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This article was published 29/3/2014 (820 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
City councillor Scott Fielding wants the city to take the $600 million earmarked for bus rapid transit and spend it on roads. Here is the rapid response from our readers.
Fielding is positioning himself as the candidate for the most backward-thinking suburbanites. This is Winnipeg, so he might do quite well.
Fielding's taking a page from Sam Katz's playbook. Katz previously diverted funds from RT to roads. It is this kind of closed, provincial thinking that is causing Winnipeg to be left decades behind other Canadian cities.
-- Spence Furby
If Fielding didn't have his hat on backwards, he would realize that if we had rapid transit years ago, like when he and Katz got elected, our roads would not be in the deplorable condition they now are. We need rapid transit, we don't need Fielding
While this populist drivel will probably score him major points with lower-middle-class voters, all it does is throw money that's earmarked for a long-term solution at short-term fixes. It's idiotic at best and dangerous at worst.
So, here's the kink in his logic. He wants to redirect $600 million allocated for BRT to road repairs, but most of that money (i.e. funding from the province and feds) only exists if we build BRT; otherwise, they don't contribute. The city's portion is $225 million, according to Katz. Unless other levels of government say otherwise, this is the only amount the city can count on if the BRT project is cancelled.
So Winnipeg continues to chase its tail, doing the same thing but accomplishing nothing. The U of M has probably 30,000 people a day and you might one day be able to take a bus there on the BRT. For a city of 750,000, your transportation infrastructure is worse than Saskatoon's, there are freeways and overpasses here. You have Kenaston/Portage/Henderson/Pembina/Lagimodiere/Bishop Grandin -- with traffic lights!!! Same as it was 20 years ago.
If rapid transit and active transportation in the city were better, more people would use them and reduce their reliance on cars. This would reduce the cost of roads and be better for everyone, not just those that have the privilege of owning a car.
Fielding's stand is an example of the backward thinking of a certain segment of Winnipeg's political class. The fact is this: We are a city that needs both transit and roads and transit includes rapid transit. It is not an either/or scenario. With our climate, we will never have the smooth roads that you see in less severe climates. The choice is either more potholes or fewer potholes. Another important point to remember is that the goal of transit is not to remove every car from our roads. What you get with rapid transit is a system that is appealing to more people. That means fewer cars on the roads. In other words, this provides benefits to those who must use their cars by taking cars off the road as well as those who choose transit. This is a fact that many cities have recognized. Unfortunately some in Winnipeg such as Mr. Fielding still see it in the 1960s view of either/or.
I agree with him, but why the rush to finish Chief Peguis? Fix the existing roads that are turning to gravel (Portage, St. Mary's, Main, Salter, etc, etc, etc). The bus way is nothing but a big white elephant. Most Winnipeggers WON'T use it!!!!!
-- Pete Panky
Fielding is a dangerous radical threatening to put Winnipeg back another decade. Katz already set us back by stalling rapid transit through his tenure. It's people that Fielding that make it so nothing ever progresses in this city. If he was mayor in Calgary 10 years ago, they would still have no freeways, no rapid transit and no light rail.
-- BA Dubois