Category Archives: New York

Transit versus trucks and cars in Metro Vancouver

Earlier this month, a report by Bruce Schaller, New York’s deputy transportation commissioner for planning and sustainability, showed that the influx of residents there embraced mass transit, as opposed to automobiles.

So how does New York City’s success with transit compare to Metro Vancouver?

To compare, TransLink provided me with a document called Transport 2040, released in October of 2007, and containing “key information, statistics and forecasts related to Translink’s 30-year strategy.”

It doesn’t provide an exact comparison with the Big Apple findings. But it does give a good glimpse into the kind of transportation trends seen in the Lower Mainland this decade.

Among the highlights:

  • All parts of Metro Vancouver saw population growth between 2001 and 2006 but it was fastest in Downtown Vancouver and the eastern and southern parts of the region.
  • In 2006, TransLink provided 5.1 million hours and 116.2 million vehicle kilometres of transit service. Public transit ridership has increased significantly over (those) past five years, from 129 million revenue passengers in 2001 to 165 million revenue passengers in 2006, an increase of 23 per cent.
  • But there’s also this:

  • In recent years, the number of cars in Metro Vancouver has been increasing at a faster rate than the population. Car ownership increased by 40 per cent between 1991 and 2006 compared with population, which increased by 32 per cent during the same period.
  • So the question then is, did the growth of car ownership lead to higher traffic volumes? And in Metro Vancouver, which mode of transport is actually winning: transit or traffic?


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    Filed under Commuting, New York, Transportation, Urban Planning, Vancouver

    Metro column: Vancouver transport at centre of stimulus debate

    Transport at centre of stimulus debate

    22 December 2008

    John Baird, Canada’s Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, was in the Lower Mainland last week to collect funding wish lists from regional government leaders.

    He and his boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, want to breathe some life into the national economy with major stimulus projects that will create jobs and bolster consumer confidence.

    Not surprisingly, Baird’s appearance on the West Coast attracted plenty of fanfare. And like toddlers at the mall lining up for their two minutes with Santa Claus, politicians and lobbyists were quick to make their respective cases for the loot presumably coming out of Ottawa.

    It’s hard to blame them. They are wise to the fact that amidst the bleeding from this financial crisis, there is unprecedented opportunity — opportunity to address Canada’s “infrastructure deficit.” Continue reading

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    Filed under Commuting, Environment, Immigration, Industry, New York, Transportation, Urban Planning, Vancouver

    Transit trumps traffic in NYC population boom

    The years between 2003 and 2008 saw an employment and population boom for New York City. But that didn’t translate into a crush of vehicular traffic.

    A report released this week by Bruce Schaller, New York’s deputy transportation commissioner for planning and sustainability, shows that the influx of residents embraced mass transit, as opposed to cars, trucks and SUVs.

    According to the New York Times, the study is the first of its kind to analyze the city’s mid-2000s era, which saw New York adding more than 200,000 jobs and 130,000 new residents.

    As the Times article points out:

    …virtually the entire increase in New Yorkers’ means of transportation during those robust years occurred in mass transit, with a surge in subway, bus and commuter rail riders.

    The city’s sprawling public transportation system was able to handle such a surge because of vast improvements in service in recent years, Mr. Schaller said, as well as the advent of the MetroCard, which made using the system more efficient. A steep drop in crime made people more willing to use the system, and the construction of housing in areas well served by subways also brought in many more riders.

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    Filed under Commuting, Crime, Immigration, Industry, New York, Transportation, Urban Planning

    Vancouver Province column: Rats may not be a huge health threat, but they certainly can hurt tourism

    Monday, September 01, 2008

    A couple weeks ago, I found out that a neighbour in my condominium building was having problems with some urban wildlife, and I’m not talking about squirrels.

    It turns out that rats have been hanging out on his otherwise idyllic patio.

