Special Report: Light Rail

Brampton's LRT Loss Could Expand Hamilton LRT

Brampton City Council just voted to reject LRT capital funding. Hamilton could use that money to expand its LRT system instead.

By Mark Rejhon
Published October 28, 2015

Last night at 1:00 AM, Brampton City Councillors voted down their light rail transit, in a vote of 7-4 against.

We were rooting for the full Hurontario-Main LRT. Brampton would benefit from an LRT that went through its downtown. However, while this is unfortunate for Brampton, it is an opportunity for Hamilton. Brampton's LRT loss could indeed be Hamilton's LRT gain.

The Hurontario-Main LRT Gets Shortened

The Hurontario-Main LRT is a planned $1.6 billion 23km LRT for Mississauga and Brampton. The announcement of 100 percent capital funding was made by Ontario on April 23.

This LRT was to connect three different GO lines, the Brampton Züm bus, and the Mississauga Transitway.

The canceled Brampton section of the Hurontario-Main LRT
The canceled Brampton section of the Hurontario-Main LRT

Now the Hurontario LRT will end at Steeles Avenue, freeing up a share of LRT funds - reportedly between $208-261 million.

What happens to surplus LRT funds?

We reached out to Anne-Marie Aikens of Metrolinx for this article, and can provide this response:

It is disappointing that Council did not support the work that had been completed over the past six years by Brampton, Mississauga and Metrolinx.

We respect Council's decision and will revise the scope of the project so that the northern terminus is at Steeles Avenue. Funds that would have been provided to the segment of the project north of Steeles Avenue will be returned to the Province's Moving Ontario Fund.

Our objective remains to begin construction in 2018 and begin service by the end of 2022. Immediate next steps include retaining an Owner's Engineer and Technical Advisor to help move the project forward.

This is potentially more funding available to extend the Hamilton LRT.

Many earlier newspaper reports have speculated a ballpark of between $300-$400 million of funds, though the exact figure needs to be calculated.

Brampton city meeting saw Hamilton LRT advocacy in real-time

In an unintended but surprising development, the whole Brampton auditorium saw the Hamilton LRT advocacy in action in real-time. A Brampton LRT advocate made a last-minute decision to include this Hamilton LRT advocacy tweet in their presentation, only mere minutes after it was tweeted.

Last night, all 400 people in the auditorium, including the Brampton city council, saw this on the big screen:

Brampton saw Hamilton LRT advocacy in action, during the city meeting. (Credit: Fight Gridlock)
Brampton saw Hamilton LRT advocacy in action, during the city meeting. (Credit: Fight Gridlock)

For those not familiar, the Hamilton LRT advocacy is currently very highly active on social media, with daily posts on both Twitter and Facebook, with a growing team of local volunteers, not funded by either the city or Metrolinx.

Apparently, City of Brampton noticed in real time, unintended, but a fascinating #HamOnt social media development.

The flyer handed out by volunteer residents yesterday at the LRT booth (photos of volunteers)
The flyer handed out by volunteer residents yesterday at the LRT booth (photos of volunteers)

Hamilton LRT could get enhanced

There are several possible enhancements if the funds get returned for other LRT projects.

Time is limited. Metrolinx is already hiring for Hamilton LRT, and the local LRT office is reopening in the near future. The current plan is to begin LRT procurement (signing of contracts) by 2017 before the next election, and begin construction in 2019.

Due to a limited time window, Hamilton LRT enhancements are likely limited to route studies that are already completed.

Option B-Line: Possible Extension to Eastgate Square

This route, already widely discussed, involves the B-Line extension to the Eastgate Square mall:

This extension to Eastgate Square (through Ward 5) is currently unfunded.
This extension to Eastgate Square (through Ward 5) is currently unfunded.

This was originally part of the Hamilton LRT proposal. However, the funding was reassigned to the new Stoney Creek GO station as well as the A-Line stub ($1.2 billion combined funds for GO and LRT).

The environment assessment and studies have already been completed and is mostly shovel-ready,

However, it is observed that both Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins and newly-elected Hamilton East - Stoney Creek MP Bob Bratina have historically shown resistance to the Hamilton LRT. It could be politically risky to try to extend the LRT to Eastgate at this time, given Brampton's cancellation of their LRT.

