UBC – A Cost Comparison of Transportation Modes


by Professor Patrick M. Condon, Kari Dow

Sept. 2008



Conclusion of the report:
Based on the three sustainability criteria, reducing trip length, greenhouse gas reduction, and lifecycle cost, trams represent the best investment. This investment is entirely dependent, however, on a long term commitment to balancing jobs and housing and a gradual reduction in the per capita demand for daily transportation of any kind.

If most trips in the region are short then the rationale for investment in trams is overwhelming. If all trips are long then the rationale for the very expensive Skytrain system may still hold sway.

Currently our region is at a tipping point between the two. Decisions made now about which mode to invest in could precipitate very different land use  consequences, consequences lasting for decades. These arguments apply to every North American metropolitan area. All are struggling with these same questions. This bulletin does not provide a definitive answer to which path to take, but attempts to illuminate the significance of the choice.

This generation of citizens and decision makers will determine, by its choices, what the Vancouver region, presently home for two million residents, will be like when it contains four million. Hopefully it will be much more sustainable than it is now.

OPEN PDF Full Report

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