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Rally For Rails | December 5th 12-1PM


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Rally For Rails

www.RallyForRails.com

A rally to support Light Rail Transit will be held at the Waterloo Public Square from 12-1PM on Sunday December 5, 2010.

How Can You Help The Rally?

1. Write letters to the editor (letters@therecord.com).

2. Send e-mails to politicians & members of the community.

3. Talk to your friends and bring them out on December 5th!

Included below are tickets that you can print and hand out to supporters.

Colour Tickets

Greyscale Tickets

RallyForRailsTicketConcept6a.jpg

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As a taxpayer who is sick and tired of paying for white elephants, I will not be joining.

As a taxpayer who thinks saving $750 million (amount of road expansion that will be avoided by 2031) by investing $150-235 million (LRT capital to 2031, possible cost reductions) is a good deal, I'll be there. Don't get me started on BRT, which would reach capacity around 2025. Now that would be a waste of money, build it for hundreds of millions of dollars, get 10 years of use, then have to build LRT too!

The TriTAG-developed rally site is up at http://LRTrally.ca .

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As a taxpayer who thinks saving $750 million (amount of road expansion that will be avoided by 2031) by investing $150-235 million (LRT capital to 2031, possible cost reductions) is a good deal, I'll be there. Don't get me started on BRT, which would reach capacity around 2025. Now that would be a waste of money, build it for hundreds of millions of dollars, get 10 years of use, then have to build LRT too!

The TriTAG-developed rally site is up at http://LRTrally.ca .

Look at Houston and tell me that street level trains make sense.

We had this here in the past and ripped it up.

Show me high tech, show me elevated monorails independant of street level traffic, then I'll get on board.

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I do support light rail but I don't think GRT region is ready for it.

IMO you need to take steps because jumping from 40 foot buses to LRT will be a waste of money and not practical.

GRT needs to jump on board with 60 foot buses and get a real BRT system before they get LRT. Once its time for the light rail, then just add rails to the existing ROW with the stations already built.

I'm with you on this one! 100%

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GRT needs to jump on board with 60 foot buses and get a real BRT system before they get LRT. Once its time for the light rail, then just add rails to the existing ROW with the stations already built.

Just ask Ottawa how well that's working out for them. (They reached capacity on their busway years ago, and are planning to spend billions to replace it with LRT, including a tunnel. We'll probably have light rail before they do.)

I'll be at the rally, because I think infrastructure is not a place to cut corners.

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Did Calgary and Edmonton have artics before they got their LRTs?

Edmonton built its LRT before it got any articulated buses in service, and the same is probably true for Calgary. But keep in mind that both of those cities got LRT 30 years ago, and articulated buses did not have much of a North American presence at that point.

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Edmonton built its LRT before it got any articulated buses in service, and the same is probably true for Calgary. But keep in mind that both of those cities got LRT 30 years ago, and articulated buses did not have much of a North American presence at that point.

The first artics in Calgary (non-demo) were about 25 years after the first LRT line opened.

But of course Calgary in 1980 is a lot different from KW in 2010.

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Look at Houston and tell me that street level trains make sense.

We had this here in the past and ripped it up.

Show me high tech, show me elevated monorails independant of street level traffic, then I'll get on board.

Let's look a little more local. In the 1980s 3 Canadian cities of population about 500,000 built rapid transit system. Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa. Calgary and Edmonton both have incredibly successful light rail systems, especially Calgary. Ottawa has a system that's slower than walking through downtown, is way over capacity, and has absolutely out of control costs. Guess which ones are LRT and which one is BRT? For mid-sized cities street-level trains make sense, Houston is not a mid sized city. The US is also a very different place in terms of transit. A Canadian city will have double the transit ridership of a US city, for cities with the same population and demographics. The two lanes of traffic that LRT takes for half its route (other half is on dedicated right of ways) will have a capacity greater than the Conestoga Parkway. That's a massive amount of transportation infrastructure, those two lanes of ordinary traffic are comparatively inconsequential.