Otherwise, this is technically the "most shovel-ready" LRT extension, given the study completed.

Option A-Line: Possible Extension to Waterfront / St. Joseph Hospital

It is favourable to extend the A-Line LRT all the way from the escarpment to the waterfront. The southern terminus could be a stop at the St. Joseph Hospital:

Proposed escarpment-to-waterfront LRT with stops
Proposed escarpment-to-waterfront LRT with stops

This is perhaps a politically easier route; given Ward 2 Councilor Jason Farr is supportive of the Hamilton LRT.

It also brings it closer to being extended up the Mountain, and perhaps sooner (e.g. Phase 2 funding occurring during 2018 or 2022 election cycles).

Ottawa received Stage 2 LRT funding in 2013, while Phase 1 of their Confederation LRT is still currently under construction!

With all three levels of governments working together, an extension up the Mountain could possibly happen sooner than some of us may expect, just like it did for Ottawa.

St. Joseph Hospital would benefit from being an A-Line stop, and being connected to both GO stations (West Harbour and Hunter) as well as additional destinations.

It fits well with a gradual A-Line extension all the way towards the Hamilton International airport, once ridership and transit funding warrants.

Less study already done on A-Line than B-Line

Some preliminary studies have already been done on the A-Line. However, A-Line studies are more preliminary than those for the B-Line. As the local LRT office reopens, the A-Line will undergo accelerated study.

There are many unanswered questions about the A-Line of the Hamilton LRT, which include: Station locations, station spacing, mixed traffic north of Wilson Street (to protect James St N heritage), or the idea of using James-Hughson loop (1 track each), alternate transit during Supercrawl road closure, etc.

These questions will need to be researched quickly, during 2016-2017, before LRT procurement.

Hamilton should immediately apply for additional LRT funds

Brampton's loss could be Hamilton's gain. Toronto is currently focused on SmartTrack and other transit.

This is a great opportunity for Hamilton to make a pitch for LRT enhancements.

We believe that the City of Hamilton should immediately and promptly investigate for enhancements to the current funded Hamilton LRT, to make it even more useful and expansion-ready.

Mark Rejhon lives in Hamilton Ward 3. An IT software developer, home-owner, car-owner, bike-owner, SoBi bike-share user, public transit user, and GO user, he is a big-time advocate for improved transit. Mark frequently tweets about #hamont and transportation at @MDRejhon and leads the Hamilton LRT Advocacy run by local residents. Spouse of Alain Bureau, candidate for Ward 3 city councillor in the 2018 Hamilton municipal election, @ABureauWard3.

64 Comments

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 28, 2015 at 21:07:44

A boo-boo in my article submission: The 'Facebook' link should link to facebook.com/hamiltonLRT. Apologies in advance!

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By Charley (anonymous) | Posted October 28, 2015 at 21:08:59

I hope they extend b-line to Eastgate before any other option. The redevelopment and density intensification potential of Eastgate and the Queenston area in general is great.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 28, 2015 at 21:42:12

Avoid East Hamilton please. Let's not give anyone a chance to derail the project. An A-line extension through neighbourhoods that actually want LRT would be a fantastic win.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 28, 2015 at 21:44:58 in reply to Comment 114396

A bit politically risky; could self-sabotage.

"it is observed that both Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins and newly-elected Hamilton East - Stoney Creek MP Bob Bratina have historically shown resistance to the Hamilton LRT. It could be politically risky to try to extend the LRT to Eastgate at this time, given Brampton's cancellation of their LRT."

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted October 28, 2015 at 22:51:33

It's not fair to exclude everyone who uses transit in East Hamilton just because Chad Collins is an idiot. It isn't his choice and most of council would override him if Eastgate was back on the table.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted October 28, 2015 at 22:54:02

I agree that extending east would be a bit like poking a hornets nest. Best to leave it alone for now. I do like the idea of connecting the mountain. In my mind it should be a higher priority than it currently seems to be.
Due to our physical geography Hamilton suffers from serious traffic choke points all the way east to west (RVP included in my mind). With an LRT connecting the mountain a lot of commuter traffic could be concentrated on rail and taken off the road.

