We can - and should - be ramping up the discussion about LRT while also pursuing the city-wide transit improvements that staff already identified and Council approved (in principle) when it approved the Rapid Ready plan.
By Ryan McGreal
Published January 05, 2015
One of the recurring themes we have noticed in our coverage of the city's light rail transit (LRT) debate has ben the generally dismal quality of debate on the anti-LRT side.
There may be some good arguments against building LRT in Hamilton, but we have yet to hear them. Instead, we are subjected to a parade of claims that are misleading, disingenuous, irrational or just factually wrong.
A Spectator op-ed by LRT skeptic M. Adrian Brassington tries to rise above the fray through the use of hand-wavy false equivalence.
During the [recent election] campaign, people from both camps, for and against LRT, ignored the underlying issue: We have some serious transit issues that desperately need to be acknowledged, discussed and then addressed.
This is straight-up nonsense. From the beginning, LRT supporters have been among the loudest, most consistent voices calling for higher transit funding and system-wide transit improvement, not to mention improving options for active transportation.
The City's Council-approved Rapid Ready LRT Plan itself places LRT in the context of a comprehensive approach to transit improvement that envisions both dedicated rapid transit lines and improved local service city-wide.
Sean Burak, who was a founding member of Hamilton Light Rail, has been calling on Council either to start implementing the comprehensive transit improvements it approved in Rapid Ready or else start articulating an alternate vision for transit.
Meanwhile, the people who really have been neglecting the current state of the HSR are the same people who oppose LRT, and for the same reasons: making Hamilton a more inclusive, more multi-modal city is not a priority for them.
They're the people saying we should reconsider bus rapid transit (BRT) instead of LRT, while simultaneously conflating BRT with the current express bus service on the B-Line - and opposing any improvements to it.
They're the people saying we shouldn't invest more in lower-city transit as long as mountain and suburban transit are inadequate, while simultaneously opposed to investing more in mountain and suburban transit.
It's a common pattern which turns up in many issues related to lower city investment. For example, we can't convert downtown streets to two-way, even though they were approved back in 2001, because some Councillors on the mountain just noticed that some of their streets don't have sidewalks.
In Hamilton, the interests who have been holding back our progress for decades point to the lack of past progress as an excuse not to make progress today or tomorrow. It's a cynical and pernicious tactic, and Brassington misses it completely in his attempt to scramble to some kind of argumentative higher ground.
Brassington also accuses LRT supporters of claiming that LRT is some kind of magic bullet:
Pro-LRTers march in lockstep, evangelizing with fists thrown into the air, fists crammed with studies and facts and profiles of cities where LRT has brought them rainbows and unicorns and economic development that dreams are made on.
The irony here is that Brassington is engaging in exactly the kind of over-the-top hyperbole he wrongly ascribes to LRT supporters. As I wrote in September:
No one is seriously claiming that LRT by itself is a "magic bullet" that will single-handedly solve Hamilton's problems. Most supporters rightly regard LRT as a necessary component of a comprehensive strategy to set this city up for the kind of long-term transformative change that other cities across North America and around the world have already embraced and experienced.
That is what we have been arguing all along, but it serves the interests of LRT opponents to muddy the waters with strawman attacks.
Incidentally, I don't know whether Brassingon supports or opposes LRT - and apparently he doesn't know either, as he stated in a July 2014 op-ed: "Let's get this out of the way: I'm neither for nor against LRT." (You can read a response by Nicholas Kevlahan.)
Instead, Brassington is trying to position himself against what he considers to be pointless discussion of LRT, a position for which he has advocated through ... multiple LRT discussion pieces.
I'm willing to bet that if you were to poll a thousand of [transit riders] - you know, generate "evidence-based reasoning" - you'd find that a reduction in transit times, one of the touted benefits of an LRT-based system, isn't what they most want.
They're not interested in the hoped-for economic benefits of LRT.
They don't care about chopping six minutes off an Eastgate to Mac trip.
Here's the thing: "evidence-based reasoning" does not mean making a series of guesses about what a group of people might say if they were asked.
Actual evidence-based reasoning is precisely the approach that most LRT advocates have been taking - building the argument for LRT investment from a foundation of real published studies and reports citing actual data.
I'm surprised that the same person who recently championed getting more people to participate in civic issues through a network of town hall meetings now imagines he knows exactly what our transit users want and feels confident speaking for them.
