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Planning for the Olympics: A Transportation SWOT Analysis of Vancouver

Brandon Duxbury

To Fulfill the Geography/Earth Science Requirement of Completing a Practical Exam Final Draft Submitted April 11, 2012 Readers: Kurt Fuellhart, Claire Jantz, and Jan Smith

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................................. 2 STUDY AREA .................................................................................................................................................. 3 LITERATURE REVIEW ..................................................................................................................................... 4 Transportation Planning ........................................................................................................................... 4 Personal Automobile ................................................................................................................................ 5 Bus Transportation.................................................................................................................................... 7 Rail Transit ................................................................................................................................................ 8 Other Transportation Modes .................................................................................................................... 9 Effects of Transport Decisions ................................................................................................................ 10 Daily vs. Special Event Use of Infrastructure .......................................................................................... 12 SWOT ANALYSIS .......................................................................................................................................... 12 Strengths ................................................................................................................................................. 13 Weaknesses ............................................................................................................................................ 17 Opportunities .......................................................................................................................................... 19 Threats .................................................................................................................................................... 21 RECOMMENDATIONS TO FUTURE HOST CITIES.......................................................................................... 23 WHY GEOGRAPHERS CAN DO THIS ............................................................................................................. 27 Spatial Insight .......................................................................................................................................... 27 Multi-Disciplinary .................................................................................................................................... 28 Use of Data.............................................................................................................................................. 29 Applications of Analysis .......................................................................................................................... 29 APPENDIX I .................................................................................................................................................. 32 APPENDIX II ................................................................................................................................................. 33 WORKS CITED .............................................................................................................................................. 34

INTRODUCTION
Transportation is a crucial aspect of all populated areas. Residents and visitors alike expect to efficiently and effectively navigate the complexity of urban regions. While transportation planning strategies vary with the needs and goals of individual cities, all governments and planning agencies share a common goal: to ensure that those expectations are met. Creating and enacting an effective transportation policy is a difficult process. An ideal system would connect all people with all places. Although cities strive to provide an ideal transportation system, they are never perfect, no matter how well-planned and funded they are. Public transportation coverage of some areas just does not make sense. For example, lines to low-density, high-income neighborhoods would, most likely, be unwarranted. The affluent population will tend to rely on personal automobile use and stay away from public transportation. While the ideal transportation system would connect all people with all places, in reality this is not feasible. Numerous other factors such as cost, equity, environmental issues, and personal beliefs also hinder the development of public transportation. Many large cities look for opportunities to showcase their city to their region, country, and the world. Major league sports teams, for instance, attract regional attention, pulling in residents from the surrounding area. National sporting tournaments, concerts, and festivals can have a larger desirability, attracting people from across a nation. Other events such as the Olympics can have a far greater attraction, bringing in a large number of people from numerous countries. While these mega-events are believed to benefit the local economy, they add to the complexity of transportation planning. The city must not only comply with competition demands ensuring that athletes and officials make their events but also do so in a way that is beneficial to the city and its residents once the event is completed. Vancouver, British Columbia recently faced these issues when it played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The city of Vancouver, TransLink (the regional transportation authority), the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, BC Transit, and multiple local governments were involved in creating

a transportation plan that would ensure the millions of visitors during the Games were moved quickly and efficiently while addressing issues such as cost, equity, and coverage of improvements to the transportation network. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis will be created for Vancouver specifically and then discussed in detail describing the importance of the planning process, specific opportunities the event offers, and dangers of the event. Finally, a general guidance plan will be offered for future mega-event host cities.

STUDY AREA
Vancouver, British Columbia is the third largest metropolitan area in Canada with a population of 2.3 million. Located between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountain Range, Vancouver is a popular recreation destination. The city is also known for its innovative programs in areas such as sustainability and accessibility. Vancouver is striving to become the greenest city in the world by 2020 through lessening its carbon footprint, instituting green building codes and urging the use of greenways and public transportation (City of Vancouver). The city has hosted a number of international events over the years including the British Empire and

Commonwealth Games in 1956, the Exposition on Transportation and Communication in 1986 and the 2010 winter Olympics.
Figure 1. Vancouver Location Map

LITERATURE REVIEW
Transportation Planning
Transportation planning revolves around the axiom that the motivation for people to travel lies in the desire to reach a destination (Berke et al. 2006). Trips are generated when people move between two points for any number of purposes. Providing easy access to those destinations and improving how people get there dominate transportation planning theory. Two terms are often used to describe these dynamics: mobility and accessibility. Mobility refers to the ability to move physically through space while accessibility is defined as the ease of getting to destinations (Rosenbloom and Altshuler, 1977). Increasing mobility and accessibility are two priorities of transportation agencies. Transportation planning is also important for a number of other reasons. It: Creates a vision for the future Assesses future opportunities and challenges Demonstrates the influence and impact of demographics, and Identifies short- and long-term options (Carney, 2010).

