Saskatoon’s Bus Rapid Transit System too expensive, will disrupt traffic, Don Atchison says
Don Atchison addresses reporters at a news conference on Oct. 23, 2020. (Laura Woodward/CTV News)
SASKATOON -- At his campaign office, mayoral candidate Don Atchison slammed the city’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system Friday morning.
Atchison said the system is too expensive and would disrupt traffic.
The city estimated a BRT system would cost about $150 million.
Atchison believes it will be more than double than proposed cost, based on other Canadian cities’ experiences.
“I truly believe the project is still going to be in that $500 million range for Bus Rapid Transit and the City of Saskatoon needs to revisit that before we go any further,” Atchison told reporters.
Atchison said BRT-dedicated lanes will create more vehicle backlog in Saskatoon.
Instead of moving forward with a BRT system, Atchison wants to ramp up Saskatoon’s current bus system.
“The buses need to come every five minutes on the high-traffic areas,” Atchison said.
Incumbent Charlie Clark supports a BRT system, saying it’s the transportation of the future.
Part of Clark’s transportation plan also includes building more electric car charging stations and expanding the electric bus network.
Candidate Rob Norris said he would push “pause” on the BRT plans as the city recovers from the effects of COVID-19.
Norris said savings from not moving forward with the BRT system would be redirected to reduce annual fees for Saskatoon businesses.
Candidate Mark Zielke does not support the BRT project, referencing concerns about the cost of the project as “taxpayers are experiencing economic uncertainty.”
Zielke said he wants an audit conducted on the BRT’s cost projections.
“From a business perspective, the numbers submitted from the city do not make sense,” Zielke said in an email.
Candidate Cart Tarasoff’s stance is aligned with Atchison.
Tarasoff says a BRT will end up costing more than anticipated and Saskatoon would be better served improving its current transit system.
“I do not believe we can even consider building infrastructure for a system when we have no firm idea where the new arena will go in the end,” Tarasoff said in an email.