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Thursday, July 10, 2008

get on the bus.

Nolan Crouse is very close to becoming my favorite Alberta Mayor.

Nolan Crouse is the mayor of St. Albert and the chairman of the Capital Region's transportation planning committee. Right now, he says, his committee is still trying to figure out the region's transportation priorities. While he's pleased to see the province promising $2 billion for transit projects, he's not sure commuter rail would work.

"Right now, we only have 1.1 million people in this region. It's hard to imagine that some kind of GO-train system would be very cost-effective."

Even if the province were to fund the construction of such a system, he says, municipalities could be stuck subsidizing it. He'd prefer to let the region set its own transit priorities.

Investing $2 billion into transit initiatives is a positive move, but allowing it to derail current public transit initiatives and plans of Alberta's municipalities would be counter-productive.

Regular readers of this blog will know that public transit is one of my favorite urban growth topics. Investing in a regional transit service for the Capital Region would increase efficiency, cut down on duplication of services and cost created by the three existing transit services (Edmonton Transit Service, St. Albert Transit, and Strathcona Country Transit), and could serve as a key part of a larger transportation strategy to deal with increasing growth pressures in the region.


Jeff J. said...

The genius of the $2 billion dollar GreenTRIP fund is that it allows for and encourages municipalities to think outside the box and to build upon what would work for them. Where the "Regional commuter rail" idea comes from is Calgary region where they have EXISTING rail, it wouldn't make sense to build new rail lines for such a small population, hence why Highspeed rail is decades away.

The Premier seemed pretty clear that this fund is for creativity, ingenuity, and most of all partnerships among municipalities. I think this is great when Mayors like Crouse speak about the potential of such funds, and not drawbacks.

For a blog so committed to public transit, i expected more postive coverage of this one-of-a-kind funds in this country.

Anonymous said...

The province putting big money towards public transit is good for Alberta. The caviat is that the province is late to the party. Transit and transportation plans are something that municipalities have been working towards and putting big money behind for a number of years. The provincial funding should complement already existing plans.

On so many levels municipal politics is where the real action is, and in the case of public transit, they've been talking about public transit plans and strategies for years. Instead of allowing private companies to bid for TRIP fund money the province would be smarter to help elected officials create the transportation plans that they were elected to do.

Jeff J. said...

"the province would be smarter to help elected officials create the transportation plans that they were elected to do."

What do you call the Capital Region Partnership? What do you call the Calgary Regional alliance? Hmm, i call that the Province getting ahead of the curve and encouraging Municipalities to work together to plan for the future.

Every municipality is different, hence why the TRIP fund is set up to reward ingenuity and vision. To me I would rather the money go towards that then use it as a hammer to tell Cities and towns what they should do. But that'sjust me.

Anonymous said...

The AFL was so wrong when they accused Ed Stelmach of having no plan! Clearly putting TWO BILLION dollars into a fund that various groups, both public and private, can bid on is a heck of a vision.

This is sure to not result in piecemeal projects and porkbarrel politics. This is a well thought out solution to the problems plaguing Alberta's major centres; places like Leduc, Grande Prairie and Barrhead.

Thank god for Ed Stelmach and his plan. Where would Alberta be without it?

Anonymous said...

jeff j.,

The level of blog coverage is directly related to the source of the news. If it had been an ALP proposal, it would have merited at least one lengthy blog post... with flashing text and block lettering talking about how visionary it was.

But because it came from the evil PC government, it just gets a link. We should be glad to see it even mentioned... the Globe & Mail and the CBC failed to note it on the first day following its announcement (they spent more ink and paper and TV time on the $25 million oilsands PR plan - but they were busy shooting that one down).

Contrary to the immediately previous anonymous poster, what is so wrong about putting money up that various groups can pitch for? Competition is good, even if it is just one big brainstorming session, and most of the money ends up being awarded to Edmonton and Calgary transit (as may well be the case, as they are the squeaky wheels).

in transit said...

The main editorial in today's Edmonton Journal supports this position:

Cities must benefit from transit plan

Let's take a closer look at the $2 billion that Premier Ed Stelmach designated for public transit projects last week.

Edmonton and Calgary are both getting their hopes up for a share of the cash for badly needed expansions to their LRT systems -- as well they should. Both cities have waited a long time for some signal that the cash-rich province is willing to support expensive LRT lines that are crucial to managing the rapid growth of recent years.