The City's LRT plan has $1 billion in provincial funding. Tell Council to take YES for an answer.

Minutes for the Oct. 29, 2007 Light Rail Meeting

Summary of the discussion and action items from the October 29, 2007 meeting.

By Ryan McGreal

Hamilton Light Rail met on October 29, 2007 at 7:30 PM at the Sky Dragon Centre (27 King William St. (b/w James and Hughson), Hamilton) to discuss strategies for promoting light rail in Hamilton. Hamilton Transit Users Group and Raise the Hammer facilitated the event.

New Website

Hamilton Light Rail has officially launched a new website to organize public support for light rail in Hamilton, with timely information, news, resources, presentations, and other tools for outreach and education.

The site is still a work in progress (it's little big buggy in Internet Explorer 6), but already contains some pre-existing information about light rail in Hamilton. It also includes a registration form so readers can sign up to participate in the discussion and receive updates.

Meeting Objectives

After a discussion about affiliations, organizational structure and strategies, the group decided to focus initially on the content and let a form suggest itself.

The most important initial goals are to:

  • Research the benefits of light rail (much of the groundwork has already been done);
  • Create presentation resources;
  • Train presenters; and
  • Establish an outreach strategy for building support.

The idea is to put together an entertaining and informative presentation (or possibly two presentations: a shorter initial version and a longer detailed version) that volunteers can use to promote light rail to various organizations in the city. The idea is to have a consistent, accurate information package and to approach a wide variety of groups to give talks and ask for statements of support.

Pro-Light Rail Arguments

A discussion about the major arguments in support of light rail produced the following list:

  • Light rail has higher capital costs than buses or bus rapid transit (BRT), but the Provincial government has offered to pay the capital costs for two rapid transit lines.
  • Light rail has lower operating costs per rider than buses.
  • Light rail has lower maintenance costs than buses, and vehicles last much longer before needing replacement.
  • Light rail attracts many more new riders than buses/BRT. People who would never get on a bus are happy to ride a modern light rail system.
  • Light rail can carry more riders than buses. (Note that the main east/west transit line across the lower city is already overloaded, even with articulated Bee-Line buses.)
  • Light rail attracts billions of dollars in new private investment, promoting neighbourhood development. Other cities that have invested in light rail have enjoyed excellent ROI. (Buses/BRT simply do not compare.)
  • New commercial investment lowers property taxes for city residents.
  • Because it promotes transit-oriented development, it will help Hamilton meet its provincially-manded intensification targets.
  • Light rail produces no emissions at the tailpipe, and produces far fewer total emissions per vehicle than buses, no matter how the electricity is generated.
  • Light rail promotes walking, which is good for public health.
  • Light rail is quiet, comfortable, stylish, and relaxing compared to buses and even compared to driving in traffic.
  • Light rail can be designed to have signal priority and dedicated lanes, so it is faster and more convenient than driving.
  • Light rail is accessible to riders with special needs.
  • Light rail reduces traffic congestion because it uses land very very efficiently, draws new riders out of their cars, and displaces more vehicles than the lanes it uses would carry.
  • Light rail sends a positive message that Hamilton is a progressive, forward-looking city, which can help to attract innovative businesses.

Action Items

The following action items will be reviewed at our next meeting (see below for date and time):

  1. Prepare a draft presentation (PowerPoint show and related pamphlet) and circulate to group for critiques and suggestions.
  2. Come up with a list of anti-light rail arguing points to rebut (please send suggestions to Ryan McGreal).
  3. Prepare an outreach strategy: draft resolution, sample letter, etc.
  4. Arrange a speaker for the next meeting (a planner from the Kitchener-Waterloo light rail project).

Timeline

Our goal is to have the presentation and strategy ready to deploy at the start of the new year.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held:

  • Date: Tuesday, November 20
  • Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Location: FRWY Coffee House
  • Address: 333 King Street East (at Wellington St. N.) Hamilton, ON L8N 1C1 [see map]

(with files from Sean Burak)