Haifax Needs Commuter Rail

The city of Halifax has 400,000 people. Problem is, because of centuries of lackluster city planning, or the total lack of any planning whatsoever in many cases, Halifax has been built out and out, in the least dense fashion possible. What does this mean

21 comments

Published September 06, 2007.Haifax Needs Commuter Rail

The city of Halifax has 400,000 people. Problem is, because of centuries of lackluster city planning, or the total lack of any planning whatsoever in many cases, Halifax has been built out and out, in the least dense fashion possible. What does this mean?

It means thousands of cars and trucks and buses easily congest Halifax's narrow streets bridges and highways several times every day. It means you end up waiting in a line up on the bridge in the morning and in the afternoon.

Halifax's big idea - a limited run bus service for $30 or $40 million may be slightly more environmentally friendly than single rider cars, but the ticket to urban utopia they are not.

What are we lacking in Halifax? Commuter Rail!

Commuter rail takes commuters off of the streets on to dedicated track that has a much higher average speed than is possible on any street or highway, regardless of whether priority signaling is used or not. Commuter rail would not be so hard to keep running during winter storms.

Commuter rail construction costs around $15 million a kilometer BUT, Halifax has many already existing railway lines and railway ROWs that can be leased, reducing starting costs significantly. The startling lack of vision in this city means we have lost some prime real estate already, but it is not too late!

Roads have capacity limits which can be determined by traffic engineers. Due to traffic congestion they experience a chaotic breakdown in flow and a dramatic drop in speed if they exceed about 2,000 vehicles per hour per lane. Since automobiles in many places average only 1.2 passengers during rush hour, this limits roads to about 2,400 passengers per hour per lane.

Light rail vehicles can travel in trains carrying much higher passenger volumes. If run in streets, light rail systems are limited by city block lengths to about four 180-passenger vehicles (720 passengers). Operating on 2 minute headways using traffic signal progression, a well-designed system can handle more than 30 trains per hour, achieving peak rates of over 20,000 passengers per hour per track. More advanced systems with separate rights-of-way using moving block signalling can exceed 25,000 passengers per hour per track.

Light rail systems can carry as many passengers as a 16-lane freeway in the space of a two lane roadway. If passenger volumes exceed light rail limits, heavy rail systems can be built to carry many more people.

Rail lines already exist from near Artz/Barrington at the dockywards all the way up the harbour past bedford to the airport. This could easily be extended down to the Cogswell interchange area, and a proper transit hub could be set up since they plan on tearing it down anyway.

There are also the lines running from the VIA rail station along the Northwest Arm past Dal and the Armdale rotary though Bedford to the airport.

Lines also exist from Eastern Passage all long the Dartmouth waterfront to Burnside and beyond to the airport.

All these are used nowhere near their peak capacity!

Imagine travelling:

* from the Airport to Duke and Barrington in under 30 minutes.

* from Hammonds Plains Rd/HWY 103 (Stillwater Lake) to Duke & Barrington in under 25 minutes

* from SunnySide in Bedford to Duke and Barrington in around 14 minutes.

* from Caldwell Rd. in Cole harbour, through Dartmouth and across the bridge to arrive at Duke and Barrington in around 12 and a half minutes.

With commuter rail we would have a backbone for our transit system. A showpiece of our progressive attitudes.

An efficient, clean, modern transit solution that will enable more population growth without the traffic we would otherwise have to suffer. They are easily built wheelchair accessible! Something the buses can feed into and out of, instead of being the only leg our system has to stand on.

The pieces are in place, all we need is a visionary mayor, planning staff not addicted to bus transit and big oil, and the voters out there to send a message to city hall...

HALIFAX NEEDS COMMUTER RAIL!

(Check out the Halifax needs a commuter rail facebook group.)

Please, not a fast ferry!

Comments (21)

Showing 1-21 of 21

Add a comment
 

Add a comment

Remember, it's entirely possible to disagree without spiralling into a thread of negativity and personal attacks. We have the right to remove (and you have the right to report) any comments that go against our policy.