Light rail much better than No. 1 bus in Chelsea, QC

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by admin on December 2, 2009

The Editor

While the undersigned has not been a hyperactive proponent of a light rail service for Chelsea,Quebec, James Grimes’ letter to the Low Down (Nov. 25 edition) has brought forth a response from me, following:

First, what I understand of Joseph Potvin and company’s proposal is that it is not for a “commuter train”, i.e. a heavy rail train with classic railway multiple crew members and the rest. Rather, what is proposed is use of the British Parry People mover, a light rail vehicle now serving Stourbridge in England.

The STO bus service to Gatineau and Ottawa has its virtues, and as a user for many years of the No. 1 bus line, I can attest to them. Speed is, however, not one of them. The CPR train to Ottawa took 22 minutes from Chelsea in steam days, while the No. 1 bus now takes 50 minutes to reach

Confusion Square.

The train was free of traffic and traffic lights and had a rather direct routing. The Ottawa O-Train, similarly takes but 12 minutes to cover a route that takes half an hour by bus. It is much more cost-effective than the buses it replaced, leaving me to wonder how cost-effective is the No. 1 bus route, whose rider numbers have not grown in decades, probably because of the slow schedule.

As to costs of stations, a mere short platform would suffice at most locations, and as to the skiers, I doubt that the passage of a few trains a day will displace many from the right-of-way, particularly if the STO pattern of no service on weekends were perpetuated by a light rail car.

Harry Gow

Chelsea, Quebec