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LRT not the only answer for transportation woes

Mar 09 2012

A light rail transit system could end up costing $1 billion or more and, even with the E&N component in place, would still not be the single best answer for Greater Victoria's transportation challenges, a rail study has found.

It's not a question of which form of rail - LRT or E&N - will best serve the West Shore and the Capital Regional District but how the region's transportation systems work together, said Scott Pass, a transportation professional and MBA student at Royal Roads University, in his 78-page report.

Greater Victoria needs a new transportation governance structure to achieve optimum efficiency, Scott concluded in the report commissioned by the WestShore Chamber of Commerce. It asked for the study as a way of getting things moving toward a resolution, said Stephen Whipp, president of the chamber.

"There's this constant debate that's been out there, between LRT and the E&N," Whipp said.

"You start to get tired of it being a hot potato. Let's get somebody with some experience in this area take a look at all the information that's out there - and tell us if it's an either/or situation, and to our surprise, he came back and said it's not."

This is a complex situation and hardly black and white, said Whipp. The report highlights difficulties and offers a way forward for the region, he said.

The report recommends an E&N intercity service be implemented quickly. That would require the backing of the federal government, which has yet to come up with its $7.5 million share to repair the railway bed. Trains stopped running on E&N tracks last year because they need repairs.

It also recommends transferring authority from B.C. Transit and the Victoria Regional Transit Commission and creating a new CRD Transportation Authority where decisions are not left to politicians, "because that's where we get into the to-ing and fro-ing and it's gone nowhere."

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

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