Transit Evolution #Cdnpoli #ONPoli #Ldnont

The recently defeated bill by the Hon. Olivia Chow, Bill C-305 is a good attempt to correct something Canada is nearly a century behind on. Public transit in Canada seems to be treated with neglect, contempt, incompetence or blasé indifference. A series of dysfunctional systems that are only funded when treasuries have surplus to spare.
A simple web search comparing Canadian transit maps with any area in the world shows a disturbing truth. Public transit in Canada is treated as a luxury that is only used by a few retirees, truant teens and the unemployable. Yet there are, as mentioned in the bill, good economic reasons to increase funding and usage of public transit.
Billions are lost each year in Canada because the congestion and stress of commuting by car. Congestion also slows just in time inventories, courier services, transfers productive real estate to parking and reduces the essential green spaces. Using Toronto as example from an OECD report and The Lancet proves the point.
Public transit is not a luxury, nor is it a right as some seem to argue. It is however an essential part of 21st Century economic stability. Predictions of peak oil and/or oil prices fluctuations causing swings between boom and bust make cars untenable in the long term. Converting the infrastructure to public transit and rail will go far in buffering Canada from the swings.
Public transit can not be squeezed into existing car centric city planning. The city must evolve to accommodate the new transit realities. Public transit alone doesn’t work, it needs to be fed by population density, cyclists and pedestrians. Ontario has released a great set of guidelines for communities of all sizes.
The Federal government is needed as it has the largest resources and the constitutional authority needed to make a national strategy. In some cases such as Ottawa, Gatineau the transit system will have to cross provincial boundaries. Examples of how past and current methods of Federal funding were inefficient or ineffective can be found from the Munk School. Local funding alone will slowly destroy a transit system.
The transformation from car centric cities must go past the bus. Street cars operate at less than half the cost of buses and the even higher capacity light rail transit (LRT) is the same for many more passengers. To match LRT capacity is to have more buses and higher costs. Brooklyn and Hamilton have already shown this data. Also here is the lobby produced data.
As for London Ontario it is well past time the LTC moved to a grid system. Converting current routes to street cars or LRT is impossible. The longer London relies on buses the more expensive conversion to rail will be. There is nothing in the most recent Annual General Report about the changes that are required for the future.
The theory that London is ill suited for a grid is false. There maybe difficulties with London looking like there has been no planning done. A LRT line that wraps around the city, with 2+ east/west and 2+ north/south lines should be explored. All of them should be fed by streetcars doing the local neighbourhoods.
Another place the Federal government should be involved is connecting Canada’s population centres by high speed rail. Service should not be limited to the Windsor-Quebec corridor. There should be service from coast to coast to coast. China is planning to spread its network across Eurasia. Canada could have a vast network through the entire Americas. With the Canadian portions fed by LRT.

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