Creating a future vision is important in that once a policy is established and goals are created, projects can be planned accordingly. The plan ultimately guides agencies in how they develop a citys transportation network over the next twenty years. It identifies opportunities to create a more efficient, reliable network that caters to the needs of individuals with different values. While planning for transportation is important to the citys future, the process can often be long and tedious. The planning process should revolve around public participation, allowing citizens to voice their concerns and ideas. Collecting and analyzing data can also be time consuming. As a result, situations and circumstances can change by the time a final plan is produced. Planning is also largely limited by use of forecasts, or predictions of future patterns, based on past data. Because forecasts cannot take into account future changes, it cannot accurately predict future situations (Berke et al., 2006). Finally, planning can be used to serve an individuals own agenda rather than for the good of

everyone involved (Berke, et al., 2006). Even though public comments are taken into consideration, the final plan is largely the work of a group of individuals who may provide different views and ideals to the planning process. As a result, the potential exists for a plan to reflect the ideals of those who were involved in drafting it and omitting the needs of the citizens. Demographics vary drastically in an urban setting, each group of people expressing different needs and concerns. Low income areas, for example, may express the need for increased public transit service to their neighborhood, forcing planning authorities to consider addressing that issue over a project that would benefit the central business district (Rosenbloom and Altshuler, 1977). Through public participation, citizens can address those concerns and the planning agencies can amend their proposed plan as needed to ensure the transportation network services everyone equally. Planning authorities should also be familiar with advantages and limitations of different transportation modes in order to best plan the citys network.

Personal Automobile
Since the end of World War II, automobiles have become the dominant mode of transportation in North America. Suburbanization and sprawl influence a regions transportation network and vice versa. The need for an improved, connected highway system was recognized by President Eisenhower in 1956 when he signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act (Federal Highway Administration, 2012). The construction of a national highway and interstate system, along with improved, affordable automobile technology, spurred the growth of suburbanization. Likewise, the middle- and upper-class residents moving outward from the city demanded an improved transportation network, connecting them to their destinations (Rosenbloom and Altshuler, 1977). This relationship between suburbanization and transportation serves as the basis for todays high dependence on the automobile. A study conducted by the Office of Highway Policy Information in 2000 found that there were 133.6 million registered automobiles in the United States (2011). Transport Canada reports 26 million

registered vehicles in Canada (2012). Given the large number of vehicles on the road, it is not surprising that a number of social and environmental issues have arisen. Air quality is one of the biggest concerns today, especially in urban areas. Motor vehicles emit a number of pollutants including nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), sulphur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter (BC Air Quality, 2012). Increased levels of these pollutants can lead to the formation of ozone (O3) and increase human health risk (Harrington and McConnell, 2003). Road congestion is another disadvantage to automobile use in urban areas. With the reliance on personal vehicles to travel to destinations, mobility often decreases (Rosenbloom and Altshuler, 1977). Peak travel hours often result in slow-moving traffic and high levels of congestion. This is frequently attributed to urban sprawl. Many residents move out of the city while retaining jobs within it, leading to increased automobile trips. Other disadvantages to automobile use include cost to purchase and maintain a vehicle, noise, and safety. Even though many disadvantages of the automobile exist, the advantages they offer generally win out. Personal vehicles are available, convenient, and mobile. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that there are 1.9 cars per household in the United States (2012). The average driver makes three trips per day with an average of 9.7 miles per trip (National Household Travel Survey, 2009). Because the automobile is so widely available, it becomes more convenient than using public transit. Travel times are often decreased and the individual eliminates wait times for buses and trains. The extensive road network also makes the urban area more accessible, that is, it connects originating points to more destinations compared to public transit. Since the road network is so extensively used, transportation planners are tasked with making it as accessible and mobile as possible. Decreasing congestion and creating a sustainable network tend to be major policy goals in most urban transportation plans. There are multiple strategies enacted to meet these goals. Carpool lanes encourage ride-sharing and can result in decreased air pollution and traffic

congestion (Pima Association of Governments, 2012). Providing alternate routes can reduce congestion on major roads and bridges (Kelsey, 2012). The issue of equity arises when addressing the travel needs of those without access to vehicles. Those people are ultimately cut off from numerous destinations (Rosenbloom and Altshuler, 1977). As a result, transportation planners must look at alternatives to the automobile. Providing public transportation and encouraging its use, not only by those who need it, is another strategy to decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality within urban environments.

Bus Transportation
Buses played an important role in urban transit during the first half of the 20th century. Prior to World War II, much of the urban population resided near their jobs and relied on public transit to travel to their destinations. The bus system offered residents high accessibility as the stations were within walking distance of most destinations (Walsh, 2010). The bus also provided residents a cheaper alternative to the automobile. After World War II, bus ridership dwindled as many middle- and upperclass residents relocated to the suburbs. As a result, private bus companies went out of business, forcing cities to take over the bus system (Schrag, 2010). Bus service is the slowest form of motorized transportation. Making frequent stops and servicing large numbers of people, many of them low-income and minorities, the bus has been given a poor image (Walsh, 2010). Many affluent residents choose not to be associated with the negative stereotype and instead use private automobile. Other factors pushing those residents away from the bus include the availability of buses, waiting times, multiple stops, and overcrowding. Despite the disadvantages of the bus system, it does offer a number of advantages that appeal to those who do not have access to an automobile as well as commuters coming into the city on a light rail lines. Buses generally service low-income areas, connecting them to areas of the city containing jobs

and services (Walsh, 2010) as well as connecting those areas to light rail stations. Many buses also stop frequently, allowing for greater accessibility for its users (Walsh, 2010). Cities favor buses as a public transportation option as they are cheap to run and maintain. Because cities have established road networks, they can avoid construction costs for infrastructure such as tunnels and bridges required for introducing rail transit (Light Rail Now, 2004). Planners also take advantage of utilizing bus routes as they decrease traffic congestion by reducing automobile dependency. Providing bus service to neighborhoods allows residents a transportation alternative to personal vehicles (Schrag, 2010). Buses also decrease air pollution if enough people utilize them over automobiles. Cities attempt to attract commuters away from personal vehicles by implementing rapid bus lines with limited stops. High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes have also been created in many urban areas, allowing for faster commuting times for public transit users (Light Rail Now, 2004). Other ways cities are able to improve the bus system include increasing the number of buses within the city, creating new routes to service more neighborhoods, and increasing the frequency of buses running on a route.

