Special Report: Light Rail

Ten Things Council Must Do Before Operating LRT

Council needs to demonstrate meaningfully that it values transit before the HSR can be entrusted to manage rapid transit.

By Dan Jelly
Published July 05, 2017

Ten things that Council needs to do before I will support the the recent proposal to have the HSR (i.e. Council) operate and maintain Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) system:

1) Reinvest the decade-plus worth of Federal gas tax dollars that were used on other projects back into the HSR. If the amount of money we get is dependent on transit ridership, the money should be spent on improving transit ridership. The HSR has been short-funded by many tens of millions of dollars to date.

2) Un-suspend the Ten-Year Transit Strategy. Council were already behind when they started and then they pulled the plug.

3) End Area Rating - There are people who pay $250 on their annual tax bill for transit living about 100 feet from people who pay only $65 for the same service. Some others pay nothing at all, even though they also benefit indirectly. There needs to be a fair way to make this work.

4) Enact policy that requires Council to implement new transit routes or improvements any time new trip generators are approved (i.e. new grocery stores, business parks, schools, etc).

Council acts stunned/indignant when people demand that transit change with new land uses. The supermarket they built on Dundurn in 1986 should be getting proper transit any day now ... right? I'm sure the people in Kirkendall would like access. (h/t to Jason Allen for reminding me of this one.)

5) Stop it with the drastically reduced service during summer holidays. Canada Day was a giant fiasco. They added extra shuttles to the harbour, anticipating huge demand, without adding service to give people options at the other end. Tall Ships got gold-plated service (which clogged traffic), while It's Your Festival got the shaft, as 60 foot buses were pulled off routes that serve Gage so they could serve Tall Ships. Major fail.

6) Recognize that people like to leave their house on evenings and weekends. The ban on Sunday shopping ended in 1990. Somebody should inform the HSR.

7) Run a bus to the Hamilton International Airport on weekends. You know, when people often fly.

8) Stop pretending all activity stops at McMaster and surrounding neighbourhoods during the summer months. There are actually still people living in Ainslie Wood. Getting to the opposite side of campus shouldn't be like planning a voyage from Spain to India in 1492.

9) Hire more than one person to do social media, particularly on weekends and outside the hours of 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM. What is this, 1995?

10) Offer to pay 30 percent of the capital cost of LRT like other cities have. They want to operate the LRT but not pay for it? That's galling. They want to be seen as a city that values transit? They should start acting like one.

Dan Jelly is a life-long resident of downtown Hamilton and occasional blogger. You can visit his website.

15 Comments

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By kevinlove (registered) | Posted July 05, 2017 at 12:36:07

I have a #11: Convert to something useful the City staff and councillors car parking at City Hall and other City facilities. I would be willing to bet that when staff and councillors are using the HSR and cycling facilities that they will miraculously undergo a sudden and remarkable improvement.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 05, 2017 at 12:57:16 in reply to Comment 121691

In software development, this is called eating your own dogfood. At Microsoft, which is notable for its extreme commitment to this principle, the Windows NT operating system was actually developed on computers that were themselves running Windows NT. You can imagine the incentive the developers had to make the system work better.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 05, 2017 at 16:18:26 in reply to Comment 121694

In advertising it is called a Dog's Breakfast. This LRT is definitely a dog's breakfast and it hasn't even started construction. What will happen next to this project. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.ph...

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted July 06, 2017 at 19:17:17

Change #3 into #1 nothing can happen until area rating ends. Next, make it a matter of civic policy that all gas tax money must be spent on transit unless, there is an emergency situation. Which is how it is done most Ontario cities. Do not bother with the old 10 year transit strategy it was hopeless and far far removed from a real functional operational plan. Just a list of whishes and would like to have's, designed to make people and other governments think they gave a dam about transit. A real transit growth strategy has goals and concepts that would address and improve conditions in points 4 through 8. #9 is a staffing issue. Now #10, as a resident of Ottawa, a city that is putting $2.2 Billion of our own cash into our $5.8 Billion LRT plan, including both Stage 1&2, it is a really nice sentiment. This however doesn't include the $400-500 Million we will be spending on new BRT rights of way by 2031. However, if you can get the cash for free don't be stupid, take it!

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2017 at 15:24:02

Now the lawyers are seeing a cash cow. http://bayobserver.ca/pushing-back-again...

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 12, 2017 at 18:14:11

OMG Fred got his job at CUI because his squash buddy Terry Cooke was the Chairman.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 12, 2017 at 18:19:31

This is hopeful. I'm writing a letter to council on behalf of BRT. Fred and Sam only want rail because they will have to rip out the sewers and replace with brand new.

With the same money as a dinky Thomas the Train LRT we could have a BLAST BRT network or at least close to it. A Mountain connection. Since most of those government workers downtown live on the mountain and want nothing to do with downtown.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted July 12, 2017 at 19:53:46 in reply to Comment 121724

But you claim not even to live in Hamilton any more ... why are you so vindictive and angry? Can you explain why BRT is so much better than LRT (proper BRT costs one third to one half of LRT, the stops aren't any closer, it's more expensive to operate, not scalable as ridership grows and attracts less investment ... and it takes just as much space from cars)?

