Special Report: Light Rail

Mayor's Latest LRT Comments are More of the Same Nonsense

Bratina's latest dispatch is just another in a long succession of childish "gotcha"-style games calculated to sow confusion and doubt about Hamilton's LRT planning process.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 05, 2014

On Monday, in his excellent review of how we got where we are on the light rail transit (LRT) issue, Nicholas Kevlahan noted that Mayor Bob Bratina's 2010 election platform included the pledge, "Work with all levels of government to bring light rail transit to Hamilton".

Peggy Chapman, Bratina's chief of staff, contacted RTH yesterday evening to suggest "there is a misconception" in that piece about Bratina's campaign pledge, because Bratina had specified in public comments just prior to the election that he preferred to focus on the north-south A-Line before the east-west B-Line.

Bratina also posted a new blog entry on his website yesterday to present an alternative LRT route that follows neither the B-Line nor the A-Line.

Bratina would like the city to build an LRT line down Bay Street North from the Waterfront to Main Street, where one spur goes west to McMaster and the other spur goes east on Hunter to the Escarpment Trail, where it continues east up the Escarpment, south along Mountain Brow Boulevard and then southwest along the Chippewa Trail to Airport Road, where a spur runs west to Hamilton International Airport.

Bob Bratina's proposed LRT line (Image Credit: Bob Bratina)
Bob Bratina's proposed LRT line (Image Credit: Bob Bratina)

Bratina writes, "That line would be on city-owned property, a rail bed in fact, with few, if any, encumbrances. It would serve an area where over 20,000 new dwellings are planned; it would run through two business parks, pass within a mile of the airport and Binbrook, and would better fulfil the development promise of the B-line."

Even if we set aside the fact that this would wipe out two wonderful multi-use Hamilton trails - the Escarpment Trail and Chippewa Trail - the economic uplift potential of this route is severely limited.

It would run several kilometres along the Escarpment on a forested trail with limited accessibility and no potential for new development. Then it would run several more kilometres through rural farmland outside the urban boundary, again with zero potential for new economic development around the line.

Escarpment Rail Trail, where Bratina wants LRT to run (RTH file photo)
Escarpment Rail Trail, where Bratina wants LRT to run (RTH file photo)

Economic Development

Bratina's proposed LRT route removes the biggest benefit of LRT, which is its proven ability to attract new investment in dense, mixed-use developments that produce value uplift.

Bob Bratina was at Transport Minister Glen Murray's speech in Hamilton last Friday, but he doesn't appear to have been listening to anything Murray said.

Murray specifically said infrastructure investment should aim to leverage economic development and create new employment opportunities.

Murray pointed out that LRT in walkable urban neighbourhoods creates exactly the kind of environment that attracts the creative entrepreneurs and young, small companies responsible for most of the new jobs that have been created since the 2008 Recession.

Murray also noted that the most dramatic uplift comes from investment in economically depressed urban environments like lower-city Hamilton.

Mayor Bratina at Minister Glen Murray's February 28, 2014 talk in Hamilton (Image Credit: Richard Allen)
Mayor Bratina at Minister Glen Murray's February 28, 2014 talk in Hamilton (Image Credit: Richard Allen)

Misinformation Galore

Bratina makes a number of misleading claims in his piece.

Many of us were excited by the announcement that the Province was offering to provide an LRT for Hamilton, couched in a murky suggestion of 100% funding.

It wasn't a "murky suggestion" but a promise, repeated several times in public announcements and partisan campaign messages directed at Hamilton.

Problems began to quickly arise over such decisions as using King Street rather than Main

There are arguments for both Main and King Street as the route (my personal preference would be Main Street), but both routes have excellent potential for success.

closing part of King to automobile traffic, to the dismay of the International Village B.I.A.

The International Village BIA did express concern about a proposal to close a short segment of King Street to automobile traffic but formally affirms its support for the B-Line LRT and recognizes its long-term benefits.

It also became apparent that numerous traffic compromises and property annexations created more doubt about the proposal.

This is straight-up FUD. Nothing has come out of the engineering and detailed design of the LRT system that would undermine its potential for success.

To this day, there is no decision on a storage and maintenance site.

