The Ottawa Sun wrote today about Edmonton's experience building a light-rail system over the last three and a half decades. The story was decidedly critical of the Edmonton Transit System's attempts to complete the system as planned.
City councillor Ron Hayter leads the charge, arguing that too much money has been funnelled into construction of a line with uncertain ridership -- 42,000 on weekdays, but apparently much less on weekends. Two tunnels were dug to facilitate the line. Hayter says that one of them, which travels beneath the University of Alberta, was a mistake.
The price tag for Edmonton's light rail is said to be $400 million, so far. The Sun story says that some observers expect costs to exceed $1 billion.
- Edmonton's population is 730,000 and its land area is 9,400 km².
- Ottawa's population is about 850,000 and its land area is 5,300 km².
Ottawa is spending at least four times more than Edmonton to build its light-rail line. Although population and land area don't dictate how much a city should spend on its public transit -- there is so much more to consider -- the difference in cost between the two cities begs a question:
If Edmontonians are upset about paying $1 billion for a transit plan,
why are Ottawans willing to spend $4 billion?