The proposed phasing of the Green Line – the largest and most ambitious transportation project in the city’s history – is the latest in a growing list of examples where the needs of Ward 3 communities have been sidelined for reasons that remain a mystery to the public.
That’s the fundamental problem: lack of transparency in decision-making.
While it’s a great idea to rise up and state that our needs are being overlooked, we can do more. Specifically, we need to ask questions that demonstrate how decisions were made, and what research was done to arrive at the conclusions. We cannot take an effective stand without the right information.
Specific to the Green Line phasing, we need to ask:
1. If ridership is one of the most important indicators for transit improvements, what does the ridership data along the proposed Green Line tell us?
Using City of Calgary data and comparing a single bus route, the numbers look like this:
BRT Route 301 (North-Downtown): 11,300 riders/day
BRT Route 302 (S.E.-Downtown): 3,700 riders/day
What do the numbers tell us when we examine all bus routes in the impacted communities of the Green Line? If higher ridership results in greater revenue generated for the City, what is the lost revenue opportunity by building phase 1 to the south?
2. If we have existing right-of-ways built into our road infrastructure specifically for LRT (i.e. wide medians separating north/south lanes on Harvest Hills Blvd), why are we not practicing “mode progression” in communities that have demonstrated increased ridership over time with bus rapid transit (BRT)?
The main reason for a “mode progression” from bus to LRT is capacity. It’s been clear for more than 10 years that the Centre Street corridor is reaching its capacity and an LRT is needed to effectively serve the corridor. If the final decision is to take phase 1 of the Green Line to the south, what will be done to make Centre Street more functional for bus riders for the next 10 or possibly 20+ years?
3. What sites in the north were examined for a maintenance yard, and how was it determined that Shepard was the ideal site for the maintenance yard?
The communities of Carrington and Livingston are slightly closer to downtown than Shepard (15km versus 16km on the route). Right-of-ways already exist along many parts of the north leg. In the southeast, complex and expensive construction is required with at least 10 bridges and tunnels to traverse the river, roads and industrial areas. The north has far fewer required bridges and tunnels.
We need to see how the sites were evaluated, and understand the variables that were used in determining the best location. Have we exhausted all possible options for a maintenance facility in the north, including north of Stoney Trail? Do we have the ability to sell the Shepard site if a suitable site in the north could be acquired to offset the cost? On a $4.5 billion project, does it make sense to work backward from a maintenance building to determine which area should be in the first phase?
4. With Carrington and Livingston already taking on new residents, does the projected consistency in population growth warrant making the end of the line past Stoney Trail instead of Northpointe? With a
Could we build the full north leg, including a maintenance facility, for less money than the truncated SE leg? If the north phase is potentially less expensive, could you also build the SETWAY rapid bus to Quarry Park as originally planned?
These are the types of questions that our City Council should be posing to Administration, in a public setting so that residents can actually understand the rationale behind recommendations and decisions. Without this type of transparency, we will continue to see areas of this city at odds with each other and a Council that is divided over perceptions rather than facts.