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daveberta.ca – Alberta Politics: How to break from the pack in a 32 candidate by-election race

Thirty-two candidates will be listed on the ballot in the Feb. 22 by-election to fill Edmonton City Council’s Ward 12. With this many candidates on the ballot, it could be challenging for voters to choose who would best represent them on… Cont… . . . → Read More: daveberta.ca – Alberta Politics: How to break from the pack in a 32 candidate by-election race

Yappa Ding Ding: Horrible Regional Signage is Causing Construction Chaos

The Ion LRT is going to take three long years to build, three years of construction and traffic jams, three years of mud, three years of inconvenience and unpleasantness. The process started a few weeks ago, and I live in the epicenter of it. The Regio… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Horrible Regional Signage is Causing Construction Chaos

Yappa Ding Ding: Horrible Regional Signage is Causing Construction Chaos

The Ion LRT is going to take three long years to build, three years of construction and traffic jams, three years of mud, three years of inconvenience and unpleasantness. The process started a few weeks ago, and I live in the epicenter of it. The Region has got to improve their signage.

Here is an . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Horrible Regional Signage is Causing Construction Chaos

Trashy's World: Ottawa suburbs? NO LRT for YOU!

Voters in the ridings of Ottawa-Orleans, Ottawa West-Nepean and Ottawa South? Yeah, you guys. Pay attention to who you vote for next week. You know that LRT thingy that would be extended to your neck of the woods in Phase 2 of the project? Ain’t going to happen if Timmie is Premier. For the first . . . → Read More: Trashy’s World: Ottawa suburbs? NO LRT for YOU!

Autonomy For All: Hudak Promises To Incur Massive Project Cancellation Costs As Premier

Update (29 Oct):  A subsequent G&M piece says Hudak would respect signed contracts and would likely leave the Eglinton LRT alone. Also, this site claims Bombardier was paid an extra $68M for the order reduction in cancelling the Scarborough LRT. That brings cancellation costs to $153M.
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Yes, a Hudak led Ontario government would cancel LRT projects in the Big Move, causing major project cancellation losses to sunk costs (many projects are in-flight in planning or construction) and contract escape penalties to vendors like Bombardier for cancelling or scaling back orders.

“I think GO and our subways are the strengths in our system, and I do not believe in ripping up existing streets to lay down track.” – Tim Hudak

Toronto’s decision to cancel the previously agreed and in-flight Scarborough LRT has cost at least $85M in sunk costs, plus a yet to be determined amount in fees by Bombardier for lowering the LRT car order.  Hudak isn’t specific, but reading the Globe’s synopsis, it seems pretty clear his intent is to cancel all LRT projects, possibly even including the already under construction Eglinton Crosstown line (Hudak was in Mike Harris’ government, which filled in the under construction Eglinton subway line in 1995, so the history repeating here would be simply grotesque). In addition, this would almost certainly include the in-progress but not yet under construction Finch and Sheppard East LRTs, then a raft of other projects in the province such as LRTs for Mississauga and Hamilton.

“You set priorities and you make choices. But I think that every dollar we build underground is there not just for a generation, but for potentially a century. It’s a worthy investment. You’re absolutely right: I’ll lay down less track than I would if I did LRTs, but I think I get bigger bang for the buck in helping beat gridlock.” – Tim Hudak

The cancellation costs for all this would easily run into the hundreds of millions.  For someone hoping to ride the gas plant scandal to power, this is just astounding.

Additionally, Hudak showed he intends to use the proven talking points for subways such as the old “100 year” chestnut above.  Yes Mr. Hudak, subway tunnels last 100 years, but the trains, tracks, platforms & switches do not.  By this argument, we should bury all our roads, because hey, 100 year “investment.”

The other favourite line of LRT proponents is the old “we cannot rip up roads” bit.  It is true that some LRT projects entail road disruptions & dedicated lanes, but as Seoul found, that can actually result in faster commutes not just for those taking transit, but car drivers as well, as removing the buses from their lanes (and possibly some amount of traffic as some drivers opt for transit) speeds up their commutes too.

