Nelson: Council ought to repair transit, not increase it

Nelson: Council ought to repair transit, not increase it

Our transit system is in a state of disaster, one the town hasn’t discovered any resolution for. But we’re set on risking Calgary’s financial future by increasing that exact same doubtful system

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Solely a idiot would construct an enlargement to a house because it goes up in flames.

Welcome to Calgary, a metropolis doggedly plowing forward with probably the most ruinous building undertaking in our historical past, additional increasing the present transit system that’s in a veritable state of emergency.

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If we are able to’t function a system that at the moment leaves 4 out of 5 Calgarians uneasy, why would we work to develop it earlier than first restoring residents’ confidence in what’s already up and operating? If one thing is so clearly damaged, can we simply make it greater after which maintain our fingers crossed, hoping measurement alone will resolve the issues now infesting the present CTrain system?

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This deliberate enlargement — the Inexperienced Line — is topic to a lot controversy, despite the fact that precise building isn’t resulting from begin till subsequent yr.

What started six years in the past as a deliberate 45-kilometre line, stretching from our metropolis’s far north to deep south, with 28 stations alongside the way in which for $4.65 billion, has shrunk to a first-stage, 18-kilometre route with an unlucky-for-us 13 stations deliberate. And regardless of being a 3rd shorter in size, the associated fee can be larger at $5.5 billion, although that’s simply one other civic placeholder quantity to be jettisoned sooner moderately than later.

Everybody at metropolis corridor is aware of that is an financial catastrophe however received’t pull the plug any time quickly — far too many egos and juiced-up budgets are in danger for that. And it has the “inexperienced” moniker tagged to it, in order that alone will get a free go from a great chunk of at this time’s council who wish to save the planet however won’t ever take the bus themselves.

Ultimately, this Inexperienced Line home of playing cards will collapse upon itself, however by then the knowingly culpable can be fortunately spending their assured pension funds, courtesy of Calgary ratepayers — those self same people who’ll be forking out for many years to pay for this line from nowhere to nowhere. (The primary section — operating from Eau Claire to Shepard, not precisely probably the most pressing pathway required for commuters — could be the final section as a result of, by then, the monetary goose can be cooked.)

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This isn’t some startling revelation. Anybody with an iota of widespread sense sees the place this observe leads. The one excellent news is the Inexperienced Line undertaking is so fatuous it presumably received’t attain the stage the place downtown tunnelling begins and a few engineers uncover Calgary’s core sits atop a floodplain. Small mercies certainly.

It will get worse. Not solely are we going to burden our grandchildren with a lot debt they’ll assume Justin Trudeau was a miser, however we’re additionally intent on increasing a present transit system that’s poisonous for these pressured to trip it.

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A latest survey discovered 80 per cent of us involved about our security boarding a CTrain. That’s not stunning, as metropolis figures present requires help to each transit peace officers and Calgary cops have nearly doubled since 2018. Social dysfunction, vandalism and crime are rampant, says the town, which is blaming low ridership because of the COVID pandemic for a lot of the issue. The restrictions imposed throughout that dreary time have lengthy been lifted, but so many people are nonetheless really feel fearful.

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So, we’re getting a revamped security plan, involving transit officers stationed at three hub stations in problematic areas. Possibly it’ll work, although I believe most Calgarians would probably assume it simpler if those self same officers had been driving precise trains.

The upshot is our transit system is in a state of disaster, one the town hasn’t discovered any resolution for. But we’re set on risking Calgary’s financial future by increasing that exact same doubtful system.

This council will go down in infamy until it rapidly pulls its collective head out of this large sand dune.

Chris Nelson is an everyday Herald columnist.

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