Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wheels out, rails in: EPC

The Free Press reported that the executive policy committee has voted to pursue light rail over bus rapid transit yesterday. Mayor Sam Katz's inner circle is standing by his plan to scrap the second phase of bus rapid transit in Winnipeg (the first one, a link between The Forks and Jubilee Avenue, is currently under construction), funneling money set aside for it into road infrastructure projects. Instead Katz is championing a new light rail system which he hopes will be funded by federal cash set aside for public-private partnerships, much to the chagrin of upper levels of government.

There's much debate in the media these days on the merits of light rail vs bus rapid transit, for Winnipeg. Light rail is a really neat idea, in theory. But some people are saying BRT is the best choice for Winnipeg when considering things including population, transit use statistics, cost and, most importantly in my view-- the fact that we are already building a BRT line. BRT can easily be converted to LRT, anyway, according to the article linked above.

"The goal is to have a modern, vibrant, progressive city. That's what I want Winnipeg to be," Katz told reporters.

Modern, vibrant and progressive. Sounds good.

And after decades of rapid transit delays at city hall, it seemed pretty cool that we were on our way to a BRT system, despite its flaws. But if the EPC's vote gets approved at council July 21, we will end up with a lonely BRT stub and an ambiguous and precarious plan for light rail.

Any rapid transit system is better than no rapid transit system, in my opinion. It's too bad momentum for a long-fought-for BRT project is creeping to a halt.

I'll be interested to see how this issue plays into election campaigns.

1 comment:

  1. Let's not forget that the last time Katz got elected, he scrapped public transport - also a rail line, which had already been funded by the feds.

    What's changed?