It's also really expensive whenever you go elevated or underground. Calgary's numbers are $5 million/km for surface light rail, $30 million/km for elevated, and $35 million/km for underground. Those are older numbers though, that's why our per kilometer cost is higher, construction inflation has been ridiculous this past decade. It's still useful for comparing relative costs. We don't have the money to make this into a $4.74 billion project. Street running rail is also better for reurbanization, as it creates more of a ground-level pedestrian experience focus (businesses want to be seen by people going by on LRT).

I do support light rail but I don't think GRT region is ready for it.

IMO you need to take steps because jumping from 40 foot buses to LRT will be a waste of money and not practical.

GRT needs to jump on board with 60 foot buses and get a real BRT system before they get LRT. Once its time for the light rail, then just add rails to the existing ROW with the stations already built.

The issue is that converting a BRT system to LRT isn't that easy. Look at Ottawa's experience, their original plan was a BRT to LRT conversion. You have to completely dig up the road bed and redo it with rails, you have to install the catenary, you will have to redo stations as buses and LRT have different heights required for level boarding, and everything along the route has to deal with the construction all over again. The result of this is that you need to shut down the BRT system for 3 years and revert to a mixed traffic system for that time. As a result we'd need to do this at a point before we'd exceed the capacity of a mixed traffic system, otherwise it would be 3 years of hell for riders and anyone trying to drive the route.

The Region's transportation demand forecasts say a full BRT system would reach capacity around 2025. These ridership forecasts were peer reviewed by a panel of Canada's top transportation planning experts, their conclusion was that the forecasts were conservative and would likely be exceeded. A big part of this is that the region's BRT system would not have passing lanes, no one wants to build a 4 lane bus freeway like Ottawa did. Therefore looking practically we'd see a mixed traffic system reach capacity around 2020-2023. That means we need the LRT system to be operational prior to that date. Right now we're looking at a 2016 opening day. That really doesn't leave much of a window for BRT. Given a 5 year lead time on LRT conversion (3 of them construction), we'd probably have to start planning the conversion before the BRT system even opened! It just doesn't make sense to build infrastructure that would have such a short practical life.

I absolutely agree we need to see better iXpress service today. But major infrastructure projects like this are built to handle projected demands for 20 years out, and to be expandable to projected demands 50 years out. Given that from study start to system operation is over a decade this kind of planning horizon is a necessity.

But of course Calgary in 1980 is a lot different from KW in 2010.

Calgary in 1980 had a population of 560,000, today Waterloo Region has a population of 540,000. Calgary had an incredible growth rate, but Waterloo Region is also one of Canada's fastest growing regions. There's differences, but also a lot of strong similarities.

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Calgary and Edmonton both have incredibly successful transit system, especially Calgary.

Calgary and Edmonton have successful light rail transit systems, but I would have to say that calling both transit systems as a whole successful would be a mistake.

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Calgary and Edmonton have successful light rail transit systems, but I would have to say that calling both transit systems as a whole successful would be a mistake.

This is a really good point, and often glossed over. Those LRT systems date to the golden years of the suburb-to-CBD mindset, and they're examples of that same kind of planning. But if growth is not controlled, the sprawl eventually becomes big enough that most travel occurs between low-density areas, and is not well served by any transit. Essentially any modern transit system that focuses only on bringing people from suburbs to downtown resigns itself to a small part of the travel market (even if it is competitive in its chosen role).

The proposed Waterloo Region LRT is much better in this sense. It serves a corridor that is dense throughout, and dovetails with land-use controls that guide substantial future growth to this corridor, and with a redesigned bus network that connects to the light rail spine. I've written more about this subject here.

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Calgary and Edmonton have successful light rail transit systems, but I would have to say that calling both transit systems as a whole successful would be a mistake.

Fair enough, buses tend to be less news worthy. I've edited my post, as I feel it still makes my point.

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http://news.therecord.com/article/822039

Rally for Rails: Light-rail transit supporters staging event Dec. 5 in Waterloo

November 30, 2010

BY TERRY PENDER, RECORD STAFF

WATERLOO — A rally in support of light-rail transit is being organized to bolster support among elected officials for the project.

