Special Report: Light Rail

Light Rail Transit Support Letters from Area MP, MPPs

Letters from seven Hamilton-area MPs and MPPs from two different political parties call on Council to re-affirm its support for the LRT project currently underway.

By RTH Staff
Published June 21, 2016

A letter signed by six Hamilton-area MPs and MPPs from two different political parties calls on Hamilton City Council to "re-affirm its commitment to continue working with Metrolinx on the $1-billion, fully-funded-by-the-province" light rail transit system.

The letter is signed by NDP MPs David Christopherson of Hamilton Centre and Scott Duvall of Hamilton Mountain, Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin of Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and NDP MPPs Andrea Horwath of Hamilton Centre, Paul Miller of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and Monique Taylor of Hamilton Mountain.

Setting partisanship aside, the undersigned write that LRT "will be a great benefit and building it is the right thiing to do for our community."

The letter notes the many benefits of LRT: new investments and jobs, economic uplift, rising property assessment, improved employment opportunities and better connection among Hamiltonians and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. "Our great city will, without doubt, become even greater."

That letter comes just a few days after another letter written by Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas MP Filomena Tassi, which celebrates Council's previous votes in support of LRT and calls on Council to "move the dialogue forward with all three levels of government and provide Hamilton with the best decisions for future planning."

The letter also announces the federal commitment of $120 billion in infrastructure investment over ten years with an emphasis on socially supportive and environmentally sustainable projects.

The objectives for the federal funding "include supporting projects that will revitalize and grow our economy, protect our communities from the very real impacts of climate change and support the social integration and inclusion of everyone in our communities."

Following is the text of the letter from six MPs and MPPs:

Open letter from Hamilton MPs & MPPs

We, the undersigned Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Parliament, believe that Light Rail Transit will be a great benefit and building it is the right thing to do for our community.

LRT will attract new investment and new jobs. It will mean rising property values and assessments, which will benefit everyone in the city. It will mean significant economic uplift, not only for the downtown, but for the entire city. The LRT will link communities together, connecting people with employment opportunities across the entire city. LRT will help to connect Hamiltonians and build a cohesive community across neighbourhoods.

An LRT in Hamilton, will change the way people commute, encouraging them to leave their fossil fuel burning cars at home which will help to reduce GHG emissions and the city's carbon footprint. We must do everything we can to fight climate change and light rail transit is an essential part of a carbon emission reduction strategy.

In short, LRT will only accelerate what everyone already senses: that there is increasing energy and vitality in Hamilton. Our great city will, without doubt, become even greater.

Council naturally has very legitimate questions, and will continue to throughout the life of this initiative, since not every question can be answered immediately due to its large scope and necessarily complicated implementation. We appreciate its vigilance.

We urge Council to re-affirm its commitment to continue working with Metrolinx on the $1-billion, fully-funded-by-the-province, LRT initiative.

Respectfully,

David Christopherson, MP
Hamilton Centre

Scott Duvall, MP
Hamilton Mountain

Andrea Horwath, MPP
Hamilton Centre

Ted McMeekin, MPP
Ancaster-Flamborough-Ancaster-Westdale

Paul Miller, MPP
Hamilton East-Stoney Creek

Monique Taylor, MPP
Hamilton Mountain

Following is the text of Tassi's letter:

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Open Letter from Filomena Tassi, MP Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas

I am proud to be a Hamilton Member of Parliament and proudly supportive of our government's plan to invest $120 billion in infrastructure over the next 10 years. This targets investments in public transit and green and social infrastructure.

It will create good jobs, make our communities better places to live, and it will grow the middle class.

As the Prime Minister stated in his speech to representatives of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) earlier this month, this is "a plan that adjusts to each and every community. It is a plan that gives communities themselves the power to make crucial decisions."

We are focused on giving municipal governments and local stakeholders decision making powers because, as he stated to the FCM, "you know what your communities need. We can't tell you whether you need light rail or subways, better bridges or climate resilient infrastructure. That's your job as municipal leaders - to tell us what you need, and how the federal government can help."

So what role will the federal government play? We will set objectives for investment.

Those objectives include supporting projects that will revitalize and grow our economy, protect our communities from the very real impacts of climate change and support the social integration and inclusion of everyone in our communities.

Whether it be the discussion on the plans for the LRT here in Hamilton or any other ambitious project for green and social infrastructure, I have full confidence in our local leaders - be they elected or simply passionately engaged as citizens - to move the dialogue forward with all three levels of government and provide Hamilton with the best decisions for future planning.

