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article image'Rail-Volution' transportation conference opens in Vancouver

By Karen Graham     Sep 8, 2019 in Business
Vancouver - Public transit planners and industry experts from around the world have descended on downtown Vancouver, British Columbia this week for the 25th Annual ‘Rail~Volution’ conference on public transit and community development.
This year, the annual conference is making its first venture outside of the United States, with TransLink as the local organizer of the event. Recent host cities include Pittsburgh, Denver, and San Francisco.
And this year, "Rail-Volution" has a self-declared aim of "building livable communities with transit." Dan Bartholomay, Rail-Volution's CEO says Vancouver is an ideal place to host the conference, for somewhat conflicting reasons, according to CBC Canada.
He complimented Vancouver for doing a good job with regional planning around sustainability, saying It's also developed a "robust" transit system, including bus, rail, and biking. "So there's a lot of lessons to learn about planning and design," Bartholomay said.
Rail-Volution is a conference that brings out the best in the fields of transportation  infrastructu...
Rail-Volution is a conference that brings out the best in the fields of transportation, infrastructure and community plannings.
However, he noted that Vancouver is also experiencing some challenges around affordability. And without a doubt, the region's successes and failures in keeping housing affordable for low-income families near SkyTrain lines are well documented.
"Vancouver is certainly one of the places with what I would call 'unintended consequences,'" said Bartholomay. "Great planning and development has brought more people into the city, more development, and in some cases left some people behind."
Yet, this conflict in changes going on in the transportation sector while trying to address land-use is why Vancouver was chosen for the 2019 conference - an opportunity to learn from the region’s successes and challenges with public transit.
Bus stop in downtown Vancouver.
Bus stop in downtown Vancouver.
Rail-Volution Conference
This year's conference is being held at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver from September 6 through September 11, 2019. The conference is really a major event, simply because it is not just about transportation, and this makes it unique.
Rail-Volution brings together planners, community activists, transit officials, consultants, developers, lenders, grassroots organizations, academics, elected officials, health advocates, and housing advocates to share the most cutting edge information in their fields.
You could liken the conference to a broad-ranged discussion about sustainable living in this age of climate change, energy transition, and a burgeoning population. It is also a place to explore ideas, breakthroughs, challenges, and solutions for building livable communities with transit.
Exhibitors will include the B&A Planning Group, one of Western Canada's leading and largest community and land development planning firms, and the B.C. Department of Transportation. Then, there is Drinkfill, a company that espouses a plastic-free with their environmentally-friendly drink stations where people can fill their reusable bottles with beverages such as cold-brew coffee and more. There are many more companies in the exhibition hall, with something for everyone.
Moovit, a company that helps cities regain control of urban mobility by providing a sustainable and integrated mobility platform that empowers smart cities will be an exhibitor, as well as Optibus. They help the world’s leading transit providers better run mass-transportation through advanced artificial intelligence and optimization algorithms.
One of the keynote sessions at the conference is called "the challenge of getting it right: success, housing affordability and displacement in the Vancouver context." Among the speakers will be Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University's City Program.
Be ready for some interesting panel discussions, too, like "Community Streetcar Coalition," "Reimagining Curb Spaces," and "Elevating Cultural Assets in Placemaking."
More about Rail volution, Vancouver, Transportation, Conference, Annual
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