Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ottawa’s LRT in the Context of 15 Years of Road and Transit Investment

Ottawa’s Proposed LRT will Cost 50% More than Total Road and Transit Infrastructure Spending over the Last 15 Years.

Recent City Council debates have shed fresh perspective on how disproportionate Ottawa’s spending is for the proposed North-South LRT project. According to an Ottawa staff report prepared for Councilor Rob Jellett in August, “the city and former regional government spent $675 million on new roads and [public] transit infrastructure since 1991.[1]” That is $675 million for every new road, every road repair, every lane expansion, every new bus lane, every new park & ride, everywhere in the entire city, every year, for 15 years of tremendous growth and expansion. During these same 15 years many would argue that commuter congestion has increased, road quality decreased, while public transit service levels and customer experience have diminished. Year after year, all of these services have been compromised because ‘money was tight.’

Whatever one might say about this $675 million figure, whether it was enough or not, whether it was well spent or not, one thing it does provide is an interesting point of reference to put the City’s LRT project in perspective. All that spending, over all those years for all those people across the region still adds up to only 2/3rds[2] of the estimated one billion dollars to be spent on the proposed North-South LRT.

Click here to read the full article.

[1] East/west Spat Looms Over Council Spending, Jake Rupert, Ottawa Citizen, Tuesday, August 22, 2006.
[2] The City officially claims the LRT project will cost $778 million (memo Mr. Chartrand to Mayor and Council June 19, 2006), however credible full-cost estimates range from $933 million to over $1 billion. $675 million is 2/3rds of $1 billion (alternatively $1 billion is 50% more than $675 million).