Calgary’s ridiculous fast and tunnel-less C-Train. No wonder it is so successful.
Here’s what happens when you blow your fiscal brains out building a $2.1-billion light-rail line.
About $700 million of that is being spent on a tunnel. That’s roughly how much the trashed Chiarelli plan would have cost to take light rail from the University of Ottawa to Barrhaven. Accordingly, $1.4-billion would be left over. And oh yes … the line would have been running a number of years ago.
Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley wants light rail to come to Kanata before Orleans.
Cumberland Councillor Stephen Blais wants light rail to come to Orleans before Kanata.
Blais says the east end are heavy transit-users which is true. Hubley doesn’t want to build a line for Rockland commuters to get into the city.
Blais has the better argument because Hubley’s is almost non-existent.
But here’s the real problem. We didn’t follow Calgary’s example.
Calgary didn’t tunnel downtown but made its light-rail lines stretch over long distances. They didn’t immediately build a downtown tunnel. They didn’t do something stupid such as causing the majority of transit riders to transfer from bus to train at Tunney’s Pasture and Blair Road … the ends of this ridiculously short line.
Calgary’s plan was much like the cancelled Chiarelli plan. Had the nixed plan gone forward, the lines to Kanata and Orleans would be well into construction. Both Blais and Hubley would be happy.
So this ridiculous and dedicated rail line (light rail is meant to be more flexible … if we’re going dedicated line, we could have gone with higher-capacity vehicles) is slowing down the extension of rail transit to high-population areas of the city.
Ottawa built a Cadillac when Mayor Jim Watson’s usual Chevy would have sufficed.
Calgary, without a tunnel, went on to build one of the most successful light-rail systems in North America. Edmonton and Buffalo went with tunnels with poor results.
One politician described the Edmonton system as not a complete disaster.
In Ottawa, we should be so lucky.
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