Federal government, TransLink and Vancouver improve city buses


    OTTAWA, Jan. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - 88 Blocks - Art on Main, an investment in
Vancouver's transportation infrastructure to enhance one of the City's oldest
and busiest transit corridors, was launched today. Andrew Saxton, MP for North
Vancouver and Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board,
attended the launch of the first art showcase for the Main Street Transit and
Pedestrian Priority Project.
    "The Government of Canada is investing in public transit projects that
will improve commuting times," said MP Saxton. "This federal contribution
shows that we can deliver results that are good for our public transit users,
create jobs, and boost our economy."
    The $6M Main Street Transit and Pedestrian Priority Project will improve
service reliability, reduce travel times and bus delays, shorten pedestrian
crossing times, and improve pedestrian and cyclist safety. The public art is
just one of many measures in a broad package of improvements.
    "The City of Vancouver has a strong and vibrant public art program that
incorporates contemporary public art into civic and private developments. This
is a great example of how we can feature artwork that expresses the spirit,
values and visions that define Vancouver, while encouraging people to use
public transit as their preferred mode of transportation," says Vancouver
Deputy Mayor Heather Deal.
    "TransLink is pleased to have worked with the federal government and the
City of Vancouver in presenting the 88 Blocks - Art on Main project. As
partners in The Main Street Urban Transportation Showcase, we understand and
appreciate the role public art plays in transit systems here and around the
world", said Sheri Plewes, Vice President, Planning and Capital Management at
TransLink. "On public transit, we appreciate that every passenger using our
system is an individual - and if we can make their transit experience more
pleasant and engaging, while also lowering the harmful effects of greenhouse
gases, then a program like 88 Blocks - Art on Main is a terrific component of
the Urban Transportation Showcase."
    This project is one of six integrated components of the Greater Vancouver
Sustainable Region Showcase, which is co-funded by Transport Canada, the City
of Vancouver and TransLink through the Urban Transportation Showcase Program,
an initiative to improve transportation in Canadian cities while reducing
greenhouse gas emissions.Backgrounder
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                           88 BLOCKS - ART ON MAIN
                           -----------------------

    Greater Vancouver's regional transportation authority, TransLink, is
working with Metro Vancouver and municipal and non-profit partners to carry
out six integrated projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from
transportation across the region. This initiative features three major capital
projects - Transit Villages, the Central Valley Greenway and the Main Street
Transit and Pedestrian Priority Project - and three other projects including a
goods movement study, a hybrid bus demonstration project and TravelSmart, a
personalized transportation choice marketing program.
    The Greater Vancouver Regional Showcase was one of the eight selected
projects of Transport Canada's Urban Transportation Showcase Program. This
program co-funds, with regional transportation authorities, municipalities and
provinces, a Canada-wide series of green transportation showcases. These
showcases combine the purchase of leading edge technologies with the
construction of infrastructure and the enhancement of planning and services to
improve transportation in Canadian cities while reducing greenhouse gas
emissions.
    This program collaborates with other jurisdictions to gain experience in
Canada with green technologies and practices that are used in other countries.
Financial, emissions, and efficiency results from the showcases are measured
and published to make it easier for other cities to adopt successful
strategies.
    Main Street is a major arterial road that connects a mix of land uses to
the region's core. It carries a high volume of transit users, with 30,000 bus
passengers daily. However, traffic congestion causes many buses to run behind
schedule and increases passenger delay. To improve service reliability, reduce
travel times and make the street more pedestrian-friendly, the Main Street
Transit and Pedestrian Priority Project will redesign the street to reduce bus
delay, shorten pedestrian crossing times, improve pedestrian safety, and
enhance the vitality of the streetscape.
    The Main Street project will cost around $6 M, and the Urban
Transportation Showcase Program contribution is $1.5 M. Transport Canada is
contributing $8.8 M to the entire Vancouver Showcase.
    The public art is just one of many measures in a broad package of
enhancements to improve services for commuters on Main Street. Other
enhancement efforts include: improved bus shelters with new lighting,
real-time transit schedules on electronic signage at high-volume stops, an
increased number of bike racks and street furniture along Main, and street
design improvements including landscaping, sidewalk extensions and better
delineation of crosswalks. As a package, the urban redesign, new transit
technology, and a fleet of new buses will all contribute to an enhanced and
more efficient transit system making Main Street more welcoming for
pedestrians and transit patrons. This in turn will serve the ultimate goal of
reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    The Main Street Transit and Pedestrian Priority Project fits into the
objectives of demonstrating and evaluating a range of integrated urban
GHG-reduction strategies and other important policy objectives to build strong
cities. The Urban Transportation Showcase Program is also encouraging
replication of these strategies in other Canadian cities. Providing
pedestrian, cyclists and transit users with an enjoyable environment and a
more efficient method of travel encourages greater use of these travel modes
and demonstrates that social marketing is based on more than just one factor.
    The Urban Transportation Showcase Program aims to reduce all forms of
transportation emissions. It is anticipated that the program could achieve
greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the order of 0.8 Megatonnes by 2010.
This reduction would be the equivalent to almost 170 000 cars off the road and
would reduce the emissions of other air pollutants from urban transportation
including sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon
monoxide and ammonia.

                                                              January 2009
For further information: Chris Day, Press Secretary, Office of Transport
Minister John Baird, Ottawa, (613) 991-0700; Media Relations: Transport
Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca.
Subscribe to news releases and speeches at www.tc.gc.ca/e-news and keep up to
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