City staff recommended a city-owned site on Wentworth Street North but Council put off making a decision, and Metrolinx said we could proceed with our planning without making a decision yet. This is not a deal-breaker.

The plan emerged on the basis of assumptions which are no longer applicable.

This is perhaps the most egregious misinformation. If anything the case for building LRT along the B-Line has gotten stronger since it was first proposed in 2008, as the economy has continued to shift structurally and cities across North America have accelerated their re-urbanization after decades of decline and disinvestment.

Bratina claims that the lower city doesn't need LRT any more because it is already on an upswing:

We have posted two straight years of over a billion dollars in new development

More than half of that new development has been residential, and almost all of the residential development has been single-family houses in suburban subdivisions.

The lower city, and especially the downtown, is still vastly underperforming its potential, with dozens of vacant lots where new buildings could stand.

Of course, Bratina is the same person who told radio host Bill Kelly in 2011 that he didn't know where the new development expected around the B-Line is supposed to go.

the lowest big city unemployment in the Province

As Business Professor Marvin Ryder pointed out last week on The Agenda with Steve Paikin, Hamilton's unemployment rate is low in large part because our labour market participation rate is low. A high percentage of Hamiltonians are retired or have otherwise given up looking for work.

In addition, while 70 percent of Hamiltonians work in Hamilton, more people commute out of the city to work than in. That ratio has stabilized over the past five years but we need to get a lot better at creating new jobs in Hamilton.

And again, as Murray pointed out last week, most of the new jobs in Ontario over the past five years have been created in the innovation economy by creative entrepreneurs - the very people who like to locate in cities with walkable streets, urban character and excellent rapid transit.

What is disturbing in the discussions that have taken place, in large part to this point by my critics, is their uncompromising pursuit of a specific technology.

When we advocate for LRT on the B-Line, there is a method to our madness: we believe we need to invest in the right technology in the best location to produce the biggest overall benefit.

It is not "ideology" that drives us, as Bratina claims, but the full weight of evidence about what we need to do and how best to achieve it.

Ultimately, Bratina's latest dispatch is just another in a long succession of childish "gotcha"-style games calculated to sow confusion and doubt about Hamilton's LRT planning process.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal.

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By CHOO CHOO! (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 09:32:35

Wow - this guy is clearly insane.

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By mkuplens (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2014 at 09:42:24

Let's accept this for what it is: a "proposal" crafted to ensure the project is killed stone cold dead by causing residents & organizations to start a fight:

  1. Running an LRT along Hunter & Stinson – residents on those streets will go crazy, and it's too far south of the main arterials to be useful to anyone.

  2. Running an LRT up the rail trail - not only will it get the park/green people incensed, anyone who uses the trail will fight, and, almost more importantly, so will the Bruce Trail organizers, since the idea means severing the Trail.

  3. Council and media take this seriously, so the province has to shrug and declare 'they clearly haven't made up their minds'.

What a cynical man Bratina is proving himself to be.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 09:42:56

I gotta give him credit. It must have taken a long time to come up with a route that would cost a ton more than currently being proposed and offer virtually no opportunity for ROI. Over half of that route runs through protected greenbelt and escarpment property.
If someone is looking to suggest phase 1 compromise routes, I have no problem with that. But at the very least, let's stick with the goals of ROI, Ec-Dev and making the line as accessible to as many transit riders as possible. The B-Line of course, does all of this, but Hamilton isn't committed to revitalizing Code Red or downtown neighbourhoods yet.

I could even see the logic in someone proposing that Phase 1 be built with portions of the B, T and A lines.

  • B Line: Mac to Ottawa Street: a turnaround partway up Ottawa St North would be ideal.

  • A Line: Waterfront to new Transit Terminal at Mohawk College.

  • T Line: Mohawk College to Upper James to Limeridge Mall. In reality, the A-line would run from the waterfront to Limeridge Mall, but we can see the future plans for an extended A-line and extended T-line.

This would require much less track than this rail trail route, while connecting seamlessly to several big destination/employers as well as large population centres in the city. The new transit terminal at Mohawk College would be the northern terminus for the A-Line buses, and various other Mountain routes which could be reconfigured. Ditto for the B-line buses which wouldn't need to come further west than Ottawa St.

We free up a ton of bus capacity in order to beef up routes city-wide, while still laying the framework for our LRT network.

