Special Report: Light Rail

City Council to Vote on LRT Report Thursday

This report recommends continuing scheduled LRT design work, with no final decision to move forward forthcoming until senior levels of government commit to a funding formula for capital costs.

By Joey Coleman
Published October 11, 2011

In an anti-climatic 106 page report, Hamilton city staff are recommending City Council continue pursuing studies toward the building of a rapid transit light rail B-Line and A-Line in Hamilton, provided that Metrolinx funds a portion of the continuing work.

In summary, this report recommends continuing scheduled design work, with no final decision to move forward with LRT forthcoming until senior levels of government commit to a funding formula for capital costs.

The report will be considered by City Council during a special meeting on Thursday, October 13, 2011.

The report states, "capital cost of LRT on the B-Line ranges from $875 million to $1 billion."

Assuming senior levels of government fund $50 to $100 percent of the project, the cost to City finances will be $0 to $509 million.

The city portion will be debt financed. The City of Hamilton's present debt is $355 million.

Without LRT, it is schedule to balloon to $931 million in 2014 and peak at $1.12 billion in 2019. LRT debt will be in addition to these forecast figures.

The city's non-LRT infrastructure capital costs will range from $1.8 to $2.4 million. The estimated annual operating cost of LRT is $16.4 to $25.5 million.

Overall, LRT could result in a residential property tax increase of 1.4 to 7.9 percent or $42 to $230 per household. The report suggests the increase could be phased in over several years.

SUMMARY OF CAPITAL & OPERATING SUMMARY OF CAPITAL & OPERATING FINANCIAL IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED B-LINE LRT (2011 dollars) ($000s)
LOW ($000s) HIGH ($000s)
Gross LRT Capital Cost 875,000 1,000,000
City Share of LRT Capital Cost 0% - $0 50% - 509,000
Other City Capital Costs 1,875 2,400
Annual LRT Operating Cost 7,800 13,500
Annual Operating Cost Impact on Other City Services 8,650 12,020
Total Residential Tax Impact: Capital + Operating:
- % Per Household 1.4% 7.9%
- $ Per Household $42 $230

A final report recommending the type of rapid transit for Hamilton will not be presented to Council until senior levels of government show their funding commitments.

The City will prioritize the planning on James Street and Centennial Parkway in anticipation of all-day GO Service to stations beside the CNR tracks at the northern ends of those streets.

In the short-term, staff are recommending the city lobby Metrolinx for funding to buy more articulated buses to address serious capacity issues on city bus routes. The city needs to complete the work required under the agreement reached when Metrolinx provided $3 million to the city for LRT studies.

The report notes that if not completed, the city could be required to return all or part of the $3 million grant. Most of the work is complete and the rest is scheduled for completion in December.

Work Required Under $3M Contribution Agreement with Metrolinx
Task Expected Completion Deliverables
PART 1: EAST-WEST RAPID TRANSIT PLANNING CORRIDOR (B-LINE), DESIGN & ENGINEERING (PDE)
Component 1: Review and Summary of existing B-Line and corridor information carried to out to date Complete Summary of data collected from previous studies; mapped corridor base plans; Environmental Conditions Report to be integrated into Environmental Project Report.
Component 2: Project Constraints Assessment and Implementation Recommendation December 2011 Subsurface Infrastructure Assessment; major constraints assessment and critical path risk assessment, traffic management plan, parking and loading study
Component 3: Detailed Functional Planning & route analysis of preferred alternative December 2011 Functional planning and route analysis report, 30% traffic modelling, route alignment and station locations, Storage and Maintenance Facility concept
Component 4: Ridership Review and Service Forecasting Complete Ridership forecasts, possible support land use development initiatives and vehicle requirements, estimated capital and operating costs.
Component 5: Environmental Project Report & Public Consultation December 2011 Environmental Project Report, Public Consultation and Notice of Completion.
PART 2: NORTH-SOUTH RAPID TRANSIT CORRIDOR (A-LINE) & ROUTE SELECTION FEASIBILITY STUDY
Component 1: Corridor Alternatives Development December 2011 Traffic Modelling, transportation impacts on preferred alternative, parking & loading impacts, technology requirements.
Component 2: Identification of potential and existing hubs and land use development strategies December 2011 Summary of potential and existing hubs, timelines for hub development, land use planning study, economic uplift potential report.
Component 3: Phasing Strategy December 2011 Phasing options based on geographic constraints, and growth/support of the existing and future hubs.

