Saturday, April 09, 2011

Support for light rail trains gets a boost

During the recent public consultations, the Region distributed a survey that could be filled out on paper or online. It listed 11 options: nine were forms of LRT, one was BRT on dedicated lanes, and one was no rapid transit.

The Region has released the results of the survey, causing the Record to trumpet that 78% of respondents voted for rapid transit, proving that the public wants LRT. But let's look at the survey.

The only option that was not rapid transit was phrased like this in the survey:

"BU11 - Business as usual - no rapid transit (not considered feasible, especially because of its quality of life impacts, disruptive road expansion and because it does not align with the Council-approved Regional Official Plan and Regional Transportation Master Plan)."

Who ever heard of a survey that describes one of the options as "not feasible"? This wording is so slanted that the survey is utterly worthless.

That "not feasible" option is not only feasible; it is clearly the best. It is the option that includes aBRT.

aBRT, or adapted bus rapid transit, is a much cheaper option that BRT in that it doesn't require dedicated lanes for the entirety of the route. It does employ signal priority, queue jumping, and bus-bypassing shoulders, so it is approximately the same speed as BRT (and it's quicker than LRT for the whole route because riders don't have to transfer in the middle). It is much more flexible than LRT or BRT in that the route can easily be changed. It is also much more flexible in that it can be converted to rail in future at little cost if the ridership rises. (BRT, with fixed curbs along the whole route, is very expensive to convert to rail.)

Not only does aBRT make sense, but it is the option currently preferred by Cambridge City Council.

Other questions abound about the survey.

It appears that the Region has counted only the printed surveys, and has ignored the online submissions. The only explanation I can think of for this is that the online surveys must have been against LRT.

The Record article trumpeting the survey results pulls out all stops in slanted reporting. (Support for light rail trains gets a boost) The reporter interviewed me yesterday and I explained the problems with the survye, but he neglected to report them. The article gives the erroneous impression that high tech emloyees are clamoring for LRT, which is utter hogwash. And while the pro-LRT organization is named in full, T4ST is not mentioned. To add insult to injury, they spelled my name wrong. I am referred to as "Ruth Howarth, the spokesperson for a group opposed to the light-rail plans."


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