Personally I think the entire B-line LRT with full BRT A-line as Phase 1 makes more sense, but I'm simply showing the types of legit compromises someone could come up with if there was a true desire to suggest something helpful.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-03-05 09:44:38

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 17:57:17 in reply to Comment 98195

Glad to see some political pragmatism entering into our Transit investment conversation.

This type of thinking and re-imaging may be necessary to get political buy-in for LRT spending. Your idea makes a great deal of sense logistically, economically and politically.

Has the shorter installations of the B, A and T lines been discussed seriously outside of these comment pages?

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2014-03-05 17:57:53

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 13:02:55 in reply to Comment 98214

I'm sorry but I don't see how you can call your position 'pragmatic'. Why should we deviate from what we already know is a sensible, well thought out and already partly designed plan, just to appease people who don't want LRT in the first place. It is not pragmatic politics, it is infrastructure foolishness. The current plan is a good idea, and those who oppose it do so because they don't want it, not because they think it could be done better. If we change our approach now and reset our process then in 5 years when we finally get back to this place, you will be saying 'why don't we change the plan back to a B-line and A-line, that would be a good compromise.'

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By squier (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 20:08:31 in reply to Comment 98214

Sorry ser, we looked long and hard but could not find you a higher horse.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 19:36:57 in reply to Comment 98214

not to my knowledge. And truth be told, I just whipped it up on the fly this morning to illustrate how easy it is to come up with alternate ideas that don't completely suck.

Total distance of track with my quick idea this morning is 17km. Total B-line is just over 14km. However, that's not a true indicator of cost because some sort of tunnel would need to be dug into the escarpment at the south end of James St, up to West 5th/Mohawk, so that would likely drive the cost up.

Although, the mayors idea of laying down 3x as much track and overhead wiring through a forest and protected greenbelt land would certainly cost far more than the entire B-line or my quick idea here.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 22:38:30 in reply to Comment 98216

With all due respect, what makes your "quick idea" "whipped...up on the fly this morning" any better than Bratina's plan, likely sketched on the back of a cocktail napkin? Where are the ROI studies, economic development potential, land use studies, transportation needs assessments for your so-called compromise? This sort of drawing lines on the map and calling it proper transit planning is exactly the kind of nonsense that should be avoided at all costs.

Sorry for being harsh. But I think this is a road to avoid going down because it muddies the waters even further, which is precisely what BoBra is attempting to do. The plan that exists on paper is a good plan, thoroughly researched and studied, so let's do our level best to stick to that plan. It may seem "open-minded" to consider alternatives now, but the alternatives were considered and dismissed in favour of the preferred alternative. Considering what is at stake, sticking to the plan and holding ground is far wiser.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 00:31:05 in reply to Comment 98223

The plan is failing with the public and our local politicians right now, so let's stick with it... because that would be wise.

I disagree with your assessment of Jason's off-the-cuff idea. It was quick thinking and it was pretty damn good. It was LRT and not BRT. It encompassed enough of the city to gain broader support throughout more Wards and Provincial ridings in Hamilton. It was easily expandable East and West as more funding became available.

The full B-line in Hamilton is in jeopardy, so much so that it is looking more and more that we will get no transit capital at all from the Province.

I agree keeping the current plan in place until the Provincial and Municipal elections are done is best. We have to see what players are left on the field after the ballots are cast, and if necessary, we have to have an alternate strategy ready according to who is left standing. That is wise.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2014 at 09:13:00 in reply to Comment 98230

"The plan is failing with the public and our local politicians right now"

You are buying into dreschel's pot-stirring. There have always been opponents to LRT and there always will be. Pandering to naysayers with more drawings is not going to change their minds. The studies have been done, and everyone who professionally studies transit (and city building) agrees that the plan is solid. It's time to push forward with proper public information. The way to gather support is to get the real facts out there so that people can make up their own minds. Sketching up changes to the map is a waste of time now.

I get that you're playing devil's advocate, but it's not helpful. How will resetting the past 5 years of work benefit anyone?

If you aren't playing devil's advocate then you're simply a concern troll - if you don't support LRT just say so. If you do, then why not become part of the solution instead of further muddying the waters?

