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  #861  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2013, 5:47 PM
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I believe that we can have a fully functioning LRT system in about 25 years. You'll never convince them to immediately start constructing LRT, but if a bus route equivalent was created, transit staff, passengers, and perpetual car drivers would see the potential such a system would have. At some point it would become necessary to build LRT to handle the demand. Clayton Park to Downtown via HSC and Dal seems like it would be immensely popular as an express bus route-turned-LRT. Transit actually wants to hear from the public it seems, so these upcoming 5YP sessions are the chance to get the ball rolling. As Wayne Gretzky said, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
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  #862  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2013, 8:29 PM
ILoveHalifax ILoveHalifax is offline
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I do not believe that we can guess where everybody wants to go. If one gets on a bus in Clayton Park going to downtown they do not want to go via a 5 to 7 minute loop of HSC or an additional 12 minute ride down past Dalhousie. They want to get directly downtown in as little time as possible.
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  #863  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2013, 10:53 PM
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If the will was there, what kind of timeline would we be looking at for a reasonable LRT system in HRM?

I know Ottawa's system (Confed line) has been in planning for years, but at least one report had it substantially finished for 2017-2018 with construction just beginning in earnest now. And there is a significant tunnel involved.

Could HRM have a useable system in 5 years if the politicians pushed for it considering it being at street level with no tunnels in the core, and running on existing ROW's in the suburbs?

OCTranspo's O-Train for example, was finished in short time by using existing ROW and for a low cost of $21 million.
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  #864  
Old Posted Aug 25, 2013, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ILoveHalifax View Post
I do not believe that we can guess where everybody wants to go. If one gets on a bus in Clayton Park going to downtown they do not want to go via a 5 to 7 minute loop of HSC or an additional 12 minute ride down past Dalhousie. They want to get directly downtown in as little time as possible.
The transit system as currently set up has individual routes from Clayton Park and Fairview heading to all of these places. The LRT would have to combine all of these destinations and still keep the travel time to about 20mins. Spring Garden Rd or nearby has to be served as well as everywhere else. As an express bus route, it may not be just one route fits all. I've often thought routes like #21 and #31 could run to Scotia Square on 30min frequency on weekends to cut down on the 35-40min ride that the #2 or #4 is from Lacewood. The #18 could definitely have Saturday travel time reduced to get to Spring Garden Rd in about 25mins.
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  #865  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by scooby074 View Post
If the will was there, what kind of timeline would we be looking at for a reasonable LRT system in HRM?

I know Ottawa's system (Confed line) has been in planning for years, but at least one report had it substantially finished for 2017-2018 with construction just beginning in earnest now. And there is a significant tunnel involved.

Could HRM have a useable system in 5 years if the politicians pushed for it considering it being at street level with no tunnels in the core, and running on existing ROW's in the suburbs?

OCTranspo's O-Train for example, was finished in short time by using existing ROW and for a low cost of $21 million.
Yes, but there would be huge technological limitations to work around. Might be cheaper to build a tunnel rather than an incredibly limited surface network (needs FRA compliance unless new tracks built in the rail cut). Would be hard to get a vehicle that can do corners, hills, with FRA compliance and be compatible for street running). Street running requires lots of utility relocation too for reliabilty and weight bearing reasons.

A minimal but useful system could be a terminal right under the Law Courts near the ferry terminal. 1.5 km of tunnel plus a small terminal connecting to the existing rail line using FRA compliant rail diesel cars (like the airport rail link in Toronto). Create a focus area for a pulse network at an existing hub. Without any infrastructure outide the tunnel and terminal you're likely already in the $200 million range.

There really isn't a great option that doesn't involve big compromises.
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  #866  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 12:45 AM
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Yes, but there would be huge technological limitations to work around. Might be cheaper to build a tunnel rather than an incredibly limited surface network (needs FRA compliance unless new tracks built in the rail cut). Would be hard to get a vehicle that can do corners, hills, with FRA compliance and be compatible for street running). Street running requires lots of utility relocation too for reliabilty and weight bearing reasons.

A minimal but useful system could be a terminal right under the Law Courts near the ferry terminal. 1.5 km of tunnel plus a small terminal connecting to the existing rail line using FRA compliant rail diesel cars (like the airport rail link in Toronto). Create a focus area for a pulse network at an existing hub. Without any infrastructure outide the tunnel and terminal you're likely already in the $200 million range.

