Introduction and Conclusion of the ARR Airdrie to Calgary Commuter Business Case
The aim of Alberta Regional Rail is to provide a regional transit system that meets peoples needs, bringing commuters from the suburbs and outlying municipalities into downtown in the morning and home after work. The regional highway and road network is congested and ARR has the potential to provide significant new travel options across the Calgary Metropolitan Region.
Congestion is a leading concern of people in the Calgary Metropolitan Region. There are significant economic benefits to solving the problem, and costs for failing too. Some US cities have tried to meet growing travel demand by expanding their highway system. Most US cities have 5 times or more highway capacity through their cities and regions, but have been unable to stop the growth in congestion.
The ARR mission is to champion, develop and implement an integrated transportation system that enhances prosperity, sustainability and quality of life. The main effort contains specific strategies to create a regional transportation advantage, including bolstering the regions global competitiveness, protecting the environment, and improving people’s and community’s quality of life.
While ARR service will have many unique characteristics, it bears similarities to commuter and regional rail systems in other city regions in North America and around the world. These systems typically have the following basic traits:
· Frequent service
· Diesel/Electric trains
· Predominantly surface rail lines
· Good connections and integration with local transit
With an estimated 10-year capital investment program of approximately $386 million, ARR would provide Calgary Metropolitan Region and Airdrie residents with faster and more convenient transit that would get them where they want to go and when they want to get there, with more comfort and less stress.
ARR would improve the time it takes for commuters to complete their journeys in a host of ways. When the tracks and corridors are used more intensively, it becomes worthwhile to invest in track speed improvements, diesel/electric trains and equipment, grade separations, and other improvements.
ARR would use the existing Canadian Pacific rail corridor to a much more significant extent, enhancing connections between the regional municipality and the City of Calgary, providing relief to overcrowded highways and roads.
Investing in capital improvements to the existing CP rail corridor would mean that additional transportation capacity could be provided cost effectively in an urban environment while generating important economic, social and environmental benefits. With the population of the CMR poised to grow, population growth in Airdrie has been occurring at an accelerated rate, ARR provides one of the most significant means to meet the regions transportation needs. The population of the City of Airdrie is forecast to grow between 2.0 and 2.5 percent per year over the next five years, by 2023 Airdrie is expected to have a population of 80,000.
The ARR program outlined here sets out the plans for the next 10 years. It is subject to change and refinement as discussions proceed with CP, the City of Calgary, the City of Airdrie and other municipalities in the region. Additional planning, design and engineering work will lead to adjustments to this Initial Business Case and the program. It also lays a foundation for the expansion of the ARR system into the future.
Using a framework that is consistent with highly respected, standardized transportation analysis methods, ARR conducted a business case analysis that examined:
· The strategic case – how well the plan aligns with strategic, regional transportation objectives
· The financial case – how much the project would cost
· The economic case – how the benefits of the project measure up against the costs
· The delivery and operations case – how the project would be procured, delivered and operated
The recommendations emerged after applying this analysis to a range of options. The recommended plan would maximize the return on investment, and would be affordable within the context of available funds while minimizing risks and allowing for future improvements.
The Calgary Metropolitan Region is a center of economic and cultural dynamism, and strong communities. The region is a preferred place to live for newcomers to Canada, a beacon to young people seeking to launch their careers, and a safe, stable, enjoyable place for parents to raise their children.
In the past, the regions transportation infrastructure has made a major contribution to the quality of life that attracts and keeps people and jobs here. But changing needs and new demands require new way for people to travel. Roads, buses and LRT all have roles to play in meeting the transportation challenges of a region like the CMR. ARR would strengthen the network, as a backbone to the transit systems, and make transit far more attractive. In many ways, by providing improved, comprehensive and more flexible mobility, ARR would transform not just transportation services, but in time the region, and how and where people live and work.
ARR would support the region and its growing travel demands by providing needed transportation system capacity and attractive travel options in terms of speed, convenience, comfort and reliability.
It is a financially affordable investment and would create a financially sustainable backbone for transit systems far into the future.
It would create net value as the benefits to citizens and businesses would exceed its cost.
Building ARR would mean frequent, flexible and dependable transportation options. It would mean a simpler, hassle-free travel experience to get to work and home again. It would transform a 19th-century rail system into one for the 21st-century.