Monday, March 17, 2008

One last kick at the can, part 2

By no ways is this your final opportunity to comment, but the Regional Transportation Plan is going to have an injection of proposed policy soon, with the meeting to discuss Mobility Hubs, Active Transportation & Transportation Demand Management fast approaching.

Mobility hubs are simply high-density, mixed-use developments build around high-frequency transit terminal. Here's a few things to think about:
  • Is it better to have many small mobility hubs, or a few large mobility hubs.
  • What should those mobility hubs have? Should we strive to have a balance of land uses in each hub, or should different hubs specialize in one particular land use?
  • How do we best encourage this intensification?
  • Should we build transit first to encourage development, or should we wait until the development occurs to improve the transit connections?
  • How should we deal with parking? Should the developments be built with underground commuter parking lots, or should we strive to gradually eliminate the need for parking. If we choose the latter, how do we best eliminate the need for parking?
Active Transportation is modes of transportation which are self powered - namely walking and cycling. Here are some ideas to chew on:
  • What kinds of facilities are needed? Should employers be required to provide bicycle lockers and showers, or should the municipality take that responsibility?
  • Where is the best place to put sidewalks and bicycle paths? Should they be in the roads or in their own corridors?
Transportation Demand Management are policies which try to influence whether, when, why, where and how people travel. It is the hardest to explain on a conceptual level, but it ties together all of the transportation topics that we'll be discussing. So,
  • How should we encourage people to think about and choose sustainable means of travel?
  • Should we offer incentives to companies who offer flex-time to their employees in order to shift the time they are on the roads?
  • Should we offer incentives to people who carpool or use other means to reduce the number of cars on the road, or should we use obstacles to discourage people who don't?
  • The big one: Should we consider congestion pricing for drivers who don't take steps to improve their efficiency (for example, the SUV with a single occupant in rush hour might pay a few cents per kilometre, while the hybrid driver with four passengers at 9pm would pay nothing)?
You might have noticed that I use the term "we". That is because this plan belongs to every resident in Greater Toronto & Hamilton, and it needs everyone's help to shape it into a road map to guide us into the future. To read more about these concepts and to see what is on the table, visit the Metrolinx website and click Regional Transportation Plan - but hurry! Your next opportunity to comment on these three concepts in particular won't come until the summer.

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At 3/17/2008 3:36 p.m. , Blogger leonsp said...

What's small and what's big? If we could double the number of hubs the size of North York and Scarborough Town Centres, that would be great.

Mixed use, mixed use, mixed use. Segregating residential from commercial artificially creates transit trips that could otherwise have been done via active transportation: biking, walking, etc.

Build it and they will come. Make sure zoning encourages mixed use medium density development and discourages big box stores/huge parking lots.

Small businesses obviously can't provide showers. Bigger ones may be reasonably expected to provide such. The municipalities should take the lead, but budget constraints are obvious.

Marketing is very important. Viva is basically a bus in a fresh set of paint, but their marketing really invigorates the ridership. TTC marketing is generally awful, and should be contracted out to a competent company.

At 3/19/2008 1:34 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that we should build the necessary transit infrastructure, and for the most part keep hands off the development of transit nodes. If an area has efficient transit connections, then the market will decide through increased property values and densify appropriately. There would also need to be zoning bylaws to ensure a diversity of uses around the hubs to prevent them from becoming playgrounds for yuppies, like the condos along the Sheppard Subway.

Preferably, we should encourage a string of transit hubs along a particular corridor, such as those along most of the Yonge Subway. This would allow more people to bike or walk to those areas and reduce the demand for local buses.

The last biggie is the congestion charge idea. We should not have a congestion charge per se, but we could implement one by imposing a tax on parking space on a property, which would be scaled according to transit accessibility. So for example, a parkade on Richmond Street will be taxed to hell and back given all the transit infrastructure available. On the other hand, a parking lot for a store in Caledon will be charged a pittance given the lack of service. This will encourage landowners and developers to calculate and reduce the amount of parking provided. The cash will have to go straight to Metrolinx and perhaps reduce the need for municipal subsidies; we'll still need to appease suburban transit snobs in some form.

At 3/21/2008 12:16 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re Dean's Comment:

From Planning zoning by-laws the developers are tied to parking space requirements.

This needs to be addressed. A developer could get more creative if he was not locked into the number of parking spaces-- and not have to pay for a minor variance would be a better incentive ?

The developer pays to increase parking or decrease parking - I think.

Karem Allen


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