There really isn't a great option that doesn't involve big compromises.
The key is the new alternate FRA compliance cars like the Stadler GDW that is being used in Austin TX and New Jersey. Low floor, tight turning radius, and allowed to go on freight rail.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stadler_GTW
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  #867  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 1:46 AM
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A 40 metre curve radius (like the ones specially made for New Jersey) would still necessitate buildings coming down. In comparison the TTC streetcars have a curve radius of 11 metres.
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  #868  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 5:51 AM
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I use caution with Regional Rail - it's been said before and said again, but if CN isn't on board, nothing is going to happen. The faster discussion (I would think) is likely fast ferries, because the feds can mandate different harbour speeds etc. But, we would have to start that discussion.

Both someone123 and I have been advocating the idea of a multi-modal system of transit for a while. So I thought I'd dig out a couple google maps I created, to illustrate how a couple well setup streetcars (along a common track) could facilitate even more development and support more trips occuring on transit.

The First is my proposed streetcar network; we've discussed it before. The theme is common: Common Track. Wherever possible, try to use common track along some of the heavy density/important destination areas so that you have higher frequency, but you only pay to install the track once. I've not shown a connection across the harbour or the Arm, but I have a note assuming that once a new MacDonald Bridge was built - such a connection could be made (the same assumption would go for a NW Arm link). This assumption will make more sense on the second map. But as you can see, I showed the proposed corridors of the Regional Centre Plan and a number of other areas that could now be used for increase density. If done right, the density could be put in first (through zoning) and the lines paid for as a mandatory bonusing or levy when redevelopment occurs (based on a sliding scale for each type of unit - pay more for more bedrooms).

The second map is my concept for a multi-modal high order transit system for HRM. Not shown is a regional rail, but I couldn't find a good colour for it - so assume it's there. As you can see on this map, I've suggested fast ferries, LRT and streetcars. Once again - common track is an idea I've used for the idea of an LRT. Recognizing that tunnels are super expensive, I've suggested a common tunnel in DT wherever possible. The idea would be that much like Vancouver, Waterfront (where the Tim's is located on the Waterfront) would become the terminus station in the DT core and all routes would branch out from there - there would also be a link to the ferry. Scotia Square will also be a major connection point because the two common tunnels connect there again (mainly focusing on the adjacent office workers and providing a variety of connection points so as not to make one point a super busy place).

I've also suggested in the second map clear links with building future bridges, so that people aren't as fearful of building bridges/tunnels like the 3rd crossing. We have to realize that the MacDonald and McKay will eventually need to be replaced. It would be foolish not to have a 3rd link in place when the MacDonald needs to be replaced so take advantage of that and build an LRT/Bus tunnel into it. When the MacDonald is replaced, build it big enough to have a dedicated lane for transit in each direction (or for LRT). Keep in mind the suggested LRT routes should be viewed as an eventual build out in 25-40 years, so the 'first legs' of each line would likely be much shorter...

Common tracks are quite common and work out really well - Calgary's 7 Avenue has both lines running on it and if you are going down the avenue, it's great in terms of how soon a train arrives. I was in Edmonton this weekend and saw the progress being made on the new Metro Line (the original LRT is being called the Capital Line) - the two will run on the common track from Health Sciences to Churchill and then each branching off in their respective directions. Vancouver's skytrain uses a common line from Waterfront for a good portion of the Expo/Millenium lines. I can't remember where they break off though...

I've also had a lot of time to think about how we could pay for it. We have a great General Manager here in Calgary for Planning and he and I have spoken about a lot of interesting ways to facilitate major capitol projects like an LRT. Now whether HRM has these tools is a question, but if they don't - they could through discussion with the Province about charter changes. I don't know all the numbers, but I'm posting this youtube link of a presentation he gave about various methods of raising money which he had access to in the US (which we had also in Calgary to a certain extent). If HRM could do something along the lines of the example of what Rollin gives in his presentation (using a variety of options including a small 1/2 cent sales tax) then depending on the cost, HRM could find some serious $ to help build an LRT. Maybe not pay for it on their own; but put in a good contribution which would lessen the need to go to the Feds/Province asking for a lot of money.
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  #869  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 12:58 PM
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The Feds require province wide for HST rate changes, at least for Ontario.
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  #870  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 3:03 PM
halifaxboyns halifaxboyns is offline
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The Feds require province wide for HST rate changes, at least for Ontario.
HST is a form of sales tax - but if HRM had the power to do a sales tax, they could do it within the confines of HRM. It could be a percentage or something like $0.05 on any item over $5. That's what a city in the US did (I haven't had coffee so forgive me, I can't remember which one) and when they combined it with value capture and tax increment financing, they raised nearly half a billion $ in bonding capacity.

