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View Poll Results: When will Halifax get an LRT system?
It will be the city's next project after the two BRT lines and the new ferries are implemented 11 21.57%
They'll wait until the BRT network has been extended to the entire city (Like Ottawa did) 10 19.61%
They'll start one up as a promotion when we get a CFL team or host a major international event like the Panamerican or Commonwealth Games (Like Edmonton and Vancouver did) 12 23.53%
In the year 3000, by which time the population is 20 million, the Macdonald bridge has 30 lanes, we still don't have a CFL team, and other cities are using spaceships to get around 18 35.29%
Voters: 51. You may not vote on this poll

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Old January 30th, 2005, 12:03 AM   #1
bluenoser
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Halifax mass transit

Keep in mind that it would run on existing tracks, much of which would be in its own right of was on the peninsular cut, and also that the city was seriously considering LRT (and especially diesel light rail) before they got the federal funding for the BRT project.
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Old January 30th, 2005, 02:13 AM   #2
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Well.. there's really no question that a system running along the CN lines would be worth it, but there are liability issues and CN doesn't want to get involved. That's the main stumbling block, not the costs that would be associated with such a system (~$13M).

But that is cheap diesel commuter rail and would really only serve a small part of the city. Personally I think that the city needs to bite the bullet and construct some real light rail lines in the city. A single "loop" to begin with would be fine with eventual extensions to Clayton Park.

I think that the BRT lines are both on the Dartmouth side because there are plans to do something in Halifax in the future. An "inner-city" type system with light rail is what's needed to pull things together.

Now, where they can put rail lines is another question.. I have mentioned a SkyTrain type system before but the costs might be prohibitive. Who knows how well a system like that could be scaled down?
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Old January 30th, 2005, 03:35 AM   #3
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I think i would make sense to start with two routes, both using existing track:

West-East running from Timberlea---Lakeside Ind. Park---Bayers Lake---Chain Lake 1 (between the new subdivisions)---Bottom of Fairview/Dutch Village---Mumford---Dalhousie---St. Mary's---Seawall. If there were some way to have rails run along the boardwalk to the ferry terminal, that would be a great addition, especially for the summer months. This route would be especially effective for two other reasons: the Seawall is apparantly going to be re-developed into an arts district, so it should be a popular destination, and it is currently the docking area for cruise ships. Also, if both this line and the BRT line using the north bridge were to stop at Fairview Cove, it would essentially create a loop of the peninsula, from which other transit routes could radiate.

A second line would be the North-South Dartmouth rails connecting Burnside and Shearwater. There is a lot of development happening between the two, and Shannon Park is considered the most likely site for a future stadium. The route also connects waterfront locations more directly than the current roadways and would be able to stop at both ferry terminals, eliminating the need for proposed terminals at Shearwater, Wright's Cove and Shannon Park, and could connect to the BRT line travelling on the 111.

Another route along the Bedford Highway could follow, that was the original plan that the city was looking into. This would attract fast-growing communities like CP West and Bedford South as well as MSVU, and relieve the strain on the Bedford Highway (Although I think a stop at Bayers Lake would also be able to attract CPW area residents).

Quote:
Now, where they can put rail lines is another question.. I have mentioned a SkyTrain type system before but the costs might be prohibitive. Who knows how well a system like that could be scaled down?
I think that would be greeted with the usual arguments about aesthetics in the city core and not fitting in with the character of the downtown area...unless they made the pillars out of marble or something (reasonable?) and that the pillars would have to be too wide (although I heard in Seattle they are trying to design an elevated rail system using monorail pylons, which are significantly smaller than standard rail pillars).

If the city could find a way to run rails along the waterfront/boardwalk I think that would be a good alternative to elevation, or else put the streetcar tracks back in. The problem with that, though, is there is already a very limited amount of space in the streets downtown.

It just seems like such a waste to not use the cut...it's essentially a subway system without the inconvenience or cost of ripping out all the streets.
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Old January 30th, 2005, 07:00 AM   #4
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The problem with the cut is that it is not a particularly useful route. It would be fine to have commuter rail out to Timberlea and out along the Bedford Highway along with maybe a Hollis Street extension but that alone is not really a full system. Timberlea will grow considerably in the next few years but it's still small, and not that many people actually live that close to the Bedford Highway route. I think those routes would be beneficial but they're just suburban rail lines.

