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Rapid transit information sessions this week

Valuable ideas came out of Saturday's rapid transit brainstorming session sponsored by Metrolinx.

By Eric McGuinness

Published in the Hamilton Spectator on May 05, 2008.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger says rapid transit in Hamilton may require operating subsidies as well as capital grants from the federal and provincial governments.

"All the capital dollars in the world don't give you the operating dollars you need," he said Saturday as he participated in one of many small discussion groups at a brainstorming session held at McMaster University by Metrolinx, the provincial Crown corporation drafting a master transportation plan for the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton.

While a report suggests an east-west rapid transit service, using either buses or modern streetcars, would run one way on Main Street and the other on King, Eisenberger said, "Having transit on one street going both ways makes sense."

Just because continuing the present one-way system is recommended, "doesn't mean it is carved in stone," he said. "We have to hear what the community thinks."

Brian Baetz, a civil engineering professor at Mac, asked, "If you went two-way on one line, could you get rid of cars completely and make it a pedestrian zone?"

Scott Stewart, general manager of public works, said, "Whatever works socially and economically."

Peter Hutton said: "The concept of one route being non-car is perfectly valid to suggest. The staff want feedback on uses of the rights-of-way. We need to think about pedestrians, transit, bikes and cars."

Baetz also suggested the service not run just from Eastgate Square to the university, but "take it a little bit further, take it past the new student housing on Main West and loop it at University Plaza, which needs to be redeveloped. It could be the Westgate of Hamilton."

Hamilton's new Transportation Master Plan calls for three higher-speed transit routes - a north-south line from the harbour to the airport and cross-city services both above and below the Mountain. The Ontario government is offering capital grants for two, the north-south service and an east-west service in the lower city.

Two public information centres are being held this week as part of a new Rapid Transit Feasibility Study aimed at choosing between light rail and bus rapid transit as well as how such services would operate in the corridors identified.

The first will be tomorrow evening at Sackville Hill Seniors' Recreation Centre, 780 Upper Wentworth St. and the second on Thursday at the Education Centre, 100 Main St. W. Both will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. with presentations at seven o'clock.

For further information on the Saturday session check out metronauts.ca.

For more on Hamilton's rapid transit study, go to myhamiton.ca, click on city and government in the list on the left, then click on projects and initiatives.

More on light rail transit can be found at hamiltonlightrail.com.