Comment 121780

By Haveacow (registered) | Posted July 29, 2017 at 19:52:52 in reply to Comment 121768

As far as Hamilton is concerned, I don't see the issue at its most fundamental form as a issue of funding. Funding or lack of funding is merely a symptom of the real issues. The people who control Hamilton's council don't see transit as a necessary thing but as a way to transport old and poor people. At their core the people who form the majority of Hamilton council still look at public transit as a service for people who don't, won't or can't drive. This is combined with a view that any service that doesn't try to make profit is something that needs to be limited, to save precious tax payers dollars.

Don't get me wrong, having a council that is making sure city funding is not fundamentally wasted is a good thing but, the focus that every service should be profitable or should attempt to e run like a business is not only short sighted but fundamentally flawed, especially when dealing government services. Lastly, is the fractured nature of support on issues between urban and suburban members of council as well as the fractured nature of support between rural vs. city issues.

These fundamental issues or basic vision issues of government services is political(left vs. right), age related (old vs. young and their differences in outlook around what a city is) and maintaining vs. changing (ability to accept new ideas and conditions or managing and keeping everything running well but not fundamentally changing how things are done).

The majority of council's lack of interest on changing how transit is funded (choosing to end or not end area rating) is an outgrowth of these fundamental views of how things like transit are seen as to properly function.

Large versus small transit operating organizations, large scale versus small scale organizations isn't really the problem. Both can be both good or bad I have seen great versions of both and I have seen bad examples as well. Unfortunately bad seems to outnumber good most often. The real issue is how the organization functions inside the regulatory environment it must operate in. Considering how its funded and the many hurdles its own council puts in front of it, the H.S.R. is actually pretty effective. When you break down the measures of performance on a per capita or per hour basis, the HSR does fairly well against much better funded agencies in Ontario.

The long term problem of the H.S.R. is not one of LRT or no LRT or even rapid transit of some kind versus no rapid transit. Its the continual lack of vision in Hamilton's Council and its senior level of government.

For example, the TTC in Toronto has many rapid transit projects on the go and in the planning stages but as someone who has closely watched the TTC for a long time (the last 30-35 years) its been very encouraging for the last 15 or so. Have they made operational errors, oh yes some big ones even. But they have had an enormous growth in ridership especially in the last 11-12 years, without expanding their rapid transit mileage at all. They did this by fundamentally changing the focus and scope of their service. They first instituted a goal of increasing ridership by 150 million passengers per year versus their 2002 numbers. Then realized how to do this without spending billions on new rapid transit lines. 1. They could only increase ridership in the Monday-Friday peak periods by building rapid new transit lines, the province is willing to help but it has taken a lot time and a lot of money. They knew this going in that, it would be 2 decades of constant catch up building before ridership in the peak periods could build enough new capacity that would start seeing increases in ridership. 2. They made the realization that not everyone works 9-5 anymore in fact, most don't work 9-5 anymore. So provide ever increasing levels of service during mid day and evening hours during the week, especially in places that are areas where very large numbers of people are working shiftwork (business parks, entertainment districts, retail concentrations and factories). Maintaining and increasing services to Universities and Community Colleges goes without saying. 3. Weekends are also major work periods and very important non work days for getting things done outside of work. Imagine my surprise when I could take a Scarborough Rocket Express Bus (while visiting my parents) all day or more importantly, when I really needed to on a Saturday or Sunday morning. 4. They realized this would put an extreme stress on the existing bus/streetcar fleet and its maintenance schedule. This is why so many of Toronto's new rapid transit lines are line haul LRT lines on single route runs. The Finch West LRT, Sheppard East LRT, The Eglinton Ave. Crosstown and its east and west extensions. The planned Jane LRT and Don Mills LRT, the Spadina Subway Extension to York University (not beyond it) and the extension of the Yonge Subway into York Region are all on lines where there are heavy bus concentrations. These new rapid transit lines would not only move a lot more people but would relieve the TTC from most of its heaviest used bus routes thus, easing the strain on the existing fleet and just maybe eventually being the cause to need fewer buses instead of more, further lowering operating costs. The Downtown Relief Line not only relieves subway congestion but reduces the stress on 2 key areas of the streetcar network.

It was Rob Ford and his attempt to build no rapid transit at all, through his subway only construction projects because they didn't interfere with traffic. He claimed it was subways not LRT, being what people really wanted. This would force his vision of a much more spending constrained city just as, the city really needed to spend more not less. The now famous tactic that Trump also used by scaring and isolating large voting blocks, then giving sometimes almost absurd targets for those scared voters to blame worked well.

Even with Ford, the TTC has been able to massively increase transit ridership over the last decade and a half without spending on rapid transit by looking at where and when there was actual demand for service. The ridership numbers at the TTC are still tech technically going up but it has appeared that the ridership increases are now flattening out. They haven't gone down but they are flattening out!

In comparison, Hamilton's Plan for the H.S.R. that was shopped around a few years ago by the anti-LRT people on council for $300 Million more in provincial funding was a poorly coordinated and thought out plan to improve surface transit. The fact that the city wasn't going to even try to remotely fund this by actually spending more on transit shows how hollow the cries of certain politicians are when they want more H.S.R. service. Let alone dealing with the issue around area rating of transit taxes throughout Hamilton.

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