Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Busway

Given all the public opposition, it will take councilors with balls to approve the new busway. The opposition is missing several big points:

Light Rail in Victoria:
The idea is financially completely and utterly unfeasible. The E and N line is in the wrong location, and will be a major traffic problem in Langford and Esquimalt. Anything going up Douglas and out to the western communities is simply not cost effective on any level. Light rail built to a rapid transit standard will cost in the range of $500 000 000 to build. Once again, my big problem is the huge ongoing operational costs.

Busway Network:
The busway is planned to expand as a network throughout the region. If you do not build the first core (and highest use) part of it, the rest of the network does not really make that much sense. The construction of the big transit interchange at Carey and Douglas will not be likely to go ahead.

Realistically what is going to happen is nothing. We are not going to get any improvement in our transit system in this region. Over the next 20 years more and more people will be living further out and we will have done nothing to make them transit users.

I am now resigned to a stalemate and long delay before we finally get a dedicated bus way type of system.

When I lived in London in the early 1990s, I was initially a regular used of the Northern Line to get to work each day. As most underground rail systems, the ride was soul destroying and disorienting. I decided one to try the bus from my neighbourhood (Chalk Farm) to work in Oxford street. What was quite amazing how well the buses moved because of the dedicated bus lanes. I could get from home to work in about the same time as the tube and I enjoyed being able to see the world go by.

Ottawa also has an amazing bus way system that works like a charm and is very cost effective. I have used and was impressed how the system combined the best of dedicated rail transit with the flexibility of buses. This was really evident in central Ottawa where the buses seamlessly integrated into the rest of the traffic without causing the huge traffic a streetcar system causes.

I still hope people will see sense, but I realistic, this is after all Victoria and this city is so fundamentally conservative when it comes to change of any sort.
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