You've posted five times today without contributing anything but insults and bile.

You wrote dozens of articles for Raise the Hammer between 2004 and 2011 that contributed something positive and thoughtful to the discussion about how the city is developing and the challenges it faces. Now all you want to do is attack and insult. What happened?

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2017-07-12 20:07:07

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 12, 2017 at 20:06:41 in reply to Comment 121729

Glad you're counting. Make sure no one posts a counter position or else it is 'vindictive and bile'... typical lefty. I'm a property owner in Hamilton. Live in Buffalo. I don't need to live in Hamilton to be a stakeholder. Yeah I'm a little ticked off at trying to fit a square peg LRT in a round hole...just because.

Comment edited by TreyS on 2017-07-12 20:07:53

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted July 12, 2017 at 20:13:38 in reply to Comment 121730

Do you even read your posts? Replete with references to 'snowflakes' and unjustified claims. It's your attitude that's the problem, not your position or (lack of) arguments.

What is it with the 'lefty' put down? You don't even know my politics ... apart from supporting LRT and complete streets, which are hardly 'left wing' issues. I guess left wing is just a generic put down as far as you're concerned.

'Just because' seems to about sum up your attitude and level of debate these days.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2017-07-12 20:14:37

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 12, 2017 at 22:12:43 in reply to Comment 121731

I apologize to everyone. Just a little disappointed with the lack of discourse on RTH now and how any (not just me) with a different view with the majority on here are treated...this minority just goes away. And the readership and authors have no become so insular which I don't think the editors of this site wanted to happen. It started with some very divisive issues no doubt and how they are treated by and with the members of council's lack of vision and leadership for decades, the RHVP, the Casino, the City Hall marble, the Stadium and now LRT. It's very frustrating to watch.

For the record I was for and still am for LRT, but it should be on Main (IMO, it just seemed like a no-brainer choice) that way another bridge over the 403 isn't needed and the money could go to realigning the off ramps and finally making Main St two-way. The way 403 is aligned now seems to be the sticking point with making Main two-way, and not even discussed because the City can't control the 403, but finally you have Metrolynx being a facilitator between the City and Province, and it doesn't seem to be a going well. Instead it's jammed down King Street, wiping out sections of the streetwall for stations, and eliminating busses. It's a mess and frustrating, and obviously that frustration is coming through. Some just want LRT so bad that they're ignoring some obvious problems. For this I am sorry, I am done.

Comment edited by TreyS on 2017-07-12 22:20:36

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted July 13, 2017 at 06:30:27 in reply to Comment 121733

Thanks, Trey, for explaining your frustration and engaging positively again. I appreciate it. It would be great if you would start writing articles again to develop your ideas more fully.

Reasonable people can disagree on whether LRT should be on Main or King, but I think LRT can be a success with either alignment. But I do think it is too late at this stage to revisit this decision. I would also have supported LRT on Main.

One of the major arguments for not using Main is that it would be better for maintaining motor vehicle traffic flow (since Main has more lanes and no pinch points). Other arguments in favour of King are that Main connects directly to the escarpment accesses, there are no arterials south of Main as alternate routes, and there is more potential for economic uplift along the King route.

From what I saw on the RTCAC, 2-way Main conversion was rejected out of hand by staff simply because it would be too politically controversial, even though the 2010 Metrolinx BCA recommended it. To this day Metrolinx and the City's Rapid Transit team have been effectively forbidden from even considering two-way conversion of Main because it is too politically controversial. This is not helping, since staff should be free to look at all alternatives. It makes sense to convert Main to make provide more westbound lanes, especially during the construction.

Local bus service will continue along the Main-King route and we don't actually know yet how much street wall will be affected (there is a lists of properties that may need to be expropriated, but in many cases this is just a sliver and doesn't affect a building structure).

The City (i.e. Council) should be working with the Province to identify and solve problems optimally rather than stoking controversies and constantly revisiting their decision to pursue LRT each time there is a big or small decision point.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2017-07-13 06:32:04

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 14, 2017 at 01:27:23

Kev sorry for the rants. You got your shit obviously. It is frustrating to see Hamilton always go sideways. As a property owner in Hamilton and living in Metro Buffalo, I think Hamilton can learn from the maniac madness that is happening in Chatt County, living in Williamsville, it is like looking at Locke Hamilton via Elmwood Buffalo.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted July 14, 2017 at 09:44:19 in reply to Comment 121736

It would be really interesting to hear about what's happening in Buffalo (I don't know much about the city except that it lost about half its population from the 1950s to 2000s but is attempting a revival, and its got a great art gallery, Albright-Knox). Would you be willing to write something about it?

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted July 14, 2017 at 11:19:39 in reply to Comment 121737

Get a room guys, geez...

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