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 11:45:39 in reply to Comment 98244

I'm not playing Devil's advocate, not at all.

I come from a Unionized labour background, I've been involved in it for almost 30 years, with CUPE, UCFW, Teamsters and now USW 1005. Contract negotiations are a tricky business, I've lived through them countless times, and have been involved in them once in my career. You have to get a feel for the economic conditions broadly, locally and within the industry you work in. You have to understand the opinions and feelings of many different factions within your specific Local and within the Union as a whole. You have to read into and behind whatever saber rattling the company has been engaged in leading up to the negotiations. You have to understand what strikes fear in the heart of the local management team, as compared to the goals of the parent corporation. The macro from the Corporation and the micro down to one employee you represent all have to be weighed and considered.

With all these factors in mind, you have to brutally and honestly assess:

-what result do we want

-where are we strong

-where are we weak

-what is the tolerance level of those we are negotiating with

-what is the tolerance level of those we are negotiating for

-if opinions and results are not going our way after a certain amount of time, what fall-back position do we have?

-and finally, are we willing to lose everything with a labour stoppage, or do we go to the wire and get whatever we can, as best we can

USW 1005 did not apply this thinking and pragmatism, and look what the result was. 11 1/2 months locked out. Blast Furnace and Steel-Making shut down. No gains for workers from the original offer tabled. 1005 instead got locked into an ideological war with those opposing them. They dug their heels in, pinned the "we are smart, principled and right" badge on, and gained... what? Nothing. They would not consider ideas from the membership that would improve what was being offered, they would only stick to the original plan and refused to veer, and accomplished... nothing.

That's where I'm coming from. The parallels between what I've seen cause failure in labour negotiations and what I'm seeing in the "B line LRT only" squad is very depressing for me.

We are right. We worked hard. We deserve this. The wage study says this is best. It is not fair. They promised us back in 20?? I'll fight them to the end. I won't look at other options. They don't make sense. They are stupid. Who dares to question what the Local Executive has decided. It will work if the members just do what they're told. It doesn't matter what's happening to the economy right now. And so on...

So the 'concern troll' trial balloon has been floated my way, I'm surprised it took this long. If that's what you think, so be it. I'm concerned, yes. I'm concerned that we're going to get nothing if we don't honestly assess and adjust in regards to the Transit capital that is only currently on the table.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 13:23:50 in reply to Comment 98249

If the current LRT plan fails there will always be a chance to pursue alternatives in the future. Right now B-line is the option. This is not a labour negotiation, its a public infrastructure project.

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By Stelcord (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 12:17:07 in reply to Comment 98249

Sorry but your analogy doesn't hold. Stelco's fate was sealed the day US Steel bought it, everything else is just details. We didn't lose because we fought the good fight, we lost because US Steel has dozens of facilities and Stelco just doesn't matter to them. What, you think it would have been a victory if we agreed to cut our pay in half and sell out our pensioners to get a couple more years (maybe) of work? Give your head a shake.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2014 at 12:01:23 in reply to Comment 98249

Our choice today is:

  • LRT along the B-Line, which has already undergone years of detailed functional and engineering design and land use planning, is ready to proceed to construction once funding is confirmed, and has been identified by the Province as a top priority in the next set of projects to get built; or

  • Some other proposal, in which we go back to square one in planning and design and lose our place in the list of Provincial projects.

That is the reality of what we're dealing with. Throwing around last-minute alternative plans amounts to deciding we don't want anything at all for at least the next decade.

Likewise, accusing people who continue to support the B-Line LRT plan we have spent years developing of being stubborn only serves to bolster those people who are opposed to rapid transit and will grab onto any distraction to confuse and delay the issue.

I'm not accusing you of that goal, but your well-intentioned, misguided attempt at compromise will only do harm.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2014-03-06 12:01:52

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted March 08, 2014 at 13:50:06 in reply to Comment 98252

I was somewhat surprised that you stated that your preferred route for the B-line was Main St. As a less informed observer, I thought that Main Street would have been far easier to implement, and wouldn't have to deal with the narrowed section of the International Village. True, it doesn't run through the Gore (heart) but it's surely close enough. Is there a readers digest explanation as to why King was chosen over Main?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 09, 2014 at 21:07:08 in reply to Comment 98315

The King Street routing was identified in the April 2009 report "LRT Functional Planning Analysis: B-Line Corridor" as the most feasible route.