I am very proud to say that I support Hamilton City Council's several successful resolutions that choose LRT as a way forward for improved transit infrastructure in our great and thriving city.

Sincerely,

Filomena Tassi
Member of Parliament, Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas

11 Comments

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted June 22, 2016 at 16:04:32

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Comment edited by ref_erendum on 2016-06-22 16:06:25

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 23, 2016 at 05:09:40 in reply to Comment 119513

Sadly every city core has died with the introduction of a LRT.

That is staggeringly untrue. You are fabricating complete nonsense in your counterfactual cases against LRT.

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted June 24, 2016 at 09:42:35 in reply to Comment 119517

Please read Karl Andrus report yesterday ! "Meanwhile, the anti-rapid transit predictions of the downtown core decaying into a wasteland did indeed become true. However, the unbuilt rapid transit system itself can hardly be blamed. IF NOT WHAT IS ? (Today, due to the dedication of active citizens, members of our arts community and forward-thinking city officials, the downtown is undergoing a renaissance.) BUT THE ART COMMUNITY CANNOT SUSTAIN THE DOWN TOWN CORE ! Unfortunately the City has made no effort in bringing people to the down town every effort is made to create traffic congestion within Hamilton with recreational bike lanes and two way streets. Ask and motorist dealing with traffic within the city core and they will tell more congestion and travel time have increased with the dismantling of a once effective traffic system. One example is Buffalo but if you like I can give you more cities that have lost the heart of their down town to LRT's This is not untrue sadly you are misinformed and must belong to this new LRT "Think Group" all spouting the identical nonsense. Fact 1. We will absorb all the costs for generations for the maintenance and upkeep of the LRT with a big fat zero of money generated to operate this white elephant. I wish I could sustain a business with no income and rely on the taxpayers to keep me alive. 2. Every home and business in the LRT corridor will be affected in a negative manner with the exception of all the speculators investing heavily on King Street. Sir I do not fabricate Facts I just question crystal ball predictions by LRT organized "Think Groups" and the Government representatives and business speculators. This entire project is not needed with a ridership of 400 per hour and until our ridership is there we do not need to waste money on any kind of sparkling toys .

Comment edited by ref_erendum on 2016-06-24 09:45:45

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:06:44 in reply to Comment 119554

Please read Karl Andrus report yesterday

Please be assured that as the editor of this website, I read the article carefully before deciding to publish it.

IF NOT WHAT IS ?

Wait - are you, are you seriously blaming LRT for the decline of Hamilton's downtown? I'm honestly starting to wonder if you're some kind of parody or performance artist rather than an authentic LRT opponent!

BUT THE ART COMMUNITY CANNOT SUSTAIN THE DOWN TOWN CORE

No one says it can, but many of the early adopters who decided to invest in the downtown core when things were looking most grim were from the arts community - they took a chance on the core when few others were willing to. In doing so, they have helped pave the way for other people to rediscover the downtown as well.

every effort is made to create traffic congestion within Hamilton with recreational bike lanes and two way streets.

Do you remember James Street North when it was a one-way thoroughfare? It was literally the face of the Spectator's Lament for a Downtown series. When it was converted to a two-way, calm street with wide sidewalks and curbside parking, the naysayers and squelchers came out in droves making exactly the same arguments you're making today.

Of course the exact opposite happened: when James was converted back into a balanced street, people, investment and business began returning to it in a process of revival that continues to this day.

(The same squelchers made the same predictions of doom three years later when James South was converted, and they were just as wrong that time as well.)

One example is Buffalo

Buffalo is the only North American city whose LRT investment did not produce significant early benefits. As an outlier, it's important to study what happened there to understand why and how to avoid making the same mistakes.

Buffalo made almost every mistake in the book when they built their LRT thirty years ago. They designed a system that mostly runs underground like a subway, except downtown, where it runs at street level on a pedestrian-only plaza (recently converted to accommodate cars again). They did this amid a decades-long cascade of residents and businesses pouring out of the city.

If that wasn't bad enough, the City also failed to change its anti-urban zoning and regulatory by-laws. That meant any investors or builders who might want to leverage the line for transit-oriented development were entangled in rules mandating low density, single-use zoning, suburban setbacks, parking requirements - all the well-known hobgoblins that have sabotaged and frustrated urban development over the postwar era of suburbanization.

The good news is that Buffalo has belatedly come to understand this and has finally begun to mitigate the barriers to investment around the line. As a result, the line is finally starting to attract new developments.