Again, contrast the unprecedented broad public engagement undertaken by the City as part of its LRT planning process, which followed and built on the volunteer engagement process undertaken by Hamilton Light Rail.
Literally thousands of Hamiltonians, including regular transit users, were consulted. Their feedback was incorporated into the Rapid Ready report, which also included solid research into rapid transit investment, including both quality of service/ridership impacts and transit-oriented development implications.
The City's plan was reviewed by the Province in a Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis and has been independently assessed by several transportaton and urban planning researchers.
If we need more evidence, then the answer is to engage still further, not to fall silent. It is certainly not to pigeonhole entire groups of people and assume insultingly that we know what they do and what they want.
Regardless of Brassington's intentions - and for what it's worth, I assume he means well - the practical result of his op-ed is to stir yet more silt into the already-clouded waters of this debate.
For the past four years, the LRT discussion has been overshadowed by a relentless stream of nonsense claims spewed by people who ought to know better - particularly former mayor Bob Bratina, who pledged during his 2010 election campaign to "work with all levels of government to bring light rail transit to Hamilton."
The Spectator, in its attempt to present a "balanced" view on a big issue, has published a spate of anti-LRT op-eds all plagued by gross misinformation, fearmongering, bad reasoning and false claims.
The City itself has been silent through it all, passively allowing the stream of hogwash to pass unchallenged into the public record.
Amazingly, despite all this, LRT in Hamilton is still not dead. A Forum Research survey taken in September found that more Hamiltonians support rapid transit than oppose it, despite all the malarkey. That in itself is a testament to the enduring power of a sound idea.
Now imagine what public support would look like after a year or two of honest public engagement from civic leaders acting in good faith!
What we need now is to revive the broad public discussion that Bratina derailed in early 2011 with his campaign of obstruction.
It is naive in the extreme to believe, as Brassington argues, that we shouldn't talk about LRT since we're waiting to see whether the Province will fund it. This ignores the fact that the Province is watching closely to see whether we will demand that they keep their funding commitment.
We can - and should - be ramping up this discussion about LRT while also pursuing the city-wide transit improvements that staff already identified and Council approved (in principle) when it unanimously approved Rapid Ready.
None of the things we need to do to improve transit in Hamilton will happen immediately - not the increase in buses that the B-Line clearly needs in the short term, nor the LRT investment that the B-Line clearly needs for a viable longer term solution.
The fact that some of the projects in Rapid Ready will take longer to complete than others is absolutely no reason not to get started. If anything, the size, complexity, scale and broad civic implications of our LRT plan should inspire a sense of urgency to get going as soon as possible so that we can shepherd this project to completion.
By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 16:36:43
Binary thinking (this or that, but never both and certainly never a third alternative) seems to be a common feature when discussing transportation issues.
By Wakeup (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 16:47:30
I was waiting for an answer to that Spec piece. Thanks for this Ryan. You know what is also not being talked about enough in this debate is the moral imperative given climate change. If the argument is to be taken to another level, the argument from climate change is enough. We ought to be doing everything we can to reduce carbon emmissions. Wildfires, acidic oceans, endangered species, etc. and all people still question the need for higher order transit? Damn shame.
By NewsFlash (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 11:35:02 in reply to Comment 107514
You don't win support with climate change. it's not 2006.
you win support by proving it makes money. rth and rapid ready has proven that over and over.
sorry. truth is people don't want to hear about climate change.
By Wakeup (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 17:07:25 in reply to Comment 107548
Well, if climate change is true, which it is, then its going to cost all of us a lot of money when the things begin to heat up sort of speak. That people don't want to hear it is just denial like the person with a drinking problem or cancer. In the end, the pollution we've caused is, has been, and will be coming back to bite, hard. Killer whales are going extinct people. Rhinos, elephants, tigers, etc. I don't want to be from the generation that killed all of these beautiful creatures because of heedlessness/denial. I don't want to be cursed by those that come after us for our selfishness.
By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 22:15:50 in reply to Comment 107582
Health-care costs in Hamilton to treat people poisoned by motor vehicle drivers is approximately $511 million per year. That includes the mortality costs for the 93 people poisoned and killed by motor vehicle operators every year in Hamilton.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 16:47:43
While we sit around year after year doing nothing to build a modern, convenient transportation system, here's what other cities are doing.
Note the number of LRT projects. Clearly these cities are nuts and obviously must have missed the Hamilton Spectator letters page.
Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-05 16:48:13
By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 16:58:45 in reply to Comment 107515
I'm sure the letters pages of newspapers in each of those cities are filled with very familiar entries in the anti-LRT vein. What is notable where projects are going ahead is that such letters do not dissuade the decision makers.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 17:11:23 in reply to Comment 107518
definitely. I was being facetious. It's the same in every city. Only one difference: those cities don't sit around on their duffs decade after decade doing nothing.
The city just released it's budget documents for 2014-2015. Shock of all shocks: no transit improvement money is included in the base budget. And so we continue. Sitting on our duffs.....
By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 16:56:35 in reply to Comment 107515
Take a close look at the map provided in the story. You may note that the Hurontario / Main LRT in Mississauga and Brampton is shown, along with a link to their project website. Absent from the map, any mention of a Hamilton LRT.
Unintentional comedy from authors unfamiliar.
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 16:50:47
Tough but fair critique, Ryan. Have to say I was thinking many of the same thoughts when I was reading Adrian's piece in The Spec. I think I was left most baffled by the suggestion that there is some realistic solution that is "going to provide [riders] what they need: timely, efficient, humane transit. NOW."
If there were some quick-fix to provide timely, efficient transit (NOW!), who wouldn't implement it (now)? Yet with all the kvetching about this 'need', there isn't a single, concrete suggestion to reduce ride-times. I don't think there are any magic bullets, probably because traffic and transit are ridiculously complex subjects, yet somehow the (complex, non-magical) set of recommendations laid out in transit plans like Rapid Ready are pushed to the wayside.
By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 17:05:48 in reply to Comment 107516
there isn't a single, concrete suggestion to reduce ride-times
Maybe its because Hamilton already has the lower-order solutions: an express route, high priority buses, high frequency service, even a bus lane. The next step is building major infrastructure, i.e. LRT
By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 17:18:05 in reply to Comment 107520
From every other city I've been to, there are a few hugely important pieces to this puzzle we are missing still: bus lanes city-wide, transit priority signals, more express routes, pre-boarding payment
Take all the right -turn car lanes along the busiest corridors around the city and convert them to bus-only lanes with stops and signal priority to jump ahead as soon as they are done picking up passengers.
Take simple quick wins for bus-only lanes and transit signals such as the 3rd SB lane on James from King to Hunter, and the 3rd NB lane on John from Jackson to King.
There's no reason the right curb lane on Main can't become a bus lane from Mac to the Delta next week.
Based on the city's own data regarding pass-bys, there appears to be a bigh demand for more express routes such as the B-line along the Barton corridor and to/from Limeridge Mall/Mohawk Collge/downtown. During rush hour when curb parking is restricted along large segments of Barton, have those lanes be bus-only lanes for a new express route.
And extend the new Limeridge-Mohawk-MacNab express route to McMaster University.
Finally, pre-boarding purchasing of tickets/tokens for the A-line and B-line so folks can exit/enter all doors.
Lots of simple to implement ideas that could be done in 2015-2016 if we cared enough too.
Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-05 17:18:43
By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 17:06:48 in reply to Comment 107522
Wait, you aren't supposed to be suggesting these things --- you are an LRT supporter!
By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 16:59:49
Wow, his position is unbelievable. When is it a good time to talk about a long-term, permanent investment in transit, if any such investment takes years to build?
By CoCo (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 18:13:52
Anyone know if the mayor/ councillors follow the articles and comments on RTH?
By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 18:33:54 in reply to Comment 107524
By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 18:49:24
If anyone wants a good laugh, here is the official corporate purpose statement for Hamilton's Transit division as taken right out of the city's just-released budget book:
"To implement an integrated transportation system which serves the entire city in an affordable, efficient, and accessible way, by reducing the need for automobile use and making it easy and attractive to utilize transit."
Why this is even in the budget book is a great question considering they have earmarked exactly zero dollars for transit improvements in the budget. Shocking, I know.
EDIT: some more budget book juice:
Employee expenses account for more than half of the entire HSR budget at 59 million. Vehicle related costs are just under 15 million. Total budget is 107 million.
So, why on earth are we not beating down the doors at Queens Park to demand LRT funding knowing that ONE Light Rail vehicle can carry 220 passengers and be operated by ONE driver.
To carry 220 people in buses would require 5.5 buses being operated by 5.5 operators, thus driving the employee costs even higher off the charts.
