Comment 104539

By BobAceti (registered) | Posted September 17, 2014 at 00:08:46 in reply to Comment 104531

The density of Ward 2 is 24 persons per acre. The density of the lower city core – Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, is 10 persons per acre. The density of the core mountain community – Wards 6, 7, 8 and 9, is also 10 persons per acre. Source: City of Hamilton, http://goo.gl/A19EH1

The Canadian Urban Institute’s “projected” additional $81.6-million to Hamilton city coffers in taxes and fees over 15 years is exaggerated as a benefit from constructing a $1 Billion LRT. The growth in city tax revenues alone – excluding school “fees” collected in real estate tax bills, for the 13 years between 2001 ($478.4 Million) and 2013 ($764.7 Million) was over $286 Million.

HSR’s 2014 projected revenues of $49 Million will fall short of the expected $94 Million in expected 2014 expenses, leaving an expected 2014 operating deficit of $ 45 Million without the LRT. Constructing and paying for a $1 Billion LRT in the lower city will increase the financial burden without measurably improving services as the density in the lower city, other than Ward 2, remains slightly below 10 persons per acre (on average) along the proposed LRT Route - see Berkeley study cited below.

Sources: City of Hamilton Financial Reports http://goo.gl/gQDGVq and HSR 2010 Operational Review (ES9) http://goo.gl/XvImZr

Other empirical LRT/Urban Transit studies from American transit institutes offer additional information that would assist decision-makers to make informed decisions on Hamilton’s proposed LRT:

“This paper investigates the relationship between transit and urban densities in the United States from multiple perspectives. While empirical evidence suggests that recent-generation rail investments in the U.S. have in many instances conferred net social benefits, considerable skepticism remains, particularly among the more vocal critics of American transit policy. All sides agree that increasing urban densities will place public transit on firmer financial footing. Our analysis suggests that light-rail systems need around 30 people per gross acre …”

Source: INSTITUTE OF TRANSPORTATION STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, Urban Densities and Transit: A Multi-dimensional Perspective - Robert Cervero and Erick Guerra, WORKING PAPER - UCB-ITS-VWP-2011-6 http://goo.gl/rXUnDV

I asked: “But what’s the big picture question? Is bus or train rapid transit a solution or panacea to Hamilton’s economic status? Or, perhaps, a placebo?”

And you replied: “You're posing a false alternative. LRT is a necessary part of a comprehensive solution to Hamilton's long-term economic sustainability. No one is claiming it will be a magic bullet all by itself.”

I disagree that my rhetorical question presents a false alternative. The bus alternative was on the table for discussion. It is not a false alternative. It is the best option. The proponents of the LRT have been spreading a belief based on faith in consultants’ reports that recommend the LRT to improve Hamilton’s economic status. If we are not considering the Bus option or LRT to improve Hamilton’s economic growth prospects why are we even considering it?

I recommend that City Council does not get hood-winked by consultants’ reports and those with vested interests in big money public works projects with high risk and likely higher costs than otherwise reported. In the alternative, I recommend that Council seek a budget commitment from the Minister of Transport to underwrite a more reasonable Bus solution at less cost and the Minister of Urban Affairs to fund a call for RFP’s from global urban planners to assist our City Council and city staff to devise a strategic plan and urban revitalization plan to raise Hamilton’s prospects in the 21st century.

The LRT issue is placing the cart before the horse. We need a smart strategic and urban-industrial revitalization plan before we commence significant fixed rail transit projects and commit budget dollars targeting only the lower city. And it is distracting attention away from the important business that Council needs to accomplish the next 4 years.

The Bus alternative is a viable interim and possibly a better long-term alternative to meet the needs of New Hamilton this century.

Comment edited by BobAceti on 2014-09-17 00:28:09

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