The biggest whoppers come here:

“[The money] comes from the same place where the Spadina line came from, where the Bloor-Danforth line came from, where the Yonge line came from. It comes from the treasury,” he said. “We did that without tax increases in the past … You do it by finding efficiencies within government.”

First off, the province did not fund the majority of the existing subway network.  Of 64 existing stations, the first 38 stations (or 60% of the total) were funded by the city/metro governments without funding from the senior levels of government.  More importantly Hudak is hinging all this on the ever failing strategy of “finding efficiencies” in the existing government.

How often will voters fall for this deeply dishonest tactic?  Try and take seriously the idea that Hudak knows of billions of dollars of true “inefficiencies” in the current government, as I joked on twitter, perhaps there is a Ministry of Burning Cash that can be shut down. If so, wouldn’t he be bragging about this specifically?  Embarassing the government day after day over the waste in Question Period?

Even as a matter of good public service, if the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition knows of significant areas of taxpayer waste, is he going to sit quietly on them waiting for an election which might be years in coming, letting the government keep wasting money which could be saved?

On the other hand, maybe the claim is true that he plans to “find” these efficiencies, but only once in government.  If so, how can he promise they are there?  He can’t know this.  It’s a hope, maybe an educated one, but still a gamble.  Even if you think say, 5% of all government spending is true waste (like leaving unused buildings lit at night or whatever example of clear out and out waste you can think up, not talking here about spending you just don’t like, which still has a purpose) – it will tend to be a thousand or more little spots of waste.  There isn’t really going to be a Minister of Burning Cash that accounts for 80% of the waste.  Finding those unnecessarily lit buildings or other duplication, overpayment & such is going to be tough. Maybe the process for getting someone a driver’s license take 14 steps and can be shaved to 13 steps with months of work by the Ministry of Transporation and this saves like $5M a year.  I’m sure such inefficiencies exist in government as they do in every large organization, but wringing them out is tough work.  Complex multi-deparment processes have dozens of stakeholders and usually no one person fully undertands the purpose of everything in there, so spotting the “waste” takes weeks of stakeholder interviews to find the steps that no longer serve useful purposes or are duplicated elsewhere.

The obvious place this is going is that Hudak’s idea of “efficiencies” is a set of service cuts for programs he doesn’t approve of.  Wage cuts for public sector workers.  Layoffs.  Social assitance payment reductions.  Facility closures.  This is what is glibly hidden in the euphemism of “efficiencies.”  Hudak doesn’t spell these out because naming specific cuts before you’re safely in power with a majority government is harmful to your chances of getting there.  This is an “elect me and then I will tell you my agenda” promise.

Yes, some of this is up on the party’s website in a set of lengthy “white papers” which are statistically read by no one at all. The reality is that if Hudak had popular cuts to make in the name of efficiency, he would be bragging about them.  In fact, even Hudak’s specific paper on the public sector has vague or small bore promises like a “top to bottom program review” and “a smaller cabinet” – about the only headline cost saver is a public sector wage freeze (which is a cowardly way of implementing a wage cut, since inflation will still increase government revenue, while increasing costs for these workers).

All of this makes me extremely dubious of the one good promise in Hudak’s talk with the Globe, to build a relief subway line for the overcrowded Yonge line.  Even just the smallest version of the relief line running a backwards L between Pape on the Danforth line and to King station on the Yonge line will run over $3B in current dollars, while the likely needed version which goes up to the Eglinton LRT (assuming Hudak doesn’t cancel it) is $5.5B.

When push comes to shove and the magical efficiencies don’t appear, will this really get funded by a party whose fortunes rest on 905 belt voters?  How will Mississauga and Hamilton voters feel about their LRT projects being cancelled to fund a DOWNTOWN RELIEF LINE subway?  This would be the first thing cut. 

All of that in exchange for halting a bunch of viable, funded and shovel ready transit projects in exchange for ones that cost much more, serve fewer people and take years longer to complete with much additional risk. It will be the Scarborough subway but at a province-wide scale.

