A Layman’s Guide to Rapid Transit

[Ratepayers Guide to Sound Transit Investment]

train routes
Nothing New about LRT. Look at the map from (Ghost rail Lines in Ontario)

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

The quote from Charles Dickens was borrowed from his novel, “A Tale of Two Cities”.  It is poignant that two cities (Brampton and Mississauga) have inadvertently become pawns in a transit game in which billions are being requested to support a “transit vision”.

From windows that these people see the world through, the world is flat.

The rancorous and likely highly lobby efforts by proponents of light rail transit (LRT) are being mass fed information that may well be misleading.  Upon study, LRT should not be described as leading edge technology.  As has been discussed a thousand other times by residents, the LRT technology itself has been around since the turn of last century.  In the early/mid 1900’s electric propulsion rail transit was the fad.  Enormous tax payer money was expended to lay down hundreds of miles of rail track and string equal amounts of over head electrical wires.

Nothing except pages in history books remain from the electric train/rail system.  Though portions of the track system were subsequently acquired by firms such as Grand Trunk; the tracks saw their last electric transit vehicles almost a hundred years ago.  The few kilometers of surviving track is now being used by diesel propelled transit.

To imply that LRT is leading edge technology is very misleading.  Technology does not stand still and simply replacing the old fashioned boxy wood and metal design passenger cars with stylish modern material cars does not make LRT a leading edge technology.  Simply applying lipstick to a pig can not change its genus.

Though there are a noisy few who refuse to let go of the notion that the LRT a “leading edge technology” (a being said by the manufacturer); looking around this marvelous world, the “leading edge technology” handle might be described (more realistically) as “trailing edge”.   For me to attempt to move the local LRT lobbyists from dogma such as “leading edge” claims is an exercise in futility.

The numerous examples of successful LRT installations in numerous examples of such systems at work in other places is mind-boggling, even for the most credulous.  You will find that most of the examples cited are systems that were installed ten plus years ago.  Technology has evolved and better, more efficient and economical alternatives have come into existence.

Hint: My Cell Phone has no Wire

While it is true that all telephones once had wires that connected them to the wall and then a network. Who would have thought that in a short period of time, we would actually be able to own our wireless devices such as tablet and cell phones?  Rechargeable, high efficiency batteries evolved that permitted each of us to use the devices for countless hours without being tethered to an electric supply wire.

Had the lobbyists been candid with the public, they may have even revealed pecuniary interests that might cast their sincere interests in a different light.  Had the lobbyists not resorted to unthinkable tactics, the entire LRT fiasco may well have simply slipped by leaving us (ratepayers) with a very costly rail system and an unsightly spider web of overhead wires.

Anyone who has been around rail transit can tell you about the squeals and noise pollution that the system generates.  Anyone living or working near a streetcar or subway installation can relate tales about the rumble and vibrations and anyone who has ever been caught behind a faulty or stalled streetcar can help redefine the word “BOTTLENECK”.

On a positive note, the intensive attempts by pro-LRT lobbyists have had one positive benefit: it has given rise to inquiry into various alternatives. Contrary to the “flat world” point of view projected by pro-LRT lobbyists, technology has not been standing still.

Had the unwashed mob only taken the time to do their own research, they would have been much less enthusiastic to tethering the City of Brampton to old technology, overhead wires and noisy rails. Even better, they would have done well to ask questions of those who happen to be experts: right in the city’s transportation department.

There is an exciting and vast world of transit opportunities out there.  I have long been intrigued by the science of magnetic levitation having taken a ride on a “mag-lev” train in Europe I could only laugh when I learned that Ontario had ignored the technology for its Pearson/Union Express. (Note: not that current ridership on the U/P Express gives me much faith in Merolinx ability to project usage).

When I look at mass transit installations that have come into being years after the LRT fad, I see communities such as Hamburg (Germany) or London (England) which  In December 2013 became included in the planetwide list of cities and countries using some of the BYD (Build Your Dreams) eBus battery electric buses.  I am quite impressed with the technology and “value for money” offered by way of wireless electric transit. But, I suspect there are those among us that enjoy being tethered to a spider-web of overhead wires.

Folks do not seem to get it.  Nothing is free. That alleged gift from the Ontario Ministry of Transport (the HMLRT) was not free. It is all tax dollars. Whatever interest that the Ontario government may/may not have in firms producing LRT, it is not leading edge technology.

In Summation

I tip my hat to the brave members of Brampton City council who had the courage of conviction to say “no thanks” to an old and failing technology.  I thank them for not permitting us ratepayers from being tethered to costly and trailing edge technology.

I certainly do not see the transit glass as half empty.  Council (by a vote of 7 to 4) has kept the door open for even better and less costly transit ideas.  My sense is that I am obviously not unique in looking an technology trends and suspect that even as the Pro-LRT lobbyists where stirring up dissent, threatening those who disagreed and generally being unpleasant bullies, there is work afoot that will give us a modern transit system without the interference of lobbyists.

Give it a chance; you may be pleasantly surprised.  Brampton is in a great position with unlimited alternatives available.  Eventually we will have a made in Brampton solution that is much better than the forced fit which was being force-fed by Metrolinx.


Copyright ©  Thunderbird Rising 2015

 The above article is copyrighted.  You may use, copy or distribute this article conditional on attributing your source (Thunderbird Rising) and the author (Lloyd Fournier)


One thought on “A Layman’s Guide to Rapid Transit”

  1. I cut myself loose of all Brampton Facebook pages save So___chi in order to avoid the debate about LRT and about the advent of a “prosperous” days under a Federal Liberal government. I’m happy I did so very early in the game to spare myself a few or maybe more than a few headaches.
    As always, I applaud your style of driving the point home. I only wished that Bramptonians listened more to calibres like you! I join you in congratulating the city council – more so, J. Spovieiri my idol. Nothing but the best wishes to Brampton and Bramptonians.

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