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Hamilton's transportation revolution

Hamilton's transportation revolution

City considers bus rapid transit, light rail transit in plan to cut 20 per cent of cars from roadways.

By Nicole Macintyre

(Published in the Hamilton Spectator on April 11, 2008.)

Transit users rejoice - car junkies brace yourselves, for a Hamilton transportation revolution.

The city is working on a new rapid transit system it hopes will pull up to 20 per cent of cars off the road over the next few decades.

This spring, the public can comment on two options: a rapid bus system or light rail transit line.

Rapid transit will transform Hamiltonians' daily commute, said Gerry Davis, director of capital planning and implementation.

"We want to get people out of their cars."

A bus rapid system would mean dedicated transit lanes and advanced lights for buses. James Mountain Road would also be closed, except for transit.

A light rail system would also take up space now devoted to cars.

"A lot of car drivers aren't going to like it," said Councillor Brian McHattie. "It'll be controversial."

But if the city wants to change the status quo, he says, it must embrace a bold transit plan. The city is hoping to capitalize on provincial funding after the Liberals declared rapid transit a priority.

Rapid transit would be dedicated to three main corridors: King and Main streets from McMaster to Eastgate Square; James and Upper James streets; and an east-west Mountain route. McHattie favours a light rail system downtown to Mac to start.

While light rail costs more, it can generate economic development and increase ridership, says advocate Nicholas Kevlahan.