December 1, 2022

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Infrastructure | This policy contributes to the increase in the cost of public transportation

(Ottawa) According to various experts, one of the main factors behind the strong growth in the cost of public transport infrastructure projects, especially light rail, is politics.


Laura Osman
Canadian Press

Of course, other factors may include tunnel depth, station area, or labor costs.

⁇ [La politique] It’s the center of everything, ”says Toronto researcher Stephen Wickens.

According to Berlin-based researcher Alon Levy, the average cost of a metro line in 2019 was less than 300 million per kilometer.

This is not what we see in Canada.

The cost of building the Ontario route to Toronto is estimated at 735 million per kilometer. The blue line in Montreal? About 775 million per kilometer. The cost of the Vancouver Skytrain Broadway line seems to be around $ 500 million per kilometer.

Politicians from all parties at all levels of government are participating in this price hike.

For example: Creating a tunnel is often the cheapest method. However, this is very annoying for the neighbors. Local city councilors would prefer other infrastructure to avoid annoying their constituencies at the risk of raising the bill.

About a decade ago, Vancouver opted for the lowest cost method by building its 19-kilometer Canada route. We started digging the trench at street level before closing it. While this method saves a lot of money, it is synonymous with controversy, disruption and legal action.

Photo by DARRYL DYCK, Archives The Canadian Press

Vancouver Broadway-City Hall Skytrain Station

“People remember very badly that the city authorities promised to build a completely underground lane for the Broadway project.

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The promises of politicians are also forcing governments to pay a higher price. In 2019, a study by the Municipal Finance and Governance Agency concluded that when it comes to decision-making, political considerations often prioritize facts.

“Any engineer who dares to say that such a plan is not needed would dare to reduce the area of ​​a station or recommend to an elected official that the promise be breached. Will 500 million be added to the bill?” Mr Levy told the Canadian Press.

It’s not just in Canada.

Dr. of New York University. Levy and other urban planning researchers estimate that the cost of infrastructure in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States is higher than in Italy, Spain or France.

Marco City, a co-researcher based in Montreal, found that Canadian cities and provinces often lack the technical expertise to oversee a project. He cites the example of Italy, where often civil servants-experts draw up detailed plans before submitting to elected officials.

According to him, in order to reduce the cost of public transport projects, he makes the authorities identify that there is a problem.

“The majority of Canadian politicians do not believe there is a big problem in the country, there is a big problem with cost,” he argues. I hope that in a few years, we will talk more about the eruption of costs that are actually out of control in Canada. ”