Rail Transit
Public rail transit in cities was often installed out of necessity. Rapid population growth in the early 1900s and the introduction of the automobile resulted in increased traffic congestion on the city streets that were unaccustomed to handle the quantity of trips being made (Garrett, 2004). To combat the worsening congestion, major cities installed rail transit lines. Rail transit connected city centers with neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city as well as suburbs, allowing residents to travel to work and other destinations while bypassing the often congested city streets. Today, approximately fifty US cities have a rail transit system (Garrett, 2004) while Canadas six largest urban centers (Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver) have a working rail transit system.

Rail lines, because of their speed and efficiency, are an attractive form of public transportation to residents and tourists alike. Subways and elevated trains offer high-speed transportation between two points, usually a city center and a suburb (Garrett, 2004). Because they can only run along a set line, trains replace the need for accessibility with speed. Often, commuters must connect to a bus to reach their final destination. Cost is also a concern when constructing and operating a rail transit system. Most projects are financed through city bonds which are ultimately financed through local taxes (Garrett, 2004). Federal and state funds as well as private investment also finance rail construction (Madill, 2012). Rail planning is often a lengthy process as it requires studies to determine socio-economic impacts, environmental impacts, and funding requirements. Once installed, maintenance and labor costs also become an issue (Garrett, 2004). The high costs involved make a rail system unfeasible in moderately-sized cities. For residents of those cities able to provide a rail transit system, cost to ride is low, making it an appealing mode of public transportation.

Other Transportation Modes


As the idea of sustainable transportation becomes more important, planning officials emphasize the use of greenways and the creation of cycling- and pedestrian-friendly areas. Adding bike lanes to roads gives cyclists a safer alternative to destinations. Widening sidewalks and installing pedestrian crosswalks can also add to the attractiveness of walking over commuting (Berke et al., 2006). Installing bike lanes and widened sidewalks often result in lessened mobility as road capacity decreases for automobile users. A study by Alshalalfah and Shalaby (2007) found that the maximum distance people are willing to walk to reach a destination is two miles. If the destination lies outside that range, people will turn to a personal vehicle or public transit. While cycling and walking help reduce congestion and air pollution, planners should consider traffic mobility impacts as well as the usefulness of such projects

prior to implementation. Other modes of transportation cities may offer but fall outside the scope of this study include ferries, trollies, and trams.

Effects of Transport Decisions


Urban areas require planning to forecast population growth, identify areas where the city can expand, and address the needs of the residents and businesses relocating to those areas. Godschalk (2004) created a sustainability model that identifies four standards (environment, economy, equity, and livability) that planners must account for but balance out so that needs of all residents are met. Conflicts arise when one value is given more attention than others (Figure 2).

Livability Gentrification Conflict

Equity

Ecology Growth Management Conflict

Economy
Figure 2. The sustainability prism representing the four planning values and the conflicts that may arise. Source: Godschalk, 2004

While these conflicts describe the concerns land use planners address every day, they can also be considered when making transportation decisions. The growth management conflict describes the dichotomy between uncontrolled urban growth driven by economic forces and planned urban growth that supports high-quality standards of living (Berke, 2006). Economic values are important to address as they are the basis for job creation. If growth is overly restricted, cities can become overcrowded, lose businesses, and ultimately jobs for its residents. To avoid this, a citys economic success revolves around the multiplier effect. As the city expands outward, establishing new business districts and residential areas, jobs are created to construct the necessary infrastructure. That infrastructure then in turn attracts more business, creating more jobs. 10

Unmanaged growth, however, can lead to urban sprawl in which the city becomes unable to provide the necessary infrastructure, resulting in lower standards of living to residents in those areas. Similarly, cities may choose to construct infrastructure to keep up with growth while ignoring the maintenance of older utilities and roads resulting in a decreased standard of living (Rosenbloom and Altshuler, 1977). Transportation planners must account for the growth management conflict when making decisions. These decisions are best made when the transportation plan is created in accordance with an urban land use plan. Managing where growth spreads can allow transportation officials to best plan new infrastructure projects while maintaining the existing infrastructure. Outward city expansion, however, is not the only issue in this conflict planners are forced to contend with. New infrastructure within the city (i.e. locating a rail transit line) can affect the economic and livability situations in neighborhoods. Garrett (2004) found that economic growth can be spurred in an area where a transit station is located. The same project could potentially decrease property near the line and create increased levels of noise, especially during construction (Rosenbloom and Altshuler, 1977). The livability of certain areas could ultimately decrease at the same time other areas see an increase in economic opportunities. The balance between equity, livability and economics represent the gentrification conflict. This conflict describes when discussing whether to preserve poor urban neighborhoods or to redevelop them in order to attract middle- and upper-class residents (Berke, 2006). Transportation planning in lowincome neighborhoods is often times passed over to provide public transit options to middle- and highincome areas where more economic opportunities exist (Rosenbloom and Altshuler, 1977). Livability standards decrease in areas without access to public transportation options. Similarly, the construction of a road or rail line, as well as the expected economic stimulus around transit stations, could lead to the displacement of certain populations.

