Time to get on with light rapid transit

Re: Patience key to solving traffic woes, The Gen Y Lens, Jan. 13, 2012.

Re: Patience key to solving traffic woes, The Gen Y Lens, Jan. 13, 2012.

During the last election I visited a senior’s home where one gentleman asked, with a stern look, “What about this light rapid transit?” I suggested that Victoria was ready for it, but it was not a project we could pay for ourselves.

I’d been doing my homework, chasing funding sources and making the case with provincial and federal politicians where I could.

With many voters, the LRT question was an admonishment to be more frugal and let transit users make do with what we have. I was a little surprised with his response “We’ve been talking about this for years; it’s time to get on with it.”

It brings me back to Kyle Slavin’s column. It’s a good piece about behaviour, but I want to make the case that on the planning side, we’ve been patient long enough.

LRT makes sense and is more compelling every day. We’ve identified many choices we will need to make for a sustainable future. Our regional growth strategy, now more than a decade old, enjoys broad political support and it emphasizes walking, cycling and transit.

As far back as the 1990s LRT was proposed as an alternative to highway expansion. The province decided we weren’t ready for it then but the choice of corridors and the shape of an ideal system were well thought out.

BC Transit, a regional body, went through an exhaustive process of community consultation and planning work and confirmed the alignment and proposed technologies last year. The plan was supported by municipal governments and the CRD, as good a proxy as any for a more formal regional endorsement.

The need to regain some momentum on LRT is critical. As Slavin’s column noted, it will take several years to build. All the more reason to complete the business case review and get moving on the “Team CRD” concept I proposed last year to chase the senior government funding necessary to pay for the project.

LRT is not the only solution to our transportation challenges, but it is perhaps the most important. We know that LRT is our best choice to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – and we are all committed to a provincial climate action program. We know that the highway and Douglas Street alignment best connect people between home and workplace, as well as many other important destinations. We know that the E&N is not a good fit for LRT (though it can work for other commuter services). And we know that we can’t keep expanding road capacity — it’s just not sustainable.

A regional transportation authority still makes good sense, but we’ve done a lot of homework on the planning side already. What we need is funding commitments, completion of business plans and a new political commitment to “get on with it.” We’ve been patient long enough.

John Luton

 

Executive director

 

Capital Bike and Walk