Wednesday, May 18, 2011

LRT4CRD!

BC Transit has recently completed a long and exhaustive study on rapid transit options in the Capital Regional District (CRD). This two year study consulted a broad range of business and community groups and gave careful consideration to the alignment and technology best suited for rapid transit.

Using a multiple-account evaluation accounting for business, social and environmental impacts (also known as triple bottom line), it concluded light rail transit connecting Downtown to Uptown to the Western Communities via Douglas Street, the Trans Canada Highway and Old Island Highway is the best option to relieve traffic congestion while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Light rail will also allow for densification around train stations that will have numerous transportation, health and economic benefits for current and future residents.

Now that the plan has been presented, Greater Victoria has a historic choice to make. We can do nothing. We can expand roads and build overpasses. Or we can build light rail.

Doing nothing is not an option. Congestion is already reaching a breaking point. As population growth in the Western Communities continues, the Colwood crawl into Victoria on weekday mornings and back in the afternoon will only worsen. BC Transit is losing millions of dollars and hundreds of service hours to buses stuck in traffic congestion. In addition, they reported a transit ridership decline last year for the first time in many years. The status quo is simply unacceptable.

Expanding roads may offer a short term solution to congestion problems, but this will only make matters worse in the long run. We must consider the downstream costs of increasing capacity on our roads: the costs of new parking facilities, increased traffic accidents and insurance payouts, worsening health outcomes from more people driving, displacing congestion to roads and intersections that won’t be upgraded and so on. It’s been said that dealing with traffic congestion through expanding roads is like dealing with a weight problem by buying a bigger belt. I couldn’t agree more!

For myself and many others, the need for Light Rail is self-evident.

As MLA for Saanich South, I will continue to be a strong voice for an LRT solution. By working with community, our community leaders, local politicians, and senior government, we should be able to find our way to a financially responsible plan which solves our growing transportation crisis. I see senior Government coming to the table with at least two thirds cost-sharing. It’s a smart investment in our future: it brings our money back into our communities, and improves our quality of life.

Please sign our petition at www.lrt4crd.ca to show your support for LRT.

Yours sincerely,

Lana Popham
MLA, Saanich South