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Daily vs. Special Event Use of Infrastructure


Land-use patterns and city infrastructure typically receive much attention before a large, special event (i.e. Olympics) is hosted (Essex and Chalkley, 1998). The large number of athletes, officials, volunteers, and spectators who visit the city require a public transportation network in that ensures efficient navigation of the city to and from sporting venues (Malfas et al., 2004). Because specific sites are the major destinations, the Olympics can be viewed as creating a city within a city, a place in which visitors spend most of their time for one purpose. Gaffney (2010) refers to this as a sportive constellation, or a combination of places, spaces, and the systems of flows that connect them. Mega-events require a number of short-term transportation modifications including: increased supply of transit, extended transit hours, road closures, special designated lanes, and limited parking near venues. Over its four week duration, the Olympics can attract millions of visitors to the host city, many from overseas. This large influx of people increases the demand for public transit, forcing the city to increase its supply and capacity (Kelsey, 2012). Even with increased supply, visitors to the Olympics should expect increased wait times to utilize public transit. Host cities are also expected to increase security measures near Olympics venues (Kelsey, 2012). Restricted access on certain roads near major venues can decrease parking within a city and increase congestion. Other roads are closed to create temporary greenways within the city, acting as a public space for visitors to gather (Kelsey, 2012). To further decrease mobility on the road network, Olympiconly lanes are established for certain hours to ensure athletes and officials arrive on time for their events. In order to limit the amount of congestion during the Games, cities encourage residents to take advantage of public transit to commute to work and other destinations (Madill, 2012).

SWOT ANALYSIS
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analyses are often used in business ventures to aid in the understanding of specific venture and perspectives. Set up as a grid, a SWOT 12

analysis organizes thoughts and ideas into internal and external factors that may help and harm a company. This kind of analysis can be applied to transportation decisions, allowing planning entities to identify strengths and limitations of a citys current transportation system as well as possible opportunities and threats an event would incur. While they are good for planning purposes, SWOT analyses have been criticized for a number of reasons. Hill and Westbrook (1997) found that a majority of analyses contained long lists, general (often meaningless) descriptions, a failure to prioritize, and no attempt to verify any points. When completing a SWOT grid pertaining to transportation and the Olympics, a short, concise, specific list of factors for each heading was compiled. Each set of factors was then prioritized and then supported with city data and planning documents. STRENTHS
Transportation authorities in the Vancouver area were consolidated to create one governing entity (Puil, 1999) The Central Area Plans goal of supplementing walking with transit and bicycles as the primary means of transportation can be expanded to the entire city (City of Vancouver, 1991) Focus on enhancing the existing area-wide bus services to keep pace with population growth (City of Vancouver, 1995)

WEAKNESSES
Urban areas in the Vancouver area are expanding to areas away from transportation corridors Road capacity is increasingly limited as auto dependency increases

OPPORTUNITIES Construction of a rail line from Vancouver International Airport to downtown would increase public transportation options to Vancouver and Richmond New and extended bus routes would increase mobility and accessibility among neighborhoods, the city , and the greater Vancouver metropolitan area Distributing venues throughout Vancouver would decrease transportation demand on any one transit route and traffic congestion

Arterial roads experience high traffic volumes, affecting neighborhoods (City of Vancouver, 1997) THREATS Multiple partners on the transportation team can lead to hierarchy disputes Construction of the Canada Line may spark equity complaints and displace populations Olympic transportation goals may be met in a way that are not beneficial to the city after the Games are completed

Strengths
In 1998, Vancouver became the first city in the world to consolidate regional transit entities into a single political authority (TransLink). The role of TransLink was to govern decisions for regional roads, transit, transportation demand management, promotion of transportation alternatives, and vehicle 13

emission control (Puil, 1999). While city governments had a voice in the decision making process, TransLink was tasked with creating a unified transportation system the benefited the greater metropolitan region. The benefits of this system were that transit modes among cities could be interconnected, increasing efficiency, sustainability, and mobility. Funding for projects was also the sole responsibility of TransLink, limiting cost-sharing disputes among city governments. The Vancouver city council adopted the Central Area Plan in 1991, creating goals and land use policy for downtown and the surrounding area. A major goal was to enhance the central area as a place where pedestrians move safely, easily, and comfortably on all streets and where walking, supplemented by transit and bicycles, is the primary means of moving around (City of Vancouver, 1991). Since then, Vancouver has created a pedestrianand cycle-friendly downtown by

incorporating bike lanes and greenways into the transportation system. Greenways
Figure 3. Bikeways and Greenways in Vancouver, BC. Source: City of Vancouver, Engineering Department

in Vancouver are public corridors for pedestrians and cyclists linking parks,

cultural and historic sites, neighborhoods, and retail centers (Engineering Services, 2010). The city has also promoted walking and cycling by expanding bike lanes and greenways to the rest of the city (see Figure 3). While Vancouver has a large greenway and bike lane system, residents and visitors will only take advantage of small segments of them. As discussed earlier, people are only willing to walk (or cycle) a certain distance from their home. When their destination is falls outside that range, they tend to switch

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to car or public transit as their primary mode of transportation. In order to decrease traffic congestion, Vancouver has incorporated a bus network set up in a grid-like fashion that provides high mobility to all areas of the city (see Figure 4). Because bike routes and greenways consistently intertwine with bus routes, Vancouver has been able to not only achieve their goal for the central area but also extended that goal to the entire city. The interconnected transportation system with the emphasis on walking being supplemented by cycling and public transit is only strengthened by the use of high-speed rail lines within the city. Figure 3 displays the location of rail lines within Vancouver as they relate to bus routes. Two rail lines existed prior to hosting the Olympics, the Millennium and Expo Lines, while the Canada Line was opened prior

The 99 B-Line or Broadway Line is the major public transit option connecting Vancouver and the Canada Line to UBC and the western peninsula.

