Shame on Whitehead for abusing his power and circulating this scaremongering nonsense.
By Ryan McGreal
Published April 10, 2017
Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead has been shamelessly spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about Hamilton's Light Rail Transit (LRT) plan ever since not long after the Province called Hamilton City Council's bluff and actually agreed to provide full capital funding for the LRT plan that Council developed and submitted as a funding request.
His latest ploy is a throw-everything-you-can-think-of-against-the-wall-and-hope-something-sticks canned email response with a long list of disingenuous, misleading, hand-wavy and mutually contradictory objections calibrated to maximize fear and uncertainty about the success of the project (not to mention the fact that it is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors).
Let's dive in.
Former director of transit stated when he brought forward a Rapid Ready Report that the implementation would realign our transit system build rider ship in preparation of LRT. That report was supported this term of council.
I assume from my parsing of this word salad that he's talking about the HSR Ten Year Strategy, which would be in its third year this year ... if Council didn't just vote to suspend implementing it after jacking transit fares up 18 percent in the first two years.
Inspiring leadership there.
Current tax levy for Conventional transit for 100s km service is 46 million dollars
Not sure what he means here, but I assume he's talking about how much property tax money the City puts into transit. The total transit operating budget is $60 million, which also includes the Provincial gas tax.
Of course, our share of Provincial gas tax keeps shrinking each year because it is partially based on ridership growth and we keep failing to invest in growing our transit ridership. (For example, the recent vote to stop implementing our Ten Year Transit Strategy after just two years.)
Current B line cost 5.2 million dollars
Here he is deliberately only counting the B-Line express route, and not all the other bus routes that serve the same LRT corridor. The four main bus routes serving this corridor cost the city $18.2 million to operate in 2015.
current B line revenue. 2.2 million
Again, he's still pretending that LRT will only replace the B-Line express and none of the other bus service along the corridor.
Current Rider ship 444 peak hr peak direction
Yet again, he's only talking about the B-Line express and ignoring the other routes serving the corridor.
20000 cars diverted on King street (will impact local streets)
I'm not sure where he pulled this number from, but the LRT traffic modelling has found that overall traffic congestion will get worse without LRT than with LRT, since all the additional trips from new population growth will have to be accommodated in cars instead of rapid transit.
Five years of construction.
This is unlikely, given: a) the two kilometre James North spur has been removed, b) Waterloo Region is building 18 kilometres of LRT in just three years, and c) the construction is likely to be phased so each segment will be under construction for much less than five years.
over 400 heritage properties on King Street
This number is pure FUD. According to the Cultural Heritage Screening Report (Appendix C of the Environmental Project Report Addendum):
The cultural heritage screening process undertaken as part of the Hamilton LRT Project identified 141 [Conditional Heritage Properties] within the Project Study Area, as well as 16 adjacent protected heritage properties. Of these 141 properties, it was determined that the Hamilton LRT Project would not impact the heritage attributes of 87 properties. As such, 54 properties will undergo Cultural Heritage Evaluations to determine whether or not they have cultural heritage significance.
In other words, there are 54 properties that might have heritage attributes that might be impacted in some way by LRT and are going to undergo heritage evaluations as part of the LRT design and implementation process.
But I guess just stating "400 heritage properties" apropos of nothing sounds more alarming so Whitehead goes with that instead.
Now, where was City Council's passion and enthusiasm for heritage when they voted to approve the demolition of 18-28 King Street East?
International village will virtually have no car traffic except to access a parking garage
International Village currently has two lanes of westbound traffic and zero lanes of eastbound traffic. With LRT, it will have one lane of eastbound traffic to serve businesses on the south side of the street, enhanced rear laneway access to serve businesses on the north side of the street, and two lanes of high-capacity rapid freaking transit with LRT stations on either end of the BIA.
Canadian Urban Institute study indicates only 1% growth years after LRT implementation. They also included former Scott Park school site as a tax generator (no longer the case as it is being used for new school and recreation center)
The CUI study was conducted six years ago and explicitly notes that it made highly conservative assumptions about assessment growth. Even so, it found a much larger overall economic development with LRT than without it.
Distribution of new taxable assessment without LRT and with LRT (Image Credit: Canadian Urban Institute)
original plan included East Gate.
Actually, the original plan provided multiple options for the Province to fund, including a phased approach with the first phase ending at Queenston Traffic Circle. Whitehead voted to submit this request to the province, and he also voted to accept the funding when the province responded.
It is a destination location and links nicely with the blast network and the mountain.
The BLAST network that Council just voted to delay for at least a year? That BLAST network?
Also, Whitehead is sucking and blowing at the same time here. He's complaining that LRT is too expensive and lacks ridership, and also complaining that it should be longer. If it did extend to Eastgate, it would be even more expensive to operate.
It provides opportunity for park and ride. (This is material to the success of the LRT corridor. Not an add on to be considered at a future date.