The reasoning offered was "its ability to attract the desired land use development and transit ridership."

I was also advised on several occasions by Rapid Transit staff that King was preferred over Main because it would have less impact on automobile traffic flow than Main.

Kindly note also that the LRT Functional Planning Analysis recommended the two-way conversion of Main and King along with the LRT line, as did the Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis and the MITL study.

However, the Rapid Transit Office announced in December 2010 that Main and King would not be converted to two-way after all - again, in deference to the objective of maximum automobile traffic flow. As Rapid Transit manager Jill Stephens wrote in a letter to RTH, "There is still a need for some traffic to move easterly across the City, and Main Street fulfills this role."

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2014 at 11:52:14 in reply to Comment 98249

But offering false alternatives does not help. This isn't a negotiation. Nobody can just rewrite the transit plan in order to make a deal happen: not you, not me, not even the Mayor. The plan is set, the deal was made. What we need now is to fight for our city and provincial leaders to uphold the agreement and follow through. If there was a time for negotiation and compromise, it was 7 years ago when the technologies and routes were still in planning stages.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 12:01:14 in reply to Comment 98250

You just verified everything I wrote.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2014 at 12:23:23 in reply to Comment 98251

Except that the "B Line LRT Only Squad" is not in a fight with the city, and this isn't a contract negotiation.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2014 at 07:54:15 in reply to Comment 98230

The plan is failing with the public and our local politicians right now, so let's stick with it...

Anything really worth doing takes incredibly hard work and dedication and faces several threats of failure. With all respect, you are giving up far too easily.

Despite a Mayor who has spent the past three years trying to undermine and discredit LRT, a Council comprised mostly of people for whom LRT is not the mountain they're prepared to die on, and a minority Provincial government that is struggling to figure out how to pay for its regional transit promises, LRT in Hamilton still isn't dead.

There's a reason for that: the City and Province done some really comprehensive work on feasibility, planning and design; the project has strong (if not universal) public support; and it really is the best way forward.

So my message to you is: don't give up. No one said this would be easy, but real community leadership is about overcoming challenges, not about taking the easy road.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 02:23:27 in reply to Comment 98230

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/...

This is a link showing some mixed alternatives.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 06, 2014 at 07:47:29 in reply to Comment 98233

I've looked closely at that study, which was prepared by a BRT consultancy, and its dramatic headlines are not supported by its own evidence.

The headline is based on a comparison of the two most wildly successful outlier systems - Portland's MAX LRT and Cleveland's HealthLine BRT - instead of comparing the normal case for each system.

When we look at the full picture, the study shows that top-of-the-line BRT combined with exceptional land use planning produces a similar relative ROI to LRT - relative because it costs less and attracts less economic development.

The study also neglects to consider the much higher per-passenger operating costs of BRT compared to LRT. BRT requires three times as many vehicles - and vehicle operators - as LRT to carry the same number of passengers, which drives operating costs way up.

Given that the Province is expected to cover the capital cost for Hamilton's rapid transit and Hamilton will have to cover the operating cost, we should be optimizing for what is going to contain the costs we have to carry on an ongoing basis.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 21:40:37 in reply to Comment 98237

Not to mention things like the emissions from the buses. I wasn't suggesting this as a replacement for LRT, just a companion piece.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2014 at 07:02:14 in reply to Comment 98272

There are routes in the city's planned B-L-A-S-T rapid transit network where BRT makes the most sense, but the B-Line is not one of them.

B-L-A-S-T Rapid Transit Network

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2014 at 11:37:15 in reply to Comment 98288

Given the grid-like routing on the Mountain, I could see a point in creating a hybrid of the S and T lines, especially if LRT is the preferred mode, but a sawed-off hybrid B, A and S lines seems patently nonsensical.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 13:09:37 in reply to Comment 98237

Also BRT puts the emissions and waste byproducts in the air through the center of our most densely populated areas, whereas LRT keeps them a) limited and b) away from the city and c) potentially never to be breathed by anyone.