Here’s hoping the Premier hangs on another year or two with Horwath’s legislative support, and maybe even accelerates the existing projects to make the political costs for Hudak cancelling them too high to countenance.  . . . → Read More: Autonomy For All: Hudak Promises To Incur Massive Project Cancellation Costs As Premier

Autonomy For All: Hudak Promises To Incur Massive Project Cancellation Costs As Premier

Yes, a Hudak led Ontario government would cancel LRT projects in the Big Move, causing major project cancellation losses to sunk costs (many projects are in-flight in planning or construction) and contract escape penalties to vendors like Bombardier for cancelling or scaling back orders. “I think GO and our subways are the strengths in our . . . → Read More: Autonomy For All: Hudak Promises To Incur Massive Project Cancellation Costs As Premier

Autonomy For All: Dedicating Lanes to Transit Speeds Up Cars & Other Seoul Lessons

In a previous post we looked at Seoul’s experience with a free market led surface transit “system.”  Seoul has several other important lessons to teach Toronto though.  From that excellent paper I was citing:Removing car lanes and dedicating … . . . → Read More: Autonomy For All: Dedicating Lanes to Transit Speeds Up Cars & Other Seoul Lessons

Autonomy For All: Dedicating Lanes to Transit Speeds Up Cars & Other Seoul Lessons

In a previous post we looked at Seoul’s experience with a free market led surface transit “system.”  Seoul has several other important lessons to teach Toronto though.  From that excellent paper I was citing:

Removing car lanes and dedicating them to transit can speed up everyone’s commute:

In Seoul’s case this was done with . . . → Read More: Autonomy For All: Dedicating Lanes to Transit Speeds Up Cars & Other Seoul Lessons

Alberta Diary: Campaign Diary Volume 15: When you vote on Monday, vote thoughtfully

Here’s a video of my opening remarks to the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce all-candidates’ forum last night.

Here are my opening remarks at the fair and well-run St. Alberta Chamber of Commerce all-candidates forum at the St. Albert Inn last night:

My name is David Climenhaga and I’m asking for your . . . → Read More: Alberta Diary: Campaign Diary Volume 15: When you vote on Monday, vote thoughtfully

Driving The Porcelain Bus: Nail In The Coffin For Rob Ford On The Tranist File

Rob Ford lost a another key vote today in Toronto City Council. Weeks ago, the councillors called a meeting to bring back Transit City (essentially), voted on it, and Transit City is back. Also at that time they formed a special panel to look into the options for Sheppard East. The panel came back and . . . → Read More: Driving The Porcelain Bus: Nail In The Coffin For Rob Ford On The Tranist File

Driving The Porcelain Bus: Coward Rob Ford Leaves Chaos In His Wake

Today, Toronto mayor Rob Ford bolted and ran when he saw that he could not win the day. He left a fractured and confused City Hall in his wake. This mayor is finding by not working to gain a consensus, by not being willing to listen to reason, by not being interested in leading, . . . → Read More: Driving The Porcelain Bus: Coward Rob Ford Leaves Chaos In His Wake

Driving The Porcelain Bus: Councillors Voted To Deny Rapid Transit For Their Constituents

On Feb. 8, 2012, the majority of Toronto City Council voted to reaffirm most of the Transit City LRT plans. The vote was 25-18. Nine councillors voted no to the plan that would bring rapid transit to their wards. The Ford transit plan would only have brought rapid transit to 4 of these 9 wards.

. . . → Read More: Driving The Porcelain Bus: Councillors Voted To Deny Rapid Transit For Their Constituents

Driving The Porcelain Bus: Has Toronto’s Mayor Become Irrelevant?

Photo of Rob Ford by Tannis Toohey for The Toronto Star Yesterday, Toronto City Council took over the lead on transit planning in the city and voted to reaffirm most of the LRT lines outlined in the Transit City plan. Council voted 25-18 to reaffirm what was already a binding agreement between Toronto City . . . → Read More: Driving The Porcelain Bus: Has Toronto’s Mayor Become Irrelevant?