(Jason Farr is ward 2 btw)

Comment edited by ergopepsi on 2015-10-28 22:54:44

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted October 28, 2015 at 23:56:13 in reply to Comment 114400

As a ward 5 resident, I agree. Better to fast track any immediate potential. Would be cool to connect to Mohawk College's new transit terminal. Linking the mountain to LRT has the potential to increase public approval on the mountain. Sooner or later, I believe we will see LRT expanded to Eastgate. It just makes too much sense.


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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 00:14:51 in reply to Comment 114401

Mutual agreement there. We want to welcome Mountain to the LRT. The LRT has to start somewhere, given finite funds, and incrementally extend over time. Limeridge Mall is an obvious incremental extension first step for a future Escarpment A-Line incremental extension.

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By Douglas (registered) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 01:03:27

Appears Fred Eisenberger already knows:

@brandon_curtas @ham_LRT @aidan_johnson @JasonFarrHamOnt @cityofhamilton We are always looking to attract funding to Expand our transit

And Jason Farr has drafted a motion on LRT extension:

@jddneary @moore_oliver @FredEisenberger @MGreenWard3 @aidan_johnson @raisethehammer I have drafted a motion that will address this, John.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 01:29:14

Dundas! And forget the old BLAST plan of going to University Plaza and stopping there - take Cootes Drive and go right to the heart of Dundas! Line ends at King and York.

Or re-route the plan through Westdale to go through the heart of the Westdale village - obviously the more expensive and difficult option, so Main is easier, but the Westdale core was built as tram station. The little parking lots at King and Paisley were built to route traffic around the tram stop in the middle of the road. If King alignment is good enough for Downtown, it's good enough for Westdale.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 01:32:31 in reply to Comment 114400

The A-line would have great potential if it weren't for two problems: 1) Council is married to our white elephant of an airport, which will be a giant money-pit to connect to, and 2) James Mountain Road is too steep, requiring expensive tunneling.

If the tunneling could be done, rail to mohawk college, St. Joe's mountain campus, and the North end of Upper James could be very successful. But the silly plan is to have the thing go endlessly out to the airport, when a more reasonable enpoint would be Mountain Mall, or going down Mohawk (the future T-line, I think) to Lime Ridge Mall.

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By Tony (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 06:27:18

Brampton's funding should 1,000,000% be used to extend Hamilton's B-Line LRT past Eastgate down to Centennial GO.
This fits with the Province/ Metrolinx's vision.
Screw political eggshells! Do what makes sense for Transit Users!

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By Tony Crick (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 06:31:32 in reply to Comment 114408

Cootes always made way more sense! Never understood University Plaza.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 08:49:48

Guys Brampton hasn't cancelled the LRT they (the misguided Brampton City Council) are just taking time to re-evaluate their LRT route, they have not cancelled it in any way. Remember, just how wishy-washy, past Hamilton City Council's and Mayor's had been on LRT. That being said, I would not want to be a Brampton councilor right now! All they had to do was just shut up and take the money and continue lobbying for more money for their Queen St and east LRT route proposals.

A friend of mine who lives in Brampton is not surprised, every councilor who voted no were active Conservative Party supporters during both provincial and federal elections and publicly challenged any LRT lines for anybody, not just Brampton. He also said that there is a huge block of people in Brampton that don't want any development in the historic downtown but along Queen St. instead, as the "new downtown" of Brampton.

Its also highly unlikely that the province will redirect the money for Brampton somewhere else. Imagine how many times that other cities could have made the argument that Hamilton's LRT money should have been directed somewhere else, given past attitudes in the city by many local politicians and the ex mayor towards LRT. Taking away money earmarked for one city also sets a very bad example and precedent to follow.

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By Ralph (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 10:08:46 in reply to Comment 114410

So he's an informed idiot?

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By Ralph (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 10:09:49 in reply to Comment 114411

Agreed!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 10:16:12 in reply to Comment 114412

I think they were just following the path the buses are currently doing, and the University Plaza approach would allow them to also have an Ainsliewood stop or two.

I mean, if the planned University Plaza was the penultimate stop before continuing down Ostler/Main to the Thirsty Cactus, that would be cool, but Ostler/Main is a somewhat-tighter residential road and I doubt that would go over well with people living there.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 10:27:28 in reply to Comment 114401

Absolutely. A link to the mountain could go a long way to blurring the social / civic divisions that have been forming between the upper and lower city and even the amalgamated wards.