Fearing a slacking commitment for the $790 million undertaking the Tri-cities Transport Action Group, the Waterloo Students Planning Advisory and Wonderful Waterloo have pooled their resources to stage what they call Rally for Rails on Sunday, Dec. 5 from noon to 1 p.m. in the public square in downtown Waterloo.

“This rally is to show Waterloo’s incoming city council and incoming city councils across the region as well as the incoming regional council that there still is support for this project,” Tim Mollison, of the transport action group, said.

In June 2009 regional councillors voted overwhelmingly in favour of the plans for a light-rail system from Conestoga Mall in the north to Fairview Park Mall in the south that also has rapid buses through Cambridge.

During the campaigns for the Oct. 25 municipal elections support for the light-rail project appeared to soften among some local politicians.

Many campaigning politicians said the project has little support among voters. Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran went from voting in favour of light rail at regional council in June 2009 to vocally questioning the costs and routes.

“I think the whole reason we kind of came together to organize this kind of collaborative demonstration in support of the LRT is a lot of the rhetoric leading up to October’s elections,” Mackenzie Keast, of the student planning advisory, said.

“There is a lot of negativity toward the LRT, a lot of outspoken members of the community had expressed their anti-LRT position and a lot of the local councillors were publicly speaking out against the LRT,” Keast said.

In June 2009 regional council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the light-rail plans. Then the provincial government committed $300 million to the project and the federal government announced $265 million.

That leaves $225 million in costs the region must cover. Regional planners are preparing a report that will be tabled in January with options to reduce costs.

The Sunday rally was deliberately scheduled to occur the day before the first meeting of the new city council in Waterloo and elsewhere.

“So we are hoping it’s going to be kind of fresh on their minds and show them, hey: ‘Yes you have spoken to a lot of people that are against the LRT, there have been a lot of very vocal opponents to the LRT, but look at all these people who have come out to show that they are in favour,” Keast said.

Halloran said Waterloo city council will not be passing a motion to oppose the planned light-rail system.

“But we have to look at all the options,” Halloran said. “To me it’s about the costs and how much taxpayers can bear.”

But Halloran said she does not want to be characterized as being opposed to the light-rail plans either.

“I don’t want to present it that: ‘Oh she’s against it,’ and then I will get all this hate mail from the LRT guys, which I am starting to get anyway,” Halloran said.

“We have to be open to the possibilities of new options based on the funding that we have in place now,” Halloran said.

Coun. Mark Whaley, who represented the City of Waterloo on the region’s transportation master plan committee where he supported the light-rail plans, said he is rethinking that position because of the short fall in capital funding.

“And what I mean by rethinking is unclear even in my mind, but I don’t think based on the fact that there is a quarter-of-a-billion dollar shortfall on the money that we can just go blindly forward with the plan we had before without some kind of consultation with the public again,” Whaley said.

Whaley said he has no intentions at this time to introduce a motion at Waterloo city council in opposition to the region’s plans for light rail.

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I just personally think that jumping from the current GRT setup to the LRT is built is a big mistake.

If GRT could expand service before the LRT is put in and that is deemed "successful" then maby LRT will have a shot but right now with the current status of the shitty service and hours service.

Very well said! I couldn't have said it better!

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I just personally think that jumping from the current GRT setup to the LRT is built is a big mistake.

If GRT could expand service before the LRT is put in and that is deemed "successful" then maby LRT will have a shot but right now with the current status of the shitty service and hours service.

It's almost like they should've introduced an express route that travels the same corridor. If there was any space on board the iXpress, I might take it sometime and then I could tell you whether anyone uses it.

More seriously, the iXpress is wildly successful and indicates that there is high demand for express transit along this corridor even right now. The Regional Official Plan is guiding 40% or more of growth to occur along that route (and this target is now being met), so the demand is going to be going up dramatically. If the transportation infrastructure can't handle the ridership along this corridor, it will prevent growth from happening in the core, and lead more of it to occur as sprawl.

