Short note today. So yesterday I tempted fate. Talking about how transit worked for me has resulted in my daughter being sick today. This means I have made the early ferry (8:52) because I dumped Emma at my moms first thing and ran to the bus, 15 mins earlier than usual. The kick is I have to re-arrange my classes and run back to Halifax at 1:30 so Mom can get to a Doctors appointment, so my first $25.00 cab ride happens today. Woot, as the kids say. Or is that w00t?
Anyway, I read the transit proposal from the consultants. Yes I read 178 pages for fun, though I will admit I skimmed parts (like descriptions of where the routes currently go).
The proposal says little on fast ferry, it says a lot about Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and light rail (LRT). Amazingly, it says we need to consider planning to include trolleys or light rail on streets in 15-20 years. I totally agree, I think large capital investment now will have a huge pay off later.
Then on Tuesday council voted to have staff do a report on using heavy dayliners to provide regional transit options. Lets be clear, there are two types of transit being talked about here. LRT could be trams like Toronto has, trolleys on rails with electric power, replacing exisiting bus lines, and running on dedicated lines. HRT is big Via rail trains, or more like the Go Transit in Ontario.
Staff already has said that you cannot run light rail on heavy freight rail lines, so that is the major issue in Halifax. We have two lines, Windsor Junction to Halifax, Windsor Junction to Autoport (via Dartmouth) that are used 1-2-3 times a day, so it seems obvious that we should run passengers on these tracks. However, staff indicates that we cannot use regular street car style transport.
I am not sure this is the case! Capital Metro in Austin Texas is planning on running light rail style cars, suitable for both station to station traffic on dedicated rails, but also low floor enough that you can run them on streets, and the rail they are using is in part a freight rail. I remember reading that these Stadler cars met heavy freight requirements for safety.
So, bottom line, as we pull into Woodside – I don’t want a staff report. Lets get some consultants, maybe the ones from Austin Texas, with experience in exactly these things, and an open mind, to tell us what is possible, and what is not. I think staff are pre-disposed to be against rail, so lets get some independent consultants in who will talk about switching and controller upgrades to the existing system to meet both needs, rather than wholesale replacement of the existing system. I remain to be convinced it has no future.