Councillors will consider a 'rapid ready' report endorsing Hamilton's light rail transit plan, as well as an implementation plan for a self-sustaining bike share program.
By Ryan McGreal
Published February 20, 2013
Councillors will attend a general issues committee (GIC) meeting next Monday, February 25, 9:30 AM with a special focus on transit and transportation.
Staff will present two reports:
The Rapid Ready report, prepared by Transit director Don Hull and his team, runs 263 pages and makes an impressive case for the City's light rail transit (LRT) plan for the east-west B-Line.
In brief, the report recommends submitting Hamilton's LRT plan to Metrolinx on the basis of a strong case for net benefits to the city, including: achieving Council's goal of doubling transit ridership, catalyzing new private investment along the transit corridor, increasing net revenues to the city, improving air quality and public health, and realizing the city's obligations under Places to Grow.
Getting "rapid ready" entails: broad public engagement to "elevate the role of public transportation", policies to "protect stable urban neighbourhoods and identify opportunities for intensification and redevelopment", and developing a "multi-modal 'active transportation' network" and reconfigured transit system that will support and anchor the LRT line.
The summary concludes: "should Hamilton not implement LRT there are a number of potential significant benefits and opportunities that could be lost."
RTH will publish a more thorough review of the report before Monday's meeting. RTH readers can help by studying the report and noting important points in the comments.
Not to be overshadowed by the LRT report, Councillors will also consider an implementation plan for a proposed public bike share system, prepared by transportation project manager Peter Topalovic.
It presents a business case and comparative data from other cities with successful bike shares to recommend a $1.6 million capital project. It will install 300 vehicles in 35 stations between West Hamilton and the downtown that will "integrate seamlessly" with transit, LRT and car share.
The catchment area reaches over 53,000 residents, plus another 30,000 McMaster students and staff and many area employees.
The capital cost will be funded through an existing Metrolinx "Quick Wins" fund. With the capital cost covered, the operation will be self-sustaining with 3,000 annual subscriptions plus 0.5 non-subscribed trips per station.
Hamilton's model would be a "4th generation" bike share system, like the Bixi model, which incorporates lessons learned from cities that already operate bike shares. Those lessons include minimizing losses due to theft and vandalism by requiring credit card access and tracking location of bikes with GPS.
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