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Mega-projects in the making : a century of transportation infrastructure investment in Vancouver, Canada 2006

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MEGA-PROJECTS IN THE M A K I N G : A CENTURY OF TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT IN V A N C O U V E R C A N A D A by MATTI SIEMIATYCKI B.A. , Ryerson University, 2002 M . S c , Oxford University, 2003 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Planning) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May 2006 © Matt i Siemiatycki, 2006 A B S T R A C T Mega Projects in the Making explores why the development of infrastructure mega- projects have dominated the urban transportation landscape in Vancouver for over a century, even as such projects have repeatedly failed to meet the public interest for a regional transportation system that is efficient, competitive, equitable, and environmentally sound. Through a multidisciplinary approach that presents specific transportation investment decisions as historically contingent, path dependent, and the product of both individual agency and institutional structures, the decision to consistently favour large-scale projects is situated within the context of the Vancouver region's spatial, economic, social, environmental and political history. Within this context, it is shown that choices made by a densely interconnected group of decision makers in the early stages of each planning process effectively locked in decisions on the scale of the projects, the route, technology and service delivery mechanisms. The decisions of these individuals were patterned by their own self-interest and pressure from specific interest groups, the institutional norms, traditions and laws that regulated their actions, and also the evolving desires of the general public to see solutions to what has long been perceived to be a worsening urban congestion problem. In this sense, it is illustrated that when problems such as urban congestion are constructed as being mega in scale with significant negative externalities, they legitimize the quest for mega scale solutions. At the same time, large-scale transportation projects are developed for reasons that are beyond the movement of people, and include symbolic messages related to intercity competitiveness, urban progress, visionary leadership and the cultivation of an all-round positive image that can catalyze further investment. When viewed in its entirety, Mega Projects in the Making is more than a project concerned with approaches to congestion relief or mega-project development; it is an examination of the tangible, political and symbolic forces that direct urban change. i i Table of Contents Abstract i i Table of Contents i i i List of Figures ix Chapter 1: Explaining Mega Project Development 1 Introduction 1 Structuring the Issues: Mega Solutions for Mega Problems 4 The Case Study: Seeking Congestion Relief in Vancouver, Canada 9 Research Approach: Explaining the Persistence of the Mega 10 Transportation Project Methods and Data: A Multi-Dimensional Approach 11 Archival Data Analysis 16 Primary Research 17 Telling the Story of Transportation Infrastructure Development 18 in Vancouver Undertaking Value-Rational Research 19 Thesis Outline 23 PART I: FOUNDATIONS 26 Chapter 2: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Explaining Urban 27 Transportation Investment Decisions Introduction 27 Why This Project, Why Now: A Theoretical Perspective 28 on Decision Making Shifting Perspectives: From Rational Comprehensive 29 to Institutional Analyses The Context Dependence of Decision Making: 31 An Institutional Approach The Power in Networks: Understanding Who Controls the City 37 ii i Explaining the Emergence of the Private-Public Partnership: 40 A Market Based Account Decision Making in the Field of Transit Infrastructure Planning 41 The Politics and Processes of Urban Transportation Planning 42 Motivations, Politics and Transportation Decision Making 42 The Processes of Planning Transportation Infrastructure Investment 46 The Method of Producing Transportation Infrastructure Projects 51 Evolutions in the Provision of Transportation Infrastructure 52 Unpacking the Private-Public Partnership 55 Transportation for a Livable City 59 Providing Effective Transit in Dispersed Cities: 59 A System Wide Approach Supporting Mega Project Development 63 Implications of a Mega Project Development Paradigm 64 Different Delivery Model, Same Challenges 72 Conclusion 73 Chapter 3: Welcome to Lotus Land: Antecedents to a Mega Problem 75 Introduction: A City in Search of Identities 75 Matching Population, Land Use and Transportation 77 Positive Outcomes of Regional Growth Management 83 in Greater Vancouver Shortcomings of Regional Growth Management in Greater Vancouver 84 The Land use-Transportation Connection in Greater Vancouver 89 Politics in Paradise 91 A Unique Urban Governance Structure 96 An Economy for the 21 s t century 99 The Making of a Mega Problem 105 iv PART II: EVOLUTIONS 115 Chapter 4: In Search of Solutions to Vancouver's Transportation 116 Mega Problem Introduction 116 The Early Years (1886-1961) 117 Blacktop Politics: Paving the Way to Vancouver's 121 Manifest Destiny (1961-1972) Transportation for a Livable Region (1972-1975) 126 Chapter 5: The Rise of Rapid Transit 132 Introduction 132 Skytrain and the Politics of Transit Mega Projects (1975-1986) 133 The Pitch for Advanced Light Rapid Transit 134 The Costs and Benefits of Advanced Light Rapid Transit 139 Building a Partnership for Project Delivery 143 The Initial Experience with Developing Rapid 145 Transit in Greater Vancouver Responses to Skytrain: The Politics of Reacting to 147 Mega Projects (1986-1991) Keeping the Train Rolling 149 The Critics of Skytrain Have their Say 152 Conclusion 155 Chapter 6: Skytrain, Redux 157 Introduction 157 The Story Never Changes, Just (some of) the Names and 158 Faces (1991-1999) Charting a New Course for Transit Investment in Greater Vancouver 159 NDP Transit Policy in Action: A Return to the Mega Project 161 Rhetoric and Reality in the Partnership Approach to 169 Infrastructure Delivery Changing Tracks 172 A Partnership Approach to Project Delivery 179 Opposition Response to Skytrain Announcement 181 Holding firm on the Skytrain Decision 184 Surface Transit Wars 187 Perpetuating the Infrastructure Mega Project Paradigm 191 The Knock-On Effect of Capital Intensive Public Transit 193 Investments (2001-2004) A Political Shift in Direction 194 Initial Performance on the Millennium Skytrain Line 198 Conclusion 200 Chapter 7: All Aboard: Reflections on the Persistence of 202 Transportation Mega Projects The Political-Economic-Institutional Support for a Mega Project 202 Paradigm The Path Dependence of an Infrastructure Mega Project Development 204 Paradigm Mega Projects and the Public Interest 207 PART III: THE MAKING OF A MEGA PROJECT IN 210 THE NEOLIBERAL CITY Part III: Introduction 211 Neoliberalism and Transportation Planning in Canada 212 Situating the Debate on Neoliberal Transportation Policy 215 Carrying Out the Analysis 216 Chapter 8: The Rise of a Balanced Transportation Policy in 218 Greater Vancouver Introduction 218 Out with the Old 220 Economic Decline 221 The Special Interest Connection 221 Tax and Spend Policies • • ..-222 vi A Failure to Address Road Congestion 222 The NDP Legacy 227 In with the New: The Rise of a Neoliberal Transportation Planning 228 Framework The Conservative Critique of Conventional Transportation 229 Planning in Greater Vancouver The Shifting Politics of Transportation Planning in Greater Vancouver 232 Reconciling Differences: The Allure of a Neoliberal Planning 235 Approach to Transportation Greater Vancouver and the Neoliberal City 237 1. Infrastructure investments are guided by both local demand 238 and a desire to have facilities that are internationally competitive 2. Attraction of international mega-events, complemented by the 240 development of mega-projects to raise the local profile and generate business opportunities 3. Public services delivered using a strict business model based 241 on cost recovery 4. Wide variations in the development models being practiced by 242 the 21 member municipalities of the G V R D 5. Planning and regional transportation priority setting involving 242 interest groups 6. The Intellectualization of a Neoliberal Growth Model 246 7. Encouraging Neoliberalism through Policy Reform 248 8. Trickle Down Ideology: The Institutionalization of Private-Public 250 Partnerships in the Transportation Sector The Institutionalization of a neoliberal planning framework: 253 Big Projects, Many Partners Conclusion: A Neoliberal Transportation Program 255 Chapter 9: New Project Delivery Model, Same Old Story: 261 The Case of the RAV Line Introduction 261 Defining the Project Specifications: Partnerships and Priority Setting 266 Getting the Richmond-Vancouver Rapid Transit Onto the Agenda 267 Shaping the Project Specifications 273 vii Transit Priority Setting in Practice 284 The Tangled Webs We Weave, When We Set Out to Plan a Mega Project..... .286 The Competitive Selection of a Private Sector Concessionaire 287 The Public Approval Process 291 The Intersection of Public and Private: Cost Creep, Risk Transfer 299 and Scope Changes The Surprises Continue Following Project Approval 302 Private-Public Partnerships: Less Private, More Public 307 Private-Public Partnerships: Implications for Mass Rapid Transit 308 1. Meeting Congestion and Environmental Objectives 309 2. A Catalyst for Land Use Change 311 3. Regional Transit S ervice 313 4. The Airport Connection 314 5. The Labour Force 314 6. Fare Changes 315 7. Operating Costs 316 8. Tax Burden and Risk 317 9. Flexibility and Control 318 Conclusion 318 Part III: Conclusion 321 PART IV: REFLECTIONS 326 Chapter 10: Reflections on the Mega Project Phenomena 327 Why Build Mega Projects? 332 Where to from here? 336 Bibliography 341 Appendix I: List of On the Record Interviews 374 viii List of Figures 1.1. Research Methods and their Appropriateness for Studies on 12 Transportation Investment Decision Making 3.1. The Greater Vancouver Regional District and its Municipalities 78 3.2. Population Growth in Selected North American Metropolitan Areas 79 3.3. Migration Components of Population Change in G V R D 80 3.4. Greater Vancouver Growth Concentration Area 82 3.5. Population density and Area statistics for Canada's three largest C M A ' s 85 3.6. Median Commuting distance for Large Canadian Census 86 Metropolitan Areas, 2001 3.7. Change in Mean Commuting Times in Selected North American 87 Cities, 1990-2000 3.8. Concentration of Low Income Populations in Greater Vancouver, 88 1991 and 2001 3.9. Transit Supply and Demand in Large Metropolitan Areas, 1999 91 3.10. British Columbia Provincial Government and Premier, 1952-2005 93 3.11. A Selection of BC Mega-projects 95 3.12. Current Translink Funding Sources 99 3.13. Employment by Industry for Vancouver C M A 103 3.14. Front Page Media Exposure of Greater Vancouver Traffic Problem 110 3.15. Observed Congestion on Key Transportation Arteries 112 3.16. Translink Study of Regional Road Congestion 112 4.1. Proposed Freeway Schemes 124 5.1. U T A Cost Comparison Between Different Transit Alternatives in 1980 138 5.2. Selected Developments Near Skytrain Stations and Parking 148 Allowances as Proposed in 1989 5.3. Transit Trip Origin Mode Shares by Sub Region, 1985-1992 153 6.1. Transit Staging in the Transport 2021 Medium Range 161 Transportation Plan 6.2. Comparison of Intermediate Capacity Transit System Options 164 6.3. Comparison Between Alternate Rapid Transit Corridors 165 6.4. Crown Corporation Secretariat Estimates of Cost Per Boarding 167 Using Alternate Technologies 6.5. Shifting Rapid Transit Plans, 1995-1998 176 6.6. Skytrain Extension Budget 177 6.7. Greater Vancouver B-Line Rapid Bus Network 188 6.8. Contracts Awarded to Bombardier by Crown Companies 198 Led by Lecia Stewart 6.9. Predicted and Actual Ridership on Millennium Skytrain Line 199 8.1. The History of Provincial Debt in British Columbia, 1871-2005 223 8.2. Variations in the Perception of the Core Purpose of Transportation 225 Between Translink and the Gateway Council 8.3. Gateway Council Infrastructure Priorities 226 8.4. Gateway Council Justification for the R A V Project on R A V C O Web Site 245 8.5. Major Capital Projects Proposed in Translink's 10 Year Strategic Plan 257 ix 8.6. The Gateway Road and Bridge Program 259 9.1. Potential Benefits and Costs of Transportation Infrastructure 264 Delivery Through Private-Public Partnerships 9.2. Translink's Ranking of Major Capital Projects: Candidates for 268 Federal Funding 9.3. Strategic Analysis of the International Airport Growth Potential 271 9.4. Translink Comparison of Major Capital Projects Based on Suitability 273 and Potential Financing Sources 9.5. Competition and Selection Procurement Model for the R A V Line 276 9.6. Summary of Interests for R A V Stakeholder and Shareholders as 277 of Summer 2003 9.7. Comparison of Transportation Alternatives for R A V Line 280 9.8. Political Donations to Provincial and Federal Party in Power 290 by R A V Proponents 9.9. Capital Funding Sources For R A V 296 9.10. Funding Agency Contributions for R A V ($2003 millions) 306 9.11. General Motors Advertisement Targeting Bus Riders 311 9.12. Post Card Comparing Kids Transit Fares in Canada, February 2004 316 x Chapter 1: Explaining Mega-project Development Introduction This study was initially intended to be an analysis of a single infrastructure mega-project in a single city. My aim was to explore the motivations, processes and politics that have led to the decision in 2004 to invest in a fixed rail connection between Central Vancouver, the International Airport, and the suburban municipality of Richmond (known by the acronym R A V ) . The R A V project was conceived as the largest single capital investment in the Greater Vancouver region's history at some $2 billion, and one that had captivated local attention. Hardly a day went by without local media coverage of the R A V project. The public discourse focused primarily on the project's massive scale, the potential economic, social and environmental impacts in the run up to the 2010 Olympic Games being hosted by Vancouver, and the political machinations that had led to the project being approved. As well as unpacking in more detail the way these procedural and political factors influenced the decision to proceed with the R A V line, I was also interested in the way the project was being delivered as a private-public partnership. The R A V line was the first time that a design-build-partially finance-operate-transfer style private-public partnership had been used to deliver a major public transit infrastructure project in Canada. Thus I was interested to see how this new project delivery model would impact on the planning processes, the regional politics of the project, the route alignment choice, the technology selected and the project costs. Despite my initial intentions, the focus of this thesis has evolved. Through my archival research and interviews with those involved in the R A V project planning, it became clear that the decision to proceed with the R A V project was not isolated in time as a one off planning process. On the contrary, the constellation of processes, institutional structures and individual actions that coalesced in the realization of the R A V line could be best explained as the 1 product of a historically contingent, path dependent lineage of regional planning and political proceedings. In other words, what had happened in the past in Vancouver with respect to land use decisions, infrastructure development, planning processes and even the dense network of interconnected individuals and organizations involved in certain previous planning projects was having a considerable impact on the processes undertaken for the R A V line. The mode of delivering the R A V project as a private-public partnership, the technology choice, the route alignment and even much of the procedural and political wrangling that surrounded the R A V project could only be well understood when situated as part of a much longer review of transportation infrastructure planning in Vancouver - both public transit and highway programs. This would require that details of the R A V project be positioned within the evolving institutional structures at the local, provincial, national and even international scale, and matched with the ongoing actions of individual agents. This type of historically contingent analysis of mega-projects in a single city provides an important addition to the burgeoning body of literature on infrastructure mega-projects (Hall 1982; Mackett and Edwards 1998; Olds 2001; Altshuler and Luberoff 2003). For some time now, researchers have been aware of an inherent paradox embedded in large- scale infrastructure projects, what Bent Flyvbjerg has subsequently called the mega- project disaster gene (Ehrenfeucht 2004). In his ground breaking book, Great Planning Disasters, Peter Hall (1982) recognized that just as the prevalence, spatial diffusion and scale of infrastructure mega-projects was growing larger and larger, evidence suggested that many of these projects were being completed vastly over budget and then failed to achieve their stated benefits. Nearly a quarter century later, Flyvbjerg and his colleagues (2003) quantified this relationship, using statistical analysis of some 200 projects on all six continents to show that infrastructure mega-projects are systemically over budget, while patronage forecasts are systemically incorrect. Explanations for the discrepancy between predicted and actual performance have been varied, often focusing on underdeveloped forecasting methods, the role of political interference, opportunism by special interest groups, and strategic misrepresentations 2 (also known as lying) on the part of those planning the project (Hall 1980; Flyvbjerg 2003; Altshuler and Luberoff 2003). Situating infrastructure mega-projects more centrally within a framework of economic and cultural globalization, Olds' (2001) research on Vancouver leads him to assert that the prominence of a mega-project development paradigm is embedded in the increasingly global flow of planning expertise, urban imagery, and a networked economic elite. Siemiatycki (2005a) has shown that infrastructure mega-projects have remained popular as a result of a complex selling job that is not only about tangible benefits, but is also closely related to local narratives of inter-regional competitiveness, progress and urban modernity, encapsulating what Throgmorton (1996) calls persuasive storytelling about the future. In seeking to build on the explanations already available to explain the preference for infrastructure mega-projects, what seems to be missing is an explanation for the consistent activities of planners, decision makers and the public over time in a single geographic location, such as a city. More specifically, why would planners and elected officials in a city that already has a landscape scattered with under-performing mega- projects make the decision to invest in still another of the breed? For instance, why would elected officials in a city with an under-performing billion dollar rail line decide to approve another billion dollars for a new rail line, and when that rail line fails to meet expectations, approve more than a billion dollars for still another new urban rail line? At the same time, why would elected officials try to alleviate congestion by building new and larger urban highways, when evidence suggests that these new highways will only provide free flowing traffic for a short time before returning to gridlock? Finally, why would the public continue to be generally supportive of transportation mega-projects, even as the ongoing costs of servicing these infrastructures mount in very noticeable ways, such as increased property taxes or rising user fees? Testing and extending the existing explanations for the persistence of the mega-project paradigm to infrastructure development will be the central focus of this research. 