Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quick lunchtime commentary on rerouting LRT

Voltaire said, "The perfect is the enemy of the good."

I appreciate Strickland's desire to revisit a routing decision in Uptown Waterloo, but I don't think it can help us. Karen Scian's words on 570News have been very powerful: she points out that ten months were spent studying Uptown routing options, and the current one was unanimously supported by city staff after taking all input into account. I have to admit I initially liked the idea of opening up the routing discussion, but it's one of those ideas that looks great on the surface, but doesn't stand up to scrutiny. We must ask ourselves some questions:

Is the route perfect? No! It is somewhat awkward. There have been vocal opponents to the routing, though many of them are also vocal opponents of rapid transit, and others simply gainsay study findings.

Can we improve on it? I doubt it. The first thing to do is to look at the rationale behind the current routing, and if you cannot find a fundamental flaw with it, there is no point in spending even more time and effort rehashing the same facts over again.

Which leads us to: Is it good enough? I believe so. The City of Waterloo certainly believes so.

To me, this is like reopening the entire LRT/BRT issue earlier this year. You have a well thought out plan in front of you, and it makes recommendations based on the requirements and constraints. If you don't change the inputs, and you can't identify any mistakes in reasoning, you shouldn't expect the results to change. You can only waste time and money.

And in the search for the mythical perfect solution, we may cost ourselves the satisfactory real one.


In Mr. Strickland's defense, however, I will add that his other motion-- to involve Infrastructure Ontario-- appears to have a lot of merit.

Also, Mr. Wideman's motion to mitigate LRT costs by committing upcoming windfalls from debt retirement and uploading is an excellent idea! It's a money shuffle, but an important one. It reduces the tax hit, and it ensures that this money-- which some people optimistically believe would result in a tax break, but I think is unlikely-- cannot be reappropriated for another purpose. Ironically, allocating it to LRT now may be that tax break people may otherwise not get a chance to see.

Finally, Andrew Dodds of ViewFromThe42 also made a good point that if communication in this whole process were better, we'd be able to more easily see the reasoning that goes into the decisions at each stage. And that could prevent this sort of re-analysis paralysis that we've had to endure.

No comments:

Post a Comment