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By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 08:54:08 in reply to Comment 98237

"BRT requires three times as many vehicles - and vehicle operators"

Plus, bus operating costs are tied directly to fuel prices, which are volatile - and rising. Electric rail's "fuel" costs are more, stable, more predictable, and will get cheaper relative to petroleum fuels as more alternative sources come on line.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 23:35:59 in reply to Comment 98223

My point wasn't to present a researched, studied alternative. I was merely showing how easy it is to present an alternative that could actually be taken seriously if someone really wanted to. As I state above, I believe we should be pushing for the B-line LRT in it's entirety.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 09:38:15 in reply to Comment 98228

My point is that serious alternatives aren't easy to present at all. Serious alternatives are hard work.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 23:48:13 in reply to Comment 98245

bingo. And we've spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours to find our best spot for our 1st LRT line. And it's the B-Line corridor.

Work has been done. We just need leadership from council to get building it.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2014 at 12:07:50 in reply to Comment 98195

Running a transit solution through pastoral hiking/biking trails instead of the city makes me think that the Mayor believes that LRT looks like this:

waterfront trolley!

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2014 at 12:02:59 in reply to Comment 98202

No neighbourhood of make-believe would be complete without a trolley. Nicely complements the tiger that dominated the last election.

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By Lerfy (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 10:20:48

Wow, an LRT line to nowhere. I guess the best way to make sure LRT doesn't happen is devise the craziest path that would never get approved, then put your hands in the air and said "well, I tried".

The reason the Escarpment Trail is no longer a rail line is because (beyond the economics of rail cargo shipping) it'd be really, really difficult to service without chopping down even more trees and adding service roads and access points for emergency services.

Why not just have the A-line burrow into the mountain, be effectively a subway for a couple stops until it reaches grade then run along one of those ridiculously wide highways ... er arterial roads... up there?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2014 at 10:54:09

Pandering at its best. His "plan" is useless, but it offers two key features:

1) It includes the mountain so they don't feel completely left out

2) It doesn't sacrifice any lanes of traffic so people who think their commute is inviolate and sacrosanct aren't inconvenienced.

Remember the last time the Mayor had a "great idea"? It was to save half of Ivor Wynne to cut costs of building a stadium large-enough to support the TiCats. How'd that work out for him?

I'm not going to say we should always leave the planning to the experts, as everybody should have a voice in the planning process... but Mr. Bratina should probably avoid it, considering his track record.

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By RSA (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 10:56:47

Bob knows he's barely done a thing since becoming mayor and his 2010 election pledges are going to come back and haunt him. It's why he ran his de-amalgamation sideshow in January and why he's trying to neuter his old support for LRT now. His gooey mess of a blogsite post is him ratioanlizing the past three years of trying to play Machiavelli's Prince if he was a character in High School Musical.

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By higgicd (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 11:39:22

LOL @ that LRT alignment. Escarpment rail trail just screams transit-oriented development potential.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 17:11:49 in reply to Comment 98201

I wonder if the HSR will hand out large sickles for passengers to hack their way through the brush on their way to catch the train to the office?

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 17:33:42 in reply to Comment 98210

I don't know, I know myself and many others would leap at the chance for an easier commute to our jobs in a cornfield in Binbrook.

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By DanJelly (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2014 at 13:06:41

So if you don't want LRT, don't vote for Bratina. If you want a useful LRT, don't vote for Bratina.

That's an awfully small subset of people he's targeting.

Honestly this looks like the work of a 6 year old.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 14:06:57

Did he actually have the map produced in March 2010 to illustrate his LRT idea, or was it a trail map from that date (with ideas for trail extensions along road corridors) that he's now using out of convenience?

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By sally forth (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 15:30:46 in reply to Comment 98205

Who knows. At this point who even cares. It was a dumbass idea in March 2010 and its a dumbass idea today.

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By YHMDesigns (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2014 at 14:26:21

Agreed this "proposal" is facile. The fixation on technology is a red herring. If a nuclear-powered hovercraft were proposed instead of rail, then the objection would be the same. Ultimately it's about re-allocating lane capacity for a dedicated transit right-of-way and fearing the backlash from commuters with visions of gridlock dancing through their heads. That rail is the chosen platform is the outcome of a long process, not the starting point. To be fair, concerns about congestion are real and valid. However, they can be addressed with data, fact, analysis, shared experience from other cities, and other useful pieces of information. And agreeing on a numerical definition of congestion would also help citizens make an informed choice. Throwing up smokescreens without a shred of supporting evidence is neither acceptable nor becoming.