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That is exactly my point. GRT has lots of room to expand but is not even close to what it should be for a region of its size.

I just personally think that jumping from the current GRT setup to the LRT is built is a big mistake.

If GRT could expand service before the LRT is put in and that is deemed "successful" then maby LRT will have a shot but right now with the current status of the shitty service and hours service.

"forecast" is an estimate, I don't trust that one bit as its a gamble trying to figure out what ridership will be like in years from now with out some effort from GRT.

The RTMP will expand GRT's budget by about 10% per year for the next 20 years (little less in later years). This means that by the time LRT is built GRT's budget will have been expanded by 50%. LRT is being done in combination with other service improvements. LRT also will significantly improve suburban bus service. By moving to a grid system rather than hub and spoke (which can only be done with a high capacity spine, LRT) travel will be faster for those going somewhere other Charles St (most people). Additionally, most of the buses currently serving King St (so many of them there's bus bunching) will be re-assigned to suburban service.

Route 7/iXpress is already very well used. While route 7 service will remain, it's a proven fact that people will walk farther to LRT stop. Especially when it's running frequent service. If the region increased iXpress service today I think the iXpress would have no problem hitting 15,000+ people/day, it's already at 11,000. Combine that with 5 years of ridership growth, ridership shift from the 7, a re-aligned bus network designed to feed LRT, and public preference for LRT (another well documented fact) and the 25,000 people/day projections are really quite reasonable.

Forecast is an estimate. But I wouldn't reduce something that had 5 years of studies by a large team of people, plus a peer review by top transportation planning experts, to "a gamble". Ridership projection is not absolute, but it's not bad either. Especially because the region's studies were done to be as conservative as possible. I'm not just saying that, the expert review panel felt that the numbers were conservative. Not factored into the numbers is the escalating price of oil, or the extent of bus service increases under the RTMP (though they did assume some increases). Every LRT in project in North America built in the past decade has come in at least 20% over ridership projections, precisely because doing them conservatively is the standard. Even if it would hit capacity in 2030 rather than 2025, does that really change things? Rather than being over capacity 10 years after construction it's 15 years, the standard for projects of this type is 20 years. Do you really think that something which was studied so extensively, and done so conservatively, managed to so massively over-estimate ridership that BRT makes sense? It just seems so much more likely that the region's numbers are accurate, or at the very least not that far off. Given that government funding is available right now, and the cost of debenture financing the lowest it has been in the region's history, is doing it 5 years early really that big of a problem?

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The RTMP will expand GRT's budget by about 10% per year for the next 20 years (little less in later years). This means that by the time LRT is built GRT's budget will have been expanded by 50%.

It's actually several times that. The funding for transit is to incrementally rise each year so that in twenty years, it will be a triple the current per-capita levels. With the Region growing by another 40% by then, that means GRT should quadruple in size over that time.

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Please forgive my ignorance. What were the people at the rally rallying for? I thought the light rail project was approved for Kitchener-Waterloo.

There's a funding shortfall currently for the project, $235 million I believe? That would be somewhat allocated to taxpayers money, which they don't like. Some councilors have also switched positions saying the money simply "isn't there".

When in reality, as TriTAG mentioned in the rally, expanding roads would mean an additional cost of $1.2 billion to combat the 200,000 new residents in 25 years, while the LRT plan would save an average taxpayer $265 million.

I have photos up in my Facebook page. The rally was also top story in

and here is the article on The Record.
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There's a funding shortfall currently for the project, $235 million I believe? That would be somewhat allocated to taxpayers money, which they don't like. Some councilors have also switched positions saying the money simply "isn't there".

You speak of $235 million as an inconsequential sum of cash. Please explain how this money would be "somewhat allocated to taxpayers money".

If it's "tax money", it's our money, money that really "isn't there".

The councilors who have "switched positions saying the money simply isn't there", are using common sense and an awareness of the current economic climate.

