Special Report: Light Rail

Latest BRT Pitch Just Another Obstruction Tactic

The real goal of the transit concern trolls is not to make sure we have the 'right solution,' but rather to ensure that no solution is ever implemented and the status quo remains in place.

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published April 07, 2017

It seems that Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead has decided he likes bus rapid transit (BRT) on the B-Line again, after being furious at the Province for agreeing to build A-Line BRT, just like he wanted.

He previously objected to BRT because it might take up lanes of traffic on arterial streets, just like all street rapid transit systems and just like the transit-only lane he helped to kill a couple of years ago.

Now, lo and behold, he is back to arguing that Hamilton should use its $1 billion to build the full A and B-lines as BRT:

This is especially disingenuous, since we are already getting B-line LRT from McMaster to Eastgate and the full A-line BRT! And we could easily apply to the Federal government or the next Provincial government to finish the last portion of B-Line LRT to Eastgate.

What's even worse is that Whitehead seems to have forgotten that it took us eight years from the time the Liberals promised two rapid transit lines in Hamilton in 2007 to the funding announcement in 2015. Even then, we've managed to find ways to throw everything into confusion.

If the Progressive Conservatives win the next provincial election, even if they agree in principle to hold onto the money for us after we've wasted $70 million and a decade of effort planning rapid transit, what makes anyone think that:

(a) we could put a new rapid transit plan together faster than the several years it normally takes;

(b) Council and the community would actually unite behind it, after what has happened to LRT; and

(c) the province would actually approve it quickly?

Obviously, the Province is not going to just say: 'Here's a billion dollars, go crazy!' - especially after the mess we've made this time. They're going to be extremely careful to do thorough due diligence on any plan we propose. And they'll want guarantees that Council is not going to panic and change its mind again.

What's more, given the priorities of the Progressive Conservatives - i.e. not transit - there is an excellent chance that they'll simply say: 'We would have loved to have funded your transit project, but the Liberals have left the finances in such a mess that we no longer have the money.'

And of course, that is Whitehead's real goal, and the real goal of all the transit concern trolls: not to make sure we have the 'right solution' but rather to ensure that no solution is ever implemented and the status quo remains in place.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted April 07, 2017 at 10:11:27

Just like the Hamilton News rag organization is complaining that the LRT route is only 11km instead of 14. Yea because they would surely be in full support if the LRT route was longer......

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted April 07, 2017 at 11:45:07

Main Street

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2017 at 13:00:24 in reply to Comment 121137

Moving to Main Street would likely postpone the start of service by six years, because the 2011 Submission to Metrolinx that Hamilton (alone) spent millions on, is on King. And the 2015 funding, as well as the 2017 Environment Study Report (EA addendum) -- all are all reliant on Main.

Ryan McGreal once preferred Main too, but there are many reasons why King will provide better economic development benefits -- and keep in mind that it's closer to Barton, so Main/King/Barton will have more combined uplift as well. It also more easily stops at several walkdable destinations like James+King and Tim Horton's Field.

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By Deleted User (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2017 at 04:35:35 in reply to Comment 121144

"Economic development benefits." Any benefits you foresee are pure speculation. You can't use that as an argument for LRT. LRT is a transit system. It gets people to and from their destination. Trying to say that there will be economic spin offs is beyond the scope of a transit system. Besides, every time the government has promised "economic benefits" they've failed to deliver: NAFTA, globalism, bailing out big banks and corporations. Look just at Hamilton: Council destroyed the core to build Jackson Square and we're only recovering now. And it's been the people driving the recovery; not the government. Regardless, enough speculation about $$$; this is a train not a lottery ticket or stock portfolio. If you can't sell LRT as a solution to a *transit* problem then you'll never sell it. Guess that's why I'm not buying. It doesn't solve a problem with the HSR which currently works well and is experiencing declining ridership. The current B-Line provides better service than the proposed LRT. As pointed out in several comments on The Spec: show me how a trip from Lake and King in Stoney Creek to University plaza is easier and faster on the LRT as opposed to the B-Line and maybe I'll change my mind. Edit: spelling.