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By Douglas (registered) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 10:34:22 in reply to Comment 114413

Even if you could be right and the funds stay closer to Brampton. It still stands that the specific pot of fund is now going back to the Moving Ontario Forward fund. Ontario dangled the carrot many times, with Bramptonn repeatedly refusing. This was the final chance. The Brampton funding deadline is now passed.

Now Brampton's LRT falls over to a future infrastructure fund. For the moment, Brampton's LRT is, effectively cancelled, from the perspective of this pot of money. From a technical perspective, the Brampton LRT may be coming later, but not with these dollars.

Brampton now needs to apply for a funds from a future transit budget, rather than the budget that was granted to Hurontario, Hamilton, etc in this round. There are multiple confirmation from multiple Ontario government sources including news reporters such as CBC.

The Federal government has promised more transit funding, so raising the publicity on low-lying-apple LRT enhancements is still to all our mutual benefit.

Also, federally, more transit funding is becoming available, so there might be more forthcoming for both Brampton (albiet from a different "pot of money"); and Hamilton (either "this pot" or a different "pot of money"). They can still spin politics that it is both Hamilton and Brampton. There might even be something for that importantly needed $300M bus garage for HSR expansion, as a federal ask, possibly.

Oh, and I'm not 100% sure it is a bad precedent. The lesson to other cities are: "If you're repeatedly refusing the infrastructure carrot, or lobby for alternatives that everybody is comfortably agreeing on, then another city needs this carrot crop. We may be able to try again with next year's crop of carrots, if the political weather is favourable."

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 12:14:11

Spoiler: $carborough $ubway exten$ion

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 13:46:54 in reply to Comment 114412

2 km to an LCBO > 3 km to a Beer Store

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 14:00:26 in reply to Comment 114411

Agreed in part: It makes total sense for transit users!

That said, we can always extend A-Line before the B-Line, they're not mutually exclusive. They could even happen almost concurrently, like Ottawa's Stage 2 overlapping Stage 1 construction, especially in a favorable 2018 election. We don't have to be Toronto where transit funding get postponed forever; we all have an excellent opportunity to keep this momentum going in incremental expansions like Ottawa is.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 14:02:24 in reply to Comment 114429

That is not a Metrolinx pot of funds. As far as I know, the Scarborough Subway is not coming from the "Moving Ontario Forward" pot, where the surplus Brampton LRT funds goes back to.

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 14:38:42 in reply to Comment 114410

I thought councillors' ridiculous veto power was reserved for bicycle lanes. So if Metrolinx came through with another $300 million and said they wanted to run LRT past Eastgate to the Centennial GO station Council would turn it down because Chad Collins doesn't want it? I'd like to think they would see it as a whole city issue.

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By HamiltonTransitHistory (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 14:40:56 in reply to Comment 114419

More people/jobs along MSW than along Cootes, and it allows for connections south to Ancaster

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By HamiltonTransitHistory (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 15:04:25

I'd rather go Gore Park to Mohawk than Waterfront to St Joe's. (Gore Park-Hunter GO-St. Joseph/King-St Joseph/West 5th-Mohawk)

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 15:05:22 in reply to Comment 114443

Yes, but with no underground infrastructure to worry about, how much would that section of track possibly cost? It's low benefit, but also low expense, and downtown Dundas is far more transit-friendly than University Plaza.

If it were possible to continue down from University Plaza to Dundas King Street and end there at Dundas King and Main, I'd say that this is the ideal route. But if it was a choice between "Downtown Dundas" and "Main West and University Plaza", I'd take the former.

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By sbwoodside (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2015 at 19:28:30

Waterfront! Waterfront! (chanted to the Simpsons "Monorail")

Seriously though, I've always wanted transit to unlock the harbour front lands.

Also, Mark Rejhon, great job.

simon

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 29, 2015 at 19:56:32 in reply to Comment 114439

So if Metrolinx came through with another $300 million and said they wanted to run LRT past Eastgate to the Centennial GO station Council would turn it down because Chad Collins doesn't want it?

Sadly, yes. Have you seen our council? They would take ANY excuse to give back the $1 billion and focus on more 1970's highways.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 00:08:17 in reply to Comment 114446

University Plaza has a transit hub and is served by 4 routes. Downtown Dundas has no transit hub and is served by 2 routes.