3 Structuring the Issues: Mega Solutions for Mega Problems In spite of the documented history of cost overruns and poor performance, why do societies around the world continue to invest in mega-projects? The emerging explanation in the academic literature is rooted in 'inadequate deliberation about risk and a lack of accountability in the project decision-making process' (Flyvbjerg, Bruzelius and Rothengatter 2003: 6). In addition to serving their tangible purpose, mega-projects have the potential to bring great financial and political windfalls to a wide array of special interest groups. Not surprisingly then, promoters such as politicians, contracting companies and property developers have been all too willing to proceed with risky projects, as long as there is no mechanism for holding them accountable i f the project under-performs in the long run. The result has been a systemic pattern of self-serving misinformation, where costs are underestimated and demand overestimated, where potential environmental damage is underestimated while development effects are overstated. In the eyes of proponents of this position (see Wachs 1988; Flyvbjerg 2003), such misrepresentations are not an accident or solely the cause of poorly calibrated forecasting models; rather, they constitute a deliberate intent to misinform parliament, the public and the media in order to get projects approved. Adherents to this type of analysis argue that the problems facing mega-projects today can be rectified by better internalizing risk and accountability within the decision-making process. To achieve greater accountability, scholars across the political ideological spectrum have advocated increased private sector involvement in the development of infrastructure projects, to allow market mechanisms of competition and the quest for profit to better align the interests of the many parties involved (Flyvbjerg, Holm and Buhl 2005; Savas 2000; Lave 1985). However, I will argue in this thesis that it is only a partial explanation to say that mega- projects continue to be built because mendacious rent seekers repeatedly dupe the general 4 public into supporting specific projects. This type of analysis does not give enough credit to the general public. While the particulars may vary from case to case, the massive scale of infrastructure mega-projects has ensured that most proposals receive intense media scrutiny, which often includes at least some detailed examination of the interest groups that stand to benefit from a given project, the connections of the individuals involved, their underlying motivations, and the results of some similar projects in other jurisdictions. The prevalence of media exposure to the politics and processes underpinning infrastructure mega-project development makes it difficult to argue that the average citizen or decision maker is entirely unaware of the rent seeking realpolitik that has guided mega-project selection, or the long history of escalating costs and poor performance related to such projects. Instead, i f the public is seen to be at the very least generally aware of the self-serving motivations that often underpin mega-project development as well as the long history of poor performance, it suggests that an alternative account is to some degree necessary to explain why the public remains widely supportive of certain mega-projects. Moreover, it suggests that the cause of the mega-project paradox of greater costs and lower performance may not be entirely redressed by the new conventional wisdom of creating more accountable processes or encouraging greater private sector involvement in the planning and delivery process. In this sense, I would like to extend the contemporary scholarly focus on special interest groups and rent seeking behaviour into a broader explanation for the perpetuation of infrastructure mega-projects. Specifically, I will show that in addition to genuine forecasting errors and opportunistic behaviour on the part of project promoters, infrastructure projects continue to be built because they convey a powerful set of symbolic meanings that are beyond the movement of people, and provide an opportunity to address some of the most pressing challenges in society. At a time when the Western conception of modernity and progress is driven by a paradigm that emphasizes the corrective powers of science, rationality and technology, 5 mega-projects present an imagery of possibility that transcends their tangible benefits. In particular, large infrastructure projects create a meta-narrative of hope, reflecting an optimism that 'big bang' engineering solutions may be able to solve some of the most pressing problems of our time - namely disease, the overproduction of greenhouse gases that are contributing to global climate change, regional underdevelopment, chronic unemployment etc - while maintaining the lifestyles that we have all come to enjoy. In other words, when challenged by what are perceived to be mega problems, societies repeatedly turn to mega scale solutions that offer the possibility of incredible reward, while posing the least threat to the existing ways of life and requiring the least amount of individual behaviour change or societal transformation. Moreover, the ongoing allure of developing mega-projects comes from their potential to connote a positive symbolic imagery that is rooted in the experiences of the local context, and include messages of interregional competitiveness, urban modernity and progress, and visionary leadership. In this thesis, I will use the study of urban transportation, mobility and congestion relief to develop the argument that mega-projects continue to be built not only because of the poor forecasting and rent-seeking explanations provided by other researchers, but also because they remain widely popular as a way of addressing one of society's most pressing mega problems. As Hall perceptively wrote in his analysis of the planning process for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in San Francisco: The fact was that everyone wanted to believe the predictions, because they seemed to offer a way out of serious present problems [with congestion]. Because of this desire, there was a mass suspension of belief, and almost an ideological commitment to the new system. (1982: 127) Drawing on Hall's observations from San Francisco as well as research into similar infrastructure investments in cities around the world (Mackett and Edwards 1998), the mega problem that rests at the core of motivating the development of transportation mega-projects is congestion and its attendant impacts. Put simply, urban transportation has become a mega problem because the stakes related to congestion and mobility are high. Propinquity, access and the ability to move freely around a city affect the everyday 6 lives of all citizens, playing a critical role in shaping social and economic relations, while impacting directly on the environment and personal health (Hall 1998; Badiozamani 2003; Frank et al. 2005). Yet the benefits and costs of infrastructure investment do not accrue evenly to all in society. While some in society benefit from greater power, wealth and status as a result of improved mobility provided by infrastructure improvements, others may face increasing exclusion from an economic and social system that relies on access and mobility (Castells 2000). The cost of urban congestion in many jurisdictions has been calculated to be billions of dollars; research has illustrated that there is a close correlation between obesity and time spent in automobiles (Frank, Andersen and Schmid 2004); emissions from automobiles contribute a large share of greenhouse gas emissions; and addressing transportation issues frequently ranks as one of the most pressing issues for urban dwellers in order to improve their quality of life. In attempting to reduce the array of costs associated with urban congestion, mega infrastructure projects such as highways, bridges and railways have become the dominant logic for shrinking space to achieve what Flyvbjerg, Bruzelius and Rothengatter (2003: 2) call the 'zero-friction society'. And yet, a growing number of prominent scholars such as Anthony Downs (2004) and Martin Wachs (2005) have noted that human congestion has been an endemic feature of urban living for as long as there have been cities, regardless of the attempted solutions. In this context, the historical record of persistent congestion appears to be out of synch with the contemporary international crisis of public perception about worsening congestion and its attendant costs, which has been recorded by public opinion surveys in countries around the world and amplified by the mass media (Silkstone, The Age, 5 November, 2005; Manchester Evening News, 6 May, 2004; American Public Transit Association/American Automobile Association, 2005; Ong and Hasellhof, 2005, Vancouver Sun, 16 November, 2005, A20). So why have infrastructure mega-projects remained so popular in the urban transportation sector? 7 Answering this question requires an interrogation of the intersection between the rhetoric and the measured reality of worsening congestion and wider issues of urban modernity that have consistently underpinned arguments in favour of large transportation projects, in order to gain an understanding of the dynamics that determine why certain narratives get privileged and others do not. Furthermore, explaining why mega projects continue to be built necessitates an interdisciplinary research approach that is as interested in cultural analysis as it is in cost benefit analysis; as focused on the past as it is on the present and the future; as rooted in the political landscape as it is in the physical landscape; and as attuned to power relations as it is to institutional relations. To make an important distinction, the intention of this analysis is not to imply that all mega-projects are inherently poor investments. Throughout history, there are transportation infrastructure mega-projects that have had a dazzlingly positive impact on the way people in cities live, work and play, and have garnered considerable public support. One can hardly imagine what Paris would be like without the Metro, Hong Kong without the Cross Harbour tunnel or San Francisco without the Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, the lure of replicating these international success stories serves as an important driver of new mega-projects in other cities around the world. Instead of challenging the entire paradigm of mega-project development, my point is to show that in the face of intense political and ingrained interests surrounding infrastructure mega-projects as well as a pervasive public perception that government initiatives have been ineffective at addressing congestion (Ong and Haselhoff 2005), there has been a tendency to perpetuate a development approach that favours large-scale projects. This reflects a universalization of the wrong lessons from past projects. Specifically, the success of certain past mega-projects has led to a continued adherence to a modernist paradigm of investing in one-size-fits-all fixed mega solutions to mega problems, at precisely the same time that the rise of a post-modern economic accumulation regime has called for increasing flexibility and diversity of alternatives. 8 In sum, when viewed in its entirety, this thesis is more than a project concerned with approaches to congestion relief or mega-project development; it is an examination of the forces that direct urban change. The Case Study: Seeking Improved Mobility in Vancouver, Canada Vancouver, a metropolitan city of some 2.3 million people in the province of British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, provides an ideal case study to explore the historically evolving politics, processes, and impacts related to infrastructure mega- projects, and the ongoing quest for a cure to the congestion mega problem. Since the city was first founded in 1886, Vancouver has generally followed the transportation infrastructure investment trajectory of many Canadian, American and Australian cities, both in terms of technologies and project delivery mechanisms. With respect to technologies, Vancouver sequentially experimented with many of the state-of-the-art systems being used in other cities, chronologically evolving from tramways to trolley buses, to the development of urban freeways, to a rebellion against urban freeways that resulted in spending on mass rapid transit, and finally back to the search for some balance in spending between public transit and road infrastructure. Transportation ownership and project delivery mechanisms have also evolved, from the early days when transportation services were developed, owned and operated entirely by the private sector, to a period when transportation services were the jurisdiction of the public sector, and more recently to a period where there is a growing mixture between private and public sector ownership and delivery. During each of these epochs of transportation infrastructure development, and regardless of the ownership structure and project delivery mechanisms in place at the time, there has been an almost singular adherence to the development of infrastructure mega-projects, at the expense of investments in smaller scale solutions. And yet, just as in other cities, each successive state-of-the-art investment phase has failed to redress the problem of growing congestion, leading to plans for still larger scale and more imaginative transportation mega-projects. 9 As such, using Vancouver, Canada as a case study, this thesis will excavate the more than 100-year history of infrastructure investment in the city in an attempt to provide insight into the factors that have continued to motivate the development of transportation mega- projects. M y analysis will show that in addition to poor forecasting methods and opportunistic behaviour, public support for infrastructure mega-projects that will reinforce the high quality of life in Vancouver without challenging existing patterns of mobility remain a driving force behind the continued development of such large-scale projects. R e s e a r c h A p p r o a c h : E x p l a i n i n g the P e r s i s t e n c e o f the M e g a T r a n s p o r t a t i o n P r o j e c t Conceptually, this study seeks to explain why infrastructure mega-projects have remained popular in the urban transportation sector in Vancouver by following an approach that presents specific transportation investment decisions as historically contingent, path dependent, and the product of both individual agency and institutional structures. (The theoretical foundations of these principles and their application to the field of transportation planning will be expanded upon in Chapter 2). The decision to consistently favour large-scale projects can only be understood within the context of the Vancouver region's spatial, economic, social, environmental and political history. When situated within their historical context, it can be seen that choices made by a densely interconnected group of decision makers in the early stages of each planning process effectively locked in decisions on the scale of the projects, the route, technology and service delivery mechanisms. The decisions of these individuals were patterned by their own self-interest, the institutional norms, traditions and laws that regulated their actions, and the evolving desires of the general public to see solutions to what has long been perceived to be a worsening urban congestion problem. The diversity of issues impinging on transportation investment decisions makes a single theory of decision-making i l l equipped to explain all elements of transportation decisions. 10 Instead, explaining transportation investment decisions will be based on the interplay of three key dynamics: first, the characteristics of the decision-making environment; second, the politics and planning processes surrounding the project; and third, the service production mechanism, in other words who designs, finances, builds and operates the system. As will be illustrated, the conflation of these three factors has particular implications on the material outcomes of the project as planned, and reinforces the predilection for large-scale infrastructure projects. Methods and Data: A Multi-Dimensional Approach Research on the factors that influence the decision to invest in transportation mega- projects has relied on a wide variety of research methods, ranging from statistical analysis of system performance characteristics (Flyvbjerg et al. 2002; Newman and Kenworthy 1999), to structured mail-in surveys with key planning decision makers (Mackett and Edwards 1998), to comparative case studies (Cervero 1998; Mees 2000), to detailed qualitative studies using a single case example (Richmond 2005). Each of these methods is associated with a specific set of strengths and weaknesses for answering certain types of questions, and each method was considered for this study (Figure 1-1). For this particular study, since I have posed questions that are centrally interested in identifying shifting power relations over time and are thus heavily rooted in a local context, I have decided that the most appropriate research method is to undertake a detailed study of a single case. The selection of such a method is in line with the theoretical support for case based research in the social sciences, and substantiated by experience from the existing literature that has sought to understand the motivations for investing in specific transportation projects at moments of strategic choice. 11 Figure 1.1: Research Methods and their Appropriateness for Studies on Transportation Investment Decision Making M e t h o d S a m p l e Q u e s t i o n S t r e n g t h W e a k n e s s Statistical Analysis What can be deduced about the motivations for investing in mega- projects based on the statistical observations about the difference between project cost estimates and actual project performance? • If sample is representative, results can be used to predict outcomes in other locations. • Results can be compelling to decision makers, and influence public opinion • May provide less insight into the reasons why certain events take place, such as why cost overruns are a persistent part of mega project development • Lack of data availability for certain cases might weaken results Structured Surveys What do planning decision makers say motivates their choice to invest in an infrastructure mega- project? • Compare experiences in a variety of contexts based on a similar set of criteria • May provide results that can be generalized to other settings • Little opportunity for follow up questions - may make it difficult to understand underlying motivations of those ultimately in charge of decision making Comparative case studies using qualitative methods What are the explicit and implicit factors that motivate investments in specific mega-projects in different contexts? • Provides the opportunity to examine stated, unstated and contextual factors that motivated investment decisions. • Comparative studies provide an opportunity to highlight the variables that are common and exceptional to specific cases. • May not be able to delve into great depth about history or context for any single case • Specific context may make it difficult to generalize experiences from one case location to another Single case study using qualitative methods What are the explicit and implicit factors that have consistently motivated investments in transportation mega- projects in a single location? • Provides space and scope to undertake a detailed, historically contingent analysis in a given location • Facilitates the use of multiple methods, including interviews, content, discourse, statistical and spatial analysis to triangulate explanations for a single phenomena • Case selected may be exceptional, making it inaccurate to generalize results to other locations. • Missing data or unwillingness of certain parties to cooperate can skew results 12 Flyvbjerg (2001) argues that situations characterized by intricate dynamics of power can best be researched through detailed, case study research. His strict adherence to a dense- data case method is rooted in the disparate philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche and Richard Rorty. Rorty's distinctive brand of pragmatic philosophy implores the comprehension of difference by sticking to the concrete, and focusing on elaborate descriptions of particular practices and the outcomes they conduce. For Nietzsche, focusing on the 'little things' was necessary in order to understand the problems of politics and social organization. When closely examined, discreet and apparently insignificant truths often reveal themselves to be pregnant with paradigms, metaphors and general significance. Employing a case study method based on a single example has facilitated deep insights in the study of regional transportation planning. Since the early 1970s, works of this nature have contributed to the evolving theoretical understanding of transportation decision making as being predicated not only on instrumental rationality (namely through the rational comprehensive planning model), but also on inherent political factors underpinned by values and power imbalances. In Bureaucrats in Collision (1971), Levin and Abend presented regional transportation planning case studies from five cities of various sizes - Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Manchester (New Hampshire) and Portland (Maine) - to question the relationship between organizational structure and human agency in planning decisions, and examine the role that the planner has in acting as a political agent to shape transportation outcomes. Gakenheimer's Transportation Planning as a Response to Controversy (1976), which examines the first humanistic regional transportation planning exercise in Boston and Pill 's Planning and Politics (1978), which focuses on the second such project in Toronto, continue this tradition by examining early efforts to open up the process of planning in response to the anti-highway movements of the early 1970's. Two decades later in Rationality and Power (1998), Flyvbjerg used the case of an award winning transportation scheme in Aalborg, Denmark to excavate the workings of power in 13 administrative decision-making, and what it actually means for more general concerns of social and political organization. In each case, the research goes beyond drawing conclusions that are exclusively pertinent to transportation projects, and instead tries to link society, politics, planning and the creation of urban form. Regardless of their different contexts, each of these studies is part of a relatively coherent story, one of an ongoing tension between planning as instrumental rationality and planning as a political act. This story is underpinned by a broader debate about the role of urban transportation: how the utilitarian and financial benefits and costs should be distributed between different groups within society. When regional transportation planning decisions are situated in the political realm and thus framed around struggles over values and interests, they can be seen to display similarities regardless of place. While the particular players may differ based on the situation, parallels include: a recognition that to be effective urban transportation planning must be carried out on a regional scale; the relevance of politics in complementing technical deliberations; the dilemma faced by the planner to be on the one hand a neutral professional and on the other a political initiator; the importance of institutional configuration in creating the precondition for decision making; and the prevalence of power imbalances and the potential for those who hold power to disproportionately influence decision making. In light of these similarities, while studies based on a single case study will never be statistically significant or universally generalizable, they can still prove extremely valuable. To quote Pil l , The essential objective of a case study is to provide observations that can perhaps later be used in the development of a general theory but meanwhile will at least enable others to learn from the experience of the case at hand. (1978: 16) M y research follows in this methodological tradition of the in-depth case study based on the ongoing process of transportation investment in Greater Vancouver. I will build on the lessons learned from earlier studies - particularly with respect to the influence of politics and power imbalances in planning - as I seek to provide a better explanation for why specific transportation projects are selected for development at specific moments in 14 time. Following in the tradition of the 'new institutionalism', my research will explore the role that both formal and informal laws, policies, rules, norms, conventions and traditions have on the actions of individuals and organizations. In moving beyond the boundaries of the earlier studies and into the depths of the contemporary politics of planning, my research will try to identify the roles that individuals, government agencies and corporations have played in the promotion of specific investment projects. While such an approach is not uncommon for exploring the actions of elected officials and top bureaucrats, few studies have delved into the role