Senior City staff met with Metrolinx on September 22, 2011. Staff report that during the meeting, Metrolinx staff stated the City of Hamilton is at least two years ahead of other projects competing for funding, and that Metrolinx requires Hamilton decide upon a maintenance storage facility and complete the phasing study before Metrolinx will make a funding decision.

The proposed work schedule for LRT in 2012 is presented as:

Proposed 2012 Work
Task Expected Completion Additional Comments
Maintenance Storage Facility analysis Q4 2012 A Maintenance Storage Facility is required to support the B-Line LRT service. A number of sites must be evaluated in consultation with agencies and City staff to determine the most suitable location (likely 3 to ensure that a preferred site can be purchased, should funding become available) for an MSF.
B-Line Phasing Strategy Q4 2012 Once a Maintenance Storage Facility is determined, a Phasing Strategy would then be developed to bring LRT into service. The location of the MSF affects the overall phasing of the project (i.e. is it constructed from West to East, Centre to West, Centre to East or East to West).
Maintenance Storage Facility - EA Q4 2012 A Transit Project Assessment Process Environmental Assessment will require completion for the MSF location.
Partner with McMaster University to develop Electromagnetic Field and vibration mitigation measures for their Scanning Electron Microscope. Q4 2012 McMaster University is the location of a highly sensitive Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) that can be influenced by electromagnetic fields and vibration. The LRT stop locations at McMaster University are situated close enough to the microscope to warrant analysis of mitigation measures to protect the instrument from LRT related electromagnetic fields. Through consultation with McMaster University, stop locations were determined. However, a commitment was made to partner with them to determine the best measures to minimize the effect of LRT on the SEM.
A-Line Terms of Reference for PDE Q4 2012 A Terms of Reference for completing a Planning, Design and Engineering Study(PDE) for the ALine will be developed in 2012 so that the City of Hamilton can complete the same level of assessment for the A-Line as has been recently completed for the B-Line.
Infrastructure Ontario - Value for Money Exercise Q4 2012 Participation in Infrastructure Ontario's Value for Money (VFM) Assessment to determine the suitability of the B-Line for Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) delivery. The VFM would provide direction as to whether a P3 process or a more traditional delivery model should be considered. Province would fund this study. City staff would be involved.

An interesting aspect of the proposed LRT line is the stop at McMaster University requiring special mitigation measures to prevent the electromagnetic fields and vibrations from interfering with one of the world's most powerful electron microscope in the world. (It was the most powerful in 2008 and may still be.)

Thursday's meeting will reveal any fault lines that have developed since Council last unanimously endorsed LRT, but with no hard decision required Thursday, don't expect too many fireworks. It's a status quo recommendation that will get likely receive a status-quo unanimous vote.

Capital and Operating Cost Estimates for B-Line Rapid Transit
CAPITAL COST ESTIMATES (2011-$000s) LRT BRT
Preparatory Works 86,700 22,600
Guideway 132,600 77,200
Completion Work 10,400 10,300
Stations 8,000 6,500
Trackworks 51,700 0
Systems 85,000 7,700
Maintenance Facility 73,200 8,300
Vehicles 119,900 33,000
Total Construction $567,500 $165,600
Design & Management 136,100 43,900
Property 35,400 13,000
Total Estimate before Contingency $739,000 $222,500
Contingency 136,500 42,200
Total Estimate $875,500 $264,700
OPERATING COST ESTIMATES (2011-$000s) LRT BRT
Based on 22 vehicles 13,500
Based on 36 buses 16,100
Assumes 18 buses off the network -5,700
Total Net Operating Estimate $7,800 $16,10

This article was originally published on Joey's blog.

Joey Coleman covers Hamilton Civic Affairs.

Read more of his work at The Public Record, or follow him on Twitter @JoeyColeman.

