October 21, 2010
link to article
Waterloo Region's plans for light rail transit are not without critics. As the region moved forward with the project, a group of business owners, professionals and everyday taxpayers formed into Taxpayers for Sensible Transit (T4ST).
The group's spokesperson, Ruth Haworth, calls the light rail plan a case of poor transit planning and poor city planning.
"The problem with this version of LRT is that it runs right through the busiest parts of our town but it doesn't stop very often," Haworth argues. "So there's one stop between downtown Kitchener and downtown Waterloo, for example."
Haworth also describes a scene of "traffic chaos" in uptown Waterloo, given the proposed route through the core. She uses the corner of Erb and Caroline as an example, saying railway crossings that will be used at the intersection will bring traffic in all directions to a complete standstill every three and a half minutes.
Haworth says planners have also put the cart before the horse, so to speak, when it comes to development. She says rather than lay down rail lines and expect development to come to the tracks, the region should develop commercial properties and add rail later to support them.
Haworth cites the new mega mall on Ira Needles as an example of poor planning. "(It's) out there off the transit grid. You (need to) think in advance and prepare in advance," Haworth insists. "I don't know why it is that we seem to have to have sprawl and city and regional councils can't do anything about it. That just doesn't seem right."
Price is another sore spot with T4ST, although Haworth is hesitant to use that as a rallying cry for fear the group's entire message will be lost among the dollar signs. That said, Haworth does not believe anyone in the region truly thinks the $790-million system is affordable. She points to a survey of municipal election candidates by way of support.
"T4ST just did a survey of all of the candidates for the upcoming municipal election and 95% of them said they would oppose it," Haworth asserts. "And that's because of the funding shortfall."
Haworth says T4ST is very supportive of improved transit in the region but she believes there are less expensive ways to go about it. Analyzing bus routes and perhaps even using smaller buses on less travelled routes so that no more "half empty" buses will be "rattling around our subdivisions" is one suggestion she makes.
But Haworth still bristles at the mention of light rail.
"I just know that if we throw all of our resources onto one route and it's a white elephant and it causes massive traffic disruptions, then that's not good."