Osler is 4 lanes wide, as is Cootes, but King Street is 2 lanes with curbside parking.

But ultimately, the province has pledged to let factors like demographic growth lead investment. Dundas' population has grown by 5,000 in the last 30 years but just 500 in the last 10.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2015 at 01:13:49 in reply to Comment 114455

The 2011 IBI report actually recommended moving the transfer point on all those routes away from University Plaza to McMaster University, since University Plaza wasn't a great trip-generator.

While Dundas doesn't have a tremendous amount of room for growth, isn't it exactly the kind of dense walkable form that should be hooked into LRT?

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By Balance (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 01:42:13

I think we should plan for what we already have and do a outstanding job of it. Focus on what we have right now, the money will flow later. Trying to swoop in at this time is silly (in my opinion). Hamilton Council trashed the BRT in advance of the end of the pilot project. We should be thankful for what has been allocated especially since we have no skin in the game locally.

If we do a remarkable job planning for what we have been given then the rest will flow hopefully.

I could go on and on.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 09:16:18

The situation still hasn't changed, the Minister of Transportation can threaten all he wants. The government of Ontario has rules in place to prevent redirection of program money meant for one area or use and moving it to another area or changing its intended use. If, and its a big if, the government does redirect the money to some other transit use, under provincial rules, it has to be something that will still benefit Brampton directly or indirectly. Notice the money must stay in the Greater Toronto Area or the inner municipal ring of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. That means, Ottawa and K-W LRT systems are out of the question. That also means no money for Peterborough's Shinning Water's Railway, Commuter Line to Toronto as well as anything regarding GO service to Niagara. What it most likely would be is more money for the GO RER program.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 09:29:01

By the way, Ottawa's Phase 2 isn't a go yet. The Feds have promised their required $1 Billion and the City says its ready for its share but the province has yet to put in their $1 Billion for the $3 Billion expansion program, that is the Ottawa LRT Phase 2 Program. The province still has roughly 1.75 years left to respond on this issue(June- July 2017), before serious program delays would start.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 09:55:48 in reply to Comment 114439

Yes, they almost certainly would. It is a whole-city issue but a majority of councillors are locked into the "local councillor as teensy dictator" model that preserves everyone's esteem with their Ward voters.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 09:57:33 in reply to Comment 114443

This is an important point. Increasing the intensity of the Cootes corridor is a very bad idea for a very fragile and very rare ecological treasure...

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 09:59:48 in reply to Comment 114411

I suppose I should mention here that this has essentially no chance of happening. It's good for Hamilton to make an aggressive pitch for the funds to be applied to A-line or to a B-line extension, but it's not going to happen; there will be cities with much stronger representation at the Cabinet table who will be lining up for that money, and at any rate the province could really use it to fix other budget holes as well.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2015 at 11:02:14 in reply to Comment 114466

I'm not sure what the rules are for the Moving Ontario Forward fund, or if it can be used towards any Metrolinx project. Several sources say the funds go back to that fund. Rules varies. Some are 100% funded by Ontario, some are funded by thirds by 3 levels of government. Some agencies cover a wider area than before (Metrolinx was a GTA-only agency, now it also covers transit to/from/within Hamilton too).

One scenario could be that Brampton gets granted a larger share of funds from the next round of infrastructure funding, in a "refill-the-pot fashion", and this article AND you might be simultaneously right.

The rules that you say, might have strict parameters that allows increasing of funding Ontario-wide (e.g. spread money around) in exchange for increased funding later, balancing things out on a time-based manner, from that perspective.

Projects in one part of Ontario gets delayed, there's a cost of laying off staff or forcing a company to delay construction deliveries; you reassign it somewhere else, etc. For example, LRT vehicle, concrete, and track iron deliveries may go to another city in the intrim, if a different city isn't ready. Can't have it all collect dust, pay storage penalities, etc.

It's a serial sequence, as a human can only be in one place at one time. This necessarily sometimes means that more resources (funds, humans) is disproportionately spent in one location but compensated back (by perhaps the same rules you say) by "making up", catching up in Brampton.

Even if you are right, there could still be opportunity for Hamilton to seize this opportunity.