Comment edited by JimC on 2017-04-08 04:37:00

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 09, 2017 at 11:34:43 in reply to Comment 121157

"Economic development benefits." Any benefits you foresee are pure speculation. You can't use that as an argument for LRT.

Transportation infrastructure is economic development infrastructure. This has been true for the past 10,000 years, since the first market opened at the first crossroads in the first permanent human settlement.

Without transportation infrastructure, there is no mobility, no access, no interaction, no exchange, no trade, no economy. It's that simple. This is a fundamental fact of economic development, resting on a huge body of research spanning the globe and all of recorded history. Denying it is like denying the fact that human activity is causing global warming.

And it is totally hypocritical and contradictory for you to deny that LRT is proven to produce economic benefits while also wagging your finger at the hated developers who are already investing in new economic activies because of LRT.

The kind of economic development we get from transportation infrastructure depends on what kind of infrastructure we decide to invest in. If the obstructionists and concern trolls and right-wing politicos manage to succeed in pushing this LRT plan off the table, you had better believe that a proposal to widen the Linc/Red Hill to six lanes will be back on the table before the LRT plan hits the floor, followed 30 seconds later by a revived Mid-Peninsula Highway.

All that farmland you pretend to care about? Good luck with that. We'll see whether your crocodile tears for the Red Hill Valley survive your hypocrisy in opposing the city's one best bet to save it from further sprawl, cars, concrete and litter.

Your concern trolling is clumsy and ham-fisted and no one believes it any more. Find something better to do with your time.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2017-04-09 11:41:02

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted April 08, 2017 at 05:32:50

Jim C, I was in Hamilton on Thursday and Friday and went on your current B-Line service. Its nowhere near as good as LRT, in travel time or ride quality, get a grip.

Wow, you guys have got to do something about these one way streets, they are destroying the street life in downtown Hamilton. Both Main and King Street's were louder and yet have less traffic on them at peak hour, than Albert and Slater Street's, Ottawa's couplet of one way streets. Which is really impressive because O.C Transpo has 185-200 buses per hour per direction traveling down both Albert and Slater at peak hours.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted April 08, 2017 at 11:41:18 in reply to Comment 121158

It would be good if we could, but even a billion dollars from the province doesn't seem to convince many people here that we need to lessen the grip of automobility on our City.

With regard to the LRT "debate" it has become a sad reality that the NoLRT lobby has been successful in shifting the discussion away from connectivity and shaping the form and geography of growth to improve livability for the many into a narrow discussion of "economic benefits" derived mainly from land development, the jobs tied to it, and rising real estate values. I'm not dismissing the need for assessment growth to strength our tax base, especially if it comes from efficient, compact, infill development and sensitive redevelopment along the corridor. But fighting a bitter fight to win sometimes causes people to lose sight of the real challenges to overcome for long-term success, especially if the benefits are to be felt broadly and inclusively ...

We're losing sight of the big picture and part of that comes from trying to appease entrenched lifestyles and habits. You can't improve transit connectivity and maintain road capacity and privilege easy and convenient automobility thru the core. So yes, doing something about the one-way expressways thru downtown makes sense. The proposal to make Main Street two-way as part of this made sense, except to people who want to maintain the green-wave, which only exists thru inner-city neighbourhoods. It ends at Gage Park in the East and at Westdale High School in the West.

The irony when driving during the day is you can whip thru most of the City for the most part and then hit congestion at the edges. Why? because you can't really do the green-wave with two-way traffic. Until we break through that barrier in the mainstream of Hamilton thinking and priorities we are doomed to our one-way expressways and all that comes with that: 4 and 5 lanes of traffic rushing in packs and exceeding 60km/h when needing to change multiple lanes to make right or left turns, etc.

The middle-ground, for now and not that i particularly like it, is a road diet that leaves key east-west arterials one-way to maintain the green wave, but reduces the number of lanes and creates wider sidewalks and/or dedicated bike tracks. But we need to kept pressing on the core and surrounding inner city as part of holistic shift in thinking about how the City should function and why people might want to live and spend time in the places along the extended corridor of the B-line, which is in effect most of the older, lower city.

Comment edited by RobF on 2017-04-08 11:50:15

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