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Could this be the answer to Vancouver's traffic congestion problem?

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Daily Hive Custom Content Nov 21, 2017 7:05 am 9,119

It’s official, traffic is a big part of Vancouver life.

Chances are you encounter bumper-to-bumper mayhem at some point during your daily commute if you travel by car or bus.

In fact, according to a recent survey, 89% of Metro Vancouver residents are frustrated with traffic delays caused by high volume. And 80% of people are frustrated by the ‘unpredictability of travel times’.

But residents’ frustration doesn’t stop there. Crowding on transit, delays caused by collisions, plus the costs and affordability of transportation, are among the issues affecting locals.

What can be done?

Traffic Jam. (Image: Adkasai / Shutterstock)

Metro Vancouver’s traffic congestion problem isn’t something that’s going to be solved overnight.

But decongestion charging could help.

Here’s the low-down: It’s a tool that helps to combat congestion by charging users for the road services they use. Decongestion charging can include things like paying a small amount to use roads during the most congested times of day, or paying per kilometer travelled in a car.

It may seem like a foreign concept but pricing is used to manage demand for everyday items from airline seats to parking, to the food we buy at the grocery store. And decongestion charging is a form of pricing that could bring about a lot of benefits when it comes to traffic congestion.

For roads, it works by managing demand for road space. Every road has a limit on its capacity. A road that can carry 1500 cars will work well when 1400 cars are using it. But when that number climbs to 1600, traffic will slow to a crawl. The congestion doesn’t only affect the 200 cars that just joined, it affects the 1400 that were already there, and no one goes anywhere.

By establishing a cost for travelling at high-congestion times and/or in high-congestion areas, decongestion pricing works by motivating some people to take alternate modes of transportation, use another route, carpool, or simply avoid travelling during rush hour. Undecided? You can have your say on the matter now.

It’s Time, a public engagement and research initiative led by the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission, is exploring decongestion charging as part of a plan for the future of transportation in the Metro Vancouver region. The project has been designed to research and gather information about decongestion charging and how it has worked in other cities, as well as hearing a local perspective from residents and stakeholders.

In the recent survey commissioned by the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission, 47% of residents agree that ‘mobility pricing could make getting around more affordable’ for them. The agreement proved higher among Vancouver residents (53% agree) and younger residents (52% agree).

A deeper look

Image: Lions Gate Bridge / Shutterstock

At the end of the day, congestion costs money for local businesses and residents. So it makes sense that we need to find new ways to manage and pay for our transportation system. The ultimate goal: Spending less time in traffic and more time at our destinations. Now, who could argue with that?

Surveyed locals agree that mobility pricing supports investment in our future transportation and transit. And it’s not a brand new thing in Metro Vancouver, we have been paying for road use through the fuel tax and the recently removed bridge tolls.

But our approach so far hasn’t provided the level of fairness or transparency we need. That’s why the It’s Time project will look to understand how a different approach to mobility pricing could help us reduce congestion, promote fairness for all users, and generate revenue to support new and improved infrastructure.

Already, decongestion charging has been successfully implemented in cities around the world, including Singapore, Stockholm, and London. Now, It’s Time will help us to create a Metro Vancouver-made solution that works for the unique needs of our region.

You can learn more about the project at itstimemv.ca and participate in the online engagement at itstimemv.ca/have-your-say.

Check out It’s Time on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


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