B.C. Drives Transportation Innovation

B.C. Drives Transportation Innovation

March 1, 2018 Posted by Abby Pollen

British Columbia is a key transportation hub with ports providing the shortest sea route between the Asia-Pacific region and North America. The province has an efficient, reliable network of marine ports, airports, rail lines and highways connecting products to markets. B.C. is a leader in transportation innovation with local entrepreneurs and organizations implementing proven tactics to improve transportation.

Vancouver currently does not have ride-hailing services like Lyft or Uber, but it is the car-sharing capital of North America according to the results of a survey published by B.C. Credit Union Vancity. With nearly 3,000 vehicles in sharing networks, Vancouver has more shared vehicles per capita than any other city on the continent. Convenience, cost savings and carbon footprint reduction were cited as the top reasons for citizen buy-in. Users often consolidate their outings to reduce driving time and the vehicles are selected for fuel efficiency to reduce environmental impact. With sufficient uptake there could potentially be fewer cars in use altogether which could result in fewer accidents, less material waste and improved parking availability.

Of course for those whose needs don’t permit them the flexibility to rely on shared vehicles, there are other options. Electra Meccanica, a startup based in Vancouver, is planning to start production on the Solo, a single-seat electric car designed for environmentally conscious drivers who want a practical vehicle for commuting. The attractive three-wheeler takes about three hours to power up using a 220-volt charger, has a range of 160 kilometres, a top speed of 130 kilometres an hour and has storage space in the trunk and under the front hood. There are also companies working on greener engines, including Ballard Power Systems’ fuel cell technology, which is free of carbon emissions and making big strides in greener, more sustainable transport solutions.

For those who prefer to take to the skies, flight training is also easier than ever before thanks to B.C.-based Viking Air’s new Twin Otter flight simulator. Transport Canada has validated the “Level D” simulator, citing the quality with which it digitally mimics the Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft’s cockpit, avionics systems and flight behaviour. The simulator is housed at their facility in Calgary, and is the world's first Twin Otter flight simulator to train pilots to take off and land on water. Pilots can now practice emergency procedures without risk and at low cost. Viking Air has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Mahindra Aerospace Private Limited of Bengaluru, India. The two companies will form a strategic alliance and support each other’s non-competing aircraft business, thereby boosting market penetration and providing customers with wider options based on specific operational requirements.

Flight travel in the province is going green as well, as B.C. Air Access provides infrastructure support for small and medium-sized facilities based on economic, environmental and social benefits. The program encourages airports to make environmental improvements and reduce emissions.

British Columbia is also making cycling safer as well, thanks to enhanced BikeBC programs supporting small communities. Towns with populations less than 15,000 can apply to have up to 75 per cent of their infrastructure costs covered by BikeBC, and larger communities are eligible to have 50 per cent of costs covered. Funding can go towards wayfinding signs, repair stations, bike racks and lockers, and upgrades to existing infrastructure — particularly those which prioritize safety for cyclists.

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