Friday, February 12, 2010

Did you know?
Over one million people are expected to use public transit each day during the Vancouver Olympic Games.

Transit takes center stage during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games

Tonight, the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games will kick off in Vancouver, Canada.  More than 6,800 athletes representing 80 countries will compete in a series of events that will reach an audience of three billion television viewers worldwide.  Olympic organizers are expecting more than a quarter of a million visitors, staff, and volunteers to descend on the Vancouver region over the next 27 days.

To keep athletes, media representatives, fans, and volunteers moving to various Olympic sites, Vancouver’s plan included a $157 million investment in the city’s transportation network. Olympic transportation demands to and from downtown Vancouver are expected to be at least 30 percent greater than an average weekday – bringing daily transit ridership to almost one million people during the games.

Two major transit investments were made in Vancouver to help improve mobility during the Winter Olympics. The Canada Line – which connects downtown with the Vancouver International Airport – is the largest transit construction project in the history of British Columbia. This $2.2 billion light rail service extends 11.8 miles and has 16 stations. Funded by a public-private partnership, the Canada Line attracted 47 percent of its financing from private equity. The consortium of investors will finance the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the system for the next 35 years.  Once that ends, the public will have the option of operating and maintaining the Canada Line or entering into another contract for those services.

The second investment is Vancouver’s 2010 Streetcar, known as the Olympic Line.  Connecting the Olympic Village with Grandville Island, the shopping, culture and arts district, this 1.12-mile streetcar attracted 6,000 riders on opening day. During the games, athletes, visitors and residents will be able to ride the streetcar for free.  Currently a 60-day demonstration project, the Olympic Line uses a fleet of low-floor boarding streetcars to provide greater accessibility for all users.  The $8.5 million system was paid for by the City of Vancouver, with a $500,000 contribution from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Pending additional funding, the streetcar could become a permanent fixture in the city’s transit network.

After the torch is blown out and the buzz of the Olympics quiets down, the people of Vancouver will return to their daily routines. The Olympics bring a unique opportunity to make significant investments in a city’s infrastructure and leave a lasting legacy of the Olympic experience for the world’s host. Vancouver’s success with innovative financing tools to help support the funding of a transit line and ability to connect meaningful destinations will leave positive, lasting mark in the city.

Vancouver Olympic Line
Photo courtesy of Steven Ballegeer

For Additional Information:



Local News

Free transit rides in Illinois come under fireChicago Sun-Times “The Illinois House mass transit committee voted today to approve a bill that would limit CTA, Metra and Pace free rides to low-income seniors.”

Momentum vital to transit plan
Indy Star “On Wednesday, the group officially presented Indy Connect: Central Indiana's Transportation Initiative, a more than $10 billion proposed mass transit project that, besides rail lines, includes tolled express lanes and expanded bus service.”

Despite $45M, Q-C passenger rail still long way off
Quad-City Times “George Weber, bureau chief for rail at the Illinois Department of Transportation, said this week that the $45 million Quinn promised Jan. 30 will cover track upgrades and signals but a station will be a local responsibility.”

CTA looking at new rail cars
Chicago Tribune “The CTA board took action Wednesday toward completing the purchase of 406 of the rail cars from Canada-based Bombardier Transit Corp., with an option to buy 300 more later if the money for it is available.”

CityLink getting use out of old buses
Peoria Journal Star “Of the 10 Chicago Transit Authority buses CityLink purchased more than a year ago, all but two are routinely, if not daily, used for service.”

Obama's high-speed rail plan: It could be transformative, but stations (and architecture) matter as much as speed
Chicago Tribune “Following the example of the U.S. General Services Administration’s Design Excellence program, the stations should be shaped by the best and the brightest architects.”

Illinois to get $1.2 billion in high-speed rail stimulus funds
Crain’s “Illinois scored more than $1.2 billion of the $8 billion in federal high-speed rail stimulus grants to be announced Thursday, enough to cut the Chicago-to-St. Louis travel time by nearly 25% and remove a major South Side bottleneck for Metra, Amtrak and freight railroads.”

CTA adds more station cameras, analyzes rail-car cameras
Progressive Railroading “The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) recently installed cameras at 24 Green Line stations, boosting the number of cameras installed system-wide so far to 1,657 at 73 stations.”

World News

FedEx Applies 'Environmental Philanthropy' to Move Traffic and Cut Emissions in Mexico CityNew York Times “FedEx Corp. is partnering with the World Resources Institute (WRI) to build on that bus lane by developing similar sustainable transportation projects in Mexico City and other cities in Mexico.”

Zhengzhou-Xi'an high-speed rail starts operationChina Daily “The 505-km Zhengzhou-Xi'an high-speed railway, the first of its kind in central and western China, cut the travel time between the two cities from former more than six hours to less than two hours, said local railway authorities.”

Amtrak Plans $11 Billion of Train Equipment PurchasesBusinessWeek “A report released by the Washington-based carrier outlined the plan and possible sources of capital, including money set aside by Congress, U.S. loans and commercial financing.”

White House Budget Seeks $4B for Transportation Infrastructure BankNew York Times “President Obama's proposed fiscal 2011 budget would create a national infrastructure bank to fund major transportation projects and provide an additional $1 billion for high-speed rail projects.”

State lawmakers take aim at free parkingLos Angeles Times “The bill provides financial incentives for cities and counties to stop providing free parking on the street and at government offices and to reduce the amount they require businesses to provide.”

L.A. officials recommend privatizing 10 public parking garagesLos Angeles Times “Analysts estimate that letting private firms run the lots could enable the city to quickly raise between $100 million and $200 million to help close a budget shortfall.”

Toll hikes approved for Bay Area bridgesSan Francisco Chronicle “The package of toll hikes unanimously approved by the authority after months of public hearings brings to the Bay Area congestion-based and carpool tolls for the first time.”

Tolling gets another look on three congested metro Denver road corridorsDenver Post “The perennial shortfall in public money available for new highway lanes has state and local officials looking once again at tolling and private investment as a way to add road capacity in tough economic times.”



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