Fuel for more transit talk

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Vedder Road Roundabout Art, photo courtesy City of Chilliwack, BC

Everyone talks about transit, especially when its not working well. We all know how to blame the bus for being late for school. Or, you probably have a story about a commute from hell to get to work. Employers, elected officials and municipal planners, have bigger picture transit concerns. In small cities and large, economic productivity, voter sentiment, and how to improve road safety while lowering congestion and emissions are all on the radar.

Ten year timeline to get moving

Transit Talk Viva Bus Vaughan rapid transit

Seems like transit is a hot topic for everyone. The biggest concern of all is the state of transit budget shortfalls. The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) says the next ten years are key to increase transit ridership to help meet targets for reducing both traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

But there is a big budget gap in between planning and reality.

Funding is seriously needed. CUTA’s most recent Infrastructure Needs Report has found that transit systems need more than $133.3 billion in capital investments over the next ten years to realize planned infrastructure projects, and $58.8 billion of those needs remain unfunded by governments. Historically, many municipalities have put a large portion of their GTF (Gas Tax Fund) allocation into transit and this trend must continue for Canadian communities. –Canadian Urban Transit Association — 2019 federal budget analysis.

In March, the federal government announced a surprise one-time $2.2 billion in municipal infrastructure funding. Municipalities and the CUTA welcomed the addition to the ongoing Gas Tax Fund. The new funds will help address some municipal infrastructure deficits, including investments in roads, bridges, and public transit. All are priority spending categories for productivity and economic growth.

Money should help drive through a roundabout

The money is good news, but actions will be the test to actually improve transit. Agonizing debates and differing opinions have often lead to delays on decisions. For large urban areas, funding is an opportunity to further integrate regional transit authorities to make trips in and out of town work seamlessly. Hopefully this funding can pave the way so municipalities can add capacity or routes on high-demand areas, to build new bus and bike lanes, or beautiful roundabouts like the one in Chilliwack, BC.

Transit talk Region of Waterloo uses roundabouts for safer roads

Speaking of roundabouts, the Region of Waterloo has 36 of them as of this month. Collision statistics says they are much safer than traffic lights, but failing to yield has caused an increase in collisions.

For us, those are good reasons to invest in building more, and educating people how to use them.

At intersections where roundabouts have replaced traffic signals, there is a 51% decrease in collisions with injuries and fatalities. – Region of Waterloo.

Transit projects idle, go slow and often hit speed bumps, even when all levels of government and the private sector cooperate. When they don’t, sometimes plans go from park into reverse. We get that transit planning, funding and building has no simple drive thru. And new considerations, such as whether to use technology, or regulate new forms of private transit, make for difficult and detailed negotiations.

For years it seems like transit talk has circled a roundabout without finding the exit. Having this extra capital now, we are hoping the best laid transit plans across the country can soon become a reality that hits the road.

Do your part

Efficiency and affordability are always at the main intersection of transit talk. How bad is the traffic? Is the bus running on time? Can my child walk to school safely? What is the fastest way to get to work? How much does a taxi or ride share cost? Is there parking? Are their bike lanes or an airport shuttle?

We think everyone pays a congestion penalty if no one can get around town. The next time you hear yourself voicing the typical transit talk, maybe stop and consider if you have a better alternative. Your local municipality may have just built one.

Be Alert

While congestion is an inconvenience, road safety can deteriorate along with it. To raise awareness, improve visibility and to  reduce the risk for vulnerable road users, Trimtag Trading Inc. created our own Be Alert! road safety products. Our high-visibility and reflective decals and stickers are easy to apply to bike helmets, backpacks, and clothing and vehicle windows, even drive thru containers. Our program aims to encourage awareness and active attention to road safety, especially for the most vulnerable road users: children, pedestrians and cyclists. See our Be Alert products here, or contact us about a custom program for your own safety program.