Part of the total transit system in Portland, Ore.
While we enjoy talking about our projects, it’s also important to highlight some of the other positive transit initiatives that are going on around the world. Before we first launched Viva, we looked to other cities to see what lessons we could learn. One city that provided inspiration was Portland, Oregon.
Fred Hansen, Portland transportation manager, was recently featured on The Agenda with Steve Paikin talking about the “total transit system”. He said it’s not only about reducing travel time, but it’s about being able to properly plan your trip by knowing exactly when a transit vehicle will arrive. Portland uses light rail, commuter trains, streetcars and buses to move people.
They also have something called “frequent service”, meaning no matter what day or time, a vehicle will be there within 15 minutes on a frequent service route. Hansen said that when people can count on a vehicle arriving, they have seen triple-digit increases in ridership. Portland uses GPS so riders can go online or call to find out exactly what time a vehicle will arrive.
But Hansen said what they really want to do is create neighbourhoods – that it’s all about livability. A residential community is not just a place where people sleep or have a meal, but it should also be a place where people can get a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. The downtown core shouldn’t just be a place where people work. It should also have services and places for people to live. Transit has to reflect the community and be a part of the streetscape.
While the program focused on how Toronto can learn lessons from Portland, I would like to highlight the initiative of Portland and say that we hope to bring all these ideas to York Region and more. In fact, many of the ideas were initiated with phase one of Viva including using GPS so riders can know the exact arrival time. VivaNext will continue to build on leading industry standards that ultimately improves quality of life.
The ideas Hansen talks about are the same ideas we talk about around the office every day. We are using transit to lay the ground work for communities where people don’t just live, but also work and play. That is the end goal, transit is the medium.
What do you think of what Portland is doing? What other good ideas do you think we can copy from other places in the world?
I encourage you to watch the full conversation between Fred and Steve. It is followed by a panel discussion about how to share the road.
Watch the show