The City's LRT plan has $1 billion in provincial funding. Tell Premier Ford to get Hamilton's LRT back on track.

Don't Slam the Door on LRT

Posted March 04, 2015

Conceptual image of LRT in Hamilton. Image Credit: City of Hamilton.

Hamilton was ready for light rail transit in 2008. Now senior city staff are saying we're not ready - and they have devised a plan to make sure we don't get it.
This Friday, Councillors will receive the HSR Ten Year Local Transit Strategy, a staff report that has the potential to slam the door shut on LRT in Hamilton. It was created without public consultation and is very different from what Council directed staff to do back in 2013.
  • Council directed staff to develop a plan to invest $45 million to increase local transit service. Somehow that turned into a $302 million plan, with fully two-thirds of the cost - $200 million - going to a new bus maintenance and storage yard.

  • The new investment in local transit was supposed to be mostly local money, coming from such sources as the property tax levy, gas tax, fare increases, parking revenues and resolving transit area rating. Instead, staff have decided that the money should all come from the Province.

  • The Strategy expresses support for an equitable transit operating cost sharing between the tax levy and fares. Instead, nearly all of the new operating money is coming from steep fare increases far above the rate of inflation.

  • The Strategy is supposed to achieve Hamilton's transit ridership goal of 80-100 annual rides per capita by 2025. Instead, it will only get us to 50 rides per capita, and it explicitly acknowledges that we will not achieve our goals without rapid transit.

  • Local transit service is supposed to be funded from the local levy, and the Metrolinx capital fund is supposed to pay for rapid transit - transformative investments that municipalities can't fund themselves. Instead, Hamilton's transit strategy asks the Province to pay for our local transit improvements and defers rapid transit indefinitely.

Council needs to hear from you before they vote. If we submit this funding request and the Province agrees to it, that will most likely be all the Provincial money we get for Hamilton transit for the next ten years.
This plan re-writes Hamilton's rapid transit submission to the Province without any public input, deprioritizing rapid transit altogether.
Based on the total population of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Hamilton's share of the $15 billion is around $1.35 billion. If we submit a capital plan of $302 million over ten years to the Province, we will be leaving over a billion dollars on the table - money that more ambitious cities will be happy to take.
By the time we get around to asking for capital funding for our LRT plan, the $15 billion in Provincial money earmarked for rapid transit will all be gone.
Staff will present the Transit Strategy to City Councillors at their General Issues Committee this Friday. The Strategy was only made public last Friday, and no public consultation went into developing it.
Hamiltonians have not had any opportunity to learn about this plan or to understand what is at stake if we accept it.
We are asking you to do two things:
2. If you can, please attend the General Issues Committee meeting on Friday: 
  • Date: Friday, March 6, 2015
  • Time: 9:30 AM
  • Location: Council Chambers, City Hall
  • Address: 71 Main St W, Hamilton
  • Agenda:
Staff and Council need to hear loud and clear that they can't decide Hamilton's future behind closed doors. Demand public consultation and careful examination of this Strategy before we make a decision that slams the door on LRT in Hamilton.


On March 23 2015 at 4:20 PM Matias said:

Yes, I agree. If such a study were done objectively, I suespct that, overall, TTC service quality would decrease and that round-trip times would increase (as trolley buses or diesels would lose time merging back into traffic after each stop). This would be offset slightly by a trolley bus' ability to go around (and not get stuck behind) left-turning cars waiting for an opening in oncoming traffic. But, without a doubt, traffic flow (measured simply by the number of vehicles passing thru various intersections, per hour) would improve. These question is how much though. At intersections where left turns are permitted and where a nearside stop exists, a bus that can pull over to the curb is no better than a streetcar at keeping cars moving. Why? the left lane is already blocked by the left-turning car.One thing that really needs to be studied though is the domino delay effect . How much does streetcar (A) delay the streetcar behind it (B) when cars pile up behind (A) while it's loading at a non-island nearside stop on a green light? All of these factors, including cost, have to be carefully considered before an intelligent decision can be made.The one thing we can't study right now is how traffic flow might improve with a new streetcar fleet. The new fleet (with faster loading and unloading through all doors), and fewer and longer vehicles on the road, may help just as much as a bus conversion.The problem is that Ford doesn't strike me as the type of guy who likes to do studies, and the TTC is notorious for cooking their numbers as well.Steve: TTC Planning has already made the point that fewer larger cars will work better in traffic both in terms of interacting with the traffic signals and in keeping one car, rather than two or more, running in platoons formed by the signal timings. The all door loading will also be beneficial by, one hopes, reducing the stop service time at major stops. Minor stops will be dominated simply by the need to stop and open the doors if only for a few people. There are a few stops that could be eliminated, but not many. For example, westbound King and Victoria is a commonly cited one, but as things stand today, it often functions as an advance offloading stop for Yonge. A similar effect happens at Queen and Victoria westbound.Any trial and analysis requires careful study at the micro level intersection by intersection, block by block.

On March 24 2015 at 5:13 PM Monika said:

The rebuttal from Rob Ford's rerstpeneative at the end of the article was certainly brief and lacking in content.The vehicle capacity numbers stand and a streetcar still holds more than a bus.The track all over the city's been rebuilt over the last 10 or so years at great expense along with the remaining sections being done now or in the near future, and the cost of all this infrastructure that'd be wasted if streetcars are abandoned is recorded fact too. The contract cancellation clauses for the new streetcars, the Transit City cars, the construction contracts etc. are hard numbers on paper that could be totaled up if necessary, and if Rob Ford's people need information about this specifically, they could call up Jean Chretien and ask how that went with Eurocopter.Anybody so willing to ignore facts would be a very dangerous person to have as mayor.

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