Province's sustainable transportation plan sets goals, but goes short on details

The province's new action plan for sustainable transit sets broad goals, including more electric cars, public transit and cycling paths, but does not say how and when the rubber will hit the road to implement these environmentally-friendly ways of getting around.

5-year plan for more electric cars, cycling paths and public transit

Active travel such as walking, biking and carpooling, is part of the government's transportation action plan. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The province's new action plan for sustainable transit sets broad goals, including more electric cars, public transit and cycling paths, but does not say how and when the rubber will hit the road to implement these environmentally friendly ways of getting around.

The Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy released the 27-point plan Wednesday.

It sets a five-year time frame to tackle what it has identified as four key areas: public transit, clean technology, urban planning and active travel, such as walking, biking and carpooling.

Transportation Minister Steven Myers said allowing more government employees to work from home or satellite offices could be part of the solution.

"If we are able to shorten the drive for some people, allow them to work closer to their home community, it does a couple of things. It clearly helps reduce emissions and energy consumption, but it also allows smaller communities to have people closer to home during the day who can maybe buy their lunches there and spend their money closer to home," he said.

The province plans to install more electric car chargers and offer incentives to get more electric vehicles on the road. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The transportation sector — personal vehicles, public transit and commercial traffic — accounts for 47 per cent of emissions on P.E.I. That percentage has grown in recent years as more Islanders have chosen to drive larger cars and trucks, according to the province.

The action plan sets a broad outline of how Islanders might change that trend, but stops short of spelling out costs or specific commitments.

More electric cars

To get more electric cars on the road, the province would offer an incentive program for vehicles and home chargers, according to the action plan.

It would also establish a "registration fee structure that promotes the purchase of lower emissions vehicles," according to the action plan. The province would also add more electric cars to its government fleet.

The province says it would 'work with transit operators ... to make transit systems safe, affordable and convenient.' (Brian Higgins/CBC)

For walkers and cyclists, the province would "dedicate a percentage of the province's transportation budget to maintain and create new active transportation infrastructure," among other action items.  The plan does not say what percentage of the budget would be set aside for that purpose.

In the area of public transit, the plan contains five actions. Among them, the province would work with operators to "make transit systems safe, affordable and convenient."

That would include expanding service in urban and rural areas, and looking for new technology to reduce pollution. The plan does not say what the actions would cost, when or where they would be done.

Roundabouts help traffic flow

When it comes to community design and planning, the province's action plan includes a commitment to "continue to improve infrastructure" and it would revise legislation to enable "dedicated space for active transportation corridors."

The document does not name any specific construction projects coming up. It does note a couple of actions already underway.

Construction of new roundabouts has reduced emissions by making traffic flow more efficient, according to the document. Transit fares have already been reduced 10 per cent as a result of returning of carbon levy revenues to Islanders.

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