that specific corporations and their employees have had in promoting investment decisions. This under-examination of corporations and their agents has begun to change, as information is more readily being made available to the public, and the line between academia and investigative journalism begins to blur. In Cities for Sale (1975) and The Land Racket (1979), Leonie Sandercock trenchantly exposes the interconnections of private land developers and elected officials that resulted in suburban style land developments which violated official government policies in Australia. More recently, in You Don 7 Always Get What You Pay For (2000), Elliott Sclar examines the role that specific private sector consultants have played in promoting public service outsourcing. In City of Quartz (1992), Mike Davis provides a compelling exegesis of the unholy alliance between elected officials, public bureaucrats and private interests in Los Angeles, and the implications of these relationships on urban form and culture. And in Globalization and Urban Change (2001) and Unsettling the City (2004), Kris Olds and Nicholas Blomley respectively identify the confluence of political actors, private developers and international investors that coalesced to realize the advancement of mega land development projects in Vancouver. By 'naming names' so to speak, my research builds on this academic parallel to investigative journalism and enables the addition of a new dimension to the study of transportation infrastructure decisions - the concept that policy formation is path dependent and historically contingent. By attributing specific actions to named 15 individuals and organizations, I will be able to more centrally position the role of self- interest within the investment decision-making framework. As well, I will be able to trace how the chronology of decisions by interconnected self-interested actors from the early stages of the planning process locked investment decisions along a given path, making certain proposals more feasible than others at subsequent moments of strategic choice. The examination of these tight connections is particularly important when seeking to explain why neoliberal policies such as the private-public partnership have become popular in the field of transportation, and why large-scale infrastructure projects have been repeatedly favoured over other alternatives. In the case of transportation planning in Greater Vancouver, issues to be explored will include political campaign finance connections, the interests of those individuals who were hired to lead crown corporations, the role that specific private firms played as consultants to the public sector, and the way that public discourse was shaped through the media. By accounting for the evolving role of specific individuals and organizations over time, my research will provide a robust explanation of why each successive wave of investment became the top regional transportation priority - from trams to trolleys to highways and bridges to rapid transit and now to a 'balanced' approach to transportation infrastructure investment which combines new roads and new transit projects. To account for the complex decision-making environment that characterizes transportation infrastructure investment in Greater Vancouver, actualizing this research requires a multi-disciplinary methodology, based on a wide variety of qualitative techniques. Archival Data Analysis A review was carried out to chart the historical shift in transportation project objectives and priorities in the Vancouver Region, and the emerging trend towards private involvement in the financing and delivery of transportation services. Seminal 16 transportation planning documents dating back to the mid 1890's were examined for this review. The specific role that individuals and organizations played in the project planning process was derived from a variety of secondary sources. An in-depth content and discourse analysis of meeting minutes from municipal and provincial political bodies was undertaken. Archival newspaper stories were examined to gain an understanding of the individuals involved as well as the political discourse that surrounded the rapid transit planning process. A review was carried out of recorded accounts of the politics and planning processes that surrounded the development of earlier transportation projects. Finally, policy documents from key stakeholder organizations were reviewed, including organizations such as the Gateway Council, labour unions and environmental groups to understand their position on the shifting regional investment priorities, the project's politics and private sector involvement in transit service provision. Primary Research Secondary data on the transportation planning environment in Vancouver was complemented by primary interviews with those involved in the R A V decision making process. These interviews provided me with a more textured understanding of the factors that motivated the actions of those involved in the project, and helped inform my analysis. In-depth, unstructured interviews were conducted with key decision makers (eg. politicians, planners, bureaucrats) and stakeholders (private sector, civil society) to gain a detailed understanding of the relationship between shifting transit priorities and the growing delivery of projects using the private-public partnership model. Since the majority of those being interviewed were public figures who have played an active role in shaping the discourse surrounding regional transportation planning, few objected to being interviewed on the record and having their participation in the study noted (Appendix I). 17 Finally, over a two-year period from 2003 to 2005, I attended many council meetings, and public consultation forums, and I was also appointed by the City of Vancouver as a member of a public advisory committee to aid in the formation of a new local area transit plan. These first-hand experiences provided me with insight into the political machinations and planning cultures that pervade the transportation decision making environment in Greater Vancouver. Telling the Story of Transportation Infrastructure Development in Vancouver The story of 100 years of transportation project development in Greater Vancouver presented in this study is primarily based on secondary data that has been made widely available in the public domain. Nearly all of the quotations from those involved in project planning as well as much of the quantitative data used to support the arguments for and against specific projects has been derived from the mainstream media (in many cases front page newspaper stories) as well as easily accessible online legislature and council transcripts. These sources of information have been triangulated for accuracy against the information obtained from my personal interviews and observations. I have also relied on data embedded in more technical planning documents that are kept for reference in the public library as well as online information, which has been useful in verifying the accuracy and adding to the robustness of the data presented in the media. Very little of the information presented in this thesis is derived from sources that are not widely available to the public such as personal interviews or confidential planning documents that have been released to certain interest groups through freedom of information act requests. A central point of presenting my thesis based nearly exclusively on data that is easily available is to reinforce the argument that while perhaps not fully informed - as few individuals have the time or inclination to follow a single mega-project proposal in great depth - there is enough information in the public domain for the average citizen to be well aware of the political machinations and interest group lobbying that influence decisions 18 related to investments in major infrastructure projects, as well as the long history of project cost escalation and under-performance. With this information widely available, a more robust explanation is necessary to explain the persistent public and political support for large-scale projects than one focusing exclusively on overly optimistic forecasts, aggressive pursuit of self interest and poorly accountable planning processes. Undertaking Value-Rational Research In disciplines across the social sciences ranging from sociology to political science, economics to geography, there has been a growing dissatisfaction with the quest for explanatory and predictive theories that deliver immutable laws of human behaviour, regardless of contextual variables such as time and place, institutional configurations and local cultures. This has led a growing number of scholars to highlight the need for normative research that more centrally focuses on value-laden decisions (Scott and Shore 1979; Stehr 1992; Bryant 1995). In Making Social Science Matter (2001), Bent Flyvbjerg challenges his readers to practice social science with a phronesis approach. Traced back to Aristotle's three intellectual virtues, phronesis is more concerned with practical wisdom and ethics rather than the craft of practice (techne) or theoretical knowledge (episteme). Phronesis presents a framework for conducting value-rational research, which is characterized by Flyvbjerg (2001: 60) as 'analyses and interpretations of the status of values and interests in society aimed at social commentary and social action, i.e. praxis.' It departs from traditional social science research methods that derive from the natural sciences by seeking to answer four questions: 1) Where are we going? 2) Is this desirable? 3) What should be done? 4) Who gains and who loses? Answering these questions requires a research framework that is context-dependent, and emphasizes the interaction between the general and the particular. Phronetic research is 19 oriented towards action, which is driven by interests, judgments, and choices. To account for this inclination towards action, a fifth question can be added to those listed above: how can we get where we would like to go? In my dissertation, I hope to take up Flyvbjerg's challenge to revitalize the concept of phronesis and to practice a social science that places certain values at the centre of my work. The concept of undertaking value-rational research has particular relevance in the contemporary study of transportation infrastructure, a field that has been largely dominated by an emphasis on technical forecasting of the future, and yet a field where researchers have increasingly uncovered systemic malversation during the project planning phases and under-performance in terms of operations (Wachs 2001). Of concern is whether the perpetuation of infrastructure mega-projects and the processes by which they are delivered serve the public interest. Of course, the central challenge of undertaking research that emphasizes questions related to values and interests is whose values and interests should be privileged as representing the public good. In a diverse, multi-cultural society, defining the general public interest is not easy, and in addition, the public interest has to be deliberatively argued about and negotiated for each specific instance. Postmodern scholarship has informed us that there is not a single public interest or shared set of values, but in fact multiple publics and a series of interests that are based on the position of the individual (Sandercock 1998; Heath 2003). Yet in spite of the differences between individuals, the life work of pollster Michael Adams (1997; 2003), compiled in his two best-selling books on Canadian values, suggests that there is a strong set of common social values that bonds the country together, informing what can at the very least be loosely called the Canadian public interest. According to Adams, much of this public interest dates back to the foundational values upon which the country was formed. While the American Declaration of Independence defined the largely individualistic goals of 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness', the Canadian fathers of confederation followed their Commonwealth cousins 20 of Australia and New Zealand in dedicating their country to the considerably more collective objectives of'peace, order and good government'. Today, the findings of Adams' polling suggests that the Canadian public interest supports the values of: accountability and transparency of process to assuage a growing cynicism about the efficacy of our main institutions; policies that promote equality by gender, race, ethnicity and class; a sustainable balance of job creation and economic development with cultural preservation and environmental stewardship; a degree of understanding that some collective action is required to better the position of everyone. As can be seen, dating all the way back to confederation in 1867 and through the more recent polling work of Michael Adams, the Canadian public has demonstrated a strong interest in both the procedures by which decisions are made, and also the material outcomes of those decisions. Even philosopher Joseph Heath who opposes the 'myth of shared values in Canada' on the grounds that it is at odds with the pluralistic composition of the country, suggests that there is a core set of principles that underlies the nation's institutional structures as well as individual behaviour. Heath's core principles include: a quest for improved efficiency defined by a decision that improves life for one individual without worsening it for another; equality in the way that all individuals are treated in the eyes of the state; autonomy to make decisions and provide consent that is free from coercion; and a low threshold for violence in both the private and public realms that can be used to guide behaviour (Heath 2003). While the language may be different, Heath's core principles establish a loosely defined public interest that is similar to that posited by pollster Michael Adams. While the notion of a national set of values, core principles, or public interest may appear abstract, for over thirty years, Greater Vancouver has been at the forefront of tangibly integrating the hopes and aspirations of ordinary citizens into the process of guiding urban change. Since the early 1970s, the political and planning establishments in Greater Vancouver have been engaged in an ongoing dialogue with thousands of citizens to 21 identify a common vision for the region, a vision that is encapsulated in a public consultation summary report from 1975: 'The people have a modest dream: let Greater Vancouver continue to be a good place to live' (GVRD 1975: 2). While the definition of livability has evolved over time, Vancouverite's modest dream for a good place to live has remained wedded to the core values that Canadians appear to share, and is poignantly elaborated in the following excerpt from the 1990 regional vision setting report, Creating our Future: Steps towards a More Livable Region: Greater Vancouver can become the first urban region in the world to combine in one place the things to which humanity aspires on a global basis: a place where human activities enhance rather than degrade the natural environment, where the quality of the built environment approaches that of the natural setting, where the diversity of origins and religions is a source of social strength rather than strife, where people control the destiny of their community; and where the basics of food, clothing, shelter, security, and useful activity are accessible to all. (GVRD 1990:7) In the transportation sector, issues of upholding the public interest have converged most centrally in the ongoing debate over the potential measures to address congestion, which have a broad impact on the environment, economy and social equity. Over the past 100 years, humans agglomerating in cities have experimented with varying combinations of solutions to address congestion, from improving public transit, to building bigger roads, to planning different land use activities to limit the need for movement. Regardless of the exact solution, as Joseph Heath points out, urban transportation embodies the classic collective action problem, where working together provides a better opportunity to achieve greater efficiency for all than when each individual seeks to promote their own position: Promoting the public good means using collective action to promote what each individual regards as good by his or her own lights. It means creating win-win outcomes, under conditions of freedom and equality, but without trying to specify what should count as winning and what should count as losing. (Heath 2003: 34) Based on the broad definition of the Canadian public interest provided above and the way that it has been interpreted in Vancouver, I proceed to explore the degree to which past 22 transportation planning processes in Vancouver have been congruent with the stated public interest for procedural transparency, social equity, efficient performance, and broad sustainability that includes economic development as well as environmental and cultural preservation. In this sense, my intention is to interrogate one of the key challenges of practicing value-rational research: the potential to explain dissonance between stated individual values and the collective public interest, and actual observed actions and policy decisions that may go counter to the rhetorical statements. I will also examine whether the perpetuation of a development paradigm that favours infrastructure mega-projects creates systems that maximize broad cooperation rather than the pursuit of self-interest. Thes is O u t l i n e The thesis is structured in four parts. In Part I, I present the academic and applied context for the study of transportation infrastructure investment in Greater Vancouver. Chapter 2 develops a theoretical framework that seeks to explain the decision to invest in specific transportation infrastructure projects, and the material implications of such decisions. Chapter 3 provides an introduction to contemporary Vancouver. Following an examination of the spatial, social, economic and political structures in the city, I will show that transportation and congestion have become popularly perceived as a mega problem, elevating the search for solutions to the top of the urban agenda. In Part II, I explain the perpetuation of mega solutions that have been employed to redress Greater Vancouver's congestion mega problem, dating from the city's founding in 1886 until the early 2000s. Chapter 4 highlights the politics and governance structures that surrounded the early evolution of transportation alternatives, from the tram to the trolley bus to an emphasis on highway building and finally to strong opposition to such plans which led to a renewed emphasis on smaller scale public transit solutions. It also provides an overview of the transition of ownership and service delivery in the Vancouver transportation sector from the private sector to the public sector around the middle of the 20 t h century. 23 Chapter 5 examines the forces that coalesced in Greater Vancouver to support the realization of the city's first rapid transit mega-project, even as many of the local plans prioritized investment in smaller scale infrastructure to address worsening congestion. Chapter 6 focuses on the development of the second rapid transit mega-project in Greater Vancouver. Specifically it seeks to understand why a new governing party at the provincial level that had opposed the development of the first rapid transit line in Vancouver when they were in opposition due to the high cost and lack of effectiveness could turn around and invest in the same type of mega-project using the same technology when they came to power. Chapter 7 revisits some of the major themes that have emerged from this historically contingent analysis of transportation planning in Greater Vancouver, and highlights the importance that both institutional structures and the individuals involved in the processes played in shaping the investment decisions that were actually made. In Part III, I shift focus to the contemporary transportation planning landscape in Greater Vancouver, and explore the implications of a transportation investment program that is increasingly being guided by the private sector and market forces. The Introduction to Part III returns to a brief review of the motivations for encouraging greater private sector involvement in the transportation sector. Chapter 8 will show how the adherence to a market driven approach to transportation planning has provided politicians who previously opposed infrastructure mega-projects with a way of putting both large-scale highway and transit projects back on the urban agenda. While much of the contemporary plans for transportation mega-projects are still in their early phases, making it difficult to entirely assess the impacts of the overall program, one project has reached the conclusion of the approval process through a competitive procurement process. Chapter 9 focuses specifically on the implications of project delivery using a private- public partnership, through a detailed case study of the recently approved R A V rail project. This case study will challenge the literature that advocates in favour of such a 24 delivery model by first illustrating that the private-public partnership approach to planning did not improve the accountability of the decision making process, and second that the project as designed will be only minimally effective at achieving the public interest for greater efficiency, equity and environmentally sound urban mobility across the entire region. The Conclusion to Part III reflects on the broad implications of market driven planning in the transportation sector, and the implications that such an approach has on achieving the public interest for accountable, equitable and sustainable mobility. In Part IV, the concluding Chapter 10 draws together the main arguments and the central findings of this thesis, specifically highlighting the prominent role that infrastructure mega-projects have played in addressing congestion in Greater Vancouver for over 100 years. This chapter argues for the importance of understanding the selection and approval of an infrastructure project as part of a historically contingent context. I also suggest that an explanation for the perpetuation of a mega-project approach to addressing the mega problem of congestion that focuses on the role of poor forecasting and rent seeking must be complemented by an examination of the way that the general public has repeatedly and knowingly supported such decisions. 