Originally Posted by mooky
EDIT: an eye catcher in my books would be a grandiose scheme to fully fund several legs of LRT expansion and enhancement
I fully agree!! What we need is a candidate who's willing to make a strong stand on transit. Somebody needs to present the fact to Calgarians that transit is not simply a transportation tool but the greatest tool for development that the city has at its disposal.
Take for instance the North Central LRT. From speaking to people at Transit Open Houses, it is my understanding that a subway route up Centre Street is the preferred option from a planning perspective. However because of the added cost of a subway, the City is leaning towards building it up the Nose Creek Valley. Looking at this simply from a transportation angle, this decision does make some sense. However what about looking at it from a planning model? Implementing Plan It: Calgary was estimated to save the City $11.2 Billion in infrastructure costs over the long term. One of the key parts of Plan It: is turning Centre Street into an urban corridor and encouraging redevelopment along its length. As of right now, how will that be done? Beats me. But if the NC LRT was built up Centre Street, I guarantee that investment and redevelopment along the corridor will immediately follow!
So what about cost? Well a rough estimate of building a combined Centre Street subway/proposed SE LRT line is $3.1 Billion. It's a big number and would probably raise a few eyebrows with tax payers. However, the municipalities of the GTA along with the Ontario Government have committed $17.5 Billion towards the MoveOntario 2020 rapid transit initiative. That's roughly 5 times the funding Calgary would require for an area that has about 5 times the population of Calgary. The only difference between us and them is political will power. Any candidate who can see the value in pushing a Centre Street subway/SE LRT will be able to dramatically change the development pattern in the City and give taxpayers their best shot at the $11.2 Billion in savings of Plan It:.
The province just gave us $800 Million in Green Trip funding to play with. Using that to build part of the SE LRT is good. But being able to leverage that into a P3 partnership so that the City could cover the $3.1 Billion cost of a combined Centre Street subway/SE LRT would be visionary. Because this new line would be completely seperate from the exisiting LRT infrastructure, it could be put out to an open bid for all the big transportation players in the world. I have no doubt that there would be a few that would love to take away the monopoly Siemens currently enjoys in the Alberta market.
Is there a candidate out there that can see this as a long term solution to a lot of the city's problems? I don't know. But I don't think the timing will ever be better for this to happen. What we need is the right person to step up to the plate!
PS: It has been mentioned in the Transit thread before, but for those interested in reading a more in-depth arguement about the benefits of a Centre Street subway, you can find it at http://www.growsmart.ca