According to the Waterloo Region Record, in a historic decision, regional council voted 9-2 Wednesday to build an $818-million rail transit system, the largest public works project ever undertaken in the region.
Critics fear trains will prove a costly blunder in a car-friendly community where commuters shun transit. Some critics argue rapid buses — at $702 million — are a cheaper, more flexible way forward. What the critics don’t realize is that for the extra $116 million in additional capital costs, the LRT system will cost less per year to operate than a rapid bus system.
The approved plan and latest timeline suggests that by 2017 you will see electric trains, drawing power from overhead wires, running 19 kilometres between Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and Fairview Park mall in Kitchener. Trains will pass every 7.5 to 15 minutes and stop at up to 18 platforms. Mall-to-mall travel time is estimated at 39 minutes, up to nine minutes faster than the schedule for express buses today.
Cambridge is getting buses instead of trains because transit ridership is lower there, redevelopment potential is less, and rapid transit is being implemented in stages to save money.
Work to relocate or encase utilities beneath streets could launch by next year, to prevent ruptures and maintenance from disrupting transit. Track construction could launch by 2014.
If only this could be built and running sooner. Toronto could certainly use a good dose of LRT Envy, and this is close enough for that!