We will absorb all the costs for generations for the maintenance and upkeep of the LRT with a big fat zero of money generated to operate this white elephant.

You keep making this false claim and it keeps remaining false. The City and Metrolinx still have to negotiate an operating cost and revenue sharing arrangement.

Every home and business in the LRT corridor will be affected in a negative manner

The construction period will be challenging, as road reconstructions always are. The long-term benefits more than outweigh the short-term disruptions.

with the exception of all the speculators investing heavily on King Street.

Why do you think people are investing in King Street, if you insist that LRT will be unsuccessful? You can't have it both ways.

This entire project is not needed with a ridership of 400 per hour

This is another of your repeated false facts that has no bearing on reality. The LRT corridor carries 30,000 passengers a day - do the math!

Please stop repeating these falsehoods. Surely you understand that if you have to make up phony reasons to oppose LRT, that suggests your opposition does not make as much sense as you want it to.

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:26:24 in reply to Comment 119556

"Why do you think people are investing in King Street, if you insist that LRT will be unsuccessful? You can't have it both ways."

RIGHT NOW WITH THE HOPES OF RESELLING THEIR INVESTMENTS TO THE CITY. Clearly properties have risen by the local developers buying up buildings to make a profit. If any one of these investors know where the bumpouts are to be then their expropriated properties become more valuable to sell back. Really how naive can some people be ?

"This is another of your repeated false facts that has no bearing on reality. The LRT corridor carries 30,000 passengers a day - do the math!"

Mr Dixon did the math and apparently the LRT Think Group likes to inflate numbers.( I may not have seen Metrolinx and the City's revised report after Mr.Dixon's departure.) Nothing is false about the facts presented by Mr. Dixon.

"the construction period will be challenging, as road reconstructions always are. The long-term benefits more than outweigh the short-term disruptions."

Long term benefits? Two lanes on a major thoroughfare thru Hamilton with 42% of the B line revenue disappearing. And clearly stated last night at the James street BIA meeting that ALL revenue goes to Metrolinx and ALL maintenance and up keep falls on the shoulders of Hamilton taxpayers. Did you not attend the public meeting on Rapid Transit last night @ the James street BIA.? As all your comments would have been reclarified because of your misinformation to date.

Your LRt Think Group clearly supports Metrolinx and their poor deal to the taxpayers of Hamilton. If this is such a good deal why not put this to a referendum. And let the people decide. Apparently council has not done a good job living up to "The Ambitious City " monniker.

Please note Portlands LRT FIASCO.

“The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Comment edited by ref_erendum on 2016-06-24 11:29:06

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2016 at 12:12:35 in reply to Comment 119559

Seriously, you need to stop shamelessly perpetuating these falsehoods.

If any one of these investors know where the bumpouts are to be then their expropriated properties become more valuable to sell back.

Are you actually suggesting that all the investment and development that takes place in the development corridor around LRT is related to speculators hoping to sell slices of property to the city? Surely even you can recognize how absurd and unserious that argument is. You need only visit Waterloo and look at all the new development - actual new building construction - along the LRT line to see the truth.

Mr Dixon did the math and apparently the LRT Think Group likes to inflate numbers.

Kindly follow along. As of ten years ago, the HSR carried 21 million passenger trips a year. (The number is modestly higher than that today, but the HSR is not very good at tracking ridership.)

Dave Dixon told Council in early 2015 that 42% of all HSR trips are along the LRT corridor. That works out to around 9 million trips a year, which works out to around 30,000 weekday boardings. As I pointed out in this comment, if LRT in Hamilton opened tomorrow, Hamilton would be the sixth-busiest system in North America by daily boardings per kilometre.

That same conclusion was independently reached by Chris Higgins, a PhD research fellow at the McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics (in fact, I was trying to recreate the research that he did to reach this conclusion).

Again, I have no idea where your 400 passengers an hour comes from, but it sounds like Dixon was referring to ridership on the B-Line express bus alone and not counting ridership on all the other east-west routes that also run along the LRT route.

with 42% of the B line revenue disappearing. And clearly stated last night at the James street BIA meeting that ALL revenue goes to Metrolinx and ALL maintenance and up keep falls on the shoulders of Hamilton taxpayers.

You keep repeating that claim and it has no basis in fact. The speaker at last night's event was Peter Miasek, an independent transportation advocate and not a spokesperson for the City, the Province or Metrolinx. I was not at the event and do not know whether you are accurately quoting him, but he cannot possibly know what the details of Hamilton's LRT revenue/cost sharing model will be, because that model has not yet been finalized.

