What we don’t understand about LRT

do not enterIn response to a blog post with Brenden’s company’s wonderful infographic, I received the following letter. Its nice having dialogue about LRT and what it means to the region.

I support LRT. I think it’s good for our overall development. I feel this way because I lived in Asia for many years and I’ve seen first hand what happens to cities when infrastructure falls short of demand.

I like this letter because it raises many questions I hadn’t thought of. Perhaps Waterloo Region and the LRT planners and supporters could argue their case better if we addressed some of these points.

I don’t agree with everything in this letter, but here is the letter in entirety.
Letter writer’s name has been changed to Boris. Boris is a cool name.

On 25/05/11 11:51 PM, Boris wrote:

I took the time to read your Blog Post, I hope you take the time to read this reply

A response to Brenden’s Company’s Wonderful Infographic

“Population growth to 720,000 by 2031”

-Where are these people going to come from?  The GTA, Halifax, Calgary, immigration?  This is something we are not being told.

As pulled from your own article, a quote from David Suzuki:

“The more cities sprawl outward, the more we damage the environment and our health.”

-How is it green to pave over the region’s green space to build more housing for the population increase?

Since the proposed LRT is being proposed to run down King Street, an already developed area, the only way for the cities (K-W) to expand, is outward.

Waterloo region has 3 options:

1) Do nothing (just build more roads)
A) $9.60 tax increase
B) Lose federal funding
C) Traffic jams increase

If you are building more roads, how are we going to experience an increase in traffic jams?

Even with the LRT it won’t guarantee that people will be willing to use it without some sort of coercion (ie. tax break for transit users, higher taxes on drivers, or combination of both) and without that coercion there is no way that you can guarantee that the LRT will attract more riders.

As for the reduction in greenhouse gasses, we won’t get into it over the “man made global warming”, “give us more taxes (and purchase carbon credits) so we can save the environment” scam!

Even with the LRT, we will still need the BRT, so now, we will be running and servicing both systems.  Brenden’s company’s wonderful infographic seems to be misleading people into thinking that the LRT will eliminate the BRT.

Take Toronto’s subway system as an example (although Waterloo region is a smaller scale, the same would apply).  The bus system is still required to transport large masses of people to it.  Also, the subway system is underground and does not affect traffic flow as would the LRT being proposed.

“The BRT will be more expensive over the long run.”

What does “over the long run” mean?  What is the term we are talking about here?  That was conveniently left out.

Like I stated earlier, we will still require the BRT.  We can save a lot of money by just not building the LRT (and later servicing it) and using that money to maintain and expand the BRT where needed on the new roads which will be built.

It is estimated that by 2031 the transit time for the ixpress bus (BRT) will be 56 minutes and only 39 minutes for the LRT.  Seventeen minutes.  Oh no, I won’t be able to make it home to see American Idol!  In order to save 17 minutes, some people are willing to spend $818 million.

As for the $818 million price tag, what are the odds of this thing being built on time and on budget.  You know as well as I do that this thing is going to run into delays and cost over-runs.  Then, we have interest to pay on all that money.  The cost will most definately surpass the $1 billion mark.

There is no guarantee that the LRT will bring tech companies to Waterloo Region.  Have any of these companies signed a contract with the region guaranteeing this?  No.  It is nothing more than just speculation.

Comparing the Conestoga Parkway to the LRT is like comparing apples to oranges.  If you take the population as a whole, more people choose to drive a vehicle over the option of taking public transit.

The LRT may have a capacity of 450 people, but let’s face it, we will not see that capacity number met without some sort of coercion.  The only other way to meet capacity will be long and inconvenient departure times, which is the main reason why people do not use public transit today.

As for provincial and federal funding for the project, there is only one tax payer.  The people of Waterloo Region will not only face higher taxes from the region, but also from the provincial and federal governments for something that will only used by a few, as opposed to the vast majority.  Waterloo Region’s option number 1 of “Do nothing (just build more roads)”, will benefit all of Waterloo’s residents whether they drive a vehicle or make use of the BRT.

Under your view supporting the LRT, you must agree that you do not drive my car, but should also be responsible for the costs associated with the purchase and maintenance of it.  I will be waiting eagerly for a personal cheque from you.

As a real estate agent, will you be using the LRT to conduct business?  Somehow, I doubt that you will be transporting clients around the city using the LRT.

Also, the LRT will have little positive impact on real estate values for property not located within walking distance.

Boris

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Boris

You’ve raised some great and interesting points and questions. I don’t have the answers to them. I am not a city planner or a politician. I support LRT mainly because I really believe it is the best thing for our long-term future. I may not use it much myself, but future generations will and I don’t mind paying for it.
I lived in Ottawa as a university student. The region there had opted for busses and they were efficient and I took them to and from university for four years.
But buses are stigmatized. Buses are for losers. They are just not a modern way to travel. That’s how I feel. I think many people who live in the Capital Region feel the same way. Light rail is being planned for Ottawa now.
I lived in Taipei for ten years. Before, during and after the MRT. In 1989 the city seemed like Bladerunner (remember the movie with Harrison Ford?). Ten years later, in 1999, the city was sleek and modern and efficient. Having lived through the crush of traffic in Taipei and other Asian cities, sooner or later I think, we are going to need light rail, might as well build it now.

Keith

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