Friday, May 13, 2011

The LRT - how would one measure success or failure?

The LRT is a large capital investment and I think has a very high potential not to meet a ridership level to make it sustainable.    It is a very risky decision to go forward with the LRT and we have to be prepared to bite the bullet and admit it is a failure and close it if we can not afford to operate it.

Before the project goes forward we need to have some specific red light/green light situations.

  • First, we need a firm limit on capital cost, and by firm I mean an absolute limit that if it is exceeded the project ends.   If that is is $950,000,000, then we need this in writing with a clear and automatic cancellation if costs go up.   If the $950,000,000 price is not the real probable cost, BC Transit needs to come up with a real number soon and make it a hard limit.

  • Second, we have to have clear operational targets.   The revenues brought in by LRT ridership should meet certain minimum targets.   These targets need to be stated up front and we have to understand the implication of how the new LRT operational costs not covered by revenues will be paid.   It is important BC Transit can accept closing the line the if the minimum targets can not be achieved.

If we can not walk away from a completed line if it is losing money, we should not build it.

If no one is willing to set targets like this and if no one is willing to commit to cancellation during construction or closing the line after it is built because of the financial implications, the people of Greater Victoria should be very, very scared.
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