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

Continue with Current LRT Procurement Model

Posted December 06, 2017

Hamilton Light Rail (HLR) urges City Council to continue with the current Light Rail Transit (LRT) procurement model that Council already accepted under the Memorandum of Agreement with Metrolinx on February 10, 2016. 
Likewise, HLR urges the Province and Metrolinx to deny any request to further postpone a final decision beyond the January 24, 2018 deadline that was stated in the November 24, 2017 letter from Metrolinx.
Under the current procurement model, Metrolinx is responsible to contract the design, construction, financing, operation and maintenance of the LRT system to a consortium. The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for this process was completed earlier this year, but the project has been held up for more than three months since Council requested in August to have the HSR operate LRT instead.
Having the same consortium build, operate and maintain the system provides a strong incentive for the consortium not to cut corners. Further, it means the system will be operated and maintained by a contractor that has already demonstrated the requisite expertise to run an LRT system safely and reliably. 
We also note here that the operations and maintenance employees will almost certainly be unionized under the current procurement model. Any company qualified to build and run an LRT system already has a unionized workforce. This is the model Metrolinx has been using for GO Train operators, who are unionized Bombardier employees.
LRT Operations
Metrolinx strongly recommends against taking operations out of that procurement model. The change would mean that the City assumes the full operational cost, responsibility and liability risk for the LRT. 
City Council has consistently maintained that the city's LRT cost exposure should be minimized. In response, the Province agreed to provide 100 percent capital funding and a procurement model in which the City's operational cost obligation will be a fixed and predictable amount, negotiated under the Master Agreement with Metrolinx.
Assuming full responsibility for LRT operation would go directly against Council's longstanding commitment to protect Hamilton ratepayers from risk.
In addition, taking over operations would mean an additional four or five month delay in order to re-issue an RFQ with the operations piece removed from the contract. The project schedule is already in jeopardy due to this last-minute change request, and every additional delay increases the risk to the project as a whole.
Local Transit Context
We agree in principle that there are benefits to integrating LRT and local transit under the same delivery system. However, the local context matters, and that principle must be balanced against an HSR that is plagued with low morale, shockingly high absenteeism and literally several hundred no-show buses every month. 
It would be imprudent to risk a billion-dollar investment in rapid transit to a delivery service that struggles to maintain local bus service on a day-to-day basis and is a long way from the kind of systemic changes necessary to become the reliable, high-quality transit service Hamilton needs and deserves.
We recognize that not every LRT supporter will agree with this assessment, and that reasonable people can come to different conclusions about this complex issue.
However, we have carefully weighed the various considerations and believe the balance of risks favours maintaining the procurement model that Council and Metrolinx already agreed to, which is already in progress. 
Best Way Forward
When Councillors meet on December 18 to formally receive the letter from Metrolinx, the best way forward is to drop the proposal to have HSR operate LRT and allow the procurement process to move forward as quickly as possible so this project can get back on track.
The worst thing that could happen would be for Council to drag the matter out even further, and toward that end HLR urges the Province not to agree to any proposed extension to the January 24 deadline.
This transformative investment is too important to Hamilton's future for us to drop the ball at such an advanced stage.
Let's get the first phase of the city's rapid transit network built, and as HSR continues to improve its operational readiness, Council can push for HSR to operate the next phase while that project's Memorandum of Agreement is being negotiated.


On December 8 2017 at 11:52 AM Brodie Chree said:

More yuppies, more underlings with poverty wages and more money for developers to turn our city into another condo world of haves and have-nots. No. This is OUR city and OUR taxes. I wonder who HLR really advocates for? I don't think it's residents or at least you believe your own bluster. I'm off this crazy train. You lost me on this one.

On December 8 2017 at 12:09 PM Dan Gismondi said:

City Council please no more delays! Let's move this project forward and continue with the growth movement we are experiencing in Hamilton. The time is now!

On December 8 2017 at 12:38 PM Steve said:

Let's not clutch defeat out of the jaws of victory... stick with the plan

On December 8 2017 at 12:50 PM Stanley Cicci said:

Lets just let metrolinx run everything and keep HSR out of it.We don't need the headache of running it and the costs.I'm for the union but let Metrolinx worry about all the costs. The Boys at city hall screw things up enough mainly the three that have never had a real job.

On December 8 2017 at 2:18 PM MF said:

Anybody notice the date of that meeting: it is Dec 18 just before Christmas when everybody is busy and the attention is on the upcoming holiday. This is in my opinion a sinister and misguided way by city council to sneak something by the Citizens of Ham, similar to what some of the heavy polluting companies might do to minimize any pushback from residents. HSR is run by city council and they have been doing a poor job. They actually should not be in charge as they are mostly car drivers and have not a clue of the needs and benefits of efficient public transit. In addition to that many councillors demonstrate very poor math skills and vision building a city that serves future generations. If you are given 100%funding of 1 billion plus to boost yourcities transit infrastructure you should not vote against such an opportunity. Anybody who does shows that they don’t care about efficient transit options for for future generations and the organizations that provide by far the highest numbers of employment in Hamilton. In my opinion councillors that voted against this investment should be held accountable by voters in the next election. Plus it should be a job requirement that any councillor must use the city‘s public transit at least one time a week and any bus that is being cancelled due to staffing reasons should be driven by a HSR manager. It’s unfortunate that we a council that is incapable to be decisive and welcome the largest ever infrastructure investment in this city‘s history, employees and citizens of Hamilton must wake up and demand better, aswell as voting rationally about councillors who have continuously spread misinformation and voted against this great opportunity to move into the future disrespecting the needs of Hamilton’s Largest employers and the younger generation!!

On December 11 2017 at 4:17 PM said:

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