25 PART I: FOUNDATIONS 26 Chapter 2: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Explaining Urban Transportation Investment Decisions Introduction In introducing their textbook on Canadian urban governance, Graham, Philips and Maslove remark that the lens that we use to focus upon urban phenomena determine to a large degree what we see and how we explain and evaluate what we see. Indeed, the particular lens we are predisposed to use may influence the kinds of questions that we ask in the first place. (1998: 19) This quotation is equally relevant in the field of decision-making theory and public administration, where scholars from a variety of academic disciplines have long grappled with the challenge of formulating theoretical frameworks to explain specific public policy decisions in time and space. Developing a theoretical framework to understand and explain transportation investment policy decisions is punctuated by a series of particular challenges: 1 Transportation mega projects are by their very nature massive in scale and affect numerous constituencies within a community. A new highway or subway can easily cost into the billions of dollars, displace thousands of people, and affect the future development of the entire region within which they are situated. 2 Transportation investment decision-making requires the creation of investment priorities between many important projects. Within a budgetary context characterized by finite resources, the opportunity cost of investing in one project necessarily negates the possibility of developing many others. 3 Decisions to proceed with a certain project are made by individuals with a diverse range of interests, agendas, allegiances and constituencies, working within institutions that have their own formal and informal histories, interests and agendas. The ultimate decision makers are in some cases supported by a bureaucracy which itself is comprised of individuals and organizations with their own histories, interests, agendas, norms and patterns of behaviour. 4 Large-scale transportation decisions often require formal and informal cooperation and collaboration between diverse decision makers, organizations and stakeholders. 27 5 The range of possible alternatives to any transportation problem is to a varying degree guided and constrained by past policy decisions, such as land use, energy, finance and taxation policy. 6 Transportation investment decisions are made over long periods of time; yet exist within dynamic environments characterized by policy, technology and public opinion shifts. Due to the diversity of issues impinging on transportation investment decisions, a single theory of decision-making is i l l equipped to explain all elements of transportation decisions. Instead, this chapter will propose a theoretical framework to explain transportation investment decisions that is based on understanding the interplay of four key dynamics: the characteristics of the decision-making context; the politics and planning processes surrounding the project; the service production mechanism, in other words who designs, finances, builds and operates the system; and finally, the potential material outcome of the project as planned. Taken together, the fusion of these literatures provides the foundation for a nuanced understanding of transportation investment decisions. The four substantive bodies of literature have been ordered to form a logical progression that will maximize the potential interaction between each of the discourses. By the end of the chapter, it will be possible to provide a broad explanation of how and why specific transportation investment decisions are made. This framework will underpin the method of analysis used to explain decision-making in the case of transportation investment in Vancouver. Why This Project, Why Now: A Theoretical Perspective on Decision Making This section seeks to provide an understanding of how regional priorities are set and specific project decisions are made. First, drawing on the work of Martin Wachs, the case will be made for moving beyond a rational comprehensive model of transportation planning analysis. Instead, transport investments will be situated within a context that combines an emphasis on the institutional constellation of laws, norms, traditions and 28 histories, and an approach that stresses the importance of individual agency in decision- making. Second, emphasizing the role of individual actions within a broader institutional structure provides a scaffold for studying transport investment decisions at a variety of scales: individual, organizational, local government, national government, international governance. More specifically, such an approach makes it possible to see how the institutional structure of the polity along with the actions of individual staff members themselves guide policy decisions down particular paths at significant instances of strategic choice. Finally, theories of public administration and political science will be explored to understand who in the city controls urban decision-making, and the dominant logic that underpins the private provision of public services. Shifting Perspectives: From Rational Comprehensive to Institutional Analyses Martin Wachs is the transportation scholar who has been at the forefront in calling for a paradigm shift in the way that scholars explain transportation investment decisions. In Planning, Institutions and Decision Making: A Research Agenda, Wachs (1985) highlights the transportation sector as having one of the most highly developed rational comprehensive models of planning and project evaluation. To Wachs, a rational comprehensive worldview of planning, institutions and decision making is defined by the search for optimal solutions to predefined problems, the separation of analysts and decision makers, and the commitment to problem solving using a sequence of logical steps. Within this paradigm, individuals are seen to be rational actors who use information to make decisions that maximize their personal benefit. Transportation investment decisions, then, can be explained by systematically measuring the various inputs such as capital costs, implementation time, and the opportunity cost of building one project versus another, and balancing them against the broad range of economic, environmental, social, and sometimes political benefits that will derive from the project (Meyer and 29 Miller 1984). To achieve this end, the research program complementing the rational comprehensive paradigm of transportation planning has emphasized the enhancement of an ever evolving technical toolbox, which seeks more sophisticated ways to measure the costs and benefits of specific projects (Scott 1995). However, for Wachs, the rational comprehensive model of planning alone does not explain the transportation investment decisions that actually get made in practice, or accurately predict the projects that will be successful from those that will not. As Wachs (1985: 13) states, ' A research agenda drawn entirely from the rational comprehensive model is likely to be incomplete because we cannot assume rationality in a sometimes irrational world. To do so, in fact, is to be irrational!' Instead, Wachs sketches out the rationale for a broader research program, one that seeks to understand transportation decision-making, institutions and planning processes through an examination of both 'organizational' and 'personal' perspectives. Organizations are important to Wachs since they pattern behaviour and provide the rules within which decision are made, while a personal approach is necessary since the actions of individuals cannot be fully explained by their surroundings. While Martin Wachs' invocation for a transportation research agenda that adds 'organizational' and 'personal' perspectives to the dominant rational comprehensive approach is some 20 years old, it remains pertinent in a discipline that has continued to emphasize studies of quantitative methods and data. Wachs' proposed research agenda for the field of transportation corresponds closely with a broader research trajectory in planning theory and the social sciences that has questioned the privileged position of technical and expert knowledge within a rational process (Sandercock 1998; Jessop 2001). Instead many contemporary social scientists have sought to complement a rational comprehensive epistemological stance by seeking to understand decision making through the relationship between the agency of individual actors, social institutions and 30 organizations within which they operate (North 1990; Hall and Taylor 1996; Jessop 2001). The following section will review the literature on what has come to be known as 'new institutionalism', a model which has particular relevance in explaining transit investment decisions. The Context Dependence of Decision Making: An Institutional Approach Contemporary institutional theory emerged out of nineteenth century economics and sociology, where scholars challenged the classical construction of society as the agglomeration of rational actors by highlighting the contextual social, cultural and organizational 'institutions' that patterned individual behaviour. Traditional institutionalist thought took a largely functional view of societal structures as being the determining force guiding individual actions, which is encapsulated in Max Weber's notion of the 'iron cage' that traps individuals in a web of rule based control. Seeking to provide a more nuanced interpretation of society that is less prone to minimizing the importance of decisions made by individual actors, new institutionalism has sought to put forward a more fluid interpretation of the relationship between social structures and human agency (Campbell 2005). While strong internal divisions punctuate theories of new institutionalism, it is held together by a common understanding that formal and informal rules known as 'institutions' pattern behaviour, and guide the decisions that get made. In theories of new institutionalism the central hypothesis is that context matters in determining the outcome of a decision. In this sense, new institutional approaches provide a reinterpretation of the theoretically dualistic stalemate between whether individual agency or organizations and structures are the fundamental variable that explains decision-making (Giddens 1979; Archer 2003). The basic new institutional perspective is perhaps best conceptualized in a sports analogy put forward by Nobel laureate Douglas North (1990): institutions are the rules of the game, while organizations are the teams and players are individual actors. Player and team strategies are influenced by, but separate from the rules of the game. However, shifts in team and player strategies may reflexively lead to changes in the rules 31 of the game (Pierson 2000a). Unpacking this analogy provides insight into the relationship between individuals, organizations and institutions, and can aid in the explanation of specific policy decisions. Individuals who are flexible, malleable and varied ultimately make decisions that are culturally dependent and socially constructed (March and Olsen 1996; Bourdieu 1998). In this sense, individual behaviour cannot be studied in isolation from its context (Merton 1957) since individuals in objectively the same situation will think and behave differently depending on social context variables such as their occupation, income, education, social origin and religion (Linz 1969). The direct contexts within which individuals make decisions are the organizations for which they work. Organizations are collections of individuals who are charged with achieving a common goal or objective. Organizations include economic bodies (business firms, trade unions, cooperatives, non profit organizations), political bodies (councils, parliaments, regulatory agencies, government bureaucracies), social bodies (churches, athletic clubs, non-governmental organizations), and educational bodies (schools, universities, colleges). Understanding organizations involves studying governance models, the articulation of related organizations, and how learning by doing within an organization shapes future decisions (North 1990). The concept of societal structure also takes on a broader political economy definition, referring to the characteristics of the economic and social system within which individuals are situated. Under capitalism, the decision-making capabilities of individuals and organizations must be situated within an understanding of the processes of capital accumulation, production and consumption. Based on this conceptualization, it is institutions that bind together individuals and their surrounding organizations and structures, thus influencing decision-making (Moulaert 2000). Context-dependent formal institutions such as rules, laws and constitutions establish standards of practice, management hierarchies, jurisdictions, responsibilities and mandates for both individuals and organizations. Context-dependent informal institutions such as conventions, norms, traditions, symbols and cultures largely direct how the 32 formal precepts will be carried out, by patterning cooperation, collaboration, animosities, information sharing and policy agendas (Hall and Taylor 1996). This emphasis on both formal and informal institutions provides a scaffolding for understanding investment decisions at a variety of scales, including individual, organizational, local government, national government, and international governance. Overall, then, what emerges is a dense network of reciprocal relationships between individuals, organizational structures and institutions. Individuals form organizations based on the prevailing institutions of the time; the internal and external institutions of organizations pattern individual behaviour; over time, individuals and organizations seek to reshape the formal and informal institutions within which they operate, which can lead to the formation of new organizations. Understanding the composition and control of these networks as they relate to urban decision-making has been a topic of intense debate, and will be examined in depth later in this section. A key dynamic of this definition of individuals, organizations and institutions is the importance placed on the historical context and contingency of decision-making. An emerging body of literature by historical institutionalists and regulation theorists (both themselves branches of new institutionalism) have highlighted the prevalence of policy path dependence, whereby decisions made at preceding stages induce further movement in the same direction (Pierson 1993). This construction of path dependence is conceptually quite simple, but has significant implications for the formulation of decisions and public policy. First, as embodied in the economic concept of increasing returns or positive feedback loops (North 1990), once a policy starts down a certain path, the costs of reversal can become very high. This is because, as more is invested in one path or policy trajectory over time, its relative benefits compared to other alternatives become greater (Pierson 2000b). In other words, the cost of exit increases as 'sunk costs' grow, which largely 'locks in ' a specific policy alternative (Arthur 1994). Second, timing and sequencing matter in understanding specific decision-making processes, policy formulation and ideological propensities. 33 Following the work of Thomas Kuhn, the flow of historical events can be divided into periods of relative continuity along a given path, punctuated by moments of significant upheaval or paradigm shifts which act as branching points onto new paths (Hall and Taylor 1996). Third, small decisions or events at earlier stages of a path can have large consequences later on. This directly challenges a classic postulate in political science that large outcomes are the result of large causes (Pierson 2000a). Taken together, the concept of path dependence provides a theoretical foundation for Bradford's comment: New economic ideas once institutionalized in the state and polity channel policy thought and collective action down particular tracks, rendering certain policy visions more feasible than others at subsequent moments of strategic choice. (Bradford 2001: 51) According to Pierson (2000a) policy path dependence occurs for four reasons, each of which is characteristic of transportation infrastructure planning and projects. 1. Large set up or fixed costs act as strong incentives to stick with a single alternative once it has been identified. Planning for mega transportation infrastructure projects is a major endeavour, often costing millions of dollars and taking many years. Even small planning shifts can have large financial and time costs. The growing involvement of the private sector in the planning, designing, building, financing, operating and maintenance of transportation infrastructure projects adds a new dimension to the equation, since the early outlay of private money on project planning can often increase the 'lock in' burden on government officials to proceed with a given project. Later in the implementation phases, contractual obligations with private firms make it prohibitively expensive and often a violation of national and international law to alter a particular course of action. 2. Learning effects. Knowledge gained from past experience with a complex system can lead to greater efficiency in the future. The planning of transportation mega projects is an extremely complex endeavour, requiring extremely detailed technical skills to understand financial, planning, engineering and design arrangements. This has led to a tendency for governments to hire outside consultants who specialize in particular aspects of project planning. The growing prevalence and sophistication of private- public partnership arrangements has led governments to set up special agencies to manage such deals, knowledge which will be used to aid in the more efficient delivery of future projects using the private-public partnership mechanism. 34 3. Coordination effects occur as the benefits of any one user of a system gain as others adopt the same option. Public transit infrastructure investment benefits greatly from coordination effects, as the greater proliferation and integration of service across a region make it easier for each individual rider to reach more distant destinations (Mees 2000). Rail service also benefits directly from coordination effects. Once one type of rail technology is selected, further investment in that technology is encouraged due to the potential for interoperability and seamless integration of service. Road development too benefits from coordination effects, as more households purchase cars, and land use patterns evolve to accommodate this mode of transportation. 4. Adaptive Expectations. In situations where the selection between competing technologies has significantly different outcomes later on, decision makers may be compelled to make predictions about future usage patterns and then formulate complementary policy decisions in the hope that those expectations are realized. Different transportation infrastructure investments - be they rail, road, bus, etc - have significant implications on land use patterns, energy consumption, and travel behaviour. Often policies are set to compliment transportation investment policies, and adapt public behaviour to the mode selected. The planning and policy characteristics of transportation infrastructure mega projects clearly embody many of the key features of path dependent systems. Path dependence may be magnified when projects are carried out as private-public partnerships, since such arrangements increase the initial set up costs, and use binding contracts at varying stages of the planning process to lock in the intent of decision makers (Levy 1996). The concept of path dependence has also been used more broadly to describe the spread of free market policies that embody the private-public partnership (Brenner and Theodore 2002). Nevertheless, there has been ambivalence in the literature regarding the application of the concept to explain the development of public policy formulation or decision-making (Pierson 1993; Kay 2003). This is for two key reasons: first there is the question of the often-convoluted relationship between different levels of individuals, organizations and institutions; second, policy environments are often highly dynamic, characterized by many subtle changes. For these reasons, which are both primarily methodological in nature, studies of path dependence have tended to focus on macro scale processes. 