Regardless, asking for an A-Line enhancement is still a great way to show that Hamilton means business, and it could invite any of the different transit funding (e.g. Federal), or continued planning that allows a Phase 2 overlapped with Phase 1.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-10-30 11:44:06

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2015 at 11:04:39 in reply to Comment 114468

Good catch. It's only partially funded at the moment. That said, Ottawa's so eager and have been working on Phase 2 "as if it was already approved", in a "CAN-DO" attitude! We'd like some of that in Hamilton.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 11:51:53 in reply to Comment 114456

Dundas has never distinguished itself in IBI's eyes, it's true. Their 2010 HSR Operational Review (which used 2007-8 data) found that the 52 Dundas Local registered the second-worst farebox recovery ratio in the system, around 1/6 of the minimum service standard and 1/9 the system average.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2015 at 12:51:31 in reply to Comment 114484

52 has always been a wierd route - it circumvents the heart of Westdale so Mac students and Westdalers don't take it so much, but at the same time it doesn't go express on its long trek from Downtown to Main West so it's not giving them the fastest service either. I think their recommendation of using McMaster as west-end transfer station and then having the Ancaster (5C) and Dundas (52) buses all rendezvous there was spot-on, so long as the drivers could properly keep a schedule and wait for connections.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 13:12:59

Ottawa's LRT Phase 2 Program eagerness comes from the fact that many past Ottawa rapid transit programs have been pulled out from underneath us in the past. In 1990, an under ground BRT tunnel through the core was killed by the province during the Environmental Assessment Stage right out of left field (sorry unintentional pun)because the then NDP government realized it had to kill everybody else's rapid transit program (Mississauga's first Busway proposal, Ottawa's BRT Tunnel & an aggressive GO transit expansion program) to afford Totonto's (TTC Network 2011 program) and have any GO expansion at all.

When Conservative Premier Harris was elected in 1995 and cut all provincial support for transit capital projects, the old arrangement being 25% local funding and 75% provincial funding, the result nearly killed forever, the entire Transitway Program here in Ottawa. In hindsight, that wiping out of funding did have a positive spin because it made the O-Train (now the Trillium Line) politically possible due to the fact that, any rail system had been killed by the pro BRT Transitway crowd at the then Regional Government. So any new rail proposal had to be really cheap and quick to develop and there was still no money yet, for expensive Transitways.

Then in 2006, the North-South LRT Proposal which, even from a transit consultant like me had its big issues, was killed in what seemed like an orchestrated, anti rail, local Conservative policy kill just after the local elections. The new Mayor at the time, Larry O'Brien (only the 2nd Mayor of the New unified City of Ottawa) not a proponent of the North-South LRT had written to then local Federal Cabinet representative, Conservative MP John Biard to hold the federal funding for the line until after the municipal election. This gave the new council enough time to then have another vote on the line. The Line was defeated and cancelled after the previous council has a signed contract with a consortium of companies including Siemens whom had already begun design and prep construction work for the line. The new Mayor Larry O'Brien, a tech company president whom had never set foot in city hall before and seemed to have little real knowledge of how municipal government actually worked in Ontario boasted that, we could break a signed contract with one of the largest companies on Earth and there would in the end, be no real effect. He was able to convince the council to vote down the line and essentially throw away a decade of planning and start over. He was wrong, the City of Ottawa did get sued by Siemens and we lost and were forced to pay $37 Million plus damages and costs to Siemens.

What was not well known was how much damage this did in the industry to the city's reputation. Costs for engineering and planning consulting for other projects went up because, if we good kill a signed contract for political reasons with one of the largest companies on Earth, what chance did smaller companies have. These internal padded costs are still with us today!

So you see, we in Ottawa, have a history of rapid transit projects just ending because...

That is the core of the "LRT eagerness" here in Ottawa. If we don't build it fast some senior level of government may pull the funding and or a political game may fail flat causing a huge project downgrade or the sky may start raining dogs and cats who knows! We have been burned too many times before.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 13:15:08

One more thing, the provincial government may hold on to the remaining LRT funds just in case, the now $1.3 Billion Hurontario Line goes over budget.