41 Comments

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 11, 2011 at 17:26:10

Look for BoBra to start dropping that "7.9% upper bound total residential tax-hike" in future discussions. That's a damned scary-looking number.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2011 at 18:37:05 in reply to Comment 70426

My hunch is that we'll end up with BRT. Pity the BRT costing doesn't have an upper end as well. Given that the costs move closer over LRT's 25-year lifecycle, the comparative tax premium for BRT (a service that would, to cynics, be an almost invisible change on city streets) would be an interesting bit of trivia. 2.5% increase seems possible, but it's all guesstimates at this stage. Pretending that the city will be able to introduce radical service improvements without an accompanying spend and an ongoing tax hit for operational costs strikes me as a little disingenuous.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 11, 2011 at 21:04:46 in reply to Comment 70431

The overall operating costs for BRT are higher than for LRT, even if you don't subtract the buses that will be taken off the B-Line.

As for the capital cost, the Province and Metrolinx have already committed to 100% capital funding for other Toronto-area rapid transit projects, and there is absolutely no reason why Hamilton should not get the same deal.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 13:23:00 in reply to Comment 70441

It's also true that the comparison is a bit odd. The chart leads one to believe that 22 LRT cars will hold as much as 18 buses, which would give you an operating cost of around $614K for LRT and $447K for BRT (independent of taking those 18 buses off the network -- factor them and the operating cost of LRT falls to $354K).

Odd that the contingency cost for BRT seems to be marginally higher (about 0.5%).

Missing are notable variables like driver salaries/benefits, insurance, fuel etc.

Also: Is that a lifecycle cost or an annual cost?

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By randomguy (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 12:27:50 in reply to Comment 70441

I think this is key and should be better publicized to Hamiltonians. If Toronto is getting full funding, Hamilton better too.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2011 at 06:19:48 in reply to Comment 70441

...and there is absolutely no reason why Hamilton should not get the same deal.

Really? 'Absolutely no reason'?

Perhaps in a totally equitable, fully-funded, non-partisan world.

Last time I checked, that wasn't the one we're living in.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 09:14:41 in reply to Comment 70458

Really? 'Absolutely no reason'?

Perhaps in a totally equitable, fully-funded, non-partisan world.

Last time I checked, that wasn't the one we're living in.

A better phrase would have been "absolutely no logical or rational reason".

But, as MyStoneyCreek says, there are politicians involved...

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted October 11, 2011 at 18:06:54

Ouch. Those numbers are pretty scary. Even the low end of the range is scary. I can't imagine it going through with those numbers.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2011 at 18:55:30 in reply to Comment 70428

The cost of improved service is always scary. Forget about LRT, do you know how much it would cost just to increase the frequency of service back to what it was in the 80s?

Thankfully wise old city council continues to force the HSR to subsit on a meagre budget, which sees its ridership increase at slower rates than other municipalities, giving us a smaller share of gas tax revenues, and further reducing the HSR budget.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2011 at 18:59:36

An important fact buried in the report, as noted above:

"In the short-term, staff are recommending the city lobby Metrolinx for funding to buy more articulated buses to address serious capacity issues on city bus routes."

So, there are SERIOUS capacity issues at present. Doesn't this indicate precisely why we should focus on projects like LRT which increase capacity much more than BRT?

I wish it provided some detail into where the capacity issues are.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 15:15:27 in reply to Comment 70434

Page 13 of IBI Group's March 2010 HSR Operational Review notes that "On a system-wide basis, the average load (bus occupancy) for all buses in the afternoon peak period (3PM-7PM) was 12 people per bus, which is well below the HSR's loading guideline of 53 people. However, there are several routes where 10% or more of the buses are operating over capacity on some segment of the route during the peak period. These include King, Barton, University, Cannon, the B-Line, Upper Wentworth and Mohawk." (Page 13 also contains this tidbit: "On a system-wide basis, HSR's average speed is 18.7km/hr, which is below both the national average and HSR's peer group.")

From Page 14 of the same report: "Fifty per cent (50%) of HSR's ridership comes from the top five routes which are primarily lower east-west services."