35 However, these challenges with charting cause and effect in the path dependence of policy formulation do not mean that path-dependent relationships are devoid of micro foundations (Kay 2003). In fact, Swyngedouw's (1997) work on global and local interactions indicates that decisions increasingly derive from the deliberations of networked actors at a variety of scales, each of which is governed by a series of organizational and institutional pressures that pattern their behaviour. Large-scale transportation infrastructure decisions fit this profile, where a single project is often dependent on decisions by multiple levels of government, private firms, interest groups and the voluntary sector. In such cases, the path dependence of policy formulation and decision making is situated precisely in the frequent interactions between networked individuals, whose interconnected actions influence, reinforce and impinge upon the decisions of others in the network (Pierson 1993). From a psychological perspective, the work of Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman illustrates the presence of a phenomenon called 'anchoring,' where an original plan is fixed and then analysis and organizational pressure builds to affirm this decision (Lovallo and Kahneman 2003). And Hedin's (2001) research on political and social networks shows that trust between interconnected actors helps to guide decision making by propagating cooperation. In this sense, path dependence and policy lock-ins are the results of increasing returns within the networked decision making context. A broader cautionary note about the application of path dependence to policy formulation is that such an approach may present a deterministic, depoliticized way of viewing decision making, which overlooks the role of individual agency or the many stages at which a different path could be taken (Kay 2003). This is a valid concern, and empirical analyses that seek to understand path dependence must carefully chart cause and effect relationships, while constantly questioning whether other social forces are at play. As noted by Jessop (2001), a key benefit of new institutionalism is that such approaches are complementary to other 'turns' that have recently occurred in the literature, including new emphases on collaborative, rhetorical and argumentative processes. Combining the search for path dependence with an examination of other social phenomena provides a 36 safeguard against the threat of presenting a deterministic analysis, and makes the social relationships uncovered by new institutional theories critical to understanding transportation investment decisions. The Power in Networks: Understanding Who Controls the City As was elucidated in the previous section, an institutional approach to understanding transportation investment decisions places a strong emphasis on the networked interrelationships between individual actors and organizations. This raises a second set of questions, namely, who is involved in these networks, how do they form, and who actually influences urban decisions. One group of scholars seeking answers to these types of questions are community power theorists. Community power studies encompass a diverse range of perspectives, but in each theoretical formulation, community power and the ability to influence decisions are constituted not only in individuals, but also in the relationships that exist between different sets of actors. In both elite and growth machine theories, decisions of resource allocation in urban areas are directed by a small group of eminent individuals, whose power stems from ownership of property and control of key businesses (Lorimer 1978; Dye 1986). The brokering of power is seen to occur behind the scenes by a small group of senior executives from these key businesses, who are politically, socially and economically connected. This marginalizes the importance of elected officials and state bureaucrats (Judge 1995), who are largely seen to be mediators of private interests. In this sense, the network being highlighted as the driver of decisions is that of a small cadre of well connected individuals who seek to maximize their personal gain through rational bargaining about the costs and benefits of certain projects. Represented industries included developers, financiers, construction companies, associated professionals such as lawyers, consultants, architects and urban designers. The power of these property related industries is maintained in no small part through financial contributions to political campaigns. From the perspective of elected officials and 37 bureaucrats, continued support for growth-related endeavours is often promoted through an emphasis on job creation, expansion of the tax base, funding public services and a symbolic narrative of progress (Logan and Molotch 1987: 33). A key observation made by Hunter (1953) in his influential study of Atlanta was that the top-level elites were rarely visible in the local community, public debates or civic associations. Instead a second order of less powerful, but still notable individuals assumed the role of promoting the public side of the urban elite. This has particular relevance to transportation investment decisions. While logistics companies, large-scale property developers and construction firms stand to benefit greatly from investments in transportation infrastructure, the executives of these firms are not generally high profile individuals. One need only think of the face recognition of the CEOs of information technologies firms compared to those of rail companies to illustrate this point (the development industry may provide an exception to this trend, where individuals such as Donald Trump in the United States and Lee Ka Shin in Canada and Asia have become more high profile). This, however, does not mean that these individuals are not exerting great influence on infrastructure investment decisions. On the contrary, while they act behind the scenes, the public face of a transportation expansionist message has been assumed by leaders of local boards of trade, prominent politicians and top bureaucrats, who have greater credibility in promoting both the public and private benefits of such a message. In contrast to elite and growth machine theories, regime theory presents a broader interpretation of who has influence over urban policy decisions. In addition to recognizing the importance of a small cadre of business leaders, regime theories give prominence to members of the polity, the voluntary sectors and special interest groups in shaping urban decisions. In this formulation, decision-making is viewed as complex and fragmented, making it impossible for a single group to control decisions. This refers to the situation within a federalist state such as Canada, where collaboration is often required between multiple levels of government and bureaucratic departments in order to fulfill a specific policy agenda (Inwood 2000). It also refers to the increasing prevalence 38 of policy formulation without polity, where the solutions to pressing problems lie outside the jurisdiction of the state (Hajer 2003). As such, while the state is seen as more than simply an arbiter of special interests and state actors are seen to have a large degree of autonomy to shape policy, they still require cooperation from diverse interest groups to realize their policy goals. In this sense, regime theory places emphasis on both policy formulation and implementation. In the transportation sector in particular, the traditional rational comprehensive model of planning has situated state actors at the centre of guiding policy decisions, yet actual contemporary practices suggest that wider community acceptance has remained necessary to successfully implement the agreed upon agenda. More fundamentally, regime theories seek to understand under what conditions diverse interest groups can work collectively to achieve mutually beneficial policy goals. This informal and temporally flexible coalescence of interest groups to achieve policy goals is known as an 'urban regime'. The potential of a regime to achieve its goals is in no small part a product of the strength of the relationships between members of the collective, in addition to the profiles of those involved in the regime and the resources that each group brings to the table (Stone 1989). Therefore regime theory places heavy emphasis on the relational and trust qualities embedded in networks to influence the urban policy agenda (Hedin 2001). Regime theory is particularly appropriate to explain some of the 'strange bedfellows' that agglomerate in response to a transportation mega project proposal (Altshuler and Luberoff 2003). Overall then, while often internally contradictory, elite and growth machine theories as well as regime approaches may together provide insight into aspects of the decisions that surround a single transportation project. On the one hand, elite and growth machine theories may be particularly appropriate to understand the origins, motivations and leaders behind a specific investment decision. Regime theory on the other hand, may more accurately explain the diverse and often contradictory coalitions that agglomerate to oppose major transportation infrastructure investment plans and projects. 39 Explaining the Emergence of the Private-Public Partnership: A Market Based Account While Martin Wachs (1985) advocates an analytical model that emphasizes individuals and organizations, he is quick to point out that rational comprehensive approaches still have explanatory power for certain components of transportation investment decisions. In particular, public choice theories that apply economic concepts of markets and exchanges to explain urban governance are relevant in understanding the proliferation of private-public partnerships as well as the setting and selection of regional priorities. Public choice theories are based on three elements: individuals, public goods and organizations. Individual actors are seen to be utility maximizers, who seek to fulfill prior desires through a process of exchanges based on rational deliberations about benefits and costs of a specific decision (March and Olsen 1996). Individuals seek to achieve their preferred mix of goods and services at tax rates and user fee levels that they are willing to pay. The response of local governments to the desires of their constituents requires an analytical separation between the provision and production of public goods. Provision refers to the amount of a service being delivered, while production refers to the physical process of making or rendering the good or service. According to public choice theorists, the delivery of public services usually becomes inefficient because they are provided and produced under government monopolies. Without being subjected to the forces of competition, governments have little incentive to innovate or cut costs in the production of services (Bish and Warren 1972). Bureaucrats contribute further to the potential for inefficient provision of services by propagating self-interest to protect the budgets of their own department (Niskanen 1971). Based on their market orientation, public choice theories provide one explanation of the dominant logic that supports the emerging trend towards private-public partnerships in the provision of government services (McDavid and Schick 1987; Osborne and Gaebler 1992), a phenomenon that has become increasingly popular in urban transportation. By separating the provision and production functions of urban service delivery, government 40 can retain control over service provision (and thus set service levels and quality) while developing a market for production. Such an arrangement creates an incentive structure that uses competitive forces to drive innovation, reduce costs and improve efficiency. Whether the infusion of competition into the production of urban services actually achieves its stated benefits has been the topic of heated debate, and will be given greater attention later in this chapter. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the seductive quality of a delivery approach that putatively reduces costs for cash strapped governments has gained immense popularity the world over. Decision Making in the Field of Transit Infrastructure Investment The necessity for a holistic analytical framework as presented in this section is confirmed by the findings of previous studies from the transport studies literature. For example, in exploring the importance of contextual factors, a series of interviews conducted by Edwards and Mackett (1996: 230) with senior managers from 11 newly developed or proposed rail based transport systems in Britain showed that: 'decisions are not based purely on objective transport criteria. In addition, local circumstances influence the way in which projects develop.' Yet the configuration of the contextual environment on its own is not sufficient to explain investment in public transport. Policy formulation embodies a range of different inputs including rational-type analysis, but also forms of information gathering such as institutional and personal experience (Lindblom and Cohen 1979). This has led Forster to note that: whilst public policy-making might make use of rational techniques, they are typically encapsulated within a wider process, involving people and organizations which is altogether more complex and messier than the picture the rational model depicts. (2000: 3) This brief overview of findings from the transport literature indicates that a framework that combines structural issues and human agency is both suitable and necessary to fully explore transportation investment processes, motivations and outcomes. 41 The Politics and Processes of Urban Transportation Planning Fundamentally, transportation infrastructure investment decisions are about temporally allocating massive amounts of scarce resources over space, such that investment in one project necessarily precludes investment in many others (Peferlaw 1980). This allocation of resources is complicated by the pervasiveness of uncertainty about the future impacts and outcomes of today's decisions (Hall 1982). In this context of competing resource allocation, Edwards and Mackett have noted that, The decision to invest in a new public transport system is essentially a political decision made within the current economic and legislative framework. In addition, the objectives of building a new system are not related solely to transport needs and must be viewed in the broader context of the socio-economic needs of the city. (1996: 234) Building on the broad theoretical framework of urban decision making developed in the previous section, the following section will explore the expanding body of literature that seeks to understand why and how specific transportation infrastructure investment decisions get made. This section will begin with a review of the literature on the politics of transportation infrastructure investment, and then chart the current procedures that are used to make transit investment decisions. Such a review will provide a second lens through which to understand the development of specific infrastructure projects. Motivations, Politics and Transportation Investment Decision Making In recent years, urban transportation issues have catapulted into the public consciousness, and consequently to the top of the urban agenda in many countries around the world. This is in no small part a reaction to reports of economic loss as a result of increased road congestion, environmental degradation stemming from growing automobile usage (Newman and Kenworthy 1999), and declining social equity of mobility between those who operate and those who do not operate personal motor vehicles (Grengs 2002). Investment in public transit provides one component of a solution to these issues, and fits 42 within a policy thrust promoting sustainable development, defined in terms of a desire to meet environmental, economic and social concerns (Kennedy 2002). In light of the transportation problems that cities face, the decision to invest in specific projects is rooted in a desire to provide tangible improvements to the existing situation (Edwards and Mackett 1996). For example, Mackett and Edwards (1998) uncovered six transport related variables that were identified as salient in guiding investment, which I have classified into two categories. First are tangible benefits that are directly related to the movement of people, including reduced traffic congestion, greater improvement of public transit and better access to the city centre. Second are tangible benefits that come as a by-product of improved public transit. These include both localized and global environmental amelioration i f trips made by pollution emitting personal motor vehicles are replaced by zero emission transit trips, and the stimulation of economic activity and property development as a result of improved accessibility. In addition to the desire to ameliorate particular transportation problems, two non- mobility related criteria were also seen to shape investment decisions. First, transit mega projects can support the cultivation of positive symbolic meanings, including an image of urban vitality, community pride and cohesiveness, a sign of a permanent effort towards revitalization, and a linkage with a city's historic modes of communication (particularly in the case of streetcar reinvestment) (Edwards and Mackett 1996; Siemiatycki 2005a). In this sense, high quality public transit facilities can be seen as part of the package of local amenities that Florida (2002) sees as necessary for cities to attract the 'creative class' of highly skilled, footloose workers and the innovative economic activities they generate. A second non-mobility factor shaping investment decisions was the existing level of regulation and the degree of private sector involvement in the transit industry. Private sector involvement in the operation and maintenance of transit facilities through private- public partnerships encouraged the selection of technologies that were familiar, proven and reliable (Edwards and Mackett 1996). Third, funding programs for transit from 43 senior levels of government are more readily available for capital expenses than operating expenses, and in many instances overtly favoured rail projects. Faced with declining revenue bases, the transit capital investment decisions of local governments have been largely beholden to the stipulations of senior levels of government (Li and Wachs 2001). Taken together, these structural characteristics of the institutional environment encouraged decisions that favoured expensive rail projects, even as other alternatives such as bus-based systems may have been more cost effective (Edwards and Mackett 1996). Overall, while the approach outlined above highlights the official motivations that typically guide transit infrastructure investment decisions, it is largely bounded by a construction of decision makers who rationally seek to fulfill their objective goals (Meyer and Miller 1984). However, in the last half century, this conception of decision makers as rational utility maximizers has been challenged by a diverse series of scholars who have sought to present an altogether more complicated picture of how and why decisions get made. In particular, they have sought to recast transportation planning and decision- making as an inherently political process that is pluralistic yet consensus seeking, complex yet in search of problem simplification, and pervaded by uncertainty yet risk averse (Li and Wachs 2004). Transportation investments are thus seen as fundamentally about trade-offs between costs and benefits, winners and losers Transportation investment decisions are not only directed by stated priorities, but the stated priorities are shaped through the interactions of policy makers, bureaucrats, interest groups and stakeholders, each of whom may have a strikingly different vision of a desirable future. Studies of early participatory transportation planning efforts in Canada, the United States and Europe found that investment decisions are reflections of power relations, with elected officials and special interest groups imposing immense pressure on the bureaucratic staff to advocate for a policy package that suits their interests. In the search for an advantageous consensus, all parties involved also sought to shape the public discourse to provide their group with better negotiating leverage (Pill 1978; Gakenheimer 1978; Flyvbjerg 1998). 44 The production and dissemination of technical information serves a critical role in the planning process. Once seen to be the impartial technical foundation for transportation decision-making, quantitative analysis and forecasts have been reconstructed as a negotiated process over competing visions of the future. In light of endemically understated costs and overstated patronage for public transit mega projects (Pickrell 1992; Flyvbjerg et al. 2003), forecasts have come to be seen as the product of systematic institutional pressures that situate bureaucrats as political agents in the shaping of transportation investment outcomes (Hall 1982). To this end, technical information such as forecasts, models and opinion surveys are increasingly identified as persuasive rhetorical devices used by planners and project promoters to shape political and public support for specific initiatives (Throgmorton 1991). More recently, a far more trenchant analysis of the motivations for transit investment has been constructed, which places central emphasis on deception and malfeasance in guiding the mega projects that actually get constructed. Articles such as 'When planners lie with numbers' (Wachs 1988) and 'The lying game' (Flyvbjerg 2003) illustrate that there is a systemic pattern of wilful misinformation on the part of project proponents. As Flyvbjerg notes, the projects that get built are not necessarily the best ones, but those projects for which proponents best succeed in conjuring a fantasy world of underestimated costs, overestimated revenues, undervalued environmental impacts and overvalued regional development effects. (2003: 60) For Altshuler and Luberoff (2003), the continued investment in urban transit mega projects in spite of systemic underperformance reflects the private financial benefits and political potency of a pro-transit message. Transit resonates with a wide range of powerful interest groups, including downtown and construction related businesses, consultants, construction and transit labour unions, environmentalists, and advocates for the poor. Concurrently, the failure to invest in transit has 'great nuisance potential.' In this sense, transit investment is part of a confluence of business and political forces, 45 which guides individual decision-making. The implications of a transportation decision-making paradigm that highlights both transport-specific criteria and political factors are two fold. On the one hand, such an approach suggests the need for more quantitative research into tools that better assess the relative merits of specific proposals, in an attempt to reduce the uncertainty surrounding decision-making. On the other hand, there is a need to review the processes through which transportation mega projects are planned and approved, in an attempt to determine whether a structure can be devised that internalizes uncertainty, centralizes political factors and provides better incentives for actors to behave honestly, transparently and accountably. If the studies by Flyvbjerg and Wachs among many others are any indication, a reliance on devising more sophisticated tools for evaluating transportation investment decisions will not in and of itself lead to the selection of better projects. As clearly stated in the title of an article by Edwards and Mackett (1996), developing new urban public transit systems is 'an irrational decision-making process,' in which political frameworks beyond the rational decision making of planners create a situation where projects get built that are not necessarily those that are most highly prioritized. To put it another way, transportation investment decisions are not necessarily irrational; instead the traditional view of technical rationality is complemented by what could be called a political rationality. Decision-making exists in a political realm where self-interested actors are not bound by the results of any technical studies; on the contrary, they marshal evidence and use power relations to suit their interests (Forester 1989). And the chain of accountability for those who ultimately make investment decisions is not to a panel of transit experts, but to an electorate whose perception of a project or plan is more malleable. In this sense, while there is certainly a need to devise better evaluative techniques, and quantification of alternatives is useful for making investment decisions, there is a more pressing need to explore the processes through which investment decisions are made (Hall 1982; Flyvbjerg et al. 2003). 