Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bruce Ricketts Letter

In 1983 I was a candidate in the Calgary municipal election.   One of the topics of conversation at the time was LRT service for the Northeast of the city.  The debate followed a much heralded introduction of LRT service to the southern parts of the city.  LRT was new, it was sexy, it was “proven” and we had more money than we knew what to do with. (The recession was about to hit but we did not care to notice.)

During the campaign I took a cautious view of the project, not because it was the safe thing to do but because it was the right thing to do. 

Much has been written in this 2010 Ottawa election about the efficiency and effectiveness of the Calgary LRT system and the experience of it has been used to sell the idea of an Ottawa LRT versus an expanded Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).   But is everything rosy in Calgary’s LRT-land?

A 2002 report to Calgary city council suggests there are alternatives.  In part the report states:

“Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is emerging in North and South America as a relatively low cost means of providing a faster, higher capacity, bus-based transit service along urban transportation corridors. Experience shows that BRT is attractive to urban travelers since it reduces transit travel times and provides frequent, high capacity service.”

The report goes on to say:

“…BRT passenger capacities will exceed conventional bus service and can approach LRT capabilities.”  and  “Capital and operating cost data indicate that Bus Rapid Transit applications are significantly less expensive to construct than LRT

Let me reinforce that these quotes are from a 2002 report to Calgary City Council, not from me or from Andy Hayden.  This report underscores that, even in a city with a successful LRT, the idea of BRT is not just tossed onto the rubbish bin.  Should not Ottawans have the choice?

Bruce Ricketts
613 292 1061

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