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The Valley Line LRT project needs to be cancelled because:

The river valley needs to be restored

The valley needs to go back to being a park deserving protection. Prior to the LRT, this park was a world class urban park and a showcase for this city. Public assets like this should never be treated as cheap land subject to exploitation by being converted into a transit corridor. This land, used as a park, is far more valuable to us all than any railway ever will be.

In fact, this park represents an agreement between the people and city council. For decades now, the people owned and used the park and council enforced a policy of no development in the park. This policy has been supported by the vast majority of the people since inception. Now, council has gone and changed this agreement without consultation with the people. This alone is wrong and should have been subject to referendum.

The city needs free flowing traffic

This is vital to every person and business in our town. The Valley Line and other proposed railways deliberately interfere with traffic and impose a serious cost on every person and business in town. The city manager's department has admitted as much and our mayor isn't being helpful here either. I don't know why though; these people appear intelligent but have somehow decided to back projects that harm our businesses instead of helping them.

Even the cities own report makes it clear that traffic will be badly affected in all directions and across a very large area. There is no way this can be good for anyone, not just businesses. Trains hinder all people and all businesses in a given area and they do not bring any corresponding benefits to offset all the trouble they cause.

And hindering people costs everyone far more than the city wishes to admit. Every business, every personal visit and every other reason for travel is being harmed here and the end result is a less productive and more costly city. This is common sense and most people understand this concept perfectly well.

So when our city leaders ignore this fact of life and instead try to force everyone here to pay the enormous costs of their pet projects, it's no wonder people get mad. And when we keep hearing about how downtown keeps getting road barriers, lane closures and other traffic impediments installed instead of getting improved roads and better access, one really starts to wonder what's going on here.

Listening to our leaders, one would think all this hard work the city does to block traffic would cause a massive economic boom here. But instead we get ongoing reports of downtown job losses and we keep hearing news about big outfits like major banks pulling out of town. So, this whole anti-car, anti-road thing the trains bring to town is already costing us a bundle.

And not just a little bundle either. The rest of this continent is currently having an unprecedented economic boom. Oil prices have recovered nicely. Car sales are through the roof and house prices are doing just fine. So why are so many people here leaving or planning to leave?

So, the harm is not just real, its happening already and most of these stupid trains aren't even built yet.

The cost per rider is enormous and far out of line with the costs of the alternatives

Two billion dollars for the south part of the Valley Line is just the beginning. Then it goes up from there. Add in the cost of the Metro line and we are now paying millions per rider over what we would get with buses. It's kind of crazy actually since electric buses are almost free by comparison.

Then consider the costs of all the other railways the city says it wants to build. Like say, the West Line or the Whyte Avenue railway or the North lines. Pretty soon even ten billion looks cheap. So the total costs here are absolutely staggering.

To put this kind of money into context, consider this: even just two billion dollars buys almost 200,000 brand new compact cars. Or over 100,000 brand new luxury electric cars. And that's just the projected minimum cost of only the Valley Line LRT. It is basically a free car to more people than will ever ride that train in its entire lifetime.

Then if we add in the costs of the other railways the city now says it wants, well, we basically just bought several shiny new electric luxury cars for every single person in this province. And we even just bought new cars for a most of the people in BC and Saskatchewan too. For this kind of money we could even set up our own electric car factory and just hand out new cars free to anyone who asks.

So paying this much for trains that nobody here wants and almost nobody here can even use is not just kind of crazy, it's totally crazy.

Urban railways bring no actual benefits to our city. But they sure are dangerous

They are simply too slow. Seems that when it comes to moving giant steel boxes through residential neighborhoods and across busy roads, it's either fast OR safe. But not both. And it really isn't safe at any speed for that matter. Just less dangerous. Sort of. Unless you are stuck and it crushes you anyway.

Real trains work properly when they are housed in proper transit corridors or subways. They need enough distance between stops to get up to speed and require significant infrastructure to make them safe. 300 years of human experience with these things makes it clear they don't belong out in the open among the cars and people. I've noticed that we don't use elephants as vehicles here. A train is much worse.

Trains don't help business either

The fact is that most business relies on traffic. The more traffic that can reach a busines, the more potential customers the business will have. And of course, anything that impedes traffic will reduce the number of potential customers.

When it comes to surface access, trains necessarily compete with roads. They both require surface area and where one exists, the other cannot. So whichever provides the most traffic should logically be the one we select.

Some argue that trains can carry huge amounts of traffic. But in the case here, that is simply false. First, there is not enough riders here to replace the existing car traffic. Nor is there ever likely to be. Second, these particular trains must move so slowly that roads easily carry far more real traffic per hour than the trains can ever possibly hope to.

In the end, if trains replace roads, that will cause lots of cars to go elsewhere and the local businesses will simply lose that percentage of their customers. On the other hand, if we stick with roads, then buses can share the roads and businessses effectively get all the traffic that is realistically possible.

So roads are clearly more efficient and they provide business with the most possible customers. And trains harm business because they, well "drive away" lots of potential customers. So, for most business owners, the choice between roads and trains is pretty clear.

And trains don't even prevent sprawl

This one is pretty self evident. If there is a cheap way for people to live far from the core and still work downtown, lots of people will do so. So if the city builds a train using public money, then subsidizes the ongoing usage costs, that is simply encouraging sprawl.