46 The Processes of Planning Transportation Infrastructure Investment At its core, the process of making transportation investment decisions is a manifestation of who defines the problem, and who controls the power to make decisions about resource allocation in the city. Due to the great financial and quality of life benefits and costs associated with transportation investments, interests are often highly polarized and deeply ingrained. The divisiveness of transportation investment decision can be further exacerbated by the fact that even slight compromise in position by a given group can have a large effect on their financial outlays for the project, or irreversibly alter the group's existing way of life. After decades of rational comprehensive planning, what Schon (1983 vii) termed a 'crisis of confidence in professional knowledge' began to seep into transportation planning. By the 1970s, there was a growing recognition that public participation and the search for consensus through dialogue had the potential to more broadly set problem definitions and ameliorate project impacts (Meyer and Miller 1984). In North America, some of the earliest large-scale participatory planning exercises for transportation projects were undertaken in Boston in 1971 and Toronto in 1974. Building on these early experiences, collaborative planning processes have come to be seen as a mechanism to create projects that are more in tune with the desires of the community, while fostering mutual understanding and capacity building among disparate interest groups (Innes et al. 1994; Healey 1997). In this formulation, participation is voluntary, and control stems from the power of deliberation through the cultivation of situations that give equal voice to disparate interests, rather than through legal regulation (Woltjer 2000). The definition of knowledge is also expanded through collaborative processes so that information brought forward by experts and non-experts alike is valued on its merits (Friedmann 1973; Sandercock 1998). Finally, in collaborative planning, emphasis is placed on planning's political nature, which cannot be untangled from relations of power that direct the allocation of scarce 47 resources. Collaborative planning seeks to redress systemic issues of inequality, such as asymmetrical access to information and representation, and foster a more diverse dialogue about both problem definitions and potential solutions (Schon 1983; Forester 1989). Even as broader dialogues are held, elected officials remain ultimately responsible for deciding which projects gain approval, and state planners maintain a monopoly on the production of official information, including statistics, problem definitions or the identification of 'realistic' alternatives. To this end, the connection between listening to the different points of view that may be presented through a participatory process, and using this information to formulate policies is very important. To achieve more collaborative forms of transportation planning, a variety of practical strategies have been utilized. Early processes engaged in large public meetings, workshops, long-term working groups and public advisory committees (Pill 1978; Gakenheimer 1978; Crewe 2001). Public comment has also become a mainstay of the transportation planning process, where draft plans are released for public scrutiny and discussion (Innes and Booher 2004). More recently, an even more inclusive dialogue has been sought through the use of Internet web sites, participatory video and extensive public opinion surveys. Information dissemination has also been increased significantly, with in-depth official planning documents now more readily available to the public in some contexts. To date, reviews of participatory planning in the field of transportation have been mixed. Willson et al. (2003) present collaborative planning techniques as an important complement to technical processes in transportation planning, since they can broaden the range of potential solutions under review. They also follow Innes' line of thought by stressing the positive impact on both outcomes and process leading to community capacity building and empowerment. For Flyvbjerg and his colleagues (2003), public participation is a critical mechanism for increasing the rationality of transportation infrastructure decisions through better transparency and accountability. Recognizing the importance of participation, governments are increasingly prescribing public participation as a mandatory part of the transportation infrastructure planning process (see the 48 Transportation Equity Act for the 21 Century in the United States for example). However, as Innes and Booher, two leading proponents of the application of participatory planning, wrote in a recent article, 'legally required participation methods in the US not only do not meet most basic goals for public participation, but they are also counterproductive, causing anger and mistrust' (2004: 419). Continuing the criticism, current participatory practices in the field of transportation have often failed to attract involvement from a diverse spectrum of the public, or improve the decisions that public agencies and officials make (Woltjer 2000). Furthermore, some interest groups claim to have become disenfranchised by participating through official channels since they feel their objections are not actually taken into consideration at the time of decision-making, and have subsequently resorted to legal challenges and extra-legal protests (Grengs 2002). And in light of mounting criticism, some government officials and planners have become weary of listening to the public at all (Innes and Booher 2004). Despite the admitted failings of participatory planning to date, advocates of these techniques continue to believe in their effectiveness, and seek pedagogical and procedural improvements to the way they are applied (Healey 1997). For instance, Innes and Booher (2004) suggest that participatory planning can be revitalized as an applied tool through the better development of genuine dialogue. This is achieved through open, multi- directional dialogue between planning officials and the public, so that even i f a participant does not like the outcome, they can still understand and appreciate the process through which the decision was made. The development of networks through collaborative processes also provides an opportunity to redress power imbalances, through the sharing of resources and mutual learning. Even i f desired outcomes are not met, community capacity can be a positive by-product of a collaborative process. Finally, participatory planning practices can benefit from a new interconnectivity of decision-making between multiple scales of government and non-state organizations, which have broken up conventional institutions and dispersed power to a broader range of constituencies (Hajer and Waagenaar 2003). A systems approach is necessary to accommodate the overlapping actions and responsibilities of state agencies, individual 49 citizens, private businesses and non-governmental organizations that comprise present- day society (Innes and Booher 2004). The emergence of a networked, integrated planning framework has become particularly dominant in the contemporary transportation sector. Yet unlike Innes and Booher (2004) who see such interactions as an opportunity to strengthen participatory planning, there is evidence to suggest that these relational arrangements may undermine the potential to achieve genuine collaborative planning. This is primarily because the relationship that has become the strongest is that between government and the private sector, often at the expense of other stakeholders. As a result, private sector firms, often selected through competitive tendering processes, have become increasingly involved in all aspects of transportation service delivery, including the planning and financing stages. The growing intermingling between private and public sector planning actors can have three detrimental impacts on effective collaborative planning processes. At a surface level, some of the key information produced by the private sector for public agencies is of a proprietary nature, and competitive bidding processes to select private consultants or concessionaires often require a high degree of secrecy to maintain the integrity of the tendering procedure. The need for secrecy that is embedded in the structure of the partnership between the private and public sector can reduce the widespread dissemination of information, and challenges the potential for transparent planning processes. Even more profound is the impact on accountability. Simonsen and Hil l (1997) have shown that the widespread delegation of advisory opinions and even some decision- making authority to private actors reflects a convolution of public fiduciary stewardship on the part of elected officials. Specifically, many top consulting firms that provide advice to governments on the merits of private-public partnerships also explicitly promote their services to the private sector, and generally stand to profit from increasing privatization in all sectors of the economy (Ghere 2000). A similar relationship can be observed of top engineering firms, whose services are procured by both the private and 50 public sectors, and thus generally stand to benefit most widely from a proliferation of large-scale engineering solutions. The ingrained interests of the private consulting and engineering firms can create a strong incentive to provide advice that encourages the spread of privatization in the case of the consulting firms, and large engineering solutions to urban transportation challenges in the case of the engineering firms- even when other alternatives may be available. A final challenge posed by increased interconnection of the private and public sectors in the planning and delivery of transportation projects is the fostering of relationships of imperfect information. Working from inside the bureaucracy and in widespread partnership with elected officials and agency staff, private firms benefit from asymmetries in information and connections that enable them to promote their interests more effectively than other stakeholder parties during collaborative processes. This challenge has been highlighted in the trenchant critique of neo-classical economics put forward by Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz (1986). In the contemporary transportation planning landscape characterized by increasingly tangled government and private sector functions, the process of producing infrastructure has a significant influence on the types of projects that will be developed. Understanding why specific infrastructure investment decisions get made requires an examination of both the planning process, and also the contextual mode of production within which it is subsumed. To this end, we now turn to an examination of the evolving methods of producing transportation infrastructure projects. The Method of Producing Transportation Infrastructure Projects Issues of politics, processes and procedures have been well examined in the literature on urban transportation. Many of the theoretical frameworks presented above such as regime theory, public choice theory and so-called growth machines have been applied to explain the development of transportation mega projects (Altshuler and Luberoff 2003). In this section, I will shift focus to explore the mechanisms that have been employed to 51 deliver transportation infrastructure projects: in other words who designs, finances, builds and operates the system. Evolutions in the Provision of Transportation Infrastructure I will use the example of evolutions in the delivery model of public transit projects to highlight the broader transformations that have occurred in the transportation sector. The development of roads for automobiles has undergone a similar shift in the delivery model to that which will be described below for public transit, although the dates and reasons for transformation are certainly different. A brief history of the public transit sector in Canada (which parallels the experience of other countries such as Britain and the United States in terms of operations, patronage and ridership) reveals large cyclical oscillations in the viability of the sector, as well as the prevalence of private involvement and competition in the sector. From its provenance in the late 19 t h century, all aspects of urban public transit infrastructure financing and operations in Canada were the domain of the private sector, spurred by open market competition and only minimal regulation. For a time this model was successful and transit service levels and ridership expanded. Over the long run, however, public transit operating under competitive forces faced deteriorating service quality, safety levels and operating standards, a lack of fare integration, as well as business consolidations and collusive behaviour which eroded the level of competition (this actual experience with private ownership in the transit sector is overlooked in some accounts such as Lave 1985 and Flyvbjerg 2003). Additionally, while public transit was recognized as an important force in shaping urban development patterns, the private sector was largely unwilling to invest in expanding service outside their core profitable markets (IBI Group and Soberman 2001). By the mid 1960's, governments in all major cities of Canada had assumed the responsibility for planning, procurement, financing and operating public transit systems. 52 Under public control, Canadian urban transit systems experienced their largest capital and service expansion, and ridership reached its highest levels in many cities. In what has become known as the conventional model of infrastructure planning, government was responsible for setting policy objectives that best achieved the public interest, and then determined how best to achieve these objectives. In this model, private sector firms were contracted by the planning agency to provide a specific solution, and financing was sourced entirely from the public sector (Flyvbjerg et al. 2003). Yet the provision of urban mass public transit service in Canada under public monopoly ownership was unable to control broader societal trends of suburbanization and the rapid growth of car ownership, which challenged the effectiveness and competitiveness of public transit. Between 1960 and 1995, the number of registered private motor vehicles in Canada grew from some 5 million to over 17 million (Statistics Canada 1996). By 1990, public transit operators were prone to the financial squeeze facing the public sector more generally, and transit systems in Canada felt the impact of declining revenue and rising operating costs, coupled with a decreasing share of total travel trips. As a long-term trend, between 1960 and 1996, annual transit rides per capita fell from 135 to just over 84. There is some ambiguity about cause and effect relationships from this point on, but the overall outcome was an extended period of declining operational efficiency, under-investment in new infrastructure, cuts to existing service, and transit fares which grew almost three times faster than the cost of operating a car (Pucher 1998). Beginning in the mid 1990s, however, public transit ridership trends in Canada began to reverse, buoyed by rapid population growth in Canada's largest cities. Between 1996 and 2003, ridership grew on Canadian public transit systems by about 15 percent, and the 1.553 billion trips taken on transit nationally in 2003 was the highest number ever recorded. Nevertheless, investment in transit infrastructure has not kept pace with ridership growth. A survey conducted by the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) found that for the period 2004-2008, transit systems across the country are in need of $21 billion worth of infrastructure investment, an increase of $7.4 billion over the 53 2002-2006 period. Some $6.9 billion of this needed investment is to keep equipment in a state of good repairs, while $14.1 billion of new infrastructure is needed to accommodate projected ridership growth. Geographically, Canada's largest municipalities reported the greatest need for increased investment, with 75% of all needs reported by Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Despite the reported need for renewed transit investment, the study found a possible funding shortfall of as much as $9 billion (CUTA 2004). Seeking to reverse the prolonged period of under-investment in public transit, governments across Canada have increasingly sought alternative mechanisms to plan, finance, develop and operate infrastructure projects. At one end of the spectrum, some agencies such as the Toronto Transit Commission have sought to strengthen the public management function, and lobbied to increase the size and stability of government funding commitments. At the other end of the spectrum, proponents of neoliberal economic philosophy in jurisdictions such as York Region and the Greater Vancouver Regional District have been effective in promoting governance structures and provision models that encourage market discipline, competition and commodification of services, while protecting against some of the pitfalls that plagued earlier privatization efforts. In this sense, when applied in urban settings, neoliberal policies have embodied an emphasis on: • The strict use of financial criteria such as cost recovery to assess the viability and necessity of public services. Known as fiscalization, this phenomenon has also included the increasing prevalence of user fees to cover the cost of public service provision (Deakin 2003). • An evolution in the role of the state to become more responsible for establishing and maintaining the preconditions for fair and competitive enterprise, as opposed to directly providing services. • The search for collaborations between government, business and the non-profit sector to formulate public programs that will be mutually beneficial. This has included the increasing delegation of some planning and service provision functions to the private and non-profit sectors (McQuaid 2000), with an eye towards reducing costs, and increasing efficiency and service quality. 54 • In a climate of heightened global interactions and competition for footloose capital, at the local scale, civic governments have become increasingly entrepreneurial in their approach to attracting investment. Increasingly, the availability of high quality public infrastructure, such as transportation services, has become recognized as an important component of private sector productivity and residential quality of life (Satya 2003; Florida 2002). This has led governments to invest in transportation systems that are not only designed to provide benefits to local ridership, but are also meant to be attractive to international investors, migrants, and tourists. One such method to apply some of the precepts of neoliberalism to the provision of urban services has been through the introduction of private-public partnerships that encompass system design, financing, construction and operation. While such arrangements have been widely employed in other developed countries such as Britain and Australia to help stimulate new investment in both road and public transit infrastructure, it is only recently that they have been experimented with in the Canadian transportation industry. Unpacking the Private-Public Partnership Design-finance-build-operate private-public partnerships are a unique form of private sector involvement in the provision of public infrastructure, and are applied similarly to both public transit and road projects. Under such arrangements, a public sector agency defines a series of minimum performance standards for a new service that they wish to deliver (eg. travel time, frequency, safety, cleanliness in the case of a transit link). Private proponents are then invited to use their expertise to propose the designs for a system that best meets the performance standards at the lowest cost. The winning bidder is selected through a competitive tender process, whereby the procuring government agency evaluates and selects the proposal that best meets the performance criteria at the lowest cost. While cost usually remains the dominant selection criterion, the long-term contractual nature of such arrangements have led to the consideration of other variables such as past reliability, credit worthiness and corporate reputation. Through a concession agreement, the winning bidder is invited to form a special purpose 'project company' to realize the planning, financing, construction and operation of the 55 project. The concession agreement specifies a set of quality and quantity standards to be met by the project company. The project company is comprised of different partners with expertise in specific elements of the project, and often includes civil engineering contractors, financial and legal advisors, planning and design consultants and service provision firms. The project company obtains financing from private lenders such as banks, insurance companies, and pension funds, who are specifically concerned with the potential for revenue generation by the project (Walker and Smith 1995). Capital is typically borrowed on a non-recourse basis, meaning that lenders cannot seek financial restitution or repayment of their loans from either the project company partners or the contracting public sector agency. For private members of the project company, their borrowing capacity is maintained by keeping off-balance-sheet the liabilities incurred by the project company. Instead, recourse in the case of loan default or failure to meet service provision standards is limited to the project company and its assets, which may include any real estate, plant and equipment or other rights contractually acquired. In practice, since the project company has few tangible assets, most projects require some level of guarantees by the private members of the project company or the public sector contracting agency (Debande 2002). Even so, the risk associated with financing transportation projects has meant that private sector borrowing interest rates are set higher then those that would be available to the public sector with a sovereign guarantee (Flyvbjerg et al. 2003). The project company is reimbursed for its initial financial contribution and a return on investment through public sector contributions and revenues generated during the operation of the project, which are subject to penalties for substandard service provision as defined in the concession agreement. In this sense the role of the government shifts from being an owner of assets and direct provider of services into a purchaser of services through long-term agreement. The public sector is responsible for service monitoring, and only pays i f the service meets the set of standards as specified in the contract. Operating contracts are usually granted for between 30-50 years, after which time the 56 asset reverts back to public ownership. As such the private-public partnership differs from the conventional mega project production process, where the public sector has separate contracts for construction and operation that are fully designed prior to award. This is meant to stimulate innovation in the types of solutions that are suggested. It also differs from outright privatization where the ownership rights are permanently transferred to the private sector, and contracting out in which the public sector procures the capital assets and the private sector is only contracted for service provision (Debande 2002). In the design-finance-build-operate-transfer style private-public partnership, the project is driven by the allocation of risks to the party best able to manage them. For transportation projects, major risks exist at two stages of the project: during construction as a result of possible cost overruns; and during operation as a result of revenue shortfalls i f ridership levels fail to meet forecasted levels. For urban rail projects, each of these risks is of real concern. Statistical analysis by Flyvbjerg and his colleagues (2003) found that of forty- four urban rail projects analyzed, the average cost overrun was 45 percent. At the same time for the twenty-two projects for which ridership data was available, actual ridership was 51 percent lower than that forecasted. For road projects, while cost overruns of 20 percent were average, usage was on average 9 percent higher than expected. In terms of the division of risk, for urban transportation projects that are part of an existing system, risks associated with construction are often best managed by the private sector. Thus concession agreements are often structured with a fixed construction cost, and any cost overruns during construction are borne by the project company and their lending institutions. Conversely, risk associated with demand can best be managed by the public sector, since such levels are based not only on service quality on the specific facility, but also integration into the entire system, fare policy and marketing. As such, it is not uncommon for the private concessionaire in a transportation project to be reimbursed a fixed amount for service rendered, with the public sector then receiving the revenue generated through the fare box. In this sense, the financial risk of ridership falling below forecasts is borne by the public sector (Debande 2002). 