A new express bus service to connect North Shore residents with Skytrain via the Second Narrows Bridge, a new east bound lane on Highway 1 between Lonsdale and Main Street and a new connection on the Lower Level Road between Park Royal and Dollarton Highway are just some of the changes that may be coming to North Shore.
This brave new world emerged at a recent City of North Vancouver meeting where two INSTEP consultants briefed the council on new possibilities for better transit and less traffic in the North Shore.
The brain child of MLA Bowinn Ma, the Integrated North Shore Transportation Planning Project (INSTEP) aims to bring together federal, provincial, and local stakeholders with a goal to bring better transit service in the area. In a presentation to the council, John Forsdick and Brian Mills said the INSTEP project is working towards short term actions as well as developing a long-term transportation framework.
An analysis by the city and the consultants have found that in the last five years, employment on the North Shore grew more than the population, which resulted in more people commuting to the area.
Their research also indicates that congestion is more pronounced in the afternoon peak hour as more people try to get across the bridges. Interestingly, their research found that the highest traffic increased happened after 2012 when Highway 1 and the Port Mann bridge was widened.
Even though the idea has been debated several times, the consultants believe creating a new bridge is not a good solution for congestion. Adding more bridge capacity would in the short-term reduce congestion but in the long-term would encourage more auto travel, which would eventually result in the same level of congestion as experienced today, the consultants told the council.
It would also require expanding the municipal road network, which would have a negative impact on livability, they added. What INSTEP is offering is to create better transit options and nudge people away from the car and towards using transit. With that in mind, the project is aiming for concrete solutions that make transit a viable option for commuters and locals.
Besides an express bus to connect locals with the Skytrain, the project is proposing other solutions such as better collision clearing on the bridges, an ongoing discussion in the North Shore on mobility pricing, a better coordination between different jurisdiction to support the smooth working of future transit projects, adequate transit operations centre as well as concrete improvements such as new express bus service, a new eastbound lane on Highway 1, a connection on lower level road between Park Royal and Dollarton Highway, and a well-managed Marine-Main B-Line with transit priority.