Comment 103411

By jayrobb (registered) | Posted July 23, 2014 at 13:28:54

The conversation about rapid transit in Hamilton starts with Friday's meeting. Let's not blow the meeting and derail the conversation by trying to score points, soundbites and votes.

We need to stay the Ambitious City and not become the High Maintenance City.

Demanding the province keep its promise is one approach.

Or we could use Friday's meeting to get a better handle on the Province's transit priorities and identify where there's alignment with Hamilton's priorities.

The 2014 Provincial budget offers some clues. The Province is investing $15B over 10 years for GTHA transit projects that address congestion and improve mobility throughout the region (we may want to stop talking about excess lane capacity and posting pics on social media of empty downtown streets).

The budget speech made specific mention of investing in GTHA projects that "help people get to work, home and school more quickly and safely". So let's highlight where Hamilton's plans align with that objective.

Hamilton rapid transit is one of nearly a dozen priorities in the GTHA and more could be added to that list. Expansion toward two-way, all-day GO transit rail service got special mention as a priority of the Province. GO Transit improvements on all corridors would include additional track, grade separations, improved signalling, station improvements and additional fleet. The Province is also looking at a proposal to electrify the GO rail system to deliver regional express rail service at intervals as frequent as 15 minutes.

So how does Hamilton's transit plans tie into the Province's plans for GO Transit? How could investing in Hamilton rapid transit deliver more riders / commuters and revenues for GO Transit? The Rapid Ready report mentioned a GO Station in Stoney Creek. Where are we at on that file?

Anyone expecting Friday's meeting to end with an $800M grip and grin cheque presentation will likely be disappointed. But Friday's meeting can be the start of a conversation and a collaboration that meets the needs of both the Province and our city. And we're going to need the Province's help on other projects beyond transit during the next four years.

Please don't blow it.

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