Municipal candidates opposed to ION light rail asked to provide details on what they would build instead
The Tri-Cities Transport Action Group is calling on regional chair candidate Jay Aissa and other municipal candidates opposed to the ION light rail project to reveal to the public what rapid transit solution they would implement as an alternative to ION. To date, TriTAG is not aware of any detailed, fully costed rapid transit plan from any candidate promising to cancel ION.
“Mr. Aissa says he has a plan for transit that is somehow both cheap and comprehensive, yet he hasn’t shown it to voters,” said Michael Druker of TriTAG. “We believe the public deserves to hear the details.”
“If Jay Aissa has the respect for voters he claims and truly believes in transparency, he will share the details of his supposed ‘plan’,” added Druker.
Specifically, TriTAG is asking Aissa and other candidates to provide details concerning:
- the form of rapid transit they would build (e.g. more iXpress buses, buses with dedicated lanes, subways, etc.);
- the route their planned rapid transit would take;
- the debt and tax impact of their plan for both capital and operating expenses, and
- the timeline for implementation of their planned rapid transit network
“If Mr. Aissa’s plan is dedicated rapid bus service for the ION route, that means more debt and higher taxes over the lifetime of the project. Ottawa has shown BRT means sky-high operating costs and a system that must be converted to light rail at huge expense,” said Taylor Byrnes of TriTAG. “The public needs to know whether Mr. Aissa’s plan can overcome both the cancellation costs for ION and high expenses to meet swelling ridership demand; or whether Mr. Aissa is just making empty promises he can’t keep.”
ION went through a decade of planning and public debate in Waterloo Region. If Mr. Aissa and other candidates want to overturn it overnight, TriTAG asks them to disclose their transit plans so voters have the weekend to scrutinize them before heading to the polls.
More TriTAG election resources:
In debunking Myth 2, we estimated the cost of running bus service to equal ION’s ridership in 2017 to cost $23.6 million, and by 2031 to cost $52.9 million. In comparison, the operations and financing cost of ION is $30 million a year. How did we reach these figures?
We started with the current situation: transit ridership has been growing much faster than population, but roughly in proportion to the amount of transit service being provided (measured in “service hours”– the number of hours each bus is providing scheduled transit service.)
Source: Regional Transportation Master Plan progress report, Jan 2014, page 11
Our estimate is based on the cost of providing enough service hours for a growing ridership along the Central Transit Corridor in KW.
Cost per service hour is $138/hr for Waterloo Region in 2012 (sourced from the OMBI 2012 Performance Measurement Report, page 187). This figure includes amortization, meaning it accounts for the cost of the vehicle as well.
Given that we’re focusing on comparative costs for ION stage 1, all numbers for 200 iXpress have been limited to the Kitchener-Waterloo portion only.
Ridership targets for ION are 25,000 (2017) and 56,000 (2031). passengers per day. (Source) Central transit corridor ridership (route 7 and route 200 KW only) was 20,000 in 2013.
Our cost estimate for serving 20,000 passengers is $18.9 million. Spreadsheet.
Because the central transit corridor bus frequency is already driven by ridership, and peak time buses are routinely full, supporting further ridership requires a higher number of buses.
- Cost of supporting 25,000 riders = ($18.9M / 20,000) * 25,000 = $23.6M
- Cost of supporting 56,000 riders = ($18.9M / 20,000) * 56,000 = $52.9M
Given that operator hours (i.e. wages) drive a significant part of service hour costs, we could possibly reduce this figure by introducing higher capacity buses (such as articulated buses.) However, our observation from the OMBI report is that Ottawa’s service hour cost is higher partly because they use higher capacity buses.
Friday: Myth #5: “LRT won’t benefit me.”
It’s election time in Waterloo Region, and it’s getting a bit crazy out there. While many candidates are presenting strong ideas and platforms, a few opportunists have carved out a “cancel LRT” niche, and they’re not afraid to kick the facts to the curbside to sell it. TriTAG is calling them out.
If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that TriTAG has supported ION as a good plan to bring rapid transit to Waterloo Region. But we have also challenged the project team to make ION even better, sometimes being sharply critical of some decisions they have made. TriTAG wants to see ION be the best it can be: light rail will bring a lot of change to our cities, and will bring real transportation choice to many thousands of people. We have to get it right.
But change naturally has some voters concerned, and a few politicians are trying to cash in with single-issue campaigns designed to play up to people’s fears. That’s where we come in. TriTAG is going to put the myths being spread during this election to the test, to help you make your vote an informed one.
We hope you’ll join us.
Want to learn more?
A new candidate , John Wolf, has officially entered the race for Regional Chair. Wolf claims that as Chair, he would try to cancel light rail, and as an alternative, investigate making transit free in an effort to boost ridership.
Last month, TriTAG investigated the claims of (as of yet unregistered) Regional Chair candidate Jay Aissa concerning the light rail project. Today, we will explore the issue of free transit and try to address two questions that arise from Wolf’s platform: is free transit a viable alternative to light rail and rapid transit, and what would the impact of free public transit be on Waterloo Region?
In 2011, when light rail was being debated and ultimately decided upon, there was a great deal of misinformation being spread about light rail and its suitability to Waterloo Region. During that time, TriTAG debunked many of these myths so that an informed public debate could occur.
As the 2014 municipal election period builds momentum, false information about light rail is once again emerging. As democracy depends on an informed electorate, we’ve decided to fact-check egregious statements candidates make regarding light rail and other issues for which we advocate. We begin with Jay Aissa, who in his interview shortly after declaring his intent to run for Regional Chair, made several false claims concerning the light rail project.