57 The increased prevalence of private public partnerships for the delivery of transportation infrastructure can be seen as the result of a variety of motivations: 1. The private sector has access to capital that may not be available to heavily indebted governments. In other circumstances, private sector financing of expensive transportation infrastructure is attractive to governments as it enables them to provide necessary public services without adding expenses to the liabilities side of their balance sheet. This can be important in contexts where having a balanced budget has a high degree of political currency (Bruckermann 2003). 2. Recourse to the private sector for financing and long-term system operation will result in more realistic project appraisal and viability analysis, since shareholders will be directly responsible for any failures. In this sense, the private-public partnership seeks to align interests with those that have a financial stake in the project, thus reducing incentive to be dishonest or overly optimistic. It also provides a greater incentive for full lifetime costing during the planning stages that may lead to more efficient technology and higher standards of construction, since the firm that builds the system can benefit from reduced operation costs over the life of the concession agreement (Walker and Smith 1995). 3. There is the potential for increased efficiency and innovation in the provision of public services, i f a tendering mechanism is employed that uses performance specifications. This differs from a more traditional approach where the government procurement agency establishes design standards, and then tenders private firms who can develop the technology (Debande 2002). 4. The private sector payment of cost overruns during the construction phase of the project removes a significant risk from the public sector. Under a more traditional delivery mechanism, the public sector would have no choice but to pay for any added costs. An added benefit is that because the construction specifications are contractually agreed upon, there is less likelihood of in-situ specification changes that have become a large source of cost escalations in public sector projects (Debande 2002). Based on the description of private-public partnerships provided above, this mechanism of producing urban public infrastructure is in many ways a form of conflict resolution that extends beyond the classic dichotomies of public versus private service provision, and instead proposes a more conciliatory 'third way'. Proponents argue that the narrative of partnerships between the private and public sector promotes cooperation, compromise and the alignment of interests in order to provide public services that better meet the needs of the population, at an affordable price to the citizenry. In fact, leading transport policy experts such as Bent Flyvbjerg have advocated private-public partnerships as a 58 mechanism to increase public accountability and alleviate the systemic rent seeking and malversation that has plagued infrastructure mega projects. In this light, it is no wonder that the private-public partnership has achieved widespread support from different levels of government, and from actors across the political spectrum (McQuaid 2000). Transportation for a Livable City Thus far, this chapter has examined how decisions related to transportation infrastructure investments are made, focusing on the institutional context, the political dynamics and planning processes, and the evolutions in delivery mechanisms. In this section, I will explore the linkage between the way that projects are planned, and the effectiveness of infrastructure solutions that are favoured. According to Vuchic (1999), transportation for a livable city has three characteristics: it is people oriented and environmentally friendly; economically viable and efficiently integrated into the activities of the city; and socially sound, that is without socio-economic, demographic or disability-based barriers. Despite this definition, as I will illustrate, both the conventional public sector planning model as well as the more contemporary private-public partnership approach to planning have supported the proliferation of infrastructure mega projects which are often ill-suited to effectively provide transportation for a livable city. Providing Effective Transit in Dispersed Cities: A System Wide Approach Greater Vancouver, like most North American cities, has pockets of high-density development, but is largely characterized by a dispersed residential, employment and recreational land use pattern. Today, a greater share of the region's residents live, work and recreate in suburban communities, than in the dense urban core itself (City of Vancouver 2003). This creates travel patterns that do not only flow radially into and out of a central business district. Instead, travelers have unique origins and destinations, which may be radial or orbital. These travel patterns differ significantly from the radial flows that underpinned late 19 t h and 20 t h century infrastructure investment strategies in the great transit metropolises of Europe, and require unique solutions to effectively 59 provide urban mobility and accessibility. At the same time, effective urban mobility is not just about the movement of people, but also the movement of goods, much of which is carried by trucks. To effectively provide transportation services in a dispersed city, there is a growing recognition in both the academic and professional planning literature that service must be provided using a flexible, integrative, regional approach, where performance is evaluated on a system wide basis. As was framed in the 2001 American Draft of the Proceedings of the National Summit on Transportation Operations (Kalhammer and Belella 2001), which brought together diverse transportation service provision professionals and politicians: A l l transportation decision-making processes, including capital planning and programming processes, need to be based on enhancement of overall transportation system performance. Incorporating a performance focus into existing processes requires understanding customer needs and expectations more fully, establishing performance measures focused on outcomes (as opposed to outputs), and tracking performance against those measures. (38) In terms of service design for public transit, Mees (2000), Pucher (1998) and Richmond (1999) suggest that transit service in dispersed cities is most effectively structured as a dense network, with high frequency and reliable service provided on both radial and orbital cross-suburban routes. The busiest routes may be served using high capacity modes such as grade segregated rapid rail or bus, yet this is not always necessary. Pucher's (1998) research on public transit in Canadian cities notes that integrating bus priority measures into the existing transit network could achieve many of the same objectives as new rail systems, and at a fraction of the cost. For more inter-suburban travel, the use of high capacity trunk lines that are supported by feeder services can be an effective part of a flexible, integrated transit system (Mees 2000; Vuchic 1999; Cervero 1998). The key to such an approach is that the trunk line remains part of a well resourced network of transit service. Temporally, Mees (2000) emphasizes the need to provide frequent service during off- 60 peak as well as peak times to capture the wide range of trip purposes that take place throughout the day. Affordable and integrated fares across the entire network are also an important component of an effective transit system. By blanketing the city with a spatially and temporally dense network of integrated transit services, users can conveniently reach any location within the grid. In addition to system design, effectively providing transit in dispersed cities over the long term requires a conscious effort to link land use development patterns and transit service patterns (Cervero, 1998, Newman and Kenworthy, 1999). As Cervero (1998) demonstrates in his seminal work The Transit Metropolis, the effective linkage between transportation and metropolitan form can follow a variety of paths. City form can adapt around transit nodes, as has occurred in Stockholm, Sweden. Transit service can adapt to meet the configuration of an existing urban form, as occurred in parts of Adelaide, Australia's transfer-free suburban bus network. Hybrid models can also evolve as in cities such as Ottawa, Canada and Curitiba, Brazil, where there has been a policy direction that combines fixed transit infrastructure investment to encourage dense accompanying land use, as well as high frequency regular transit service in more low- density areas. Accompanying the need to link urban form and transit service, Zhang (2004) has shown that land use policies are more effective at influencing the traveler's decision to use transit when complemented by road pricing policies that make transit less costly relative to operating a car. In the face of increasing knowledge about the qualities that characterize an effective transit system, government bodies that manage urban transportation have been restructured in many jurisdictions to facilitate more coordinated, integrated, region-wide transportation planning (Berman et al. 2004). In cities such as London and Vancouver, regional transportation planning authorities accountable to the local level of government have been formed, with the broad mandate of facilitating improved planning of multi- modal and inter-municipal service integration, as well as common fare structures. These authorities have also been charged with responsibility for bicycle infrastructure and roads within the region, thus providing the potential to better integrate public and private 61 transportation services. Their close ties with local authorities have encouraged a linkage between transportation and land use policy. Finally, in both the London and Vancouver case, the regional transportation authority has been given jurisdiction over pricing strategies such as transit fares and road charging, which has been shown to be an important variable in influencing transportation travel decisions. As this final point indicates, roads are also an important component of an integrated transportation network. At present, the vast majority of all passenger travel trips in North American cities are made by private motor vehicle, ranging from over 90% in some American cities to as low as 60% in some Canadian locations (Newman and Kenworthy 1999). In recent years, the number of trips per person as well as the absolute number of people traveling by car has increased, resulting in considerable increases in road congestion and delays. Additionally, the road network provides a central link in the movement of goods. In Canada, trucks move the vast majority of goods within cities as well as across the border with the United States, and are primarily charged with carrying high value manufactured and finished products. With some 80% of the Canadian population living in urban areas, efficient on-road goods movement has increasingly been recognized as a critical element of the economy, as well as an employment generator in its own right (Transport Canada 2003). Finally, roads provide the underlying facility upon which public transit buses operate. Amidst the diverse pressures placed on the existing road network, transportation planners and engineers have increasingly sought measures to maximize the efficiency of the existing road network within a wider transportation system. Measures to maximize the efficiency of road usage have included the implementation of high occupancy vehicle lanes to encourage car-pooling, the provision of better information about accidents and road conditions for drivers, dedicated lanes for public transit vehicles or trucks, and road pricing schemes so that drivers can cover the full cost of road usage, while encouraging less valued trips to be made by other modes of transportation. Although policies to 62 maximize the efficiency of road usage have delivered some level of success, many North American cities have simultaneously continued to construct new general-purpose lanes of traffic, even as evidence shows that such an approach provides only minimal long-term relief from urban congestion (Downs 2004). Supporting Mega Project Development In the previous section, it was shown that the planning of transportation services through an integrative framework has been supported by professional rhetoric, academic research and innovative governance structures. Nevertheless, the potential to actually employ such techniques may be challenged by, amongst other factors, the mechanisms through which transportation infrastructure are delivered. In North American cities, the proliferation of a mega project paradigm to solve problems of urban mobility at the expense of more system-wide approaches has been widely encouraged under public monopoly ownership, financing and operation. For instance, it has long been noted that senior levels of government have structured their funding programs to favour covering capital costs over system-operating costs. In the public transit sector, this has had the effect of promoting investments in capital-intensive, suburban-serving projects over alternatives policies such as service frequency improvements on existing routes, or fare reduction policies (Li and Wachs 2004; Mackett and Edwards 1998). Moreover, Taylor (2000; 2004) shows that transportation infrastructure priorities and technical specifications have been largely set by a political negotiation over the availability of funds for certain types of projects - namely high profile rail and road projects that deliver elevated political reward. More recently the private-public partnerships approach to infrastructure development has further encouraged large-scale projects that are planned in isolation from an evaluation of the entire system. Private-public partnerships are structured on a project-by-project basis, where investors are interested in financing specific infrastructure projects that offer the highest rates of return (Taylor et al. 2001). Even as the strategic planning and service 63 coordination function under such a delivery mechanism remains in the public domain, the private-public partnership approach provides an incentive to evaluate infrastructure projects in isolation, with particular focus on individual cost recovery. And in the end, private sector financiers determine whether a project is appropriate for investment, based on its ability to generate sufficient profit. As well, evidence suggests that investors favour projects that use existing technologies and are competitive with other transportation modes on variables such as travel time and service reliability. In the public transit sector in particular, this has led to a preference for systems that achieve high levels of grade separation, often through expensive tunneling for subway systems (Edwards and Mackett 1996; Bowman 2002). For roads, this has often meant the development of large limited access highways, which can carry high volumes of traffic. Following this logic, in an international market where road and rail projects are competing for scarce private sector funding, large-scale projects provide total returns that are significantly larger than smaller projects, even at the same rate of return. The private financing of a $1 billion project, for example, will yield ten times more profit than a $100 million project at the same rate of return over its lifetime. In short, private sector investors will tend to see the greatest potential for profitability and risk mitigation in mega scale transportation solutions, primarily grade separated projects that use familiar technologies. Implications of a Mega Project Development Paradigm Yet from a public planning perspective, the individual projects that are the most financially rewarding for either politicians or the private sector, namely capital-intensive rail projects, may not be the highest priority, or provide the highest value to society at large in terms of economic, environmental or social benefits (Debande 2002). Economic Benefits: Congestion is a problem that plagues cities around the globe, 64 estimated to cost billions of dollars annually in lost productivity. High quality off-road public transit services such as subways or elevated light rail lines are often proposed as a solution to congestion on high traffic corridors. In theory, by transferring some commuters from private vehicles to off-road public transit, more room will be available for the remaining vehicles. Yet reduced road congestion is premised on converting car users to transit, a phenomenon that has not been widely observed with the opening of new urban rail lines (Flyvbjerg 2003). One trend that has occurred is that the development of off-road rail projects is sometimes used to reduce bus operations (Richmond 2001), thus freeing up more road space for private vehicles. Yet following the principle of induced traffic demand that has been demonstrated to exist when new freeway capacity is developed (Cervero 2003), new car commuters or goods vehicles quickly use up any new road space created by transfers to rail. As an example, the inauguration of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in San Francisco resulted in just six months of congestion relief on the parallel running Oakland Bay Bridge, before trains ran full and traffic on the bridge returned to previous levels (Stopher 2003). Thus congestion relief benefits as a result of individual off-road rail lines may be short lived, since these projects do not take away car lanes. The stimulation of commercial activity and property development is another potential benefit that is attributed to urban rail mega projects. Proponents of large urban rail projects suggest that such infrastructure can lead to increased commercial activity around station nodes, and developments that are oriented towards transit ridership and promote greater livability. While such a phenomenon has certainly been demonstrated to accompany certain rail investments, it is by no means ubiquitous, nor is investment evenly distributed throughout the new system (Hall and Hass-Klau 1985). As well, both Richmond (2001) and Cervero (1998) have demonstrated that less capital-intensive infrastructure projects such as the busway in Ottawa have been successful in catalyzing both commercial activity and transit oriented property development. The development of new roads faces many of the same challenges as large-scale public 65 transit facilities. Despite returning to vogue as a central component of a potential solution to urban congestion in cities around the world, Cervero (2003) and Downs (2004) amongst other have challenged the effectiveness of this strategy. In a phenomenon that has been termed 'triple convergence', Downs (1992) argues that widened or new roads attract drivers who previously used alternate routes, traveled at other times or used different modes of transport. Additionally, improved accessibility provided by new roads attracts new developments that are oriented towards the automobile such as large format retail stores or low-density office parks, which serve to reinforce the dependence on the private automobile. Finally, new roads encourage longer distance and more frequent commutes. In sum, within a short period of their construction, new or widened roads typically reach a congested state. This phenomenon has been confirmed by quantitative studies. To quote a summary of Noland and Cowart's 'Analysis of Metropolitan Highway Capacity and the Growth in Vehicle Miles of Travel,' presented to the U.S. Transportation Research Board, January 2000: 'Widening and building new highways actually causes, not relieves, traffic congestion in Cincinnati and other major U.S. metropolitan areas. This study estimates that up to 43% of traffic in Greater Cincinnati is caused just by expanding the area's road network.' Environmental Amelioration: investments in public transit have the potential to attenuate a diversity of environmental problems that are currently being exacerbated by the high level of automobile usage in Canada. The transportation sector is responsible for emitting a high level of harmful local air pollutants that cause respiratory diseases, a considerable portion of which are produced by the private automobile. Canadians are among the highest per capita users of energy in the world, and the transportation sector comprises a large portion of the total amount of fossil fuels consumed. The transportation sector in Canada is also the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the electricity and petroleum industries, and within the transportation sector, gasoline fueled automobiles emit the greatest amount of greenhouse gases (Environment Canada, 2004). 