Surrey and Vancouver are on the shortlist for $50 million in funding through the Infrastructure Canada Smart Cities Challenge for their joint submission to implement the nation’s first pair of “collision-free corridors” using driver-less vehicles.
There were 199 applicants from across the county and out of 16 submissions in Surrey’s and Vancouver’s category, they made the top five.
“We will receive $250,000, jointly, Vancouver and Surrey to split, from which we will be looking to see which partners are going to help us move forward at the next stage of the application,” Sean Simpson, Surrey’s director of information technology, told the Now-Leader. The next step of the application is due next winter. “They haven’t said whether it’s November or December, we’re not sure.”
“They will announce next spring who is the winner of the $50 million is in our category, which is the 500,000 and over, population size.”
The Vancouver corridor extends from Granville Island to Science World but Surrey’s is under wraps.
“We haven’t identified where, we have candidates, that’s what the next phase will flesh out,” Simpson said. “We don’t want to be naming at this time where those corridors are.”
Simpson also declined to say if they’re looking at north or south Surrey. “All we’re saying at this time is it’s connecting with existing transit hubs; we’ll be looking at connecting key facilities and really looking where we can have the greatest impact on moving people through a corridor whether it’s in a car, bus, walking or cycling.
“This has nothing to do with LRT. This is a separate project. This is a federal challenge. We will be seeking partners in this, and TransLink runs public transportation, right, so we’ll be seeking partnerships.”
How does Surrey and Vancouver propose to achieve these “collision-free” corridors?
“Well, that’s what the challenge is and that’s what we’ll be working towards with our partners, to reduce the incidence of collisions between all different modes,” Simpson said. “Collisions aren’t just between cars — more often than not, the collisions are between cars and pedestrians.”
Simpson said there are no figures yet available as to how many driver-less vehicles will potentially be motoring around in Surrey. “That’s a provincial mandate about when they decide to let autonomous, so we’ll be working with the province on that legislation,” he said.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said Surrey and Vancouver “hope to demonstrate the path to safer, healthier and more connected communities while reducing emissions, improving transportation efficiency and enhancing livability in the face of rapid growth and traffic congestion.”