More beneficial to the city would be a real rail system to get people around the core. LRT is the only viable option really and it needs a dedicated right of way to be effective. I think they could fit it in along Robie Street and maybe Quinpool Road, plus maybe Gottingen or Agricola, or even some side street like Creighton (in which case you have to worry about upsetting old traffic patterns). The downtown would be almost impossible, unless maybe a lane were sacrificed on Hollis (one way) and maybe Sackville and Cogswell or something similar.

I wonder what the costs would be like to put light rail underground only in the downtown area? That is the only "easy" option, but the costs are very likely prohibitive, plus there's the whole issue of "down times" for streets that are torn up.
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Old January 30th, 2005, 11:43 PM   #5
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The access tunnel for the water treatment project seems like it would be a good place to start for a light subway (basically like Edmonton's) but I doubt it would ever happen. It's just unfortunate how narrow the streets are downtown.
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Old January 31st, 2005, 12:00 AM   #6
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But yeah, I agree, if tracks could be placed under the narrow section of Barrington, and then emerge in the median at the wider part, it could loop back around to the Bedford Highway area, and then maybe eventually it could be led from there into Clayton Park (although the grade may be too steep to easily bring it directly)
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Old January 31st, 2005, 07:42 PM   #7
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I'm sure there are all kinds of subways in Europe that operate under similarly cramped conditions and are probably a lot larger than what would be built here. I agree though that it won't be happening anytime soon.

By the way, Halifax is already full of tunnels. One goes out to George's Island and there are many more under the streets. A whole network was built in the 18th century to evacuate the city in case of an attack.

I doubt they're up to code though.
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Old January 31st, 2005, 08:19 PM   #8
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an interesting thesis abstract on LRT feasibility for roughly the same Dartmouth North-South route I mentioned... http://www.transport2000.ca/atlantic...n2004fall.html
(it's near the bottom of the page)
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Old January 31st, 2005, 08:30 PM   #9
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Also, I don't see why CN would be so reluctant since I'm pretty sure the O-train and Edmonton's LRT system use CN tracks as well.
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Old January 31st, 2005, 10:28 PM   #10
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It is a bit different here from Ottawa or Edmonton because this is a major port. Some of the lines are very congested and they tend to run trains at weird times. I don't think there would be as many issues on the Dartmouth side though.

Those ridership estimates for Dartmouth are probably pretty conservative. Given the low costs involved it's pretty much a no-brainer.
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Old January 31st, 2005, 11:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluenoser
Also, I don't see why CN would be so reluctant since I'm pretty sure the O-train and Edmonton's LRT system use CN tracks as well.
The LRT in Edmonton uses its own track exclusively....no CN sharing.
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Old February 1st, 2005, 05:18 AM   #12
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I got it from the Edmonton Transit website (I admit to "it's on the internet, so it must be true!" mentality) "The line extends extends from the northeast residential area of Clareview on the surface, sharing the CN Rail right-of-way until it nears downtown." Whether or not this is the case (since this came from a pdf brochure that could be 20 years old for all I know) it proves that the LRT line and CN manage(d) to co-exist. Although I suppose the fact that neither Ottawa or Edmonton are ports would change things for them.

Last edited by bluenoser; February 1st, 2005 at 06:35 PM.
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Old February 1st, 2005, 06:20 PM   #13
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^sorry...i thought you meant CN rails....that it does not, well it does but the CN line is long shut down in that area. But yes it does use the right of way.
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Old February 2nd, 2005, 07:24 PM   #14
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Sorry it took me awhile to delete those other threads, I was offline for a few days. When posting a thread, dont press the back button after posting as it will repost your thread. I know that sometimes posting a poll can be confusing.
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Old February 4th, 2005, 05:31 PM   #15
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I think the only really feasable way to approach this is to use the existing lines that almost loop the city already. There is definatly not enought room downtown for anything using rail. It's already hard enough to get the buses moving through those cramped streets.

