About Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge Light Rail

Learn more about the costs of Light Rail Transit

Regional Spending is Out of Control

No one honestly thinks the proposal before Council will come in even remotely close to the current cost estimates. On average, from  recent past experience LRT’s built in North America were 40% over budget. Region struggles with the current budget including the following:

  • Police budget 5.2% this year, 8.2% average annual increase year over year over the last 10 years before that.
  • Assessment growth is down reducing the amount of new tax money anticipated in previous budgets to deal with increasing costs.
  • Landfill revenues down by $4,000,000 this year.

When the LRT is built, the Region is counting on big ridership numbers to generate revenues to support the system.  Assuming a typical fare of $3.00 per ride, if the per day ridership is half of what the Region is projecting, 13,500 riders per day, this could result in a revenue shortfall of over $14,000,000 annually, a 2% increase in Regional taxes alone.
COMIC-2013_11_16

Population does not support this project

K-W is a city of 350,000, not a city of 729,000, the number that is always quoted regarding the Regional population of 2031. The next largest city where a significant LRT investment has been made is 3 times our current size.  In 25 years, based on the Cities potential growth, it will still be 2 times our size.  There is no urgency to get this passed.  I am not aware that there is any city in North America of our size that experiences any significant traffic problem.

populationThe purpose of building the LRT has nothing to do with transit, where there currently simply is no problem. It is to promote reurbanization of the core area.

The outcome regarding the LRT choice has been predetermined by Regional staff from the beginning.  The cart has been put before the horse on so many issues related to planning and development prior to a decision being rendered by Council on the LRT.  This forces Council with only one alternative and that is to approve.

The public has not been formally engaged in the decision.  The conclusions of staff from a few public open houses do not reflect the experiences of a number of the members of Regional Council who are sharing a far different view of the acceptance of the proposal from last falls municipal election.  The only effective way to determine public support is through a referendum.

Ridership numbers are fantasy.  Currently 9,000 on the spine, going to 27,000 the day it opens and 56,000 by 2031, more than currently use the system in Houston, Baltimore, San Jose, Minneapolis, etc.

outrageous-costsRegion concerned with costs

The Region is asking the Provincial Government to amend the current Development charge legislation to allow charges to be collected for the LRT.  This is a clear sign that there are significant concerns with Regional staff about cost overruns and that the best way to reduce tax impacts is to have available the D/C option.

The Conestoga Parkway is a common argument used in support of the LRT.  In the 1960’s many were opposed because “I will never use it”.  Looking back those who built it were visionaries.  There are 2 main differences.  First, currently 3% use transit and 98% use cars, likely the same as it was in the 1960’s.  Secondly, the Conestoga Parkway was built solely for one purpose, moving people in their cars, which over time it has done.  The current LRT proposal has very little to do with dealing with transit needs or moving people.  It’s primary purpose is for re-urbanization.  This is a recipe for failure.

The Region claims that the review and approval of the LRT by a 3rd party “Peer Review Panel” validates that this is a sound proposal.  Recently the Chair along with several other members of Council have declared a conflict because of a potential benefit received by them or their families if the system gets built. It should be noted that several members of the “3rd Party Peer Review Panel” are also in conflict as they have done work for the Region as consultants, assisting in developing the current policies towards growth and transit.  It would be difficult to suggest that the opinion of this group is valid based on the obvious conflict of several of it’s members by doing work for the Region and by being paid by the Region to do this work.

 

dollar-costsProject over-budget not planned or considered properly

The Region is back tracking on having the required “feeder” buses in place with the opening of the LRT.  In last Friday’s Record it was reported that the LRT cost is putting pressure on the Region being able to provide buses before 2017-2018 which will significantly limit the ability to get people to the LRT route to use it.  This in turn will reduce ridership and directly affect revenues.  The Region is only showing one financial impact summary based on unrealistically low capital costs (810M) and overly optimistic ridership targets (27K on opening day).  They need to show what the impacts will be for every $50M of cost overrun and every 5K of ridership reduction in a matrix which shows a range of potential likely costs.  Council and more importantly the public needs to understand the risk prior to any decision being rendered.  I asked this question as recently as last week and the answer I received from Thomas Schmidt was the Region is confident with their budgeting and we need not worry.

 

road-disruptionsUnclear whether proposed route is build-able

The Region has no idea if their proposed routing will in fact be build-able   As recently as a couple of weeks ago Caroline Street routing was changed from one side of the street to the other because of concern with access to underground utilities.  These kind of changes have cost impacts and draw concern as to the overall level of detail used to determine budgets to date.

 

 

increased-taxesHigher Property Taxes

The Region talks about increasing property values along the route as a result of it’s completion.  Higher property values, relative to the basket of values in the overall community simply means higher taxes for those currently living near the route.  So much for a 2% tax increase if your are fortunate enough to have your property go up in value by 20%.  How about a 20% tax increase?  Generally when property values increase significantly over a short period of time this is referred to as inflation.  I am curious as to how this phenomenon, inflation, is viewed by the Region as being a good thing.

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Latest Comments:

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  1. Jeff B says:

    We can no longer afford Ken Seiling stealing the tax dollars for his own personal gain. Jay has my vote.

  2. Henry says:

    Agree 100% with Jean, Jay is doing what he can do for the citizens of the Waterloo Region, high speed bus service is the way to go! We need the ridership to pay for this out of the sky project!

  3. Jean says:

    Voters in Waterloo Region: Jay is the right man for the regional chair position. Join those of us who are AGAINST this ridiculous costly LRT by voting for Jay in October 2014. We were not given a vote so this is how we can make our voices heard. Let’s give Jay our support!

  4. Peter says:

    Jay is running for Regional Chair! This is the best news I’ve heard in a long time. Spread the word everyone!

    • Alan says:

      This election will be justice for everyone that wanted a referendum and were ignored. Karma is alive and well.

  5. Paul Siminowski says:

    Please, will someone educate me. I seem to have missed something.
    I have in my hand an information flyer from Mar/11 that states the operating and maintenance costs for L3, the LRT opion that was approved, would be $9 million dollars a year. Can someone tell me how and when this amount became $30 million a year? I cannot believe no one is upset about this.