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Delaying transit investment doesn't save money: UBC prof

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – As Metro Vancouver’s population continues to grow, how do we make sure transit catches up?

A local transit expert is outlining his four-point plan for transit growth in the region.

Dr. Larry Frank with the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC is speaking about the plan at a panel at the university this evening. One of his key arguments involves eliminating the lengthy delays that normally come along with new large-scale capital transit projects.

“Delaying investment in transit doesn’t save you money; it costs you money because of all the adverse impacts that come from increased reliance on cars to get around,” says Frank.

He says while due diligence in planning always needs to be done, the longer you wait, the more you pay.

“And that probably is the whopper of all. Seattle is a really good example of that. They had a 20-year delay trying to get their rail system built and when they finally got it going, it cost several times more than it would have originally.”

The panel isn’t just about lobbying for more transit funding.

“This is more about how to make transit more effective and make the money that we do spend on transit go further and get better bang for our buck. It’s not just about how to expand the system. It’s about how to make transit more efficient and to reduce reliance on cars,” says Frank.

Another key point revolves around implementing what he calls “performance-based transit funding” in the Lower Mainland. “Basically to document and measure how [municipalities] comply with the regional growth strategy and to focus growth near transit and in places where automobile dependence is less likely to be extreme.”

Other points include embracing user fees to fund sustainable growth and factoring health and economic benefits into transit decisions.