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By fiefdom? (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 13:53:27 in reply to Comment 114410

fiefdom? Collins? Or did you make that up all by yourself? I don't remember seeing that from RTH before.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2015 at 14:46:00 in reply to Comment 114493

Good backstory on my hometown, Ottawa! I was only a kid when some of this happened, but I do certainly remember all of this back in the heydey in the Ottawa Citizen! I also delivered that paper, too...

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2015 at 15:04:19 in reply to Comment 114445

I like getting up the escarpment ASAP, but there are two problems with that if funds are limited:

  • Metrolinx absolute requirement of funding LRT, includes also connecting the West Harbour GO station. Without that, we're not getting an LRT in Hamilton.

  • Going up escarpment is going to be very costly, using a ramp tunnel, unless we take over the James mountain access.

Even I would not take James St mountain access away from cars. The other option is carving 2 extra lanes alongside James St mountain access for the LRT tracks, which is a really ugly and expensive escarpment-damaging option. And mixed traffic would not be appealing here, slowing it down to undesirable TTC King Streetcar speeds at peak (really, really, REALLY slow), and slippery in winter. There are LRTs in other cities that move faster than Toronto's downtown subway, we should not hobble the speed of A-Line by cheaping out on Mountain LRT access. Better to use a dry ramp tunnel of ~7-8 degree incline (Within Flexity Freedom spec) that surfaces near the larger St. Joseph hospital campus and Mohawk College. Tunnel can be somewhat diagonal to go directly to Mohawk/Hospital, and keep incline gentler. This minimizes inconvenience for everyone, and keeps escarpment modification to only a relatively small hole. There are many possible routes for the A-Line LRT (e.g. continue south on W 5th and turn eastwards on Mohawk Ave to head to Limeridge Mall). There appears a lot of workplaces, transit interchanges, and denisification opportunities even for a minor further A-Line extension to Limeridge Mall, though it would probably require a slightly bigger pot of money to get this far (at rapid transit quality levels: dedicated lanes for LRT). But if we get started, we could overlap A-Line extension planning while we build the B-Line and the stub of A-Line.

Both Waterloo and Ottawa are doing the "CAN-DO" attitude of planning for LRT extensions early, and that great attitude should belong here too, in Hamilton.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-10-30 15:13:06

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 17:45:56 in reply to Comment 114488

I believe Fred Street was referring to the 52A Dundas Local. It just goes on angle through Dundas during rush hour. The Mac hub does make sense.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 17:51:05 in reply to Comment 114412

University Plaza was identified as a primenspit for redevelopment compared to Dundas. It's a large site, with a single owner, few immediate neighbours and no historic developments constraints to work within. It's a blank slate to shape a transit village that would anchor the western end.

Downtown Dundas is great but the area has few opportunities for larger scales developments, especially since it's built up, much of the 400-800 metres within are historic/areas of historic value and mid/higher density developments would be largely out of place. There are some opportunities by Canadian Tire but that's about it. Improved bus connections would make a world of difference in that area.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 17:53:04 in reply to Comment 114472

The City, province and HCA already have the policies in place to block it. There's no way it'd happen. Luckily. Mac is making amends for the mistakes it made to the area, slowly but surely.

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By heh (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 19:09:53 in reply to Comment 114408

No. Your idea is silly and old fashioned. University plaza is a hub for Dundas - connecting the edges of west Hamilton, major subdivisions nearby, the rail trail, Ancaster, and the downtown. Go ruin your part of the city.

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By heh (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 19:12:38

What about those of us who live on the mountain, but want an easy and cheap way to get downtown?

This part seems to be left out of the discussion. Lots of opportunity to have a line connect Lime Ridge, Meadowlands, Mohawk, Upper James stores, etc. And there's probably lane capacity for it there, unlike these other lower city streets

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2015 at 21:29:02 in reply to Comment 114514

This part seems to be left out of the discussion.

In a manner of speaking, that's what I'm trying to advocate for in the article; get the LRT closer to Mountain!

$200-$400M isn't even enough to get up the mountain yet! We're just trying advocate to get A-Line as close as possible to getting up the mountain as possible with the incremental funds. Option A-Line is clearly (in my opinion) my preferred option, given the risky Stoney Creek politics, as you can see.

