We have been ready for a funding commitment since early 2013. The time for confusing and delaying the issue is over.
By Ryan McGreal
Published July 09, 2014
I was a bit surprised to read in today's Spectator column by Andrew Dreschel that Ted McMeekin, Liberal MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and a minister in Premier Kathleen Wynne's new cabinet, doesn't think Hamilton knows where the B-Line light rail transit (LRT) tracks will run.
During the election, Premier Kathleen Wynne and [former Transport Minister Glen] Murray both promised 100 per cent funding, but Wynne also muddied the waters by suggesting the province still needs to hear what Hamilton's transit priorities are.
That mixed message worried LRT supporters, perhaps with good reason. McMeekin says the blunt conversation that needs to take place goes well beyond council's resolution for 100 per cent funding.
"It's one thing to write a report and pass a resolution, unanimously or otherwise, and send it on. But when you're talking upwards to $1 billion, you need to have detailed discussions about the business plan. If you want to do LRT, where are the tracks going to run? Who's acquiring property? How's it part of a comprehensive scheme? The whole bit."
The "comprehensive scheme" McMeekin is looking for is the city's Rapid Ready LRT plan, which includes a completed class environmental assessment and 30 percent engineering and detailed design work - exactly as the Province requested of us.
B-Line LRT route map
Rapid Ready is a comprehensive 263-page document that defines and specifies Hamilton's LRT plan to a high level of detail, including a detailed land use study to ensure maximum economic uplift and a conservative analysis of tangible and intangible economic, environmental and social benefits.
Distribution of new taxable assessment with LRT and without LRT (Source: Canadian Urban Institute)
Rapid Ready also reminds us that we already have high enough ridership on the B-Line to support LRT service on opening day.
B-Line LRT boardings per kilometre compared to other North American cities with LRT
Again, we have already completed 30 percent engineering and detailed design on the line. If Minister McMeekin wants to know where the tracks will run, here are a few examples from the city's routing design work:
B-Line LRT typical cross-sections
B-Line alignment through Dundurn
B-Line alignment through Gore Park
B-Line alignment through Scott Park/Gage
Minister McMeekin claiming we need to do the detailed design work we've already done is eerily similar to his claim in 2011 that the city needed to complete a "feasibility study" on LRT - three years after the city had already completed its extensive two-part feasibility study and was far along in its actual planning and design work.
The time for confusing and delaying the issue is over. We have been ready for a funding commitment since early 2013.
Before the provincial election, the Liberals could claim that their status as a minority government meant they could not easily commit to capital funding for Hamilton's LRT.
Now that they have a majority government and Premier Wynne just repeated her party's promise of full capital funding for Hamilton's rapid transit plan, there is no excuse not to get on with it.
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