At least my bus was on time this morning

So LRT is going to be late. After all the On-Time and On-Budget bluster from the mayor and the city, we’re getting the system half a year late and we’re not getting the promised $1 million if RTG failed to meet the May 24 deadline. We probably shouldn’t be surprised, but the public outrage is really a result of the years and years of promises.

Six months may not be that big a delay in the big picture (or maybe it is), but sprung on us in February 2018, it sure as hell is.

Quick morning thoughts:

  • Residents have every right to be upset about this. Yeah, yeah, sinkholes and everything, but we should have learned about this delay earlier. You can say that we should have known this would happen, but when officials (and the mayor!) are concealing information, what are we supposed to do?
  • I’m not really that concerned about the $1 million penalty being waived…at least, I’m not that concerned about the money (though it’d sure be nice to have). I’m more concerned about how it looks like the city is rolling over. This whole project was set up to put the burden on RTG to deliver. It cost more to do it that way, but it was supposed to provide the incentive to get it done on time. Now, we’re arbitrarily relieving them of one of the incentives.
  • Or maybe we’re not. I caught the end of an interview with…John Manconi, I think? (if I’m wrong, please correct me, readers)…this morning on CBC. He wasn’t being straightforward. He was obfuscating. He was dodging questions. And he made it sound like there never was a penalty for missing the May 24 deadline, that the penalty was always for some future deadline if they missed the May 24 deadline…so who the hell knows?
  • Actually, somebody does know. Somebody knew all along. The mayor and the city promoted this fantastical, Austin Powers-esque million dollar penalty, but maybe it never really existed? Or maybe it always existed but not the way the public believed. Politicians and officials have a habit of saying something vague enough that the public will read into it what is the only good faith understanding of what is said, but that will actually mean something different. They’ll then fail to correct the public until they’re absolutely forced to. (The provincial government did this with updates to the HTA a few years ago. They led the public to believe that they were adding protection to pedestrians in crosswalks, but they weren’t; they were adding protections for pedestrians in crossovers, then played dumb when people criticized them.)
  • So we’ll (hopefully) be getting the system in November and running buses in late November. This doesn’t seem great. We’ll be right in the middle of commuter season. If there are problems with it, we’ll have to scramble to run buses, potentially in snow storms. It would have been nice to have the summer to iron out the kinks. I guess we may have some downtime over Christmas to do that.
  • We jacked up fares on the premise of better transit service. Transit ridership is going to suffer.
  • The mayor needs to own this. The On-Time On-Budget BS was always his. He trumpeted the progress and the success. Then, when informed that O-T O-B wasn’t going to happen, he didn’t bother to tell anyone until after the budget was passed.
  • Seriously, he had council pass his budget without this crucial information. Pure cynicism.
  • Also, at least one councillor asked staff for an update on progress. They didn’t answer. They had told the mayor and they thought that was good enough. Whether or not that’s policy, it’s not good enough.

So enjoy your bus rides. Enjoy more tie-ups and traffic jams. Enjoy a winter launch of LRT. And for god’s sake, hold the mayor to account for this major screw-up in October.

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