Once the LRT punches up the escarpment (the expensive/difficult part for a fast-efficient LRT rather than a TTC-slow streetcar), it becomes much cheaper. Alas, the escarpment elevation is going to be one hellishly expensive kilometer, unless we carve along the James access instead of a ramp tunnel. Then after that, it is a much simplersimple matter of continuing the A-Line, to all the important destinations.

There is a Metrolinx requirement to reach the West Harbour GO station. So say, we chopped the waterfront; that still doesn't free up enough LRT funds (along with the Brampton budget) to get to the top of the escarpment in an efficiently quick manner (i.e. ramp tunnel). It's my understanding that getting to the top of the escarpment would be the most expensive single kilometer in the entire B.L.A.S.T. Hamilton LRT network.

I totally agree with you that we need to reach mountain destinations. We need an LRT that reaches the major transit points like Limeridge, etc, as you said. But adding just $200-$400M doesn't even get it up there yet;

But we can get as close as possible, to the point, where an extension is a lot more palatable of a future ask. That said, we can work on advocating A-Line extension (St. Joe/Mohawk/Limeridge at the minimum) during the 2018 and 2022 elections or even before if favourable (And we definitely intend to advocate for that, when the time and political climate is right).

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-10-30 21:38:24

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2015 at 21:47:46 in reply to Comment 114409

Yep, A-Line can extend incrementally.

It can be an A/L line hybrid first, and later split (in future expansion) into separate A-Line/L-lines if urban planning headed in the right direction.

Also, our airport might be a totally different story in 25 years from now.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 30, 2015 at 23:27:42 in reply to Comment 114514

I've long advocated here on RTH for an LRT link to Mohawk College, then onto Limeridge Mall. To me this is a WAY higher priority than running out Upper James through parking lots to a dead airport.

I've also long advocated for safe cycling and walking connections from the Central Mtn to downtown. Sadly, councillors up there aren't interested. Keep banging the drum tho. It only makes sense

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2015 at 00:34:57 in reply to Comment 114518

Agreed on incremental LRT extension priorities. The A-T hybrid to Limeridge is the best Escarpment first step.

I observe that only 3 councillors were against transit-oriented development in the Lower City (almost all of them, including most Mountain councillors including Terry Whitehead, ultimately voted to allow a moratorium on non-transit-oriented development). There may be enough support to at least make it to Limeridge.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2015 at 00:41:32

...I'd, of course, like to be proven pleasantly wrong; and Hamilton gets enough A-Line funding to get up the Escarpment, even in a rolling construction fashion (i.e. immediately after the B-Line is built)

NOTE: I meant the A-T line hybrid, not A-L.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2015 at 01:35:17 in reply to Comment 114450

I am pleased, however, our council appears far more unamious on LRT than Brampton is.

This week, only 3 councillors voted against transit-oriented development on Main/King.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-10-31 01:35:44

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2015 at 09:51:33 in reply to Comment 114523

"This week, only 3 councillors voted against transit-oriented development on Main/King."

Do you recall which those were?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2015 at 10:16:08 in reply to Comment 114514

That's all actually planned, its just the b-line is phase one. Next is the a-line that goes from the waterfront up James and ujames to the airport, covering Mohawk college. After that is a Mohawk road line connecting meadowlands to the red hill.

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By Dr. Octothorpe (anonymous) | Posted October 31, 2015 at 10:23:32 in reply to Comment 114488

Just not on campus.

goo.gl/jnqMJX

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 31, 2015 at 13:28:31 in reply to Comment 114525

take a wild guess. Same ones that oppose pretty much anything downtown even though their wards aren't affected by the plans.

Collins, Partridge, Brenda Johnson. Whitehead spoke against it in the discussion, but ended up voting for it.

I'm stunned that anyone would vote against this. Even without LRT we should be looking for the highest uses along our major urban corridors.

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By fiefdom? what councillor? (anonymous) | Posted October 31, 2015 at 13:34:01



fiefdom? Collins? Or did you make that up all by yourself? I don't remember seeing that from RTH before. Collins, rth, another councillor--tell us, r m.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2015 at 15:03:55 in reply to Comment 114529

That's pretty much what I assumed ... but I was open to being surprised.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted November 10, 2015 at 10:06:13

As of Friday November 6, 2015, the City of London Ontario has just chosen a LRT and a BRT line for their future rapid transit network.

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