Vancouver promotes the future of work

I previously discussed the possibility that the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games could show the rest of the world the future of work.  I think we’ve done it, haven’t we?  We’ve proven that telecommuting and flexible schedules can work.  We achieved a 35% reduction in vehicle traffic, not by staying away but by simply switching to public transit. 

I normally commute to work via the Skytrain, often squeezing myself on during peak travel times.  When I first heard that the Olympic organizing committee requested a 30% reduction in car traffic to effectively transport athletes and delegates, well I thought:  “what the ???”.  How would people move around an already full system?  I was fully expecting those hour-long lineups we were warned about.

Well low and behold, the Gods of Public Transit came through with a comprehensive transportation plan which included:  longer service hours, more frequent service, more buses and train cars.  I rarely waited on the platform to get to and from work.  If one train was full, I waited only 1 minute for the next one which more often than not was relatively empty.  Who knew commuting could be so painless?

Alas, we’ve gone back to regular scheduled programming and that means that every additional transportation service is – poof! – gone.  Is that it for the future of the green commute?  The flame may have been turned off but let’s not forget to consider the legacies that should remain.

Now there is talk of knocking down the two main arteries connecting Vancouver’s downtown core to the rest of the city.  The Dunsmuir and Georgia viaducts were closed for security reasons during the Olympics, seeing as they were next to the Olympic’s two biggest venues.  It appears that the city got on fine without them, so why not use that valuable land for something more valuable than a roadway?

Hmmm… that could work but only if the conditions that existed during the Olympics continue to exist:  1) increased public transit to get people to the workplace and 2) flexible work arrangements and greater telecommuting options to keep people away.


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