From the Blog
May 15, 2013
Investing In Public Transit
As we look forward to breaking into the summer season, many of us are thinking about sun, sand and relaxation…and seasonal delays of construction. Yes, summer is the season for doing much of the repair work our infrastructure needs. While many of us cringe and complain about these inconveniences to our daily routine, it is important to remember that while we continue to spend money expanding existing roads and highways we often overlook the direct correlation between investing in public transportation, environmental sustainability and a strong, robust Niagara economy.
Investments into public transit have clear economic benefits, notably that Canada’s existing transit systems benefits Canada by at least $10 billion dollars annually. In addition, Canada’s public transit directly employs 45,300 Canadians and indirectly creates an additional 24,300 jobs . Utilizing public transit reduces vehicle operating costs for Canadian households by nearly $5 billion dollars annually and the costs associated with traffic collisions which are nearly 2.5 billion annually. A recent study by the federal government concluded that it would cost Canadians 50% more to meet new travel demands by car, than if they were to use public transit. Public transportation also saves Canadian taxpayers nearly $115 million annually in health care costs that are a result of respiratory illness caused in part by pollutants from greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). It is apparent that the cost of not investing in public transit is detrimental to the environmental health of our society as well as our economic growth.
Additional research shows that investments in public transportation can be successful stimuli for strong economic growth. Construction and transit operations have direct economic benefits by creating operations jobs as well as construction jobs through the production of physical infrastructure. The following statistics illustrate just how beneficial investing in public transportation can be. For example, it is estimated that the economic multipliers range from 1.5 to 1.7 for various components of transit investments. That means that for every dollar spent on transit infrastructure; approximately $1.50 will be generated in local economic activity. It is also estimated that for $1 million invested in transit system infrastructure, that 30-60 jobs will be produced. To further support this claim, a study completed in 2003 pointed out that investing in transit produced the highest return in all modes of investment in terms of job creation.
Alternately, one concern of not investing in public transportation is what impact it will have on daily commutes and car congestion. The detrimental effects of car congestion have negative environmental and economic implications. In a recent study in Canada, it was found that in 2002 recurrent congestion has cost Canada’s nine largest urban areas between $2.3-$3.7 billion dollars. More than 90% of these costs associated with time lost in traffic by drivers and passengers. Environmentally, public transit reduces annual GHG’s emissions by 2.4 million tonnes, with a dollar savings of 110 million. These indicators prove that the more public transit systems we have the lower it will cost us economically and environmentally.
So while we enjoy all the things we love about our Canadian summers, and cringe about the others, remember that investments in public transportation will benefit us all. Even if you are not willing or able to leave your vehicle for public transit, there are people who can, which will create a more environmentally clean society, but will also stimulate economic prosperity.
May 1, 2013
When thinking about sustainability, people commonly think of issues concerning the consumption of fossil fuels, greenhouse gases, and stemming the effects of global warming in order to avert future crises that will affect human, and ultimately, our planet’s survival. While these issues are and will continue to be central to any serious discussion about sustainability and what we as global citizens can do to protect our planet, there are countless ways in which we as citizens can promote a better and more sustainable way of life, right down to the way in which we plan our individual communities.
We often overlook or take for granted the fact that there is an entire process behind the way in which our cities and neighbourhoods are built and designed. Have you ever asked yourself why, for example, certain buildings, roads, or bridges are built the way they are, or located in certain areas? The process behind this, and other characteristics of how our communities are designed is precisely why urban planning is such an integral issue to building more sustainable cities while encouraging economic growth.
Dating as far back as the 19th century, modern planning was rooted in the need to take the disorganized and often unsanitary cities of the industrial age and transform them into efficient organisms that allowed for the free flow of people, goods, and commerce, while resolving troubling issues with pollution from waste and sewage by integrating sewage and waste disposal into the planning process. One of the earliest and most notable examples of the effects of urban planning came in the city of Paris, where authorities commissioned Baron Von Haussmann with redesigning a chaotic and disease-ridden city and transforming it into the modern metropolis that we all know today. (link: http://www.arthistoryarchive.com/arthistory/architecture/Haussmanns-Architectural-Paris.html)
So how does this relate to sustainability and how can we as citizens use this as a way of better promoting sustainable communities? Currently, cities across the globe are facing increasing challenges that come with population growth and the rapidly changing nature of our global economy. People need to move from one place to the other, and fast. In Ontario, Metrolinx, the regional transportation authority for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, estimates that traffic congestion accounts for approximately $6 billion in lost productivity per year and has a major impact on the environment due to the large amounts of emissions that pollute our air and environment. (link: http://www.bigmove.ca/what-is-the-big-move/the-regional-plan)
How do we resolve this, and several other looming issues that include the deterioration of greenspace through urban sprawl? Several cities are looking to new ways of addressing these concerns by building communities that use land and space more efficiently by implementing new ideas such as transit-oriented development, which seeks to redesign city landscapes so that they are more compact and walkable, and depend less on the use of automobiles and more on alternate forms of transportation to reduce congestion. (link: http://www.transitorienteddevelopment.org/)
Even in cities like Phoenix, once labelled as one of the most unsustainable cities in North America, there is a movement towards redesigning their urban plan to encourage transit-oriented development and mixed use planning to more efficiently use land and reduce the environmental impact of vehicle emissions and improve air and land quality. (link: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2013/04/phoenixs-walkability-gamble-just-might-pay/5164/) As urban planners increasingly face pressures from rapidly expanding populations with growing demands for communities that integrate the need for liveability with the need to move from one destination to another, it will be important for both citizens and politicians to look more closely at how we can meet these needs while ensuring that the communities we live in are sustainable for future generations. For more information on the importance of smart urban planning, you can read a recent report by the Pembina Institute titled Live Where You Go, which looks at ways in which Ontario can plan implement policies that foster more prosperous and sustainable communities. (link: http://pubs.pembina.org/reports/live-where-you-go.pdf)
Carlo Gavazzi Inc. presents at the Digital Technology workshop
Visit: eveningofrecognition.eventbrite.ca to Register!
Visit: wwwcagbctoronto.org to Register!
Alison Braithwaite, Director of Environmental Performance, Walker Industries
NSI Educational Forum: Profitable Sustainability
The NSI Team
2nd Annual Evening of Recognition
Location: St. Catharines Golf & Country Club
Date: May 30, 2013Read More
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