Greater detail on the ridership and capacity crunch can be found on page 53's service load chart:

Route / Boardings / Average Load / % of Buses > Capacity In Highest Peak

01 KING / 4,506 / 15.0 / 12.5%
02 BARTON / 3,461 / 16.2 / 16.67%
03 CANNON / 1,056 / 15.1 / 50.0%
10 B-LINE EXPRESS / 2,844 / 13.8 / 11.11%
25 U. WENTWORTH / 1,639 / 16.7 / 20.0%
41 MOHAWK / 1,599 / 16.3 / 50.0%
51 UNIVERSITY / 2,342 / 20.6 / 15.38%

SYSTEM-WIDE / 33,796 / 12.1 / 7.77%

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By Aaron D (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2011 at 19:58:41

Can anyone post a link to how LRT has helped other cities to increase the standard of living for the poor? I have been thinking about this question for a while and now that there is potentially a 7.9% increase in residential taxes the question becomes even more relevant.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2011 at 22:08:24 in reply to Comment 70439

There's also a potential 1.4% increase in residential taxes, and ultimately depending on economic spin-off perhaps the residential tax increase will be neutralized by increased commercial taxes along the line (which I don't believe has been considered in the 1.4% number).

Why must people always focus on the negative? Focusing on the positive is just as reasonable and likely.

We're probably better off on focusing on some kind of "average" scenario, where the residential increase is 4.65%.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 11:24:03 in reply to Comment 70446

I was thinking the exact same thing. Worst case is $20/mo, avg case is ~$10/mo without consideration of the tax revenue increase from surrounding investment.

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By Aaron D (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 08:20:37 in reply to Comment 70443

Thank You Ryan. I found time to go through most of them. I am almost ready to jump on the LRT bandwagon but I still have my reservations. Based on the 10 or so links that I did get to read, the only one that specifically addressed my question was the last article that you posted http://hamiltonlightrail.com/whos_using_light_rail_houston_citizens_transport_coalition
I'm hoping that you have more examples. I'm not convinced that just because there is loads of new investment along LRT lines that the poor are being helped. Could LRT perhaps drive the poor to live further away because of all of the new investments? Forgive me if I appear ignorant but I wish to know these things and thus far there is only one article that even mentions how the poor are being served.
I want LRT to work but I want it to work for the whole of the city, not just the privileged.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2011 at 21:37:10 in reply to Comment 70461

This report on LRT from the Hamilton Poverty Roundtable is a particularly timely response to your question.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 00:00:49

I heard a rumour that Mayor Bratina was having this wings clipped by city council, is this something that will play out favorably in this crazy little thing we call democracy?

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By George (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 00:55:41 in reply to Comment 70451

No rumour.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

City council has stripped Mayor Bob Bratina of his power to lobby the upper levels of government.

In an unprecedented move, council passed a motion Tuesday barring the mayor from meeting with senior levels of government, making financial commitments and negotiating — unless he is in the company of other councillors and the city manager.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2011 at 10:09:15 in reply to Comment 70454

That is freaking awesome. Apparently council finally found their gonads.

Too bad this has to follow on the heels of that disgusting anti-wind-power decision.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 09:25:03 in reply to Comment 70454

No rumour.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

Oh, SNAP!

My favourite part of this was “It’s a comment on someone, but not me.”.

Yeah, because unprecedented steps are taken for no reason...

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By hamcen (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 09:53:52 in reply to Comment 70467

How do you expect this to play out? Seems like it can only hurt Hamilton to have a Mayor who cannot freely interact with higher governments by phone, meetings, at events, etc. My impression is that this motion is not because the Councillors feel they have a better working relationship with the McGuinty government and, in fact, I fear the opposite - that they may want a confrontational relationship. I hope I am wrong, but I worry what Hamilton will get out of this.

We have so many needs, from help with our hefty social program costs, to creating new jobs, to reversing downloading, to help with transit, health,... Our representation in provincial government was just reduced and I don't see how this action helps Hamilton maintain a better relationship with that government. How do you see this working?

I really worry that Hamilton often ends up getting less than it needs and deserves because of bad politics at the local level. Is this another example or is there actually a positive side?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2011 at 12:55:53 in reply to Comment 70473

The mayor has gone against his own promises and the will of the entire city council by attempting to trash the LRT. That kind of spending decision cannot and should not be done unilaterally and silently in a closed backroom deal.

Normally, I'd agree with you that the mayor needs the freedom to represent our city and make the deals he thinks are good for the city...