The Millennium Line extended the Expo Line north to Coquitlam, providing an alternative route and increased mobility to residents in eastern and its suburbs.

The Canada Line was built prior to the Olympics and opened in 2009 for public use. It connects downtown with the international airport and Richmond.

The Expo Line opened in 1985 and connected downtown with eastern Vancouver, New Westminster, and Surrey.

Figure 3. Vancouver bus and rail network. Source: TransLink

to hosting the Olympics. Bus routes connect the rail lines with neighborhoods in eastern Vancouver, increasing mobility for residents in many neighborhoods. Both the Expo and Millennium Lines have

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increased the interconnectedness of the greater Vancouver region and supported the citys goal of creating a pedestrian-friendly city through increasing public transportation options. Population growth is also a concern for large cities. The Vancouver city council has addressed the need to control sprawl in the 1995 City Plan. One broad objective of the plan was to create more complete communities that reduce the need to travel while creating a compact region to accommodate growth (City of Vancouver, 1995). Figure 5 displays population growth and decline within the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area. Areas in central Vancouver have grown slightly or seen no growth while neighborhoods near downtown and western Vancouver have increased. As a result, Vancouver was forced to extend public transportation options to those areas to keep up with demand while still providing service to those areas in decline. The bus routes seen in Figure 4 provide adequate coverage to both growing and declining neighborhoods. Much of the regional growth is seen in the suburbs of Surrey, Burnaby, Port Moody, Coquitlam, and parts of Richmond. Rail lines service the eastern suburbs (Figure 4) while the new Canada Line connects Richmond to downtown, providing increased mobility to those areas of high population growth.

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Vancouver CMA Population Change, 2006 2011 By 2011 Census Tract (CT)
Figure 5. Population Change in the Vancouver Census Metropolitan Area Sources: 2006 and 2011 Censuses of Canada Geography Division, Statistics Canada, 2012

Weaknesses
Even though Vancouvers transit network covers the greater metropolitan areas, population growth can increase the demand of public transportation. As a result, demand for buses in certain areas can be greater than the available supply. Figure 5 displays that high population growth is occurring in western Vancouver while steady but not excessive growth is seen in southeastern Vancouver. Currently, the only form of public transit available to these neighborhoods is the bus (Figure 4). As these areas continue to grow, supply of transit may not compete with the demand. TransLink should consider increased bus routes and the number of buses run on each line in order to meet demand. Likewise, rail lines may be beneficial to these areas of growth.

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Given that freeways were not permitted in Vancouver, road capacity is challenged by the increasing use of automobiles. Prior to the Olympics, only two high speed rail lines existed and serviced largely the same area (Figure 4). The lack of a high speed rail line to the south forced residents to use their personal vehicles to commute to destinations, increasing traffic congestion within the city. Even though rapid bus lines from southern Vancouver and Richmond existed, they relied on the road network

Figure 6. Arterial streets in relation to designated Vancouver regions. Source: Engineering Services, City of Vancouver

to operate, adding to the issue of congestion. With the installation of the Canada Line, residents in Richmond and Vancouver were offered a new mode of transportation that could decrease automobile dependence. As discussed previously, however, only offering bus service to high growth areas may influence individuals to opt for private modes of transportation and would ultimately lead to worsening traffic congestion.

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Neighborhoods are also affected by increased traffic congestion. Arterial roads end up being used more extensively as they offer alternative routes to commuters. Figure 6 displays areas within Vancouver and the arterial roads running through them. As drivers increasingly rely on these roads to commute to their destinations, traffic congestion increases and affects the neighborhoods along these routes. Community aesthetics, noise, and safety concerns can be attributed to increased traffic volumes. Increasing the supply of public transit to these neighborhoods and along arterial roads would mitigate negative effects on neighborhoods.

Opportunities
Hosting the Olympics provided a number of opportunities for Vancouver to strengthen its transportation system. Constructing the Canada Line, creating new bus routes and extending others would provide increased transportation choices for residents while allowing for a better transportation network for athletes and visitors to take advantage of during the Games. Locating venues evenly throughout the city also decreased the demand of road capacity and transit lines in any direction. The Canada Line was the most beneficial addition to the citys transportation network that the city could have created. Prior to the line, travel from downtown to the airport and vice versa resulted in a $40.00 taxi ride or a much slower, but cheaper bus trip (Madill, 2012). Residents and visitors alike could take advantage of faster Canada Line for a fraction of the cost, only $5.00 for the twenty minute ride. The line also connected a number of fast growing neighborhoods (see Figure 3 for Canada Line location and Figure 4 for areas of growth), providing them with increased mobility and transit options. Benefits for the shorter period of hosting the Games included, decreased traffic congestion, high-speed transit to venue locations, and increased mobility around the city. Another beneficial transit strategy was increased bus service during the Games. Some venues were located away from rail lines, requiring visitors to rely on buses or the road network to access them. Extending both bus service and the hours it ran, the city was able to provide increased transportation to

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both visitors and residents who were avoiding driving due to increased traffic congestion, road closures, and parking restrictions (see appendix 1 for Olympic road map). Extending bus service to neighborhoods also allowed the city to introduce public transit to people who normally would not have taken advantage of it. The hope was that residents would take advantage of the bus during the Games, realize the advantages of it, and continue riding it in the post-Games era (Kelsey, 2012). The location of Olympic venues in Vancouver ensured the efficiency of the transportation network during the Games. Figure 7 displays the disbursement of venues throughout the Vancouver area. Many venues (Media Center, BC Place, Canada Hockey Place, and the Olympic Village) are located in or near downtown, an area with many hotels and where multiple Olympic-related events and celebrations took place. Downtown was then a hub for the Vancouver Games, where other venues were located east, west, and south of downtown. As a result, transit lines were only affected by the visitors traveling to one venue, letting other lines transport spectators to the other venue sites. This decreased the demand on any one transit line as well as decreased wait times for passengers.

