Vancouver to Vancouver commuting has been the cause of grief and stress for numerous commuters throughout the Greater Vancouver area. A relatively new phenomenon is emerging in the region; residents are commuting from the downtown core to outside areas. This is also known as a reverse commute. Vancouver already has its fair share of traffic congestion, to which many residents of the city can surely attest. Whether it’s waiting to merge onto the Lion’s Gate Bridge or crawling along Broadway at 9 in the morning; there are various locations throughout the city which presents unique challenges for commuters.
An interesting phenomenon is happening in the city of Vancouver though as a result of a drastic increase in population density of downtown; people are starting to commute from the city core of Vancouver to Vancouver suburbs and outlying regions.
A commute in the opposite direction is nothing new, there has always been traffic heading against the direction of congestion and volume. Single lanes on the Lion’s Gate Bridge can still easily become backed up despite going in the opposite direction of the daily commute, an occurrence seen across the Lower Mainland.
With the increasing residential density rates that we are experiencing Vancouver, a rate that is increasing much more rapidly than commercial, it was only ever a matter of time before population far exceeded employment opportunities. As a result, we are seeing people moving to the downtown core but finding employment outside of the city. Something which goes against traditional city planning is high commercial density in the downtown core and outlying urban areas feeding the downtown core with commuters.
City planning focuses on public transportation in order to service a high volume of commuters headed to one particular location. However, with the Canada Line and Sky Train this service goes both ways and many residents are situating themselves next to mass transit routes so they can commute from Vancouver to Vancouver, whether that is from or to downtown.
In theory spreading out commuters between various mass transit routes will reduce congestion. Whether or not a train on the Canada Line is packed or not, that train will be there. If the amount of people heading North is reduced, and the amount of people heading South is increased;, we should see a better balance of congestion as a result of increased distribution.
One instance where such a phenomenon would be a negative is an area such as the Lion’s Gate bridge where the only means of relieving congestion is by increasing lanes in a particular direction. With a maximum of three lanes, one direction has to suffer given equal volume. Now, this example is only meant to contrast something like the Canada Line which can service an equal distribution of commuters in either direction. Obviously there is far less commercial or industrial on the North Shore to ever entice a high volume of commuters from the downtown core.
Areas such as Lower Lonsdale in North Vancouver remain relatively unaffected by this occurrence because the Seabus which connects North Vancouver to Vancouver can easily accommodate a large increase in North-bound commuters. If you have ever thought about living in an area where you can easily commute from Vancouver to Vancouver visit my website to browse homes throughout the city.
Density is part of a natural process of the development of a growing city. Vancouver’s unique geography surrounds our city with mountains and water; we have limited land on which to build. Once a city has sprawled outward, and commuters decide the distance to the city from which they will live, buildings start to grow taller and taller.
Check back for future blogs on the environmental impact of reverse commuting, and the difficulty of business start-ups in downtown Vancouver restricting further commercial densification.
So, unless commercial density is something which erupts in the downtown core and job density follows, it is very likely we will continue to see this phenomenon of commuters from Vancouver to Vancouver.