Mayoral hopeful Mike Maguire has responded to a criticism by former Ottawa Citizen columnist Ken Gray. Gray critiqued the claim by Maguire that his vision of light rail would ease congestion in Ottawa, which is one of the critiques I had of Maguire’s plan.
To reiterate: mass transit does not ease congestion in the long run. It has the same effect as expanding roads. There may be a short term reduction in traffic, but soon the cars will be back. There is, essentially, a critical mass that transit always wants to meet.
Gray was actually receptive to Maguire’s plan, thinking it would be better than the current LRT plan.
Regardless, Gray understands that light rail isn’t going to solve congestion it just (hopefully) “gets transit users past those jams inexpensively.”
Maguire, though, just won’t let his erroneous claim go. He wrote to the Gray:
As to the assertion that a successful introduction of commuter rail will create an incentive for former drivers to get back on the road and try their luck with the traffic again … you could be right – do you propose that we ignore a simple, inexpensive solution to traffic congestion because some folks might want to drive again? Surely that’s a questionable trade-off?
And, again, here’s the problem. Light rail is not a solution for congestion. It is a solution for mass transit (perhaps). If Maguire is unwilling to accept this fairly straightforward concept, he is unfit to be mayor.