Countering Rapid Transit disinformation
Yesterday The Record ran a column by Peter Shawn Taylor commenting on the latest Region of Waterloo Rapid Transit report. It contains blatant falsehoods about the Environmental Assessment process, and thus I just sent the following complaint to The Record:
I believe the May 14 article “All aboard? Light rail transit plan is leaving the station way too early” by Peter Shawn Taylor was written in bad faith. It deliberately distorts the data in order to support its viewpoint. To see this, please take a look at page 6 of the Region of Waterloo’s latest Rapid Transit report: http://rapidtransit.region.waterloo.on.ca/pdfs/E-09-056_PREFERRED_RAPID_TRANSIT_SYSTEM2.pdf
Paragraph 4 of the article cites specific numbers about what seem like general meetings, when in fact they were meetings solely for “property owners and tenants living and/or working directly adjacent to the short-listed rapid transit routes”. It is abundantly clear from the information on the report that outreach to businesses was actually very good.
Regarding the general public, that report page states:
-“Rapid Transit newsletters have been sent to more than 250,000 residential and business addresses on four different occasions;”
-“Approximately 3,500 people have attended 33 Public Consultation Centres (PCCs), Workshops and Focused Consultation events and provided 1,039 official formal comments;”
-“Information about the Rapid Transit Initiative has also been provided at an additional 63 different public outreach events such as community stakeholder meetings, public events, presentations to groups, and educational displays where attendance was not recorded.”
The central premise that Peter Shawn Taylor uses in that article to advance his ideological position is in direct opposition to the data he ostensibly cites. This kind of blatant disregard for the truth is unacceptable, but especially so in a newspaper.
[Update, 2009/06/01: It’s been over two weeks, and I’ve received no response from The Record, so I must assume they condone the printing of falsehoods.]
Regional transit developments
The Region of Waterloo has finally produced its recommended proposal for Rapid Transit in the region. And that recommendation is to run a light rail (LRT) line between Conestoga Mall in Waterloo, Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener, and the Ainslie Street Terminal in Cambridge. However, they propose the first stage to use LRT only between Conestoga Mall and Fairview Park Mall, with the second portion to be at first an adapted Bus Rapid Transit system due to the high cost and low initial utility of that segment. The report for this “Phase 2, Step 3b” of the Environmental Assessment can be found at the newly-redesigned website for the Region of Waterloo Rapid Transit. That website also houses various other information, including information on upcoming Public Consulation Centres within the next two weeks as well as a discussion forum, on which I have made a few comments. I encourage anyone living in the Region to investigate the direction of this project and to voice concerns and especially support (if that applies).
My feeling is that the recommended plan is fairly good, however I will leave specific concerns and details for subsequent posts.
Additionally, in advance of GO Transit’s anticipated successful Environmental Assessment and consequent rail upgrades for a service extension from Georgetown to Kitchener, GO will be starting bus service to Kitchener in the fall. This is good news, particularly as it indicates that GO is serious about getting rail service to Kitchener.