But that power isn't something he should take for granted. It's not something he should be able to wield completely unilaterally.

It's sad that it was necessary for the council to take this drastic step.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 11:59:50 in reply to Comment 70473

When the mayor can't be trusted to operate within the strictures agreed upon by council then he harms all of us by making his own decisions and deals.

The bottom line is that even if he's completely in the right (a point which I'm not willing to concede in the slightest) he has to remember that he's representing the city and the city's goals, as agreed to by council. If he disagrees with them he needs to change the minds of enough councilors to get things done.

Otherwise he gets gagged.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 12:58:31 in reply to Comment 70485

When the mayor can't be trusted to operate within the strictures agreed upon by council then he harms all of us by making his own decisions and deals.

Don't forget it takes two to tango. I'm equally angry at McGuinty and the Liberal govt. for listening to him and trying to pass off his ravings as the city's official position. I'm sure they knew perfectly well that he was out of order, but his statements suited their purpose so they used them. Shame on the lot of them.

Comment edited by highwater on 2011-10-12 12:59:10

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2011 at 15:03:05 in reply to Comment 70491

I'm pretty-well convinced that it was their idea in the first place. Bratina wasn't nearly so down on LRT until he took the Mayor's chair.

What it looks like to me is that he cut a deal. Probably for the stadium and all-day Go. He paid for that deal by letting the Liberals off the hook for LRT. And obviously this deal must stay secret since the Liberals can't let Hamiltonians know that they don't want to give us LRT.

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By hamcen (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 12:52:27 in reply to Comment 70485

I prefer to take it to the citizens than to have councillors redefine the powers of themselves and the Mayor. I didn't vote for Bratina, but obviously others felt differently and he was elected Mayor. Also, this isn't specific to Bratina but to the position of Mayor, whoever may hold that position. I'm worried that Hamilton will lose out due to the ego-clashes on council. But, we'll see what Whitehead manages to secure or lose for Hamilton with this move.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted October 13, 2011 at 14:07:04 in reply to Comment 70489

I prefer to take it to the citizens than to have councillors redefine the powers of themselves and the Mayor. I didn't vote for Bratina, but obviously others felt differently and he was elected Mayor. Also, this isn't specific to Bratina but to the position of Mayor, whoever may hold that position. I'm worried that Hamilton will lose out due to the ego-clashes on council. But, we'll see what Whitehead manages to secure or lose for Hamilton with this move.

The mayor has one vote on council. When in council sessions, he can say anything he wants to say to try and sway people to his point of view.

After council has rendered a decision, he must uphold that decision as if he believes in it. Regardless of his personal feelings on matters.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2011 at 12:59:00 in reply to Comment 70489

I could see that approach being reasonable if the Mayor had campaigned on this.

If the mayor had stood on the stump and said "LRT is a stupid toy train" and people had voted for him anyways, it would be reasonable to consider the public's support of his election to be a referendum on the issue.

But he didnt' do that. He did the exact opposite. Every indication up until this summer was that he was receptive to LRT. He was even discussing ideas about stepping up the planning on the A-line.

This sudden hard-line lock-down on LRT is not what the public voted for. This is one man who happened to be elected mayor on a bevy of unrelated issues taking his own initiative against the wishes of council and the public.

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By Myrcurial (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2011 at 10:28:23

Nothing lies quite like financial projections and ridership statistics.

I'm getting tired of numbers being thrown around in a contextually free way.

1/ We need real ridership numbers for the HSR. They make no effort what-so-ever to collect any details on ridership - time for the people to step up.

2/ We need fully explained costs - both capital and operating for both LRT and BRT -- we need to see the case that BRT is capital light and operating heavy. Why don't the BRT numbers include the equivalent of "trackage" -- road maintenance costs are real costs associated with BRT.

3/ We need to have a city council that is actually interested in the future rather than lamenting the past -- this is an extension of the "Native Hamiltonian is Hamilton's Worst Enemy" problem. Isn't one of the definitions of insanity doing the same thing again and expecting a different outcome?

I think that the key to understanding the long term impact of status quo vs. BRT vs. LRT is to have a functioning transit system to begin with - so we understand the cost differential relative to where we are now.

