The days of gliding along Greater Vancouver highways without a trace of congestion, typical of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, are in the rear view.
Expressways are becoming more clogged as traffic approaches levels last seen at the start of 2020.
According to traffic data provide by TransLink – which owns the Golden Ears Bridge – March 2021 saw the highest average weekday bridge volume since August 2019.
An average of 67,174 vehicles crossed the Fraser River overpass during an average weekday in the month, compared to 55,696 last March, and 64,136 in March of 2019.
TransLink spokesperson Dan Mountain said, based on the data from three bridges the transit authority monitors, traffic congestion is near pre-pandemic traffic levels, while transit ridership is only at 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
“This suggests that driving has been recovering faster than transit in the region, he said. “TransLink is concerned about the possibility of increased congestion levels region-wide based on this trend.”
Mountain said TransLink has teamed up with municipal and provincial government partners to study traffic volume on the key corridors leading to the Golden Ears Bridge to better understand congestion patterns in the area, and to see what solutions are available.
“Through the study, we are measuring traffic volumes, travel-time data, and historical collision statistics at 12 key corridors near the Golden Ears Bridge,” he said.
“That data will then be used to inform recommendations from Parsons, an independent engineering firm specializing in infrastructural mobility solutions, on improvements that could be made to improve congestion and safety in the area.”
The study will conclude later this year, he added, at which time TransLink will review the results with municipalities to see which recommendations can be implemented.
Mountain said TransLink will continue to ensure transit is a safe and efficient alternative to driving for commuters.
“TransLink encourages anyone following public health guidelines and restrictions to use transit,” he said. “To date, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on board our system and we are keeping customers as safe as possible through a number of measures outlined in our safe operating action plan.”
Some of the measures mentioned include: enhanced cleaning protocols, enforcing a mandatory mask mandate, and keeping space for customers to physically distance by maintaining service levels at-or-near pre-pandemic levels, despite a 60 per cent drop in ridership.
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