What I'm trying to suggest in my comment (which may not have been clear since it was quite late) is that if HRM wants to get into building streetcars/LRT - they need alternate sources of financing to do it, rather than just going cap in hand to the Province or feds. So if it cost say $200 million to build the 2 peninsula streetcars I've suggested in my map (vehicles and maintenance facility included); then if a TIF and value capture could be used then HRM may be able to raise (in bonding capacity) the whole amount. Or most of it and then seek additional money.

The same would hold true for a future LRT line. The only concern I would have is if we bonded out 100% of value capture of a TIF. I'd want to limit it to no more than 75%, this way the City has some capacity to maneuver and use the $ for other services...
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  #871  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 6:14 PM
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HST is a form of sales tax - but if HRM had the power to do a sales tax, they could do it within the confines of HRM. It could be a percentage or something like $0.05 on any item over $5. That's what a city in the US did (I haven't had coffee so forgive me, I can't remember which one) and when they combined it with value capture and tax increment financing, they raised nearly half a billion $ in bonding capacity.
L.A. did this--it was called Measure R, and it's projected to raise nearly $40 billion for transit. Big success.

Toronto's transit wonks and politicians are talking about doing it, but with their current mayor and dysfunctional political climate it looks unlikely. City Council there had a recent vote on alternative revenue tools for transit and they rejected almost everything, leaving only increased development charges, and the option of a regional sales tax. But that would have to be provincially approved, and the provincial NDP and Conservatives have both come out vehemently against it, with only the fairly beleaguered Liberals in support--and a pro-tax policy is a lonely stand to take.

And in fact, I'd normally support it (I like taxes, well-applied) but NS taxpayers really are pretty burdened. I'd want to see HST cut back a bit before something like was applied. Or even, instead of an HST reduction, a re-allocation of one or two percent specifically to transit improvements--but I think that would end up being untenable politically. First, it would have to be applied only in HRM, and second, one can only imagine what the opposition would say about the NDP reneging on their tax-cut promises.

Last edited by Drybrain; Aug 26, 2013 at 6:46 PM.
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  #872  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 6:50 PM
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L.A. did this--it was called Measure R, and it's projected to raise nearly $40 billion for transit. Big success.

Toronto's transit wonks and politicians are talking about doing it, but with their current mayor and dysfunctional political climate it looks unlikely. City Council there had a recent vote on alternative revenue tools for transit and they rejected almost everything, leaving only increased development charges, and the option of a regional sales tax. But that would have to be provincially approved, and the provincial NDP and Conservatives have both come out vehemently against it, with only the fairly beleaguered Liberals in support--and a pro-tax policy is a lonely stand to take.

And in fact, I'd normally support it (I like taxes, well-applied) but NS taxpayers really are pretty burdened. I'd want to see HST cut back a bit before something like was applied. I don't think it would have much support otherwise.
I think you are getting the HST and a sales tax for HRM confused. The Ontario measure for the TTC would involve a 1% increase of the HST to help fund this - so people all over the Province would be contributing. I'm not talking about increasing the HST in NS to help pay for transit. I'm talking about HRM having the power to levy it's own sales tax within the area that is HRM. Now I don't know how much it would raise; the numbers given in the presentation from Rollin are based on an American city which has greater population. But even if you set a strategic value of $0.25 per $5 value of purchase (prior to taxes), I'm sure you could raise a good penny.

I'm also sure politically, it would have to be done sensitively. If it was done as a tax measure that could be shown to have very little impact (say it might add $1 to fueling up or $2 to every grocery bill); then it may something people would say - well, I don't mind giving a loonie to help get better transit everytime I buy groceries.

Plus, it has to be looked at in combination with other things like value capture, tax increment financing and seeking assistance from the Province or Federal Government through infrastructure funding. I'm simply trying to show that there are ways to pay for things...that we haven't really considered here in HRM.
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  #873  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 7:29 PM
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I think you are getting the HST and a sales tax for HRM confused. The Ontario measure for the TTC would involve a 1% increase of the HST to help fund this - so people all over the Province would be contributing. I'm not talking about increasing the HST in NS to help pay for transit. I'm talking about HRM having the power to levy it's own sales tax within the area that is HRM. Now I don't know how much it would raise; the numbers given in the presentation from Rollin are based on an American city which has greater population. But even if you set a strategic value of $0.25 per $5 value of purchase (prior to taxes), I'm sure you could raise a good penny.

