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No. H 019/09
For release - January 17, 2009

OTTAWA - 88 Blocks - Art on Main, an investment in Vancouver's transportation infrastructure to enhance one of the City's oldest and busiest transit corridors, was launched today. Andrew Saxton, MP for North Vancouver and Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, attended the launch of the first art showcase for the Main Street Transit and Pedestrian Priority Project.

"The Government of Canada is investing in public transit projects that will improve commuting times," said MP Saxton. "This federal contribution shows that we can deliver results that are good for our public transit users, create jobs, and boost our economy."

The $6M Main Street Transit and Pedestrian Priority Project will improve service reliability, reduce travel times and bus delays, shorten pedestrian crossing times, and improve pedestrian and cyclist safety. The public art is just one of many measures in a broad package of improvements.

"The City of Vancouver has a strong and vibrant public art program that incorporates contemporary public art into civic and private developments. This is a great example of how we can feature artwork that expresses the spirit, values and visions that define Vancouver, while encouraging people to use public transit as their preferred mode of transportation," says Vancouver Deputy Mayor Heather Deal.

"TransLink is pleased to have worked with the federal government and the City of Vancouver in presenting the 88 Blocks - Art on Main project. As partners in The Main Street Urban Transportation Showcase, we understand and appreciate the role public art plays in transit systems here and around the world", said Sheri Plewes, Vice President, Planning and Capital Management at TransLink. "On public transit, we appreciate that every passenger using our system is an individual - and if we can make their transit experience more pleasant and engaging, while also lowering the harmful effects of greenhouse gases, then a program like 88 Blocks - Art on Main is a terrific component of the Urban Transportation Showcase."

This project is one of six integrated components of the Greater Vancouver Sustainable Region Showcase, which is co-funded by Transport Canada, the City of Vancouver and TransLink through the Urban Transportation Showcase Program, an initiative to improve transportation in Canadian cities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Chris Day
Press Secretary
Office of Transport Minister John Baird, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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Greater Vancouver's regional transportation authority, TransLink, is working with Metro Vancouver and municipal and non-profit partners to carry out six integrated projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation across the region. This initiative features three major capital projects - Transit Villages, the Central Valley Greenway and the Main Street Transit and Pedestrian Priority Project - and three other projects including a goods movement study, a hybrid bus demonstration project and TravelSmart, a personalized transportation choice marketing program.

The Greater Vancouver Regional Showcase was one of the eight selected projects of Transport Canada's Urban Transportation Showcase Program. This program co-funds, with regional transportation authorities, municipalities and provinces, a Canada-wide series of green transportation showcases. These showcases combine the purchase of leading edge technologies with the construction of infrastructure and the enhancement of planning and services to improve transportation in Canadian cities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This program collaborates with other jurisdictions to gain experience in Canada with green technologies and practices that are used in other countries. Financial, emissions, and efficiency results from the showcases are measured and published to make it easier for other cities to adopt successful strategies.

Main Street is a major arterial road that connects a mix of land uses to the region's core. It carries a high volume of transit users, with 30,000 bus passengers daily. However, traffic congestion causes many buses to run behind schedule and increases passenger delay. To improve service reliability, reduce travel times and make the street more pedestrian-friendly, the Main Street Transit and Pedestrian Priority Project will redesign the street to reduce bus delay, shorten pedestrian crossing times, improve pedestrian safety, and enhance the vitality of the streetscape.

The Main Street project will cost around $6 M, and the Urban Transportation Showcase Program contribution is $1.5 M. Transport Canada is contributing $8.8 M to the entire Vancouver Showcase.

The public art is just one of many measures in a broad package of enhancements to improve services for commuters on Main Street. Other enhancement efforts include: improved bus shelters with new lighting, real-time transit schedules on electronic signage at high-volume stops, an increased number of bike racks and street furniture along Main, and street design improvements including landscaping, sidewalk extensions and better delineation of crosswalks. As a package, the urban redesign, new transit technology, and a fleet of new buses will all contribute to an enhanced and more efficient transit system making Main Street more welcoming for pedestrians and transit patrons. This in turn will serve the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Main Street Transit and Pedestrian Priority Project fits into the objectives of demonstrating and evaluating a range of integrated urban GHG-reduction strategies and other important policy objectives to build strong cities. The Urban Transportation Showcase Program is also encouraging replication of these strategies in other Canadian cities. Providing pedestrian, cyclists and transit users with an enjoyable environment and a more efficient method of travel encourages greater use of these travel modes and demonstrates that social marketing is based on more than just one factor.

The Urban Transportation Showcase Program aims to reduce all forms of transportation emissions. It is anticipated that the program could achieve greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the order of 0.8 Megatonnes by 2010. This reduction would be the equivalent to almost 170 000 cars off the road and would reduce the emissions of other air pollutants from urban transportation including sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and ammonia.

January 2009

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