Nicholas Kevlahan literally just quoted the full statement directly from Metrolinx communications manager Kelsey Ewart, which clearly states that negotiations over revenue and cost sharing are currently ongoing and no decisions have yet been made.

From what I read in a Spectator article about the event, Miasek was warning that the long-term funding of rapid transit operations across the GTHA is something that still needs to be figured out, which is very different from what you are claiming he said.

I would also note that Miasek supports building rapid transit: "Despite the operational cost conundrum, Miasek doesn't shy of away from supporting rapid transit. The business case is there, he said."

So once again I suspect you are just making things up to bolster your weak and unsupported prejudice against this LRT investment.

Please note Portlands LRT FIASCO.

Okay, now I'm really starting to think you're just taking the piss.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2016-06-24 12:30:21

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted June 25, 2016 at 11:32:53 in reply to Comment 119562

http://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/inde...

"But a new “Future of Transportation” analysis of U.S. Census data conducted by Yonah Freemark, project manager at Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago, raises some serious questions about TriMet’s decision to invest so heavily in light rail over the past three decades.

Writing for The Atlantic Cities, known for its unabashed advocacy of mass transit, Freemark says “it doesn’t take much digging” to realize that light-rail systems built with billions of taxpayer dollars in Portland and four other cities since the 1980s have not lived up to their promises.

“These initial five systems in themselves neither rescued the center cities of their respective regions nor resulted in higher transit use — the dual goals of those first-generation lines,” he writes."

I don't make these stories up as we carry on this conversation simply showing the reality of predicting all of these wonderful attributes of an LRT. Simply put it is a waste of tax dollars only for the HOPE of increasing ridership on these lines. And I Say HOPE ! How many generations do we need to make it worth while to take people out of their cars. I don't know about you but I enjoy my independence.

Comment edited by ref_erendum on 2016-06-25 11:34:10

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted June 24, 2016 at 10:43:19 in reply to Comment 119556

Only common sense could tell you that eliminating automobiles down town will reduce the volume of traffic. Paying for parking is another way besides bicycle lanes and reducing King street to two lanes of traffic east and west. The LRT is not the answer to move forwards in this city. Last nights BIA on James the gentlemen clearly stated the the Maintenance and upkeep of the LRT will fall into the city's responsibility and the revenue will go to a third party Metrolinx. E

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted June 25, 2016 at 11:35:56 in reply to Comment 119557

I should correct myself in saying "reducing" the flow of traffic . And no by adding an LRT will not increase traffic as LRT proponets want to think.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 24, 2016 at 11:04:32 in reply to Comment 119557

No one is talking about "eliminating automobile traffic downtown". The LRT would reduce King street two lanes. That's the extent of the reduction in automobile traffic. (On James the LRT will run in mixed traffic and so will not reduce the number of lanes). Main Street will still have five lanes, although will likely have two-way traffic. Every other downtown street other than King will have the same number of lanes it does now.

Metrolinx and city staff have confirmed that operational details of LRT still need to be negotiated and there is no scenario under which the City would maintain and operate the LRT, but the revenues would go to a third party! Why would a third party receive revenue for doing nothing?

Please stop misinterpreting and making things up.

Here is what the manager, Community/Stakeholder Relations and Communications Rapid Transit, Capital Projects Group, METROLINX says about operations and revenue:

From: Kelsey Ewart

Kelsey.Ewart@metrolinx.com

At this time no decisions have been made regarding responsibilities for operations and maintenance costs, and will be determined through a future agreement between the City and the Province - likely over the coming months.

Kelsey Ewart

Manager, Community/Stakeholder Relations and Communications Rapid Transit, Capital Projects Group | METROLINX

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-06-24 11:07:23

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted June 25, 2016 at 09:13:35

"Metrolinx and city staff have confirmed that operational details of LRT still need to be negotiated and there is no scenario under which the City would maintain and operate the LRT, but the revenues would go to a third party!" ( Third party meaning a Metrolinx Division collecting revenues from our b line .

Apparently you skipped the line that said "Municipalities are already struggling to pick up the year to year operational costs" for transit. I guess Hamilton is on that exemption list. THE DETAILS MAY NOT BE IRONED OUT BUT THE SCENARIO HOLDS TRUE IN EVERY CASE TO DATE

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/673837...

These comments simply don't fall from the sky and are not scripted by supporters of the LRT.

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