Taxpayers in Greater Victoria might be suffering from sticker shock, but B.C. Transit’s billion-dollar plan for light rail deserves a long hard look.
The plan is pricey, but there are also plenty of reasons to believe the time is right to get behind this proposal.
Anyway you look at it, it’s going to be expensive to provide mass transit service to connect the region’s burgeoning population centres. And if the region is committed to providing such service, it should do it right.
Regional growth is expected to increase most quickly on the West Shore. That said, such a massive investment must also serve the bulk of the established population in Greater Victoria.
An initial build-out, connecting downtown Victoria and the Uptown hub in Saanich, would be a good start at allowing people to move through densely populated areas without the need for individual vehicles.
Of course, the plan possibly has the most appeal for commuters hoping to escape the notorious Colwood crawl, not to mention the Trans-Canada crawl.
Eventually, a fully realized light rail would help grow new neighbourhood centres as stations are built out to Langford. This would have the added benefit of allowing planners to control sprawl as well as funnelling traffic in and out of destinations in the most efficient manner.
It’s clear this is something residents want. Adding buses and high-occupancy vehicle lanes might seem more attractive as less costly options, but neither creates long-term benefits for Greater Victoria.
Transit’s announcement comes on the cusp of a federal election. Whomever represents us come Tuesday, championing our region in Ottawa should include working to secure funding to make B.C. Transit’s proposal a reality.