By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published January 19, 2011
Last week, city staff announced that the City's expected capital contribution to LRT would be $130 million, with $12-15 million in annual operating costs and $8.6 million in increased city service costs.
To understand these numbers, it is important to break down the cost of building LRT into the LRT construction itself as well as road and utilities re-construction, which would have to be done anyway. Part of the problem with the City's budgeting approach has been to broadcast a 'grand total' without explaining the breakdown.
The City also needs to provide the benefits at the same time as the costs, and to highlight the net benefit.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, that when the $130 million figure came out, many councillors immediately said it was too expensive and the City couldn't afford it.
Then, just a few days later, councillors supported a staff recommendation to begin spending tens of millions of dollars per year extra on road maintenance, with the money coming from other departments!
We keep hearing calls for the city to consult the public more on LRT (at a time when Rapid Transit staff have run and are planning dozens of public open houses), and that we need to study the net benefit (which has already been done).
In contrast, there is no call to hold no open houses or provide detailed cost-benefit studies on the value of spending $50-100 million per year on roads!