Monday, November 24, 2008

Light-rail a "billion-dollar boondoggle": Haydon

Andy Haydon, former mayor of the City of Nepean, came out today with a strong criticism of the prevalence of light-rail in the City of Ottawa's currently-favoured transit plan, according to a report in the Ottawa Citizen.

Rather than spending large amounts of money on rail, Haydon suggests that the city continue building up the bus-rapid transit system, including bus-only tunnels downtown to avoid congestion. The story was also in the Ottawa Sun, and Haydon went as far as to suggest that the proposal is a waste of taxpayers' money. From the Sun:

"The so called plan is a pathetic document," he [Haydon] said. "It's a destructive proposal. It flies in the face of reality and is flushing taxpayers' money down the toilet."

Haydon served as an advisor to Mayor Larry O'Brien early in O'Brien's tenure as mayor, but resigned as he felt his advice was being ignored in favour of light-rail. Although not directly in response to Haydon's criticism, O'Brien has been adamant about the feasibility of light-rail in the city, and in a recent blog post highlighted the scrutiny that the current plan has gone through:
"In fact we have had an unprecedented amount of public consultation. And even more impressive is that the new plan has been put to the test by an international expert panel, an operations review by OC Transpo as well as a risk and financial assessment by KPMG and others."
--Mayor Larry O'Brien
It remains to be seen if any Ottawa councilors agree with Haydon's criticisms, but there has been strong support of the plan in the past, including a Council-wide 19-4 vote back in May. Council will hold another vote on the transit plan, after hearing presentations from the Transit and Transportation Committees, on Wednesday, Nov. 26--ironically in Andrew S. Haydon Hall.

What do you think: Buses or trains?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Duh, Trains.

* Much better at spurring new private investment in the transit corridor
* Much lower operating costs per passenger
* Insulated from oil price volatility
* Higher carrying capacity
* Attracts more ridership
* No exhaust at the tailpipe
* Quieter, smoother and more comfortable

David said...

Duh, buses.

* Buses can go where the people are/want to go. Trains are tied to their tracks. Investment and business development (well, other than foolish make-work government projects) typically go where the people are.
* Can run on alternative fuels.
* Capacity can be grown or redirected much more flexibly.

Can't comment on the operating costs per passenger.

Ridership is a function of convenience and user cost, not technology.

No exhaust at the tailpipe == pollution transfer, not emissions reduction. You are just making your pollution someone else's problem.

He's right about the ride, though.

Dwight Williams said...

In any case, I'm convinced that the debate's settled. We need both modes in tandem in this city and we should never have thrown LRT out back in the 1950's in the first place. Now we're trying to regain lost ground.