Draft RTP DelayedOne of the recurring issues I've heard about the Regional Transportation plan was the timeline. With the Premier strongly desiring a final plan in the fall, the resulting timeline meant holding public consultation during the summer months - a time usually avoided due to the fact that many have totally checked out when it comes to politics and planning.
Today, Metrolinx formally announced that the draft Regional Transportation Plan and Investment Strategy will be delayed until September. While this means that the public consultation for the plan will occur during the time when the public are most available and attentive, it also means that the plan might miss the cutoff for the 2009 Provincial Budget. Without a specific plan available to the Province, they will only be able to give funding to general service improvements, not for specific capital projects.
There has been a lot of speculation as to what has caused this delay. Some argue that the Premier was simply not ready to deal with some of the policies many people expected to see in the investment strategy. But, according to Metrolinx Chair Rob MacIsaac, the province has yet to see the investment strategy. I may be cynical, but I would expect the Province to be privy to a sneak peak at the plan before it is disclosed to the public. If that hasn't happened, then it suggests to me that it simply isn't finished - a theory that David Harrison shares. Metrolinx has a strong desire to ensure that the investment strategy and the RTP come out at the same time, in order to avoid derailments from the "how are we going to pay for this?" camp. If the funding plan isn't ready, then the transit plan isn't ready.
While I do subscribe to that theory, I'm certain there is a bit of truth to the other factors - either consciously or subconsciously. The plan needs to be approved by the public to stand the test of time, and it needs to be politically viable - there's no denying that, be you cynical or not. But, when the plan finally is released, we'll have a document that, for the first time, sets outs a roadmap for our future. And, that document will be politically acceptable and shaped by an attentive and engaged public.