The Rapid Rail To Gridlock
Posted: Monday, October 9, 2006
By Stephen Kangal
The proposed Rapid Rail System (RRS) OR BOMBARDIER STYLE TRAMLINK would appear to be a done deal that has been concluded in the privacy of Cabinet without the requisite proper feasibility study (recommended by APETT) being conducted to determine whether it can really alleviate the escalating traffic gridlock that has enveloped most areas of Trinidad. This RRS is being bandied about even before the receipt of the Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) Comprehensive National Transportation System (CNTS).
There is no additional physical room along the Butler Highway nor compelling economic justification to build a North-South Railway Link. THAT IS RIDING ROUGHSHOD OVER THE PEOPLE'S MONEY.
IT WILL CAUSE AND AGGRVATE THE TRAFFIC GRIDLOCK
No evaluation has been undertaken of the relative merits of the bus, maxi-taxi and the road system of transportation. No thought has been given to the lengthy closure of the Priority Bus Route for construction of the RRS and how this will negatively impact on current road users who commute along the East West Corridor when the Interchange is also being constructed SIMULTANEOUSLY. Bombardier nor VINCI is aware of the traffic dynamics of the East West CorridorTransport challenges.
This is another fixation with expenditure in the sky (Monorail suspended on pylons) with no development on the ground. This is total madness that must be opposed after the $850 m Torouba Brian Lara Complex debacle.
NO CONSULTATIONS WITH STAKEHOLDERS
No public consultations have been conducted to take into account the views of the stakeholders and the tax paying community who will foot the massive bill. What will become of the Victor George Red Band Maxi Taxi Private Transportation link?
T&T IS A CAR BASED SOCIETY
T&T is a car-based society (1 vehicle for every 3 persons). The proposed RRS will prove to be a white elephant and counter productively a drain on the Treasury without contributing any real solutions to our traffic gridlock. Someone has to stop this decline into total madness and profligacy. It would appear that Bombardier that is the largest supplier of light railway rolling stock is behind this massive Government expenditure. Bombardier foisted this on Croydon Council in London.
THE PLANE-TRAIN NEXUS
There appears to be a plane-train exchange in sight. It appears that it will be a transportation system that will be run and funded exclusively by Government. Government has no record of running any transportation system efficiently. It will be a huge drain on the future tax payers of the country having regard to the vagaries of the oil/gas markets. The expenditure on the train is half of the current budget of $20bn and the recurring, running and upkeep costs are equivalent to what has been allocated to the entire Ministry of National Security ($3bn). These costs will escalate once the RRS becomes tied to a monopolistic rolling supplier of Bombardier in Europe.
T&T SINGLE BIGGEST INVESTMENT DESTINED TO BE A MOBILE WHITE ELEPHANT
The RRS will turn out to be T&T's single biggest investment to the tune of $15-20bn capital expenditure and a $3bn recurring annual expenditure. This will completely eradicate the existing 250 Red Band Maxis that ply this route and put these people on the bread line although they have been providing a most efficient transport system at no cost to the Government. In fact Government derives revenues from these operators. Current PBR users will be decanted unto the CRH further aggravating the gridlock during construction. There is no plan to build the proposed Southern Freeway immediately.
How will this project fit into the take over of Regional Corporations of the implementation of Government's policies?
DO NOT TOUICH THE JAM-PACKED EAST -WEST CORRIDOR FOR IT WILL CRUMBLE AS THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
One should not touch the existing EMR.PBR and CRH East- West Corridor transportation system. What is needed is the Southern Link Freeway (SLF) that runs south/North of the Caroni River and bypasses the CRH from the Barataria Overpass to way beyond the Piarco Airport with Connector Roads leading to the CRH, SMR etc. from various intersections. This Freeway will even have made the Interchange redundant and unnecessary.
TAX PAYERS MUST INTERVENE TO STOP THIS DECLINE INTO MADNESS AND PROFLIGACY
The population cannot stand idly by and see a CREEPING dictatorial Government squander the coffers of the State under the most profligate of circumstance. Without any technical studies being undertaken. The poor Red Band Maxi owners who have invested in expensive vehicles cannot be deprived in this arbitrary and uncaring manner because they have a reasonable and legitimate expectation that they would have been able to ply their trade. The equivalent of one light train vehicle is no more than 6 maxi taxis put together. The light railway will further aggravate the traffic gridlock in the East West Corridor from Diego Martin to Arima, cause chaos on the PBR and we wiill pay $20bn for this roving white elephant. A light railway needs a dedicated route unencumbered by other vehicular traffic. The construction of an elevated rail system is even more exorbitant. It is estimated that the T&T RRS will cost U.S. $ 3.1 bn covering approximately 78 miles at US$ 39.7m per mile.
The Parsons Brinkerhoff (CNTS) recommends the flexibility of the bus system as the next generation of transport.
Can the PBR be converted to this exclusive LIGHT RAILWAY purpose without causing traffic chaos and further and continuing wear and tear on the human personality and spirit of the travelling and commuting public?
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