Driving The Porcelain Bus: Toronto Councillors To Vote For the Return of Most of Transit City

TTC Chair Karen Stintz Moves To Bury Rob Ford’s Subway

This Wednesday, Toronto city council will vote to bring back most of the Transit City plan. 24 members of council have called the meeting to force this vote – a vote that should have happened a year ago, and a vote that has to be . . . → Read More: Driving The Porcelain Bus: Toronto Councillors To Vote For the Return of Most of Transit City

They Call Me "Mr. Sinister": LRT For Me

Waterloo Regional Council looks set to approve the LRT. This a triumph of vision over fear. It is a triumph of the “can do” spirit I thought 30 years of conservatism had killed in Canada. Bravo Waterloo. It is a good day for the Region and a bold step … . . . → Read More: They Call Me “Mr. Sinister”: LRT For Me

Yappa Ding Ding: The Future of King Street

I spent the weekend in Toronto, and this morning I needed to head cross town in my car. I decided to take St Clair, thinking it would be quicker. Those days are gone…The recently-completed St. Clair LRT, like other Toronto LRTs, is very different fro… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: The Future of King Street

Yappa Ding Ding: More concerns about LRT

Four skilled individuals (planning, Engineering, and legal), all of whom live locally, put together this list of comments about the proposed LRT.K-W is a city of 350,000, not a city of 729,000, the number that is always quoted regarding the Regional po… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: More concerns about LRT

Yappa Ding Ding: Lack of credibility, the Region, and LRT reports

Chair Jim Wideman and Members of Planning and Works Committee have released the long-awaited LRT report, titled Preliminary Preferred Rapid Transit Implementation Option and dated April 12, 2011.There is no nice way to say this. The report is another e… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Lack of credibility, the Region, and LRT reports

Yappa Ding Ding: The Region’s LRT ridership estimates: pie in the sky

The figures for other cities are from Wikipedia. This analysis was done by Dave Ramsey. Dave’s conclusions:The estimated daily boardings of 56,000 in 2031 are overstated by at least 40,000.Just like every city in North America with a population of less… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: The Region’s LRT ridership estimates: pie in the sky

Yappa Ding Ding: The myth of the successful Calgary LRT

The 30th Anniversary of the C-Train: A Critical Analysis of Calgary’s Light Rail Transit System, by Steve LafleurSome nuggets about the Calgary LRT (dubbed the CTrain) from this report, which was released on March 30, 2011:The conservative estimate h… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: The myth of the successful Calgary LRT

Yappa Ding Ding: Negative impact of LRT on the City of Waterloo

I wrote a little report on some concerns I have about what LRT will do to the city of Waterloo. You can download it here. (Click the file name LRT_impact_on_Waterloo.pdf at the top.)Upate: I expanded the report so that the Waterloo city impacts are jus… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Negative impact of LRT on the City of Waterloo

Yappa Ding Ding: Support for light rail trains gets a boost

During the recent public consultations, the Region distributed a survey that could be filled out on paper or online. It listed 11 options: nine were forms of LRT, one was BRT on dedicated lanes, and one was no rapid transit.The Region has released the … . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Support for light rail trains gets a boost

Yappa Ding Ding: World of debt

In last month’s “State of the City” address, Waterloo Mayor Brenda Halloran said that “finances remain the city’s biggest challenge, with a $5-million dollar debt over RIM Park still to pay off”, according to local news sources.Not long ago, five milli… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: World of debt

Yappa Ding Ding: Questions about rail plan go beyond money

My article in the Record today:Questions about rail plan go beyond moneyIn his April 1 community editorial board article, We’re More than a Collection of Taxpayers, Sean Geobey dismisses the community’s objections to light rail transit as a cynical… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Questions about rail plan go beyond money

Yappa Ding Ding: Unknown Costs of LRT

We don’t yet know the Region’s preferred option for LRT, so we don’t have final estimates of capital costs or the increases to property taxes. But we know it will result in hundreds of millions in costs to Regional taxpayers.Recently, it has beco… . . . → Read More: Yappa Ding Ding: Unknown Costs of LRT