Light Rail

I live in Ottawa, and the City of Ottawa has been planning a light rail transit project for years. A ton of work has gone into buying the land, seeking bids, architecting bridges and roads, and so on.

But now there’s an election coming, and because it’s expensive, light rail is being dragged through the mud.

I hate this sort of politics. It’s not productive.

Ottawa needs to be implemeneting it’s long term transit plans. Opponents of light rail seem to want to shut the project down – which would put us back many years.

I’ve heard arguments that the current government doesn’t have a transit plan, that they’re basically just idiots making stuff up as they go along. Anyone who has been paying attention will see that this is just electioneering, because from what I can see, the project is quite open.

For example, take a look around the Background Documents site. It’s hardly a secret project.

Yes, light rail is expensive. Any large transit project that’s going to move large numbers of people in a metro area of 1 million + people is going to be expensive. But here’s what I object to: adding up either numbers over time, or unrelated numbers, and making one huge number, just for the point of making it seem like the project is over budget.

For example, LRT opponents have lumped the price of building the Barrhaven bridge into the light rail project. But if they cancel light rail, that bridge still has to be built. We need it.

And when something costs $xx/year, I don’t think it’s fair to add up the next 20 years and present that as the total. I mean, I might spend $12,000 for Internet access over the next 20 years, but if I simply said “Internet access costs $12,000! We can’t spend that on Internet access!” you’d question the number wouldn’t you?

Another big argument is that we need an east-west transit solution and that there isn’t one. Obviously people making this argument haven’t looked at the City’s East West LRT Project page.

I’m moving to Riverside South, and I’m very much looking forward to LRT. I’ll be one more car off the road.

If it’s going to become an election issue, so be it; but I really hope people do their homework. Politicians can make anything seem like a bad idea if they stand to gain from it, but just remember to take everything they say with a grain of salt, and verify it yourself.