Currently, the HSR just barely functions. I depend on it daily (buying another car is not a reasonable option when you live in a dense urban area and only need to travel a few kilometres) and I spend a whole lot of time frustrated with it.

I'm not sure who's managing things there but based on the fact that despite an investment in lots of little white SUVs and little computer screens, I'm seeing buses that arrive on a schedule that can only be predicted using chicken bones and tea leaves. Two buses every twenty minutes is not the same as one bus every ten minutes. I see lots of buses go screaming by because they're beyond capacity. I see lots of buses bombing around completely empty. I've given up expecting respect from the vast majority of drivers - utter contempt is the best way to describe the look on their face when I pay my fare and cheerfully say "Good Morning".

To get to the facts around the costs of transit options we need to do at least:

1/ I want to know which routes actually operate on time - and with what regularity they do so.

2/ I want to know what the trip/hourly/daily/weekly load on various routes are - to single digit precision.

3/ I want to know how many people are left standing at a stop when a bus that's too full goes by.

4/ I want to know what the fare mix is - between cash, ticket, pass, and free - for each ticket category. And where details are useful (which pass type, why free)

5/ I want to be able to lookup and report on maintenance issues for each vehicle.

6/ I want a way to report issues that actually gets dealt with - I'm tired of reporting one driver for texting while driving - sick and freaking tired of it - because whatever the sanctions are, they're not useful.

With this sort of information, we'd know how underfunded we are for our current service level and we'd be able to put some numbers behind the "lots of people use the B- corridor" statement.

I guess I'm asking for Open Data - the ability to determine whether or not my tax dollars are being spent appropriately.

And I'm asking why our elected representatives aren't asking the questions I would. Perhaps they've succumbed to the pleasures of ohh-pee-ummm -- OPM -- Other People's Money.

Gah.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 15:02:30 in reply to Comment 70478

Agree completely, if the HSR is not collecting data, than most of the information we have is in the realm of hearsay and anecdotes, and relatively useless.

Then again, I remember them saying they were too shortstaffed to make their data "open and accessible" for things like trip planning, and that while it was something they wanted to do, they just couldn't get to it.

Wouldn't surprise me if they didn't have the staff to keep track of these detailed numbers (which is kind of whacky when you consider it means they're making decisions based on incomplete information).

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2011 at 15:28:57 in reply to Comment 70499

They don't track data because they don't want it to be available by FOI request.

Drivers used to report when they were overcapacity. They were ordered to stop doing so.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 21:18:23 in reply to Comment 70503

Evidence? Might be worth bringing to a councillor's attention.

Sorry, but I don't blindly trust what I read on the internet anymore ;-)

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By Borrelli (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 13:12:13

Myrcurial, sounds like you need to change the channel on your computer from RTH to this one, and fill out a request: City of Hamilton Freedom of Information.

You might not be able to get facts for every item on your list, but having citizens requesting the information is a first step in getting the HSR to start collecting it.

Have you tried contacting hsrserve@hamilton.ca at all and asking?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2011 at 20:38:56

I can't believe how pathetic this city has become.

We are in a situation now where we:

1...basically screwed ourselves over the stadium funding, funelling what little provincial money we're getting into a crappy stadium in a crappy location that only benefits the tiger cats (And barely at that).

2...turned down the opportunity to build a velodrome, essentially turning ourselves into the joke of the Pan Am bid. THe few people who didn't think we were an armpit before will be pinching their noses for sure once they see how badly we managed our own Pan Am involvement.

3...gave the province an opportunity to pass us up again (metrolinx money) because we have no guts to stand up and demand they build the transit system that we need and deserve.

Meanwhile, we are poised to drop hundreds of millions of dollars on our loser of an airport, purely to line the pockets of the homebuilders who will take the cash away and spend it all in Halton.

Our newspaper makes most of its money from home and car ads, so they won't rock the aerotropolis boat, but they'll stir up the pot over 22 million in amateur sports funding as if it's the end of the world.

Estimates for just the roads and sewers inside aerotropolis sit at 350 million. In addition there's a trunk sewer requirement costing over 100 million - and these are low estimates.

If we took the dead end aerotropolis off the table, we could afford to kick in a good chunk for the velodrome and LRT - and fix some roads and maybe build a bike network that isn't a load of garbage.

