Waterloo $818-million transit, the bridges of Montreal, more than buses Halifax

Transport Action Canada
Hotline 1121, June 17, 2011

Waterloo Region votes yes to $818-million rail transit system

"In six years, expect to see trains on city streets, carrying passengers to work, home and school. In a historic decision, regional council voted 9-2 Wednesday to build an $818-million rail transit system, the largest public works project ever undertaken in the region. The approved plan and latest timeline suggests that by 2017 you will see electric trains, drawing power from overhead wires, running 19 kilometres between Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and Fairview Park mall in Kitchener," Jeff Outhit reported for the Waterloo Region Record on June 15.

"The trains will run in dedicated lanes, displacing traffic. They will travel at the speed of traffic, averaging about 30 km/h, and will share signalized intersections with traffic. They will trigger green lights while cross-traffic waits. Trains will pass every 7.5 to 15 minutes and stop at up to 18 platforms. Mall-to-mall travel time is estimated at 39 minutes, up to nine minutes faster than the schedule for express buses today. Fares are undetermined," the Waterloo Region Record reported.

Waterloo, the battle for better public transportation

"The  grassroots Tri-Cities Transport Action Group (Tri-TAG) worked extremely hard to get this very strong vote, including organizing a rally on Saturday that drew 250 plus people in the rain. Tri-TAG also compiled a list of businesses, and institutions which supported the light rail concept. The opposition, an anti-tax group, mounted a big campaign to defeat light rail and seemed to have quite a bit of money," reports Tony Turrittin, Transport Action Ontario board member.

"Waterloo region is sending a message. It is possible to win the battle for better public transportation.  It's a success that should cheer all of us up. There are certainly no lack of battles to be fought," Turrittin reports. He listed High speed rail.  GO electrification. Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton light rail transit, northern Ontario rail passenger expansion, the Niagara-to-GTA Expressway and the 407 East extension.

There is no formal relationship between Tri-TAG and Transport Action, but membership overlaps.

Pont Mercier: Congestion routière: les maires veulent un comité d'urgence

« Réunis en conseil, hier matin, les élus de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (CMM) ont adopté une résolution demandant à Québec et Ottawa de convoquer ce comité, formé d'élus des trois ordres de gouvernement. Ils demandent aussi aux gestionnaires des grandes infrastructures, comme les ponts Champlain et Mercier ou l'échangeur Turcot, «d'évaluer les risques découlant de l'état des infrastructures du réseau routier» afin d'aider les municipalités à déployer les moyens nécessaires pour éviter des conflits entre les grands chantiers gouvernementaux et les travaux d'infrastructures municipales » Bruno Bisson a rapporté pour la Presse le 17 juin.

«La fermeture du pont Mercier, a dit à La Presse Yves Phaneuf, conseiller à la direction générale de la CMM, s'ajoute aux bretelles fermées de l'échangeur Turcot, aux chantiers qui commencent dans les municipalités, à des fermetures de rues pour les événements d'été. C'est vraiment majeur. Le MTQ a répondu rapidement et l'AMT a mis des mesures en place, mais il y a plein de dommages collatéraux. Et le trafic se déverse où? Dans les rues des villes. Cela affecte tout le monde.»

New York to Montreal rail ridership up 21.2%

The National Association of Railroad Passengers  in the U.S. reports that May was the 19th consecutive month of year over year ridership growth on Amtrak trains. Long distance routes were up 4.6% as a whole compared to May 2010.  Amtrak shorter routes serving Canada did especially well: Adirondack (New York-Montreal) up 21.2%, Blue Water (Sarnia)-Port Huron-Chicago up 22%, and the Amtrak Cascades "corridor" (Portland, OR, Seattle, Vancouver BC) was up 6.5% for all trains combined. http://www.narprail.org

Halifax, Transit is about access, mobility and a better city!

The Planning & Design Centre in partnership with Fusion Halifax is building a grassroots movement to create a better public transportation network in the Halifax Regional Municipality. We are hosting three public forums to  take an objective look at how to improve public transportation in  The first event called: It's More Than Buses. Transit is about access, mobility and a better city! will be held on Tuesday, June 28, 2011 from 6-8  pm at the World Trade and Convention Centre.

Transport Action's Barry Wellar on sustainable transport  

Dr. Barry Wellar, Distinguished Research Fellow, Transport Action Canada, was a keynote speaker at the 2nd Annual Sustainable Community Summit: Identifying Barriers and Providing Solutions. The Summit was sponsored by Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi. Here's video of Dr. Wellar’s presentation, “Transportation: Inspiring a Sustainability Action Agenda”.

Drawbacks: Metrolinx proposal to link the CN and CP lines in Oshawa

"The extension of the rail commuter service to Bowmanville is an undertaking that I fully support.  However, I do not support the current Metrolinx proposal to link the CN and CP lines in Oshawa," Transport Action member Paul-André Larose wrote to the editor of the Oshawa Express.

"Some of the major drawbacks associated with the proposed MetrolinX project are:
1) the loss of the Multi-Modality GO/Via in Oshawa – this reflects a poor lack of vision at a time when there is world-wide recognition of the need to better integrate transit, irrespective of mode, and there is a proposal to integrate the railways with the airport on the west-end of Toronto;
2)  bring a high level of car traffic in Oshawa and Bowmanville, as well as create a local “Parking Problem”, thus inducing road congestion and worsening environmental parameters;
3)  jeopardize future plans to provide GO Rail service on the CP Line itself, something that would provide a practical transportation alternative to North Whitby and North Pickering residents and thus, make them less likely for continued dependence on their cars," the Oshawa Express letter said.

Bridges: Mercier, De la Concorde overpass, Champlain and I-35 

The surprise closure of the southbound span of Montreal's Mercier Bridge is causing transportation chaos in Montreal. On June 17 the Gazette's Andy Riga reported on the state Montreal's bridges.

"In December, a study by the Delcan engineering firm contained troubling conclusions about the Champlain: "The possibility (of) a partial or complete collapse of one span ... cannot be ruled out."If one external girder fails, "it could cause a progressive collapse of an entire span," the report added.

"The eight-lane span of the (I-35) innterstate highway plummeted into the Mississippi River in 2007, killing 13 people and injuring 145 people. A subsequent investigation ... blamed the failure of the bridge on the same part now under scrutiny on the Mercier. Known as a gusset plate, the metal plate is used to unite multiple structural members of a truss bridge," the Montreal Gazette reported.