12 Comments

Does our future lie in light rail? Jeffrey Casello’s answer


Thanks to a comment to this post, I have learned of a fantastic interview of Jeffrey Casello by Steve Paikin on the Agenda on October 19. I highly recommend that you watch it–especially if you are unsure about light rail in Waterloo Region:

Follow this link to watch the interview.

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Today’s Waterloo Region Record asks this question and provides two answers. Unfortunately, the online version of the paper initially only had one sided posted due to an oversight so I posted it below. It is now online and you may prefer to read it there. The “No” column can also be found on the Record’s website.

Jeffrey Casello’s explanation of why the answer is yes is excellent and so I have scanned it and provided it here. He’s an expert in these issues as he is an associate professor of planning and civil engineering at the University of Waterloo.

livable without light rail.

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12 comments on “Does our future lie in light rail? Jeffrey Casello’s answer

  1. Jeffrey Casello also appeared on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin (video, audio only).

    He presents a very convincing argument for Light Rail Transit in Waterloo, so convincing that I have actually changed my mind in favour of LRT.

    –Bob.

  2. What worries me is the short sightedness of people. This is an issues that has long term affects on the region. Are trains the answer? Maybe, but busses can be more cheaper to run at times. That being said, i’d prefer trains, they’re quicker, quiter, and just easier.

    Who knows, maybe a rail link to Guelph is next. Imagine that.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think you’ve identified what makes this issue so difficult for people to get their head’s around. Most of us are not used to thinking long term especially in terms of community building.

  3. And we used to build our own, right here in the region. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preston_Car_Company.

    Here’s the Ironic thing, we had a rail link between Waterloo and Kitchener. In fact, i’m pretty sure most residents have heard of The Iron Horse, but never new it’s history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Horse_Trail,_Ontario

  4. Read the article, haven’t watched the video.

    I have a problem with LRT for a couple of reasons:
    1 – Cost, money could be better spent on other cheaper programs that will have a more immediate impact.
    2 – Most of the arguments ignore stating what the problem is and focus on the what the implementation should be. The argument hints above hints that our current public transportation system needs to be fixed so that it has a main spine with major branches rather than the current spaghetti noodle. Why not fix the current system with what we have. Invest to make it work. Then see if LRT could actually make it better. Say a proof of concept.
    3 – Why not focus on where the majority of travel occurs. Inter-Regional travel rather than within Waterloo Region. Link Waterloo Region (K-W, Cambridge) with Guelph, GTA, Hamilton, London first. Bring the long distance commuters in by train. I’d love to be able to take the train to the Toronto Airport.
    4 – I can’t see anyone with two beemers in their driveway in Laurelwood walking to a local bus stop to wait for a bus, only to get off at UW’s trainstation to wait for a train to take to one of the Malls when they could get into their vehicle and be there in 10 minutes rather than at least 45 minute LRT ride (5 minute walk, 5 minute wait, 10 minute ride, 10 minute wait, 10 mintue ride then walk 5 minutes from the Trainstation to the Mall).

    Without provincial rail system a Waterloo Region LRT makes no sense.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Graham!

      Sure there are things we can do and cheaper that will improve our public transit system. I see the LRT as the catalyst to help make that happen and to achieve a better result than would otherwise be possible.

      What is driving the need for a rapid transit system though isn’t problems with the current public transit system, it is the challenges that we face as a community by growth. If we are to attract more people to live and work in our cores rather than expanding outs, we need a transit alternative that will spark development. I am confident that the LRT can attract the investment required for the intensification required. It is the people living and/or working near the LRT route who will be its primary users. In general, these people or jobs do not yet exist and I’m convinced they won’t if we simply concentrate on improving public transit.

      I agree that we need to improve mass transit between cities. Slowly we’re seeing improvements as GO Transit gets established locally but there is much room for improvement and we need to continue pushing for the pace to be accelerated. But I don’t see that as a reason not to proceed with the LRT since people arriving in Waterloo Region will need a efficient transit system to get around and people going elsewhere will need to easily connect to inter-regional connections. Increasing the ease of travelling between cities could also contribute to the growth fore-casted. Both are important so let’s not pit one against the other and make sure that the one that is within our grasp happens.

  5. If I read your argument correctly it can be summed as ‘Build it, and they will come’. I’ve heard and read this rationale from many supporters of LRT and its this approach that concerns me the most.

    Don’t get me wrong, we need to build and re-build our cities so they are more designed for people rather than cars. We need to lower our foot-print and design sustainable responsible infrastructure.

    I just haven’t seen a reasonable explanation for LRT in such a small city (or collection of cities). Unless there is a decent city connector transport system that links with LR it just doesn’t make sense. Fix the current system, build incrementally rather than a big bang. Like you said the GO Train is a good first step. The GO Trains solve the 9-5 commuter problem but it is not a regional inter-city transportation system.

    You imply that our problem is that we need to attract more people to live and work in our cores to avoid sprawl. LRT alone will not solve this problem. How do see LRT as a catalyst? LRT is one way to solve transportation deficiencies in our city, but it’s not the only one. We can’t attach ourselves to just one implementation, we need to consider all options, weigh the pro’s and cons, the costs, and take a broach program of initiatives to reach our goals.

    Thanks for the engaging discussion, I’ll pop by again and see what’s cooking at King and Ottawa!

    Cheers,

    • If I read your argument correctly it can be summed as ‘Build it, and they will come’.

      It’s more like: “They’re coming! Build it now, and be ready.”

      Wait for them to be here first, and it’ll be more expensive (because of all the ineffective remedies like BRT that will have wasted taxpayer dollars)

      Jeffrey Casello makes a very convincing case for building the LRT now, based on evidence from similar sized communities such as Ottawa in the 1980’s.

      –Bob.

      • Thanks Bob! You took the words out of my mouth. They’re coming! The question is where will they live and work. For me the LRT is a chance to channel growth into the inner city. The alternative is to continue to expand outwards and spend big bucks on helping people get to work by car.

        Graham, I see the LRT as a catalyst because it has the power to transform our inner cities by attracting the investment needed to to intensify them. It does so by being attractive to people that want a urban experience such as the sought after creative class. The LRT can also help to transform people’s behaviours by getting folks who would never think of taking the bus to make public transit a part of their routine. The transformative properties of the LRT are what have sold me on it as the preferred solution for rapid transit in Waterloo Region.

        Glad to hear Graham that you’re finding value in this blog and plan to come back. Welcome to the conversation about a better world starting with a better Kitchener.

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