vivablue5215 Posted April 15, 2011 Report Share Posted April 15, 2011 http://www.therecord.com/news/local/articl...ay-better-buses Jeff, what is a "better bus" exactly? High cost of trains will delay better busesWATERLOO REGION — Planners have revised plans to delay most of the bus upgrades meant to feed suburban passengers into a proposed rapid transit system in the centre of local cities. A financial analysis has concluded that installing trains while expanding local and express buses is “clearly not affordable” as it could hike regional taxes by up to 15 per cent by 2017. The revised financial plan aims to install trains by 2017 and delay the bulk of supportive transit upgrades. This would hike taxes by up to 10.5 per cent by 2018. “It is not everything that we wanted to do,” regional transportation commissioner Thomas Schmidt said. “But we also have to be reasonable on affordability and have a plan that makes sense.” The revision effectively delays an uncertain number of up to eight crosstown express routes planned to integrate with rail transit. This is expected to result in more road congestion, poorer integration with trains when they launch, and possibly lower ridership, according to a regional report. But Schmidt argues that limiting bus upgrades until 2017 will still be adequate. Ruth Haworth, of Taxpayers for Sensible Transit, complains the revision highlights a “mania” for trains. She argues better buses should be the higher priority. “They’re even willing to compromise transit in general just to push through this rapid transit plan,” she said. “It’s depressing to hear.” A group of rail advocates is not concerned. “It’s not the best but it isn’t a cancellation of the project,” said Tim Mollison, of the Tri-Cities Transport Action Group. “We don’t believe that this spells any sort of serious crisis.” The revision represents the first attempt to combine all estimated costs for rapid transit, bus upgrades and road improvements. It proposes to: • Delay up to 60 per cent of planned Grand River Transit upgrades until after rail transit launches. The first phase of bus upgrades launches this year with a Fischer-Hallman express route and more frequent central express buses. • Increase regional taxes by up to 10.5 per cent by 2018. This launches rail transit, pays for 40 per cent of planned bus upgrades, and provides $10 million for better transit strategies in Cambridge. • After 2018, escalate regional taxes by up to 1.5 per cent a year until 2034, to continue improving transit and roads. That’s three years longer than first planned. Planners say tax increases could be trimmed if the province lets council hike development fees to pay more transit costs, or if council finds other sources of cash. Phasing in the proposed tax increase would cost an average household (valued at $225,000) a total of $522 over six years, between 2012 and 2017. The annual cost would reach $174 in 2018. Council intends to finalize rapid transit in June. It’s a contested redevelopment scheme to persuade investors to build homes and offices in central neighbourhoods. Although cheaper rapid buses remain an option, planners want electric trains from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to the Fairview Park mall in Kitchener, with fast buses in mixed traffic in Cambridge. The launch cost is $818 million, with senior governments paying up to $565 million. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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