    Worse, during one of the few hot days this August, when his sliding door was left open, a long-tailed rodent brazenly scampered into his living room.

    In the spirit of keeping these supersized mice away from our premises for good, my neighbours and I have banded together and hired the services of a pest-control company.

    Apparently, we’re not alone.
    Continue reading

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    Filed under Environment, Food and Dining, Health, Neighbourhoods, New York, Tourism, Vancouver, Vancouver Province Columns

    Mercer Consulting: Best cities for… wait for it… quality of living

    The cities rankings continues — this one from Mercer Consulting.
    It’s a bit more serious-minded that Monocle’s, and geared for those who are uprooting for work.

    Some survey highlights:

    “European cities dominate the rankings of locations with the best quality of living, according to Mercer’s 2008 Quality of Living survey. Zurich retains its 2007 title as the highest ranked city, followed jointly by Vienna (2), Geneva (2), then Vancouver (4) and Auckland (5).

    The highest entry for the United States is Honolulu, appearing at number 28. The cities with the lowest quality of living ranking are Ndjamena (211), Khartoum (212), Brazzaville (213), and Bangui (214). Baghdad, ranking 215, retains its position at the bottom of the table.

    The survey also identified those cities with the highest personal safety ranking based on internal stability, effectiveness of law enforcement and relationships with other countries. Luxembourg was top, followed by Bern, Geneva, Helsinki and Zurich, all equally placed at number 2. Chicago, Houston and San Francisco are noted amongst the safest cities in the US, all ranking at 53. Baghdad (215) was the world’s least safe city followed by Kinshasa (214), Karachi (213), Nairobi (212) and Bangui (211).

    The rankings are based on a point scoring index, which sees Zurich scoring 108, while Baghdad scores 13.5. Cities are ranked against New York as the base city which has an index score of 100.”

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    Filed under Culture, Environment, Green Space, Health, Immigration, Industry, Montreal, New York, Real Estate, San Francisco, Seattle, Sydney, Toronto, Transportation, Urban Planning

    World’s best cities for business according to Mastercard Worldwide research

    Earlier this week, MasterCard Worldwide released its annual survey of “the global economy’s most influential cities”. Read on…

    MasterCard Worldwide Research Highlights Growing Role of Asian and Eastern European Cities in the Global Economy

    London remains the global economy’s most influential city, according to the 2008 MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index™, an annual research initiative designed to evaluate and rank how major cities compare in performing critical functions that connect markets and commerce around the world. The future, however, appears to belong to Asia and Eastern Europe, whose cities represent the fastest rising regions within the Index.

    Shanghai had the largest jump in overall rank – moving eight spots from 2007 to 2008 – bringing it into the top 25 of this year’s Index and demonstrating the growing importance of Asian cities to a progressively urbanized global economy. Moscow, a gateway for the fast- growing Eastern European region, showed the greatest improvement in actual Index score and had the most significant gain on London year-over-year. Continue reading


    Filed under Hong Kong, Industry, London, Los Angeles, Media, New York, Osaka, Tokyo, Toronto, Trade

    Lamenting the NYC “Yuppie Ghetto”

    Is Manhattan essentially a “gated community”? That is how it is described by the Economist-Free Exchange blog this week in a post sure to raise eyebrows with those who follow these kind of urban gentrification discussions.

    The writer, a 7-year resident, notes that “the upper middle class aspire to stay in cities. This is true in cities elsewhere, but Manhattan’s geographic constraints make the gentrification more obvious.

    The more gentrified cities become the more desirable they are to live in. Edward Glaeser and Joshua Gottlieb found cities became more desirable from the increased social interaction and consumer services they provided as crime decreased. This means poorer residents must move further a field. Many people priced out of cities are not homeless or criminals, but working families.”

    “If we factor in increased commuting time and expense, has their compensation effectively decreased? The homogeneity of my neighbours makes me unable to know for certain.”

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    Filed under Commuting, Gentrification, New York