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By lunky (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 21:07:31

Maybe Bob is taking cues from a certain crack smoker?

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By me-dia (anonymous) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 08:55:32 in reply to Comment 98220

I was going to say the same thing: "I thought TORONTO was the one with a 'crack-smoking mayor'!"

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By flamberian (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 22:14:59

A very expensive plan with a typical "build it and they will come" mentality. An LRT to the Airport is a non-starter as it is. Often the only person on the current A-Line bus at the airport bus stop is the operator. Study after study have shown the B-Line already has the ridership for LRT, costs less to operate than an equivalent level of bus service, attract new development and a multitude of spin-off benefits. Yet, as one councilor put it, only "enlightened" people support LRT. The Mayor claims to be enlightened, but clearly doesn't get it, either. Admittedly, BRT makes more sense on the mountain, due to ridership patterns, and the technical challenges of running LRT up the steep escarpment grade. The only merit the Mayor's plan has is it would solve that problem, but it's a problem to consider in the decades after LRT is running across the lower city.

Waterloo Region's works committee approved their winning LRT bid yesterday, and it goes to their council on March 19th. Shovels could be in the ground by the end of this summer. Waterloo is paying one third of the cost, which will add just $11 annually to the average property tax bill. It hasn't been an easy fight their, either, but they have enough politicians on their council that can look beyond the initial price tag towards the substantial long term and quality of life benefits. Hamilton is losing its touted competitive advantage because of its day-to-day EcDev thinking.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 22:42:00 in reply to Comment 98221

Some Waterloo candidates (Region and Municipal) for the next election are campaigning on a promise to kill the LRT plan, even at this stage. Unlikely to actually occur but stranger things have happened (see Toronto).

The "steep escarpment grade" can be ascended by modern LRT vehicles. I'm sure Ryan can provide a link to demonstrate but that particular red herring has been raised here plenty of times before and refuted.

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By flamberian (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 02:18:04 in reply to Comment 98224

Yes, I am aware of the grade options. Claremont is a feasible grade for LRT, but less direct than James Mtn Road, which is not feasible. Articulated trolleys, as are currently used in Vancouver, are the most flexible option for running up the mountain. Trolleys provide the best compromise - zero emissions, quiet, smooth operation, and the traction and power for the grade. Notwithstanding technology, ridership is only suitable for LRT between Mohawk College and downtown until the mountain population increases, due to the multitude of origins and destinations and low density. Bus operations provide a faster, more direct route downtown for mountain residents than invoking the necessity to transfer to an LRT. I'm not saying never, but let's build the B-Line first, which is a sure win, and then consider a phased approach to expanding the network as the city's transportation needs evolve.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 23:17:15

I honestly want to know what kind of drugs Bratina is taking. Why the heck would you want to build an LRT along the rail trail where almost half the entire line is either in parkland, or inaccessible. As a citizen, I'm offended and any citizen of our city should be to.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted March 05, 2014 at 23:20:46 in reply to Comment 98226

As I side note, I love Farr's expression in the background behind Bratina. It literally looks like he's thinking either "Oh god..." or "This again?"

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By j.servus (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 18:03:32

Bratina's map and his remarks speak volumes about his real perspective. His train goes from suburbs on the mountain to Downtown and Pier 4, and to McMaster. It doesn't stop anywhere between the Mountain and downtown--or, if it does, it's in a park. It does nothing for Landsdale, Hamilton's poorest neighborhood. It does nothing for the whole east side, except take away their green space. But it's good if you're in Westdale or James North or Durand or the east Mountain. Of course, if you can afford to live there, you can probably afford a car.

As if that's not enough, Bratina then adds that his route through nowhere would provide "hundreds of thousands" of rides a year. Gee, the B-Line would prove a hundred thousand rides in just over a week, at current ridership levels (~13k a day). What's this man's job again?

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By JMcGreal (registered) | Posted March 06, 2014 at 22:49:39

Bratina's transits line made no common sense for a 21st centenary mayor.

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