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2 3 1 7
UBC Thunderbird Arena (Ice Hockey) 2. Main Media Centre 3. BC Place (Opening and Closing Ceremonies 4. Canada Hockey Place/Rogers Arena (Ice Hockey) 5. Olympic and Paralympic Village 6. Pacific Coliseum (Figure Skating and Short Track Speed Skating) 7. Vancouver Olympic Center (Curling) 8. Richmond Olympic Oval (Speed Skating) 9. Brittania Training Venue Figure 7. Location of Olympic venues 1.

4 9 5 10

Threats
To prepare for the Olympics, a transportation team was created consisting of Translink, City of Vancouver, BC Transit, Integrated Security Unit (ISU), Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC). These separate entities were expected to work together in order to meet the requirements for the Olympics set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and enforced by VANOC. Because there were so many different organizations and governments involved in the planning process, hierarchical issues and decision-making processes could have been challenged. The highest likelihood of disputes would lie between VANOC and the other agencies. VANOCs agenda revolved around ensuring transportation during the Olympics was efficient and reliable while the local governments were concerned with the long-term success of the transportation system (Kelsey, 2012 and Madill, 2012).

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The construction of the Canada Line, a rail line connecting downtown Vancouver to the international airport and Richmond, could have sparked equity issues and displaced populations within neighborhoods. When locating public transit, planning agencies must ensure that there is equality in service distribution while avoiding unnecessary harm to neighborhoods and populations (Rosenbloom and Altshuler, 1977). To ensure a balance of distribution and damage is reached, planning agencies in Vancouver are required to conduct numerous studies to determine how certain projects will influence and affect the economy, neighborhoods, and populations. After TransLink and the city conducted similar studies for the Canada Line, they agreed upon a route that limited the negative affects to residents and businesses while benefiting the greatest population (Madill, 2012). Other factors also led to the construction of the Canada Line. Cost-benefit studies on the feasibility of a high-speed rail line connecting downtown and the international airport had been done for years and were seen as a needed stimulus project for the city (Madill, 2012). The IOCs decision to award the Games to Vancouver also revolved around the promise of the Canada Line to ensure visitors could easily access venues from the airport (Kelsey, 2012). As a result, TransLink and the city decided the line posed greater benefits than drawbacks. There is also a danger in planning too much for the Olympics and not focusing enough on the much longer post-Games era. Cities that focus on meeting goals set by the IOC can lose sight of the big picture, plan transportation around the needs of athletes, officials, and visitors for the Olympics, and end up with a transit project that poses no benefit to the city after the Games (Cashman, 2010). Conversely, cities that focus on the big picture have the potential to ignore the short-term needs of efficiently moving increased numbers of people with a limited road network. If those needs are ignored, traffic congestion worsens as public transit cannot keep up with the demand (Essex and Chalkley, 1998). To avoid these threats, Vancouver planners had to ensure they met the goals of the IOC while providing necessary, beneficial improvements to the transportation system.

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RECOMMENDATIONS TO FUTURE HOST CITIES


Creating a SWOT analysis prior to planning for the Olympics can provide a city with an organizational framework of standards that must be met and goals to strive for. Critics of the SWOT approach are correct in saying that multiple factors can be added under each heading for a business plan. When planning for the Olympics, multiple factors will affect the entire city and surrounding area. Addressing as many factors as possible prior to creating a plan will limit issues when projects are begun. For cities hosting large events, there are a number of characteristics that should be addressed in a SWOT analysis. Before creating a SWOT analysis, cities should consider past and current planning policy. By reviewing past policy, planners will gain an understanding of how the city developed. Those plans and the projects realized by them would have become the basis of what the city is today. Similarly, understanding current planning policy will give planners an understanding of the direction of future development and what is being done to get there. Planners will also become familiar with growth management strategies and needs of the community and how those factors were and are being addressed. Once the planning committees understand past and future goals, they must also understand what is expected of them to host the Olympics. The IOC sets a number of requirements to ensure the Olympics are run as efficiently as possible. General criteria include: government support, general infrastructure, sports venues, Olympic village(s), environmental conditions and impacts,

accommodation, transport concept, safety and security, experience from past events, finance, and overall project and legacy (International Olympic Committee, 2009). After planners are familiar with these obligations, they can create a plan that consolidates the short-term, Olympic-specific requirements with the long-term goals and visions of the city. See Appendix II for a visual representation of this idea. 23

The SWOT analysis can be created after the organizers understand there has to be emphasis placed on both the short-term and long-term goals. When determining the strengths and weaknesses of the city, planners should consider: Planning objectives that can or cannot be met by hosting the Games o Sustainable practices o Growth management o Economic development What the city does well or could improve upon o Transit options o Mobility and accessibility What the city has in place that will benefit the Olympic o Available transportation o Needed infrastructure What the city lacks that could hurt the efficiency of the Games o Adequate public transit coverage o Venue availability