There is very little evidence that park-and-ride is essential for successful LRT. What is essential is a robust local transit service that links effectively into the system, which Council just voted to delay.
Successful LRTS go from destination to destination.
And of course the B-Line LRT corridor is a "train to nowhere", as Whitehead recently told the Province on TVO's The Agenda With Steve Paiken, and then attacked a resident for calling him out on it. Inspiring leadership there.
The billion Dollars is debt financed at a cost of approximately 40 million annually for thirty years for this project.
The Province is going to finance the money no matter what. If they don't finance it for investment in Hamilton, they will finance it for investment in another city whose Council does not have their heads up their asses.
Hamiltonians who pay provincial tax will help fund rapid transit elsewhere but not in Hamilton.
Only one tax payer
NO. If we are talking about municipal public spending, there are 235,000 taxpayers. If we're talking about provincial public spending, there are 7 million taxpayers.
Would you rather have to pay 1/235,000 of a bill or 1/7,000,000 of a bill?
Loss parking meter revenue and higher corridor maintenance is 8.2 million dollars is an annual financial impact.
Now he is literally nickel-and-diming a billion dollar project.
Much of the corridor maintenance cost is money the city already spends to maintain the corridor today, and lost parking meter revenue will be more than offset by new tax assessments in publicly owned lots that are sold and developed.
Plan 22 trains 4- 6 minute headway.
No. The plan is for 12 trains, eventually adding trains as ridership increases.
Original city staff report. Pegged the Operational and Maintenance cost at between 14-16 million dollars.
According to Paul Johnson, the operating and maintenance cost will be similar to Waterloo ION LRT, which is $9 million for an 18 km line.
Revisions of plan could have a total annual financial impact to taxpayers close to twenty million dollars.
This number is pure FUD.
Rider ship in Hamilton has dropped by 430,000 this year and has dropped in the last three years. Rider ship is dropping on public transit across North America
Ridership has declined slightly in many North American public transit systems in the past year - except in cities with LRT systems, which are growing in ridership.
Hamilton's transit ridership dropped last year in large part because Council imposed a punitive 18% fare increase over just two years with hardly any service improvements.
The service improvements were supposed to come this year with new public investment in transit, which Council voted to delay. Inspiring leadership there.
Uber, Ride Share and technological changes in mode of transportation all threaten future rider ship.
No one can predict exactly what new technology will do, but the most likely case is that it will continue the trend away from universal personal car ownership and toward a more multi-modal transportation buffet in which more people use more transit as part of their transportation mix. This will be especially true in cities with excellent, reliable, high-capacity rapid transit.
In any case, no matter who or what drives a car or how it is powered, it still takes up space on the street and there is a limit to how much vehicle traffic can be accommodated on Hamilton's east-west streets.
There is simply no way to accommodate significant growth in population density along the LRT corridor without making more efficient use of our scarce public right-of-way, i.e. rapid transit. This is why the LRT traffic modelling found that overall congestion will get worse without LRT than with it.
LRT is not dynamic or adaptive.
LRT is a fixed investment, high capacity and reliable, which is why it acts as a magnet for private investment in more people living and working along the line.
Once self-diving vehicles are ready for mainstream use (in maybe 10-15 years), it will be possible to purchase new self-driving LRT vehicles or retrofit the existing ones.
Vancouver has had self-driving LRT vehicles on their Skytrain system since 1986, running on a separated right-of-way. Incidentally, Vancouver's system is the same system Hamilton could have had, but Council in its infinite wisdom voted in 1981 to turn the Provincial funding down and reject the new rapid transit system.
I have only touched the service and did not want to overwhelm you with even more risks.
And by "risks" he means pure FUD.
I have a responsibility to ensure we make the right choices. I do not have all the answers nor to I pretend to. I wish to enter a discussion eyes wide open.
All the more reason to submit the Environmental Project Report Amendment to the Province for review so the process can move forward and we can finish getting the answers we're still waiting for.
Dr Longo former Chair of a International Livable Cities Organization asked me to take him for a walk along King street. He asked me, when was Jackson Square built? I told him early seventies. He explained to me that it was thought to be a wonderful strategy in the early fifties by American planners as Urban Renewal Strategy. Early sixties they determined the strategy was a complete failure yet we built Jackson Square years later. His advice to me was not to gravitate and jump on bandwagons it is necessary for me to do my due dilegence an not take a leap of faith."
Yes, Council has a history of making bad choices after they have already been proven to be bad choices. Killing this LRT plan - AGAIN - would be yet another milestone in that long, stupid history of opportunity squandered on the altar of malicious parochialism and spite.
Shame on Whitehead for abusing his power and circulating this scaremongering nonsense. Ward 8 residents - and indeed residents across the entire city - deserve better leadership than Whitehead's opportunity-destroying antics.
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