It would be way too expensive to go underground. Most other cities with any underground rail line aren't built on a slab of solid bedrock. Even if they could go underground there wouldn't be enough space for the stations. The actual lenght of downtown would only constitute 2 maybe three stations.
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Old February 5th, 2005, 04:45 AM   #16
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Eventually the city will need something more than buses and the existing rail lines leave much to be desired since they weren't created to get people around the city.

I think that Hollis could easily accommodate a light rail ROW without upsetting things much since it is one-way and two lanes, and it could easily connect to the South End terminal. A Water Street line is another possibility. These lines could be a component of a major redevelopment of the Cogswell Street lands.
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Old February 5th, 2005, 05:08 AM   #17
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The only problem with Hollis Street IS that it's one-way, which I imagine would increase the likelihood of head-on collisions with cars (assuming that the rail route goes both ways). If it is actually safe then yeah I'd agree Hollis street would be a good option. I think it's 3 lanes in some parts too..?

I went to the planning presentation yesterday (which was basically 2 hours of the planners saying "oh...well...I guess we'll fix that later") and it was interesting in that the planners who supported LRT, increased high-rise development etc. weren't doing much of the talking. However I mentioned commuter/light rail to a few of the staff and they seemed somewhat open about it but mentioned that they're mostly relying on increased ferries and maybe 1 or 2 more BRT routes than the 2 that they're building now. (Kind of contradictory because during the question period they implied that Purcell's Cove wouldn't be getting a ferry terminal, which makes me wonder where all these new ferries will be going...) But apparantly the plan is still open to amendments so I'd recommend that if you have any desire for rail transport in HRM that you email the planning committee (regplan@halifax.ca - it's on their website) fairly soon before the open houses wrap up in a few weeks.

On a partially related note, one of the planning staff wrote this essay a few years ago:
http://www.elements.nb.ca/theme/fuels/light/rail.htm
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Old February 5th, 2005, 07:47 AM   #18
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If a rail line were put on Hollis it would of course get its own dedicated right of way going both ways that cars simply would not be able to drive on. They'd get one lane.. I'm not talking about a setup where the rail line is just embedded in the pavement. Given the amount of traffic the street gets I'd say that's not unreasonable, and all of the other streets are given over to cars anyway.

It's pretty lame that they're not looking at light rail when they are proposing higher density development. The city today is dense enough to support light rail. It will most certainly be dense enough in 2025.

I think that the planning process is a bit of a waste of time. These "broad goals" that they've created really are what were anticipated on day one but we're now years into it. I can just imagine what we'll get in the end.. a wonderful sounding vision for the future that council will accept but then when it comes time to actually commit to real changes that take leadership and sacrifices it will get watered down to the point where it might as well not have been adopted in the first place.

I get the feeling that we have a bit of a conflicted planning department (this is clear when you look at their flip-flopping on recommendations for approving new projects, etc.). Some staff want to see the city grow into its role as a full-fledged regional centre and others just want a quaint small town. Of course, they won't get a small town, but rather a growing city with small town amenities...
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Old February 5th, 2005, 05:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
It's pretty lame that they're not looking at light rail when they are proposing higher density development.
Well the problem is that a lot of people as you said want "quaint", not "high-density". What they want, it seems, is suburban sprawl, however they also want to protect the environment, they want a more extensive ferry system, but not the development to support it..etc.

Again I'd highly recommend that if you think light rail would be good for HRM, let the planning committee know. Also I'd suggest to give a fair amount of depth to your argument so that they can't just shoot back a "this wouldn't work"

I wonder where light rail lost its momentum? It was mentioned in most of the newsletter things up until this last one, and all the planning maps make a point of showing the rail lines.
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Old February 6th, 2005, 01:17 AM   #20
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Oh, I've shared my thoughts with the city planners and councillors many times in the past. I probably will again for the regional planning process but I'm not sure it will make much difference.

I don't believe that they can really rule out rail-based transit in the city, but they have the potential to slow it down, which would be terrible. There's really no viable alternative in most of the city's fastest growing areas.

The idea of commuter rail has lost steam because it's been bogged down with negociations with CN, etc., and has been on the table for over 5 years now. That's too long to maintain the public's attention.
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