Train within nowhere

Peter Shawn Taylor has found a transit project so questionable I actually think even I wouldn’t support it: a light rail transit system in the Waterloo, Ont. downtown core.

I’ll let Peter (who often writes editorials, and sometimes articles, for us here at Maclean’s) make his argument for himself. Basically the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge triangle is so diffuse there’s no critical mass of LRT ridership. Peter, being a good fiscal hawk, sees this as reason enough not to support any kind of big marquee transit project within Waterloo. I, on the other hand, am an extreme left-wing infrastructure empire-builder, so I have a fallback proposition. What KW really needs is a dramatically expanded transit system for getting people to and from the tri-city area. I believe there are two VIA milk runs per day from Toronto, and they take more than two hours to make the one-hour trip. Even by the existing standards of Go Transit, that’s nonsensical.

High-speed rail to KW, then? Not necessarily. Tripling the standard Via run would be nice. Opening a Go line would be nice. Even opening a dedicated lane on the highway and running a shuttle-bus service would help. Peter, who lives in Waterloo, is skeptical of its City-of-the-Future! self-image. I visit the region frequently enough to strongly suspect it really does have growth potential. But not if it remains hard to get at. So take some of the money that was going to go to LRT within Waterloo and use it for modest but real transit improvements between Toronto and KW. Yes? No? Discuss.