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Use of private vehicles climbs in Abbotsford, transit use stays static

Cars continue to increase their dominance as the primary means of travel in this city. - File photo
Cars continue to increase their dominance as the primary means of travel in this city.
— image credit: File photo

Almost three-quarters of Abbotsford’s travel involves private vehicles – a number that has increased since 2008 – according to data released by the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).

FVRD representatives presented the 2011 trip diary to council last week, revealing that the way people travel in Abbotsford has not changed much from 2008, but in some cases, their destinations have.

The diary is a one-day snapshot of how people travel in the Fraser Valley, meaning that it is representative of the day the survey was taken.

Barclay Pitkethly, director of regional programs for the FVRD, said that in comparison to 2008, the percentage of drivers rose from 66 per cent to 71 per cent. He added that less people travelled as passengers, dropping from 23 to 20 per cent, indicating that more people travelled alone.

Other areas remained more constant. Walking dropped from six to four per cent, while transit remained at two per cent, cycling was less than one per cent and other remained at three per cent.

But of the more than 300,000 trips originating in Abbotsford, about 80 per cent were within city limits. About 12 per cent were headed to Metro Vancouver and Pitkethly said that travel to Langley has increased, but decreased to other parts of Vancouver.

Just over three per cent were headed to both Chilliwack and Mission, but Pitkethly said that more trips are being taken between Abbotsford and Chilliwack than Abbotsford and Mission, a first for the survey.

Pitkethly explained that across the FVRD, the majority of the trips are internal. Only 9.8 per cent of all trips are going to Metro Vancouver and only about 3.8 per cent actually cross the bridge.

“This is interesting to note when mayors start asking for money to fund their transit projects,” he added.

Transit usership dropped a per cent across the Fraser Valley, which Pitkethly said could be due to two factors, the first being that transit service hours of operation haven’t kept pace with population, and that there has been an increase in inter-regional travel with no expansion to transit services.

Pitkethly said they expect that to change due to efficiency reviews and the implementation of the Fraser Valley Express, a recently approved express bus connection Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Langley.

Coun. John Smith noted that biking has not increased since 2008, but in that time the city has spent millions on bike lanes.

Pitkethly said that capturing even one per cent of the total trips is a significant number, adding that the survey was done in October, which means poor weather could be a contributing factor.

Coun. Dave Loewen said he understands that some people may have concerns about the funds put into bike lanes, but he said the same applies to walking, which remains low and yet still sees significant investment into infrastructure including paths and sidewalks.

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