Ian Dunlop of Strategic Interchange and the University of Waterloo has just prepared a rapid transit cost-benefit analysis [PDF] for Hamilton's north-south A-Line. The report is excellent and deserves a full article, but in the meantime, I want to highlight this quote:
Due to the high existing ridership on the B-Line, Hamilton will gain substantial benefits from building an LRT along this route as soon as possible, with a minimum of 75% of the capital cost funding from Metrolinx. For A-Line, due to the much lower ridership, a phased approach for LRT is more appropriate.
I'm pleased to see this statement in the report right off the top. LRT would be destined to fail if we did the A-line first. Hardly anyone lives within walking distance of it and our airport is at best an economic long shot.
We really need to stay on the city about keeping the B-Line as the top priority. Rumblings keep coming out of City Hall indicating that the Mayor would like to build an A-Line first, on the grounds that it would connect to the airport and Glanbrook Business Park, while the B-Line already has good bus service.
Anyone who thinks that should try waiting for a bus along the B-line. My wife now drives to appointments at McMaster and pays for parking after missing a couple of appointments while being passed by full bus after bus.
The city's 2009 HSR Operational Review [PDF] identified crowding and drive-bys during peak use as significant issues on the city's busy east-west routes.
LRT is the right long-term investment for Hamilton, and the east-west B-Line is the best route for the first leg. It's got the density, the built form, the ridership and the redevelopment potential to make LRT successful.
We can't stand by and let misguided leaders blow this opportunity by throwing out the work we've already done and starting from scratch on a much worse alternative.
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