These aspects of population, transportation, economics, and infrastructure should be taken into consideration when designating the strengths and weaknesses of a city prior to hosting the Olympics. These factors will be the basis for opportunities and threats the city faces. Taking advantage of the Olympics to make needed improvements to the city is the greatest asset of the Games. They provide an economic boost to the city and provide incentives to improve infrastructure, transportation, and equity within the city. When identifying opportunities for improvement, planners should ensure that: Improvements are in line with city planning policy Projects meet IOC requirements AND are beneficial to the city in the future Temporary projects will add to the efficiency of the Games

Creating a plan that addresses the requirements of the IOC while ensuring that those projects benefit the city after the Games have ended is the most important aspect to keep in mind. If the focus is kept on short-term improvements to ensure the Olympics are run efficiently, permanent projects run the risk of

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not being used after the Games. These become a burden to the city as they must still be maintained but do not generate income. Likewise, if decisions are made to benefit the city in the future without focus on the short-term, issues may arise during the Games and ultimately affect the legacy of the city. Threats are also important to identify when planning for the Games. Being aware of the dangers the Olympics can bring can alter the risks a city takes in the preparation stage. Important threats to keep in mind include: Financial constraints Decision-making hierarchy Number of visitors and their needs Projects and their impacts on the city

Even though the Olympics are expected to benefit the host city economically, poor planning can lead to a deficit. Venue, transportation, and infrastructure construction costs can exceed estimates, pushing the city into financial hardship if the money does not exist. Certain projects, such as transportation upgrades, can also affect multiple municipalities. Governments and planning agencies are forced to work together to create the most beneficial plan. While they all have a voice, it is important to understand the decision-making hierarchy and whose voice carries the most weight. Establishing the hierarchy at the beginning will limit issues in the future. Projects also need to meet the needs of the large number of people who will be relying on them during the Games while being useful to the city after the Games are completed. Similarly, those projects can negatively affect certain neighborhoods without proper planning. Equity and economics are often questioned during construction of venues or transportation projects. Communities can be displaced to make way for certain projects while livability in other neighborhoods can decline due to increased noise or lower property values because of proximity to certain projects (i.e. rail lines). Understanding the threats to the city will assist planners in creating a balanced, equitable Olympic plan.

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Measures that should be used to determine what changes should be made to the transportation system include ridership, mobility, accessibility, cost, economic impact, and equity. Transportation upgrades should be extended to areas with high population growth or neighborhoods with poor transit coverage in order to increase ridership numbers. Providing transit to new areas will assist in encouraging people to leave their car at home, ultimately decreasing traffic congestion. Transit upgrades should also connect neighborhoods to the rest of the city to create a more interconnected network. These upgrades would increase mobility and accessibility. Project expenses should also play a large role in planning for the Games. Host cities desire to use the Olympics to create legacies that will attract visitors, most often through the construction of extravagant venues and tourist destinations. Improving transportation connecting these sites with other popular tourist areas (i.e. hotel districts, attractions) as well as residential areas should also be considered. The cost of these projects is important to keep in mind and planners should first create a budget of available funds. When monetary constraints have been identified, projects and improvements can be prioritized based on both benefits to the city and cost of the project. Ignoring project costs or failing to comply with budgetary constraints may result in projects going over budget, debt, and expensive upgrades that are not useful or beneficial to residents and visitors of the city. Economic impacts also need to be measured. As discussed previously, economic areas (i.e. shopping centers) tend to locate near public transit stations. While this may improve the economic status of a neighborhood, it could also result in equity issues such as displacement of communities. Studies need to be done prior to making any decisions that affect neighborhoods to determine the socio-economic impacts of a project. Once impacts are known, planners can determine how to proceed. A successful transportation plan will be measured by efficiency of transporting visitors during the Games, ridership numbers after the Olympics, connectivity, and benefits to the city. The legacy of transportation during the Olympics is largely how well the network transported visitors around the city.

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Minimal wait times, short travel time, limited traffic congestion, and the overall efficiency of the system (i.e. escalators, connections) will determine the level of success for transportation during the Games. Similarly, increased transit ridership numbers after the Olympics compared to before would add to transportation success of the city. Increased ridership would be a result of adding routes to poorlyserviced areas, increasing coverage to areas of high population growth, and attracting residents away from automobile use.

WHY GEOGRAPHERS CAN DO THIS


Unlike physics, mathematics, economics, and other disciplines that focus on one aspect of the world in which we live, geography is the study of the landscapes, people, places, and environments of the world. Geography is often used as a broad term to refer to locations, maps, and spatial references. While this describes what the discipline is in its broadest sense, geography is much more incorporating many other academic disciplines to answer questions about how people, places, and the environment interact. Using a wide range of data sources, technology, and analysis tools, geographers are able to apply data used in specific fields of study to spatial realm. What sets geographers apart from other scientists and academics is how they apply questions to the spatial realm and the approach they take to answer those questions.

Spatial Insight
One of the most unique skills geographers possess is the ability to think spatially. Identifying patterns in population, economics, physical processes, and other geographic characteristics sets this discipline apart from others. Then understanding that a change in one area may affect another area (spatial interaction) can provide a significant insight to decision-making processes or provide future research questions. Geographers are trained to think spatially, to identify those trends in data, and to determine the possible consequences or benefits of those trends. For example, a city planner may use 27

population projections and growth maps to determine where new roads should be constructed. A planner with a background in geography might take that another step further and look at the current transportation network, population projections, growth maps, land uses, and demographic and economic data to determine where the roads should be constructed, who will use the roads, how much traffic the roads will add to the current network, how much economic stimulus will be added to neighborhoods, and the extent of land conversion among many other possibilities.