I'm also sure politically, it would have to be done sensitively. If it was done as a tax measure that could be shown to have very little impact (say it might add $1 to fueling up or $2 to every grocery bill); then it may something people would say - well, I don't mind giving a loonie to help get better transit everytime I buy groceries.

Plus, it has to be looked at in combination with other things like value capture, tax increment financing and seeking assistance from the Province or Federal Government through infrastructure funding. I'm simply trying to show that there are ways to pay for things...that we haven't really considered here in HRM.
Oh, yeah, I know--but even in that case, I think people would go apeshit over any new tax. It would take massive political guts to raise the idea, and I think any local politician who did so would be punished come election time (I also have little faith it would get through council).

But it would probably be easier at the city level than provincially, where opposition parties are ready to jump all over any political advantage, even if it means attacking a good idea. Still, I think there is a pretty significant tax burden in Nova Scotia, which already has the highest sales taxes and second-highest income taxes (I think?) in Canada. I'm not normally in the tax-relief camp, but there is a case to be made for it in this province.
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  #874  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 7:50 PM
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Just how popular do you think a new tax in HRM would be if it is designed to support a street car or trolley system on the peninsula if you happened to live in Hubbards, Musquodoboit or (horrors) Necum Teuch.......
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  #875  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 8:23 PM
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Just how popular do you think a new tax in HRM would be if it is designed to support a street car or trolley system on the peninsula if you happened to live in Hubbards, Musquodoboit or (horrors) Necum Teuch.......
Most of these places make up a tiny percentage of HRM's population. If we worry about what the few people in 'no man's land HRM' think of urban projects, we aren't going to get anything accomplished.

Most people in Hubbards and Musquodoboit commute to work somewhere in Halifax anyway and understand the traffic problems.
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  #876  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 8:29 PM
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Most of these places make up a tiny percentage of HRM's population. If we worry about what the few people in 'no man's land HRM' think of urban projects, we aren't going to get anything accomplished.

Most people in Hubbards and Musquodoboit commute to work somewhere in Halifax anyway and understand the traffic problems.
Exactly - part of the debate has to centre around the future routes of a network, so not just a streetcar system but future LRT. If you look at the map I provided (map 2) with the LRT network, I'm suggesting a route all the way out to Timberlea. If the system was fast and efficient, they could drive into the closest station and then go from there...
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  #877  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 8:41 PM
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Exactly - part of the debate has to centre around the future routes of a network, so not just a streetcar system but future LRT. If you look at the map I provided (map 2) with the LRT network, I'm suggesting a route all the way out to Timberlea. If the system was fast and efficient, they could drive into the closest station and then go from there...
For sure, just watch next week when Highway 103 will be backed up in the morning several kilometres waiting patiently to get the privilege to merge onto highway 102 only to crawl for several more kilometres and then you've still only made it to Connaught Ave. (The Metro X's buses are stuck in the same traffic).
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  #878  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 8:45 PM
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Last Friday I had the honour of experiencing Windmill Road through Burnside headed toward Magazine Hill during the evening rush and I was quite shocked to put it mildly. I knew traffic could be bad on some key routes during rush hour but damn, that was intense. We desperately need to reduce the number of people commuting by cars.
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  #879  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 9:55 PM
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Some of these traffic bottlenecks were part of the reason I suggested the routes the way I did. Despite being a planner, I'm not a transportation planner - so I'm sure the dynamics of what I proposed aren't fully correct. But they made sense to me.
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  #880  
Old Posted Aug 26, 2013, 10:06 PM
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Most of these places make up a tiny percentage of HRM's population. If we worry about what the few people in 'no man's land HRM' think of urban projects, we aren't going to get anything accomplished.

Most people in Hubbards and Musquodoboit commute to work somewhere in Halifax anyway and understand the traffic problems.
Currently the General transit tax rates aren't charged on homeowners east of Musquodobit and east of the Airport, because they have little to no hope of receiving transit service. It's possible that these areas could be exempt from these revenue generating measures. I think it's a great idea. Homeowners and passengers will be appeased because they don't have to carry the full freight for infrastructure costs. Now the person who lives in an apartment and drives everywhere while indirectly benefitting from the resulting reduced traffic can now contribute to transit improvements.
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