My Train & Bus Trips
In larger cities and towns, experts predict a significant shift in “urban form” – the way in which all the elements and structures of an urban center are planned and laid out. The majority of Canada’s population is urban – 81% of Canadians live in urban areas – and future growth will continue to be largely in city and town centers, as well as along urban corridors (e.g. the Calgary-Edmonton corridor). Neighbourhoods will grow more compact as well as more self-contained to support these patterns of growth, making high-quality public transit not only necessary but also the most cost-effective way to ensure that different zones within urban centers are closely interconnected. This in turn will mean that, to get around, walking, biking or public transit will be the best and easiest options, after some initial investments to get the necessary infrastructure in place. For most people living in large towns and cities, everyday life will involve fewer trips overall and less distance to cover whenever making a trip is necessary.
The most significant change to Canada's existing rail network will be electrification, which will significantly decrease GHG emissions. Expanding intra-city rail transit systems will also allow people to take the train instead of driving for short trips within their city or town.
For longer trips, prospects for the future are not so clear, but there are distinct possibilities. High-speed rail has been successfully adopted in many countries, but has yet to find a foothold in Canada. High speed inter-city rail could connect urban centers that are within a few hundred kilometers of each other, which would significantly reduce the number of short-haul flights taken by Canadians each year. What does seem certain is that existing inter-city rail systems are committed to lowering their environmental footprint through electrification and, in some cases, by switching to biofuel - experts predict that the use of biofuel in rail transport is predicted to increase steadily in the coming decades.
Bus transit systems all over the world are making the shift to decarbonisation through electrification, and until very recently, Canada has lagged behind other countries in adopting this clean technology. However, cities all over the country are starting to incorporate electric vehicles into their fleets, with the province of Quebec leading the way. All kinds of buses - from intra-city commuter vehicles and school buses to intra-provincial and inter-city fleets - are predicted to go electric, with many cities having set targets for total electrification of their fleets by 2040 or 2050.
There are plenty of reasons for passengers to look forward to electric buses replacing conventional ones: they are cleaner, quieter, and, despite a high initial cost, cheaper to run, which might see savings on operational costs leading to lower fare pricers for riders. With the expected changes in urban form, electric buses could be one of several affordable, convenient and environmentally friendly public transit options available to city-dwellers and commuters.