demand service will be most useful; complete a study or survey
- Piggyback on existing or planned infrastructure
- Examine flexible fleet options
- Find a technology vendor who understands public-transit constraints
- Update bylaws and create agreements to allow car share vehicles to end trips and have stopovers at prime parking locations
- Coordinate with senior governments and other local governments to promote vehicle-share programmes. Consider offering free-parking spaces for car sharing services (in both private and public institutions), and pursue funding for infrastructure to support the electrification of the car share fleet (e.g. charging stations).
Make Your Case
The following facts may prove helpful when explaining this Big Move to constituents, staff, or other elected officials:
- The transportation sector contributes approximately 39% of British Columbia’s overall GHG emissions. Passenger vehicles and freight trucks emit the majority of this pollution.
- Walkable and bikeable communities deliver multiple benefits to health and quality of life, community and individual safety, economics and tourism, and environmental impacts and sustainability.
- Good sidewalks, bike lanes, and transportation trails make active transportation a viable choice. This work will reduce both the number of trips people need to take in cars, and the length of many vehicle trips.
- Walking and cycling do not have to be exclusively recreational, although infrastructure for both has added tourism benefits. These are viable, beneficial, economical and environmentally-friendly modes of transportation.
- Moving B.C. towards active transportation has the potential to simultaneously increase physical activity and reduce motor vehicle crash injuries and fatalities.
- Increasing public transportation can reduce GHG emissions and improve air quality. Electric buses are a perfect fit for British Columbia’s 94%+ renewable energy grid.
- Shared transportation can save costs on fuel for individuals and the municipality. Further it decreases the need for constructing more vehicle infrastructure, manufacturing new vehicles, and extracting more fossil fuels.
- Safe and equitable active transportation infrastructure encourages walking and cycling, decreasing reliance on private vehicles and the associated carbon emissions.
- Applying a price to road and curb space is a powerful tool for decreasing congestion. A price that reflects the impact of high concentrations of emissions can discourage vehicle travel and revenue can be redirected to sustainable travel.
- Articulated buses generate 25% of the carbon emissions per person relative to a single occupancy vehicle, which can be improved to 5% with the use of electric buses.
- A switch to electric bikes or cargo bikes from private vehicle trips reduces gasoline and diesel use. Electric bikes are a good option for those who need to take longer trips, or trips with kids, or who carry a heavy load, or who might not be able to travel by a traditional bike.
- Evidence suggests that households participating in two-way car share programs reduce their annual vehicle-related GHGs by up to 54% on average. Car sharing is also a proven way to reduce vehicle ownership, vehicle kilometers travelled, and transportation costs for residents utilizing car sharing.
- Car-sharing services also offer a new mode of public transportation in urban or semi-urban areas. It reduces personal trip distances and industry studies suggest one car share vehicle can replace 10 private vehicles. Furthermore, because car-share vehicles tend to be newer and more efficient than privately-owned Canadian vehicles, the same trips can reduce GHG emissions by on average 30%.
- Through coordinated policies and infrastructure investments, car-sharing services offer the potential to electrify transportation thus reducing local air pollution and GHG emissions.
Inspiration from Near and Far
Here we share case studies of how other jurisdictions have enacted creative policies, partnerships, and programs.
1. On-demand transit in Cochrane, Alberta
The Town of Cochrane, Alberta, population 25,853, developed its own responsive on-demand app-based public transit service. The Cochrane On-Demand Local Transit (COLT), system overcomes many of the inherent economic barriers to efficient transit in smaller and more rural communities. Cochrane’s COLT buses make scheduled stops at specific locations and travel on optimized routes based on where users are, and where they want to go.
2. A dedicated cycling network in downtown Calgary
Typically, for both political and funding reasons, cities build out their cycling network in bits and pieces, then eventually work to stitch the segments together. Not Calgary. The traditionally vehicle-centric city built a well-planned integrated cycling network in one fell swoop. Planners didn’t get everything right: During an 18-month pilot, the city adjusted and reconfigured various intersections and transitions. And these rapid tweaks solidified loyalty among its users.
3. Shared Vehicle Ownership Thrives in Nelson
Back in 2001 a group of friends in Nelson, B.C. decided they no longer each needed the expense of insuring and maintaining their own vehicles, and formed a co-op that would ultimately become the Kootenay Carshare Cooperative. The co-op gradually grew and expanded and now serves five communities across the region. It’s also working to electrify its fleet; members now have access to a Telsa Model 3 for a short period of time, and have added to their fleet in various communities a Chevrolet BOLT is available and two all-electric Hyundai Konas.
4. TransLink tests out battery-electric buses in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland
For the next two and a half years, TransLink will test four zero-emissions battery-electric buses on routes in and between Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster. The agency hopes to confirm the compatibility of the four different bus and charger manufacturers that are now participating in the pilot. Each bus will avoid the release of 100 tonnes of GHG emissions per year, while saving about $40,000 in fuel costs. The agency expects to have a fully electric, zero emission fleet by 2050.
5. Piloting on-demand micro-transit in Bowen Island, British Columbia
Conventional fixed-route transit services are ideal for cities, but the model often falls short in smaller and more rural, predominantly low-density communities. But smartphones and GPS are opening up new possibilities. In 2019, TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s regional transportation agency, piloted on-demand microtransit service on Bowen Island B.C., population 3,680. TransLink analysts are now crunching the numbers on cost, wait time, journey time, ridership, and revenue. One thing they do know for sure, from the in-app feedback: The users loved it.