As for subsidies, evidence shows that once the subsidies are reduced, ridership drops, as does traffic. Oddly enough, when people have to pay their own way to work, lots simply move closer to work. And in the case of most cities, this directly reduces sprawl.

And once people have to pay their full freight costs, some, if they can, decide to work from home instead. Although this does not reduce sprawl, it certainly reduces road traffic.

So when it comes to sprawl, trains are not part of the solution here at all. In fact, trains are a prime enabler of sprawl. So why are we building trains here anyway? Our city leaders say they want to prevent and contain sprawl. But their actions say otherwise.

Trains are obsolete, self-driving electric cars are the the future

It is often hard to grasp complex things like traffic networks. That's why a lot of people gravitate towards easy to understand things like trains. Even when trains are totally inappropriate, like in an urban environment.

But complex as it may be, the network-aware electric car (and bus and truck) will likely dominate our future. Besides being self-driving, these vehicles will also be connected to computerized traffic control systems. Once this is done, we will find that there is a lot more room on our roads than we ever thought. This is because when all the cars are under network control we can do things like synchronize braking and acceleration. This alone will likely significantly cut back on minor traffic inefficiencies and wasted time.

We can also properly time the lights too. At first we will be able to minimize stopping and perhaps later even eliminate it altogether. This will really cut down on travel time and allow us to fit a lot more cars on our roads. Less travel time means less time per car on the road. And this is essentially the same as making more roads that take up no extra space.

So what becomes of trains then?

In the future, "trains" will be virtual things that are nothing more than long lines of electric vehicles closely following each other along a temporary right-of-way on an as-needed basis. In other words, green lights pretty much all the way to work. So, almost no stopping and it takes a fraction of the cost and travel time of an old-fashioned real train.

And so future trains will just be the regular vehicles themselves such as cars, trucks and buses. Yes, even buses will work this way too. Consider what it would be like to subscribe to an automated bus service that stops at your door every weekday to give you a ride to work. And if you sleep in and miss the bus, you can ride in your self-driving car.

And so we come to the self driving electric car. They already exist. They even mostly work. And once the bugs are ironed out, after dropping you off at work, they will drive themselves back home so no need to rent a parking stall. And you can sleep in it before and after work. Sing in it or even brush your teeth if you want. All without being kicked off. And even better, you will never be robbed or assaulted in the process either.

And electric cars will be cheap too. Consider that China already makes them by the factory load. Nissan has one out now for $35k. It's nice too, I bet lots of people buy them. They are network-ready and it won't be long before they drive themselves. Then we can mostly forget about things like accidents, speed limits and so on. Traffic will be really fast, cars will be cheap and you can go where ever you want whenever you want.

And who says you even need to own one either? Maybe the best thing will be to just subscribe to the car service and use your phone to call a car whenever you need a ride. Or call a truck whenever you need to move big stuff like plywood or furniture.

So forget real trains, even super fancy automated electric buses will have to work pretty hard to compete with the upcoming electric cars.

But wait, there's more

Besides all the other stuff listed above, trains add to pollution, increase congestion and are downright ugly. Plus they are really, and I mean really expensive. But you know what the worst part is?

The worst part, the one that really bugs me, is how shared public assets like land, roads and parks are transferred to private companies. Once these people gain control over our public land, they close off our free and open access and they charge fees us if we want to continue to use them.

Plus, they basically wreck the place by converting our nice roads and beautiful parks into really ugly and dangerous railways. Then the city makes things even worse by manipulating the zoning laws to allow train slums to be built all along the line. The end result is most likely to be just another overcrowded poverty pit of corruption just like we see in so many second and third world cities all over the globe.

Considering how nice this place used to be, this really does suck hard and is not right in any away. Roads, parks, sidewalks and other public assets like tens of billions of dollars are not simply loot for some train company. Or at least they are not supposed to be.

So, when I see all this horrible stuff happening for no good reason, then I have no choice but to do the old "follow the money" thing. And guess what, it leads right to a number of vested interests who think they stand to profit off us by seizing our assets and forcing us to pay to use them. Not really suprising in any way actually.

So as far as I'm concerned, it's a scam. Even if the cities lawyers say it's legal. Anyone in power can pass laws to legalize bad behavior. Look at Zimbabwe for example. And the fact is that if the city government were not the ones doing this, anyone else who tried it would be charged with theft, fraud and vandalism among other things.

A popularity contest maybe

Popularity indeed. Turns out that the public is almost 100% opposed to these trains. But the train vendors, certain property developers and the cities own train department are all totally favor of these trains. So the only train supporters out there are the very defininition of vested interests. Somehow that is unsurprising.

What to do then? Some tried petitions. Didn't work. Some tried voting, still didn't work. A referendum then? Or just have Municipal Affairs start laying charges? That would work for me...

So that's why I want the city to cancel the Valley Line and other surface trains

These trains are not an investment in anything even remotely useful. They are just a massive cost and they cause all sorts of totally avoidable problems. So the responsible thing is to cancel the train building projects immediately.

And then? Well, basically do nothing and wait for the SDE cars to take over. Then the problems we don't have today will be solved for us at zero cost with zero effort. Oh, and we also need to fix the damage already done by the Valley Line project. And we also need to address the other damage done on all the other train projects that are currently blighting the surface of this city.

If you oppose the train you can complain to the mayor or your councillor here: City of Edmonton Website
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