66 Due to the diverse impacts which the transportation sector has on the environment, the benefits of spending on public transit occur i f a transit investment leads to a reduction of travel trips using pollution emitting vehicles (such as cars and diesel buses), and switches them to a less polluting and more energy efficient mode of transit (such as trolley bus, electric light rail or subways). However, the endemic ridership shortfalls on newly developed mass rapid transit systems have limited the potential for such infrastructure to deliver on their projected environmental benefits (Flyvbjerg et al. 2003). When under-utilized, mass rapid transit systems may actually utilize more energy per person kilometer of travel than other modes of transit such as trolley buses or car pools. Furthermore, Richmond (2001) has found that the riders who do patronize new urban transit mega projects are largely existing transit riders, thus leading to only minimal reductions in polluting car trips. Finally, by their very nature, fixed rapid transit lines serve a spatially confined corridor, and thus any reductions in air pollutants such as particulates will have greatest localized benefits (Zhu et al. 2002; Buckeridge et al. 2002). In sum, environmental ameliorations over the entire region may be better achieved by alternative policies to increase ridership over the whole network, such as fare reductions and service frequency improvements. In theory, widening or building new roads can also contribute to a reduction of air pollutants, as it is argued that free flowing traffic will generate less emissions than cars stuck idling in traffic. However in practice, it is most likely that free flowing traffic will be maintained for only a short period of time, after which even more vehicles will be left idling in congestion on an even larger freeway. At the same time, the additional frequency and distance of private vehicle trips that result from the addition of road capacity and the attendant development of auto oriented low density land uses will contribute to greater vehicle emissions (Noland and Cowart 2000). This is supported by a recent study in the Seattle Region, which found that lower density residential development was associated with higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions than more compact style developments (King County 2004). Finally, the construction of new and 67 expanded highways, as well as any attendant land development, will reduce green spaces, add to noise pollution, and create more impervious surfaces that contribute to higher levels of rain water run off. Social equity of mobility: Providing equitable access to urban mobility for all citizens within a city is a critical function of public transit. In achieving this mandate, urban public transit serves a dual function. First, transit provides a source of mobility to those with few other alternatives, be it for reason of poverty, age or disability. Second, transit seeks to induce car drivers to leave their cars at home, an essential step in addressing the serious problems of traffic congestion and air pollution (Garret and Taylor, 1999; Grengs, 2005). Decades of evidence on urban mobility patterns suggest that radially aligned mass rapid transit systems, such as those typically constructed in North American cities, have disparately distributed benefits and costs. Such systems tend to attract longer distance travel by peak hour commuters traveling from suburb to employment in the urban core (Mees 2000). White passengers carry out these types of trips disproportionately, and rail travelers generally have higher incomes than the average transit rider (Garret and Taylor 1999; Grengs 2005). But the cost of investing in these capital-intensive mass rapid transit systems - regardless of whether they are rail or bus based - has often come at the expense of local bus service. Despite carrying the vast majority of all transit trips in most cities, bus service has often been cut and fares have been raised in order to make money available for rapid transit system construction and operation (Grengs 2005; Garrett and Taylor 1999). Furthermore, while there are exceptions, the reorganization of local bus service to act as feeders into mass rapid transit systems often makes travel times slower for local trips, and service less available during off-peak periods (Richmond 2001; Thompson and Matoff, 2003). This worsening of local bus service has a disproportionate impact on those dependent on public transit. Bus services are more conducive to the mobility patterns of women, lower 68 income earners, ethnic minorities and new immigrants. These demographic groups tend to make a greater number of transit trips, which are more frequent during off peak hours and characterized by shorter distances (Heisz and Schellenberg 2004; Mauch and Taylor 1997; Pucher 1982). Their usage of public transit reflects domestic purposes such as child minding and grocery shopping, and accessing jobs with non-traditional hours. Even when rapid transit projects pass through an area inhabited by transit dependent communities, they rarely connect the types of journeys actually made by these constituencies. In recent years, evolving urban forms have challenged the potential for a radially designed transit system to provide socially equitable mobility. Work trips have become less effectively served by radial transit systems as a result of increasing employment decentralization from the city centre to dispersed office parks (Stopher 2004; Thompson and Matoff, 2003). At the same time, the spatial distribution of ethnic minorities, new immigrants and urban poverty in many Canadian cities away from the dense inner city and into aging inner suburbs has created a new challenge to providing transit service for those who disproportionately have few other alternatives (Heisz and Schellenberg 2004; Balakrishnan and Hou 1999). With dispersed residential, employment and commercial land uses, these communities are particularly unfriendly to radially designed mass rapid transit systems, and instead require solutions that are spatially and temporally flexible. In sum, the general incapacity of a radially aligned transit system to meet the contemporary needs of both dependent and choice transit users has been confirmed in a recent longitudinal study of nine transit systems by Thompson and Matoff (2003). The authors conclude that systems planned using a network integration approach as implemented in cities along the West Coast of the United States such as Sacramento, Portland and San Diego deliver superior regional performance to traditional radial systems in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, and equity. Investments in both rail and bus based rapid transit can fit within a regionally integrated approach to transit system planning, provided they do not limit the potential for the service provider to operate appropriate quantity and quality of service across the entire network. 69 The significance of debates about the effectiveness and. equity of transit system designs should not be underestimated. The provision of ineffective public transit has increasingly become recognized as a barrier to participation in employment, recreation and health care for those with no other mobility opportunities (Garrett and Taylor 1999). This prompted the Ontario Human Rights Commission (2002) to study the current public transit service provision as a potential violation of Ontario Human Rights Codes, an issue the commission concedes has garnered 'relatively little public discussion'. Large-scale road projects deliver many of the same disparate benefits as public transit mega projects. Expanded roads provide considerable benefit to automobile drivers in general who will benefit from improved access throughout the region, and specifically to suburban commuters and the goods movement industry. They can also improve the potential to provide more rapid and reliable on-road bus service, which may be impossible under heavily congested conditions. However, large road projects also have many costs. In cities such as Boston, anti-poverty groups have successfully argued that multi billion dollar expenditures on highway and tunnel projects have drawn resources away from much needed investments in smaller scale public transit infrastructure such as new buses (Brown et al. 2003). Evidence from across the United States suggests that large-scale road projects disproportionately pass through low-income neighbourhoods populated by new immigrants and racial minorities, separating communities on either side, dislocating many through land expropriations and contributing to residential segregation (Jacobson et al. 2005; Kraus 2004; Massey and Denton 1993). Widened roads connecting suburban communities with the urban core may increase the number of cars passing through low or middle income inner city neighbourhoods, with the potential to increase local air pollution, noise and traffic accidents. Finally, increased accessibility provided by new or expanded highways may lead to increases in property prices, which can contribute to a process of neighbourhood gentrification and dislocation for existing communities. 70 Health Implications: Emerging research has found a direct correlation between community design and obesity. In a culture that has become increasingly sedentary, Frank et al. (2004) show that every kilometer a person walks per day lessens their likelihood of being obese by around five percent. By contrast, each 30 minutes spent in a car per day increases a person's chance of being obese by 3 percent. People living in communities that had a tightly bound mix of residential, commercial and recreational land uses were found to walk more, and weigh less than their counterparts who resided in residence-only subdivisions. Effective public transit can be part of a community design that encourages more walking. Transit users who walk to and from stations increase their amount of physical exercise over the course of the day, which reduces their chance of obesity. Yet Frank's study did not consider time associated with transit use or the relationship among transit service, walking, and driving. Based on this research, expanding highways and building new roads can considerably impact on community health, by encouraging longer automobile trips as well as land use patterns that are sprawling and less conducive to walking or other types of physical activity. A study conducted in Atlanta, for instance, illustrated that residents of communities that were considered most walkable based on the availability of mixed land uses were 2.4 times more likely to walk for 30 minutes per day as recommended by the Surgeon General as compared to those who lived in the most sprawling neighbourhoods (Frank et al. 2005). While providing a less direct linkage, the design of commuter-oriented rail lines may similarly weaken the linkage between transit and health benefits in certain locations. As Mees (2000) has noted, rail lines connecting increasingly distant suburbs and the city centre encourage longer commutes. Around some stations, high density, mixed land use development has occurred, which encourages pedestrian access to the stations. In other communities characterized by low-density developments, the presence of park-and-ride facilities has been a significant factor in attracting system users (Kuby et al. 2004). However, by promoting driving to and from the station on the suburban end of the journey, users walk less, which reduces their potential health benefits. 71 Furthermore, suburban bus networks structured to feed into rapid transit lines are often infrequent during off-peak periods, and poor at servicing short distance trips (Richmond 2001). This has the effect of dissuading off-peak transit trips and encouraging car usage for those with access to vehicles. By contrast, a system wide approach to public transit that boosts the density and frequency of transit across the entire network could encourage more users to walk to the nearest pick up point at all times of day, providing measurable health benefits. Different Delivery Model, Same Challenges The preceding evidence suggests that the types of projects that are most attractive to politicians and private sector investors - namely large scale transit and road schemes - may not be particularly effective in achieving their stated economic, environmental and social objectives. And yet as large transportation projects continue to be developed in cities around the world, the costs associated with a failure to address the diverse issues of urban mobility faced by city regions and their residents continue to mount. Understanding the complete costs associated with an investment in an ineffective transit system stems from a comprehensive view of the urban transportation challenge. According to leading transportation experts, even as debate rages about the relative merits of different public transit infrastructure modes and service delivery models, it is the dominance of the personal automobile that poses the greatest threat to the provision of transportation for livable cities (Newman and Kenworthy 1999; Vuchic 1999; Mees 2000; Frank 2004). In this light, allocating money to potentially ineffective transit mega projects not only risks taking away resources from other initiatives that could deliver greater economic, social and environmental benefits. Funding poorly performing transit projects risks further propagating the perception that public transit is a second best solution for redressing the diverse externalities that exist as a result of the current urban transportation 72 situation. As a bold headline perceptively proclaimed in the satirical newspaper, The Onion (2000), 'Report: 98 Percent of U.S. Commuters Favor Public Transportation For Others.' The story proceeded to fictitiously quote the head of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority as saying: With everyone behind it, we'll be able to expand bus routes, create park-and-ride programs, and build entire new Metrolink commuter-rail lines. It's almost a shame I don't know anyone who will be using these new services. Despite the satirical tenor of The Onion story, this view perpetuates much of the academic discourse. As Taylor (2004: 301) notes in the scholarly journal Transport Policy, Put simply, public transit expenditures in the name of congestion reduction are growing because they are broadly popular, and not because most people believe that they are effective ways to reduce traffic congestion. The perpetuation of a mega project paradigm for transit projects will persist as long as there remains a political and financial incentive to do so. The perception of transit as 'good enough for someone else to ride' will also persist, and along with it the impetus to strengthen the conditions that underpin our car culture through the development of major road expansion projects, until alternative models of delivering urban transportation for livable cities can be devised that provide fast, affordable, convenient, and safe access for all. Conclusion This chapter has sought to present transportation investment decisions as not only a rational selection of one project over another based on objective criteria, but also the product of intense contestation over the allocation of scarce resources and the struggle to satisfy diverse interests. A significant component of this analytical framework is to emphasize that the decision to invest in a specific project at a given moment of strategic choice is historically contingent, and guided by the evolving role of actors, organizations and institutions involved in the decision making process. When examined longitudinally, 73 political, organizational, technological or cultural decisions made at strategic moments of choice can have a lasting impact in shaping the path of future investments, thus locking in one type of development while making it all but impossible to realize another. Yet transportation projects are not only historically contingent, they are also intensely connected to their contemporary local context, and rooted in struggles over the spatial, political, economic, social and cultural transformations of the day. Contestation in the planning of transportation investment projects occurs over the types of projects that will be prioritized, the methods for delivering these projects, and ultimately the processes for making decisions, which reflects a struggle over who controls the power to make resource allocation decisions in cities. As I have shown, the combination of these factors has supported the perpetuation of urban transportation policies that focus on mega project solutions, often at the expense of more highly prioritized smaller scale solutions. We now turn to applying this integrated framework of analysis to the case of transit development in Vancouver. 74 Chapter 3: Welcome to Lotus Land: Antecedents to a Mega Problem Introduction: A City in Search of Identities There is little doubt that Vancouver's most memorable asset is its physical setting. Snow capped mountains reflect in the Pacific Ocean inlet that bisects the city; white cherry blossom trees line the main city streets; and while prone to a considerable rainy season, the winter weather in Vancouver is considerably milder than the rest of Canada. Within this landscape dubbed 'a setting in search of a city', Vancouver has been characterized as the Canadian Lotus Land, a city where aspirations of career achievement mingle equitably with aspirations for a satisfying quality of life (Punter 2003). Vancouver consistently ranks as one of the most livable cities in the world. Vancouver, of course, is so much more than its characterization as a 'paradise on earth'. A metropolitan area of more than two million people, Vancouver (which will be used in the remainder of this thesis to refer to the entire metropolitan region of Greater Vancouver unless otherwise noted) is a rapidly growing city with a budding economy and an emergent culture. As Hutton (1998) asserts, Greater Vancouver has been in the process of a dynamic transformation since its foundation in the late 19 t h century, and can no longer be characterized simply as Canada's third largest city and the urban core of British Columbia's resource-based economy. Instead, despite being far younger than the other cities at the peak of the Canadian urban hierarchy, Vancouver is emerging as a 'world city' that is increasingly part of an internationally oriented and globally interdependent province (Smith 2004; Beaverstock et al. 1999; Friedmann 1995). Greater Vancouver has become a major transportation gateway between East and South East Asia and North America; a home to successive waves of immigrants, largely from Asia; a site for international mega events, such as the World Expo Transport Fair in 1986 and the Winter Olympic games scheduled for 2010; a fulcrum for the cultivation of ideas on environmental preservation and sustainability, most prominently in the activities of the locally founded Greenpeace; and part of a rising North-South urban economic development corridor which stretches from Vancouver down to Seattle and Portland as 75 part of the Cascadia economic/ecological zone (Smith 2004). The City of Vancouver, the central municipality which is situated at the core of the entire metropolitan region, has also become recognized as a planning model for its use of innovative participatory, proactive and citywide approaches to shaping growth, preserving the natural environment, and maintaining urban livability and design standards within a landscape of rapid change (Punter 2003). As Vancouver becomes a player on the global stage, the economic, social and environmental costs of rapid growth are coming into greater focus. Vancouver is becoming socially bifurcated, challenging the purported image of Eden in southwestern British Columbia. Greater Vancouver is home to both the most affluent and also the poorest postal codes in all of Canada, encapsulating an intra-urban east-west divide that more broadly covers housing affordability, architectural quality, traffic levels, air quality, available public park amenities, ethnic diversity and politics (Punter 2003). Rapidly rising property prices have made living in the region difficult for the growing numbers of people on low and fixed incomes. As in other large cities, drug addiction, homelessness, prostitution and youth gangs have also been persistent challenges. Finally, the pressure of growth has challenged the ability of planners to shape land use and urban livability at a regional scale, where design standards and density requirements are often little match against the lure of increased tax revenue. In the face of increasing sprawl style development around the edges of the city, there is a concern that growth is stressing the local ecosystem, and having a homogenizing effect on Greater Vancouver that is leaving much of the city indistinguishable from many others across North America. Amidst the rapid transformation that Vancouver is experiencing, the city identity has remained true to the narratives upon which it was founded. Separated from the rest of Canada by the Rocky Mountains, Vancouver has retained its identity as being part of a 'province on the edge', imbued with a frontier consciousnesses that comes with a sense of entitlement, opportunity and possibility for the future (Imagine BC 2004). This sense 76 of opportunity felt by Vancouverites is eloquently captured by Douglas Coupland (2000: 16) in his remarks on the city's 'history.. .or lack thereof: First nations history in Vancouver goes back four or five thousand years, maybe longer. European settlement only goes back a bit more than a century, and some people don't like this lack of recent European history... This place is too new! If you're a Vancouverite, you find the city's lack of historical luggage liberating-it dazzles with a sense of limitless possibility... My own th