Quote "When in reality, as TriTAG mentioned in the rally, expanding roads would mean an additional cost of $1.2 billion to combat the 200,000 new residents in 25 years, while the LRT plan would save an average taxpayer $265 million."

You are making the very broad assumption that residents of Waterloo Region are actually going to abandon their private vehicles and ride transit.

Good luck in that endeavor!

If you want to spend taxpayer's money on trains, build a high speed link between the Region and Toronto.

Please don't state that the number of Region residents that commute to the GTA is a small minority as has been stated in the past.

Look at Hwy 8 to the 401 on any work day both in the AM and PM, the traffic flow represents much more than a minority of the Region's commuters.

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You speak of $235 million as an inconsequential sum of cash. Please explain how this money would be "somewhat allocated to taxpayers money".

If it's "tax money", it's our money, money that really "isn't there".

The councilors who have "switched positions saying the money simply isn't there", are using common sense and an awareness of the current economic climate.

Well okay, I'll give that to you. But again, look at it this way. How much of your taxpayers money is currently being used to expand Weber Street to three lanes each direction for only three blocks? Maybe that could've been allocated to LRT funding?

Waterloo Region needs to stop sucking up to cars; the garage at Charles and Benton is another example. Do we really want to become the next Detroit? (minus the crime)

You are making the very broad assumption that residents of Waterloo Region are actually going to abandon their private vehicles and ride transit.

Good luck in that endeavor!

If you want to spend taxpayer's money on trains, build a high speed link between the Region and Toronto.

Please don't state that the number of Region residents that commute to the GTA is a small minority as has been stated in the past.

Look at Hwy 8 to the 401 on any work day both in the AM and PM, the traffic flow represents much more than a minority of the Region's commuters.

8000 is a lot? Oh my! And remember, that's both directions.

Census data reveal that Toronto and Peel Region lure 6,505 commuters from Waterloo Region.

If I do my Math correctly, 6,505 commuters out of around 506,000 residents is barely 1.2%. That IS a small minority.

As for your argument for a high speed link, that would be an even bigger investment, again, out of your taxpayer's money. Looking at the statistic above, do we really need a high speed rail link that would serve 1.2% of commuters? We're getting GO Trains to Kitchener by next year, and we currently have GO buses operating during rush hours from Waterloo to Milton, transferring to the train that gets commuters to downtown, along with all day service to Mississauga, transferring to the train-bus to Union.

Remember, nothing comes free. No matter what decision the region makes (Light Rail, Bus Rapid, expansion of buses, etc.), it will be out of the taxpayers' money.

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You are making the very broad assumption that residents of Waterloo Region are actually going to abandon their private vehicles and ride transit.

Good luck in that endeavor!

And is there any evidence that residents *wouldn't* flock to high-quality transit?

How do you think we got to where we are today? We have historically overinvested in car infrastructure and underinvested in transit and other forms of transportation infrastructure. Of course people drive everywhere! There's no reasonable alternative. Now people are turning that around to say "we shouldn't invest in transit because people drive everywhere". Circular argument much?

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And is there any evidence that residents *wouldn't* flock to high-quality transit?

Having lived in this Region all my life and working in transit for 30 yrs, I would say that there is no evidence that residents would "flock to high quality transit."

After reading the Record this morning, it would appear that Councils are going to be looking at BRT again.

If we would build a LRT system, on street level, you have a train vs auto collision.

Now what? You have the system brought to a standstill.

Okay, build a bus bridge!! Right.....with our system continously short of buses, where, during peak service, do you find enough buses and drivers to build the bridge to maintain service.

There won't be many accidents you'll say.

Remember what I said about living and working here?

We have so many idiots on the roads that you can bet the farm on collisions at intersections.

Just my opinion.

How do you think we got to where we are today? We have historically overinvested in car infrastructure and underinvested in transit and other forms of transportation infrastructure. Of course people drive everywhere! There's no reasonable alternative. Now people are turning that around to say "we shouldn't invest in transit because people drive everywhere". Circular argument much?

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