WINNIPEG - The mayor's cabinet will be asked next week to endorse electric streetcars and light-rail transit as Winnipeg’s preferred rapid transit option.
A civic report will be presented to the executive policy committee at its meeting Wednesday in which the LRT option will be recommended over bus rapid transit, city officials said today.
The LRT concept is a recent pet project of Mayor Sam Katz, who wants the city to abandon the dedicated busway system now under construction and replace it with an LRT system using electric streetcars that can ride on rails and roads.
"Winnipeg needs a long-term. sustainable rapid-transit system that will get people out of their cars and thinking seriously about alternative forms of transportation," Katz said in a prepared statement issued Friday afternoon.
"Light rail provides the best long term life cycle benefits in terms of increased ridership, increased residential and commercial development density, and reductions in green house gas emissions."
The executive policy committee will consider the recommendation at its meeting Wednesday.
Katz’s recent obsession with street cars has puzzled and angered provincial and federal officials who were convinced by Katz to help finance the bus rapid transit system, now under construction. The $138-million first phase of the corridor, which runs 3.6 kilometres from Queen Elizabeth Way to Jubilee Avenue, is expected to be completed in late 2011.
Premier Greg Selinger wants Katz to commit to building the six-kilometre long second phase of the corridor, which would run parallel to Pembina Highway.
Katz has refused to sign on to the second phase of the BRT plan and hopes that the merits of the civic report will convince Selinger and senior federal Conservative MP Vic Toews to climb aboard the more expensive LRT option.
The civic report re-affirms Katz’s position that the electric street car LRT costs $50 million per kilometre, compared to $38 million per kilometre for bus rapid transit, making this LRT option affordable, in Katz’s opinion.