Monday, September 12, 2011

Voodoo Economics. LRT critics numbers don't add up

For Immediate Release
September 12, 2011

Councillor says critics’ plan will wreck transit

Victoria City Councillor John Luton, who sits on the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, is asking the “CRD Business and Residential Taxpayers” group to put their numbers through the same level of scrutiny they are demanding of BC Transit’s LRT proposal.

Luton said that the group’s prediction that the “business as usual” case will cost only $12 million extra over the two decades is not credible.  With lifecycles of 20 years or less, every bus in the fleet will disappear without significant investment.  Their plan does not account for population growth and will stifle economic development in the region, he said.  “Even today passengers are being left behind when buses are full and maintenance facilities can’t do all the work needed to keep our buses on the road.”

Luton says that the latest numbers being touted by the group must be reviewed by credible transportation and economic analysts and that a full accounting of alternatives they are proposing must be subjected to a “triple bottom line” evaluation.

“Their numbers are silent on new road building costs and the land values lost to parking under scenarios they are promoting.  Thousands of new car trips could be generated by their HOV plan”, says Luton.  “No calculations are made on greenhouse gas emissions or congestion impacts on economic productivity.”  Luton says that the group has levelled criticisms of LRT on their website but suggests they need to submit their plans to more rigorous independent analysis.  Those plans include HOV strategies that have proven ineffective in other jurisdictions or bus based systems that won’t meet long term transportation needs in the capital region. 

“Transit’s plan has gone through extensive public engagement, rigorous multiple account evaluations and years of planning”, Luton says.  He said that local commission members met with the provincial Minister several months ago to discuss the project.  “He told us he would consider only long term solutions to transportation problems and applauded the good work done so far on the LRT plan”.  The province has funding for Victoria in their transit plan and, with federal support, Luton says that the capital can build a sustainable, cost effective system and create a more attractive environment for investment”.
Discussions also covered local governance and funding issues that both the CRD and Transit Commission have been working on.

Luton says that LRT works well in cities around North America and elsewhere in the world, often in cities no bigger than Victoria.  “LRT is the best fit to meet our evolving travel demands, support environmental objectives and help spur economic development.  Critics are focused only on capital costs but ignore the clear limits of the models BC Transit has already looked at.”

Luton has already brought a motion to Victoria City Council asking decision makers to seek senior government funding and supporting an independent, peer review of Transit’s LRT plan on costs and ridership numbers.  He is taking the same concepts to the Commission to ensure staff’s work on the project is supported at the political level.

“Victoria is past the point where expanding capacity for car travel can solve our transportation problems.  We have to build solutions for this century, not the last one.”

For more information:
John Luton
250-886-4166 (cell)

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