Who owns the land up there? Who is lobbying for the aerotropolis? Why is the city fighting the province to get permission to build what we don't need while at the same time refusing to ask the province for money to build what we do need?

And why aren't our local news outlets asking these questions?

Comment edited by seancb on 2011-10-12 20:39:36

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By Pique Oil (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2011 at 10:57:49 in reply to Comment 70509

Hamilton's Metrolinx board member was just on the Bill Kelly Show as part of a discussion on LRT. He spent almost all of his time talking up the economic development virtues of the airport.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 13, 2011 at 11:50:31 in reply to Comment 70531

From http://www.aerotropoliscosts.ca/content/...

Richard Koroscil is the President and CEO of Tradeport International, and also Hamilton’s representative on the Board of Directors for Metrolinx.

It is sickening that we are in a spot where the CEO of the airport is the guy we have representing us on the provincial rapid transit board. It would be easy for him to consider every dollar promised to LRT as a dollar he risks losing from his Aerotropolis. Whose interests is he fighting for?

This should be front page news.

How did this happen?

Comment edited by seancb on 2011-10-13 11:51:04

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2011 at 09:39:49 in reply to Comment 70509

The story of Hamilton's economic development has always been one of geographic serendipity, and that's still true of the contemporary narrative you'll hear from boosters in various quadrants, whether the Chamber, EcDev, Council Chambers, Tourism Hamilton, Tradeport, CareGo, Fluke, CHML, the Ticats or our post-secondary institutions. Innovation Park will soon be a showcase for a partnership with Ford and the feds, developing drivetrains for hybrid vehicles. McMaster also has the transpo-centric MITL, a pot pourri of agencies who share interest in muscling up the city's identity as a transport hub, something that started with the Port Authority's enthusiasm for the Highway H2O initiative and which finds its twin in the push to develop the AEGD. The MITL advisory board features past and present Chamber chairs while the outgoing Chamber CEO graduated to lead TransHub Ontario, a champion of transportation and logistics and a company founded by Hamilton International Airport, Hamilton Port Authority and CareGo Innovative Solutions, later joined by the City of Hamilton and Fluke Transportation Group as partners.

http://www.thespec.com/news/business/article/600460--hybrid-vehicle-research-gets-boost-in-hamilton
http://mitl.mcmaster.ca/members.html
http://www.hwyh2o.com/memberlist.html

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2011 at 09:16:34 in reply to Comment 70509

Council is usually looking for the quickest and most politic route from A to B. As long as the rot is not so widespread as to infect photo ops, groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings, the status quo will likely prevail.

At present, the most momentous political upheaval on Hamilton's horizon seems to be the introduction of an additional ward on the mountain. The lower city doesn't vote in the kind of numbers that would earn it respect (Ward 5 straggles into the top third of voter turnout... Ward 2/Ward 3 are in the lower third) those wards appear to be the only ones with net population losses (http://www.raisethehammer.org/comment/70004), and new jobs and housing starts seem to be sprinkled around the rim (http://www.investinhamilton.ca/onebillion) in communities like Glanbrook, Stoney Creek and Ancaster.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted October 12, 2011 at 22:48:39

Here is the link to an article titled "LRT on track, but plans needs funds: Report" by Meredith McLeod on thespec.com website tonight: http://www.thespec.com/news/business/art...

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2011 at 11:11:23

Councillor Merulla is advocating a civic Referendum on LRT. Hmm... #VoteForWeNeedLRT

http://twitter.com/#!/ChrisErl/status/124509242441990144

+

Provincial legislation allows council to authorize a referendum and hold a vote six months after approving a question. The result would be binding only if the turnout exceeds 50 per cent. Kitchener clerk Randy Gosse estimates a referendum would cost taxpayers between $700,000 and $1 million, based on costs for the last municipal election.

http://www.therecord.com/print/article/534253

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According to unofficial numbers, voter turnout showed a surprising upswing from the last election. Unofficially, voter turnout rose to about 40 per cent of registered voters, compared to 37.3 per cent in the 2006 municipal election. In 2003, voter turnout was about 37.9 per cent.

http://www.thespec.com/news/elections/article/270743--voter-turnout-rises-in-hamilton

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