A group is pushing for consideration to be given to potentially starting up a light-rail transit (LRT) system in Halifax to make public transit more efficient and tackle the challenges of a growing municipality.
“We need to start looking outside the box at alternatives,” said Ben Macleod, one of the creators of the Halifax Light Rail Alliance, said on Thursday.
The group is proposing a transit line that stretches from Sackville and looping on the Halifax peninsula to Clayton Park, using rails that already exist and others that would need to be created.
Future extensions could connect to Dartmouth, Spryfield, and other communities.
Macleod said he has presented the plan to two municipal politicians.
He noted that the federal government is helping fund other LRT projects in Canada.
Dalhousie University transportation professor Ahsan Habib said that the plan has merit.
“LRT will give this physical identity that this transit will run well connecting communities, so it will probably give a boost to transit-oriented development, more density,” he said.
Habib said that LRT is the preferable transit option because it is relatively cheaper and easier to expand compared to commuter rail.
Commuter rail in the works
Bedford – Wentworth Councillor Tim Outhit has been pushing to bring a commuter rail option using existing infrastructure.
He said he’s hoping to get it started within a couple of years for around $30 to $50 million, not including operating costs.
Although Outhit said he shares the vision of the group, he says it is “premature” to discuss LRT at the moment.
“We have to walk before we run,” he said.
Macleod said even though the group’s proposal would be years away before taking detailed shape the municipal government needs to plan ahead. He said preserving a portion of the redeveloped Cogswell Interchange lands for a future light rail service would be an example.