‘Compute the Commute’ aims to bring residents, officials together to talk about inter-city transportation

MARCH 30, 2012

DAWN GREEN
SPECIAL TO THE CHIEF

Transportation in the Sea to Sky Corridor is by no means a new topic. In fact, it’s been in the news since at least 1981, according to Eric Andersen from Squamish Climate Action Network (CAN), who provided newspaper articles from The Chief on the call back then for better options for commuters.

More recent data originating from the 2009 AECOM report commissioned by the District of Squamish (DOS) indicates that today there is a growing demand for a new, enhanced commuter service between Squamish and Metro Vancouver.

The numbers are there, said Ruth Simons, a board member of the Sea to Sky Clean Air Society (SSCAS). “The response to the survey was excellent and it shows there is a growing need for some form of alternative to… single-passenger car rides,” she said.

To address the call for more transportation alternatives, on April 15 the SSCAS is hosting a Compute the Commute event at the Squamish Adventure Centre.

The non-profit society was one of the stakeholder groups involved in the development of the Sea-to-Sky Air Quality Management Plan, adopted in 2007, which sets forth specific priority actions.

The actions include initiating projects designed to improve the air quality within the Sea to Sky and Howe Sound airshed, recognizing that car emissions are the greatest source of air pollution in the region.

According to the Climate Action Secretariat (2010), on-road transportation accounts for almost 60 per cent of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District’s measured emission sources, which are significantly larger than emissions from buildings and other sources.

And with Translink putting forward a proposed commuter route between Squamish and Vancouver in recent months, the timing seemed to be right to hold an event such as this, Simons said.

The goal of Compute the Commute is to generate dialogue between all interested parties — commuters, transit users, developers and transportation providers. Simons said DOS staff and council members plan to attend, along with representatives from TransLink, B.C. Transit, Jack Bell Rideshare, Skwez and possibly Greyhound.

The event will be about facilitating that dialogue, she said.

“It won’t be so structured on presentations but there will be facts available and from that four hours, we hope it will lead to more discussions and people will be looking to continue to work together.”

It’s essential to look at all options, Simons stressed.

“The word transit implies that the solution lies with buses and publicly funded transportation,” she said, “but we are really looking at transportation options in whatever form that takes.”

That might include rideshare options or even the use of a private carrier such as Greyhound, who could incorporate an earlier commuter run in its schedule, as it did in the past.

“We have to look down the road as to what is best for the region,” she said.

Murray Gamble, a local transportation advocate, agrees.

Squamish hasn’t developed a transit culture yet, he said, something he hopes will soon change.

“There are up to 1,500 people in East Howe Sound who commute to the city,” he noted.

Compute the Commute takes place Sunday, April 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Squamish Adventure Centre. Residents are encouraged to drop in during those hours. Check outwww.seatoskyairquality.ca for more information.