Solo drivers are clogging Greater Victoria roadways, says a study that shows more than half the region's 820,000 daily vehicle trips are made by lone drivers.
The figures are in the latest household travel survey released this week by the Capital Regional District. Data show the percentage of people choosing vehicles as their primary mode of transportation has not changed much in the past 10 years.
Out of the more than one million trips made on an average day in Greater Victoria, 63.6 per cent were by people driving vehicles - up slightly from 63.2 per cent in 2001. Another 13.0 per cent ride as passengers in vehicles, a similar number walk and just 6.4 per cent take transit. Transit's share is down from almost seven per cent in 2001.
CRD board members this week discussed the need to invest in infrastructure to get more people carpooling, riding buses, cycling or walking. "If we don't start building the infrastructure we need, we won't compare favourably in the future," said Vic Derman, CRD director and Saanich councillor.
Wide access to vehicles likely contributed to the car keeping its role as the main mode of transportation. About 89 per cent of households have at least one vehicle, for a total of 240,000 vehicles in the region.
The Victoria Regional Transit Commission has plans to change that by adding bus-priority lanes on the busiest corridors in Greater Victoria, including along Douglas Street
Improving transit's efficiency is the only way to get more people out of cars and into buses, B.C. Transit officials say. Numbers show a 40 per cent increase in service hours from 2001 to 2011. That investment has increased ridership, but has done nothing to reduce the portion of travellers using the automobile.
"We've made significant increases in the amount of hours in the system to keep up with population growth, but we're at a tipping point now," said Erinn Pinkerton, strategic planning director for B.C. Transit. "We now need to catch up with the infrastructure side of it."
Despite widespread access to the automobile and lack of car pooling, however, the rate of commuter trips has not increased as fast as the rate of population growth.
The number of automobile trips in the region rose by seven per cent in the past decade, while the population increased 10.5 per cent. But there is no question there are more vehicles on the road now than there were five or 10 years ago, planners say.
"The pace for vehicle trips may be slower, but we still haven't increased the rate of use for other modes of transportation" such as transit, cycling and walking, said Bob Lapham, CRD general manager of planning.
The slower growth rate of trips means each of the 345,000 residents in the region takes, on average, about 2.99 trips per day, down from 3.15 trips identified in the 2006 survey.
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