On Scene

Transportation tales
February 12, 2010
Written by Paul Dixon
Feb. 12, 2010

Police in North Vancouver had an early start to their Olympics when a “suspicious package” was discovered at Lonsdale Quay, a major regional transportation hub. You can read more here.

The resulting shift in transportation resources meant a heavier traffic backlog in downtown Vancouver, where several key roads are closed for the duration of the Olympics, and a traffic jam on both bridges from Vancouver to the North Shore.

This is an example of security having an impact on public safety. In the most immediate sense, the increase in traffic on the roads slows down first responders. In a broader context, people are forced to abandon their familiar transportation routes. Dark, rainy nights with more people forced out on to the streets increases the chance of pedestrian/vehicle encounters and that leads to a surge in calls for emergency responders.

Besides, the road closures in the downtown core, on-street parking is restricted on a number of arterial roads for the duration of the Games and special transit and Olympic vehicle-only lanes have been established. VANOC has a fleet of about 4,600 GM vehicles at its disposal for its employees and volunteers – rolling billboards, covered in Olympic decals, as they speed by in the dedicated lanes or, as I experienced last night in downtown Vancouver, run a red light and pass behind me as I went through the intersection. Crossing the T in reverse as it were. Big SUV, small driver.

There’s a story going around that one of VANOC’s high-profile directors has declined the Cadillac offered him for the Olympic period. He quite prefers his non-GMC vehicle thank you. Will he be required to put duct tape over the logos of his vehicle, which has been the fate of logos belonging to non-sponsoring organizations in Olympic venues?

In another transportation-related story, VANOC’s transportation sub-contractor has been forced to replace the leased American transit buses it planned to use as shuttles to Cypress Bowl in West Vancouver. While a VANOC spokesman said that “theoretically” the buses were suitable for the purpose, it quickly became apparent that many of them were simply not able make it up the 12-kilometre mountain road. On two consecutive days the Canadian women’s freestyle ski team bus died on the road, leaving team members stranded. What compounds the situation is that these buses are deemed to be within the “security zone”, as the passengers are screened prior to boarding. The skiers had to wait on the disabled bus until a replacement bus arrived and then they were escorted onto the replacement bus. The bus doors actually have a security seal affixed and if that seal is broken, then the bus and occupants have to be re-inspected. VANOC is scrambling to find enough highway coaches to replace the non-performing transit buses.

If you are reading this on Friday, I will be downtown to get check out the action and reaction on the streets of Vancouver as the city ramps up to the opening ceremonies at BC Place Stadium.  

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