Multi-Disciplinary
Another skill geographers have is the ability to apply concepts from multiple disciplines to answer spatial questions. A recent study by Ward (2011) looked at changing bird habitats in New York City. Ornithology, botany, computer science, and environmental studies were used to determine if an invasive plant species was affecting habitat preferred by the gray catbird. An ornithology study was first conducted to identify gray catbird territories followed by the identification of the invasive plant species through a botany survey. Once these aspects were charted on a map, Ward used a GIS to digitize the areas and then ran an analysis to determine the relationship between the catbird and the plant species. While this is only one example of how geography can include multiple disciplines, almost every geographical study can borrow concepts and methods from other fields. In the transportation field, for example, the exploration of constructing a light rail line could include a cost-benefit analysis based on economic analyses. The SWOT analysis used previously in this study was originally used for identifying strengths and weaknesses of businesses but can also be applied to transportation studies. Geographers understand that these concepts exist are trained to identify and modify them as needed to fit a spatial problem or question.

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Use of Data
Two major forms of data are available for use by geographers and other academics: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative data are data which can be observed but not measured. These data include documents, reports, and studies and can also apply to survey questions and interviews. These are important to geographers as they can indicate goals and objectives, reasons behind decisions, and insight into how people perceive and interpret the world around them. Quantitative data are those data that can be measured. These data include exact figures from reports, studies, or surveys. Examples of quantitative datasets include the US census (age, race, ethnicity, income, unemployment rates, etc within geographic areas) and transportation reports (public transit ridership, traffic counts, etc). These data can be used in a number of analysis tools (discussed in the next section) to determine the spatial relationship among resources, landscapes, people, and places. Both quantitative and qualitative data can apply to the same geographic area. For example, a neighborhood consists of housing characteristics that can be observed (i.e. upkeep of houses, cars in driveways, etc) and characteristics that can be quantified (racial makeup, home ownership rates, etc). Geographers are able to utilize both types of data to answer spatially-related questions through different types of analysis.

Applications of Analysis
A number of data analysis tools are available to geographers and include maps, GIS, statistical analysis, and field research. If used in combination, geographers can provide a depth and understanding to the discussion of spatial questions. Maps are almost always associated with geography as they provide a spatial reference to data and provide a useful tool in identifying trends of the data. A number of mapping options are available to best display those data. The first is a simple location map such as Figure 1 or Appendix 1. These maps display where Vancouver is located in Canada and where Olympic29

related transportation exists, respectively. Thematic maps display quantitative data within specific boundaries. For example, by collecting racial data by census tract from the Census Bureau, a graduated color thematic map could be created to show how racial groups are distributed throughout a city. The use of technology in assessing spatial patterns has grown dramatically in the past thirty years. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) provides a wide range of analysis tools and allows the user to visually present results. For example, racial and income data by census tract can be added as a layer to a GIS along with roads, public transportation, sidewalks, bike lanes, and greenways. A simple analysis could show the percentage of low-income and/or minorities within walking distance of bus stops or their overall mobility. This analysis could identify areas inadequately covered by public transportation. If economic data were added, business trends near public transit stops could be analyzed and a commercial development plan could then be created. While many possibilities exist, these are just two basic examples of analysis that a GIS can be utilized for. Statistical analyses provide other approaches to understand the spatial variation among variables and their relationship. Linear regressions and correlations are two of the more popular and useful statistical techniques to a geographer. For example, if we were interested in predicting dissolved oxygen based on temperature, we could create a linear regression equation with past observations. This technique would not only predict the dissolved oxygen measurement also its r2 value, or how well one variable predicts another. Other simple tests could be run to determine whether the model is significant and if the variation between temperature and dissolved oxygen is significant. Similarly, a correlation technique could be applied to the observed temperature and dissolved oxygen values to determine their relationship. In other words, a correlation would indicate that as one variable increases or decreases, the other would increase or decrease accordingly. Statistical analyses can provide significant findings for studies involving quantitative data and while these were just two basic examples, there are many powerful applications of statistical techniques.

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Finally, field research provides a unique analysis for geographical studies. While maps, GIS interpretations, and statistical analyses will give a researcher an idea of the trends occurring in areas, there is no substitution for observation. Field research will allow the researcher to gain a threedimensional understanding of the study area and allows that person to observe (qualitatively gather) the characteristics of that area. This understanding allows the researcher to better discuss the trends seen from analysis and better describe the area in which they are conducting the study. Geographers tend to incorporate a combination of these analytical techniques to answer spatially-related questions. Their ability to understand a broad range of approaches and applications for these techniques allow geographers to better understand their study area and more accurately and efficiently answer those research questions.

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APPENDIX I

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APPENDIX II
Historical Planning Policy

Population

Economics

Transportation

Other Infrastructure

Growth

Needs

Growth

Needs

Growth

Needs

Growth

Needs

Current Planning Policy

Population

Economics

Transportation

Other Infrastructure

Growth

Needs

Growth

Needs

Growth

Needs

Growth

Needs

Consolidated Olympic Plan

Accommodations

Finance

Experience From Past Events

Overall Project and Legacy

Government Support

IOC Expectations

Olympic Village(s)

General Infrastructure Sports Venues Environmental Conditions and Impacts Safety and Security

Transport Concept

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