Furthermore, an LRT vehicle lasts 35 years. Buses last 12. So that's a total of 16.5 bus purchases over the lifespan of ONE LRT purchase to carry the same number of people at an employee expense that's 5.5x higher.
FINAL EDIT: for anyone as bored stiff as me, here is the link. Transit starts at page 139: http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/AF4F...
Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-05 18:58:28
By Megan (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 16:19:47 in reply to Comment 107527
On page 10 of the Budget document there is this comment:
"Note that the 10-year Local Transit Strategy has not been finalized and its financial implications are not included in this submission. Staff will present a separate report to Council during the first quarter of 2015 with details of the proposed enhancements."
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 16:30:08 in reply to Comment 107570
Yes, this is what they've been doing for years. It's been suggested over and over that they build in transit growth and improvements into the budget, the way they do with more roads and maintenance, but they refuse.
So, we get an embarrassing council discussion on how we can't afford to do much with transit and maybe we should raise fares since some of their constituents emailed them upset that transit riders are being subsidized by everyone else and so on....
They should earmark transit growth and improvements automatically into the budget, and then look at extra larger requests for bigger improvements or system upgrades as needed. This penny pinching approach towards one of the only budget areas that sees 50% of it's revenue come from user fees is ridiculous. The roads budget sees 0% covered by user fees and 100% covered by ALL taxpayers. Transit only has 50% covered by all taxpayers and the rest by users.
Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-06 16:31:46
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 17:33:33 in reply to Comment 107572
Hamilton is the only GTHA system with adult fare below $3, so our peers aren't making a fare freeze any easier.
In the plus column, gas prices are approaching a five year low, so operating costs should shift accordingly.
In the other column, the collapse of oil prices puts real pressure on a transit funding strategy as described in Ontario's 2014 Budget that intends to leverage fuel tax repeatedly (a larger share of proceeds from the existing provincial gasoline tax, redirecting revenues from the HST charged on gasoline and road diesel, and phased increases to aviation fuel tax all figure prominently).
Hoping for a mature and productive budget discussion that makes things better in this cycle and even better down the road.
By Megan (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 17:08:48 in reply to Comment 107572
Oh, I completely agree. I hope that the report actually gets to Council in Q1, and they have the foresight to approve it.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 18:30:47 in reply to Comment 107583
agreed. From what I've seen there is a plan to add 100 new buses to the fleet over the next 10 years. I'm hoping the majority will be artics. Currently we have 221 buses in the fleet, so having 321 within a decade would be fantastic IF we also adjust some routes and add new express routes as has been suggested here.
I'm not sure what else is in the 10-year plan other than the 100 new buses.
By Dewitt (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 21:42:43 in reply to Comment 107527
I'd participate in a pro-LRT rally at City Hall in a minute if anyone is organizing. No joke.
By Dewitt (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 21:43:53 in reply to Comment 107532
Or at Queens Park rather/ or both, whatever works.
By Hmmm (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 21:44:38 in reply to Comment 107533
Maybe a rally is what we need.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 23:02:41 in reply to Comment 107534
agreed. Some of these councillors only listen to the 7 people who phone them to complain about anything new. Let's get hundreds of people to demand city council actually start working for the betterment of the city.
By Dewitt (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 23:12:32 in reply to Comment 107537
Sign me up.
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 21:30:42 in reply to Comment 107527
"knowing that ONE Light Rail vehicle can carry 220 passengers and be operated by ONE driver."
Metrolinx's Benefits Cases have assumed that LRT vehicles have a capacity of 130 passengers per vehicle.
"To carry 220 people in buses would require 5.5 buses being operated by 5.5 operators, thus driving the employee costs even higher off the charts."
Or two 60' artics within comfortable standing capacity.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 22:58:26 in reply to Comment 107529
I'm not counting standing room. No good transit plan assumes sardine mode.
A full 8 cars from Siemens holds 540 people.
Many cities in N America use this size, capacity 220: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siemens_S70
EDIT: would require 3.5 artics to carry 220 people seated. 3.5 drivers, bus replacement every 12 years etc.....
Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-05 23:00:53
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 10:50:30 in reply to Comment 107536
Agreed that transit capacity-building with a view to seating all passengers is the ideal, and that LRT's lifecycle is a compelling bonus.
Siemens’ Avenio is sweet indeed, but Metrolinx’s chosen LRT technology appears to be Bombardier's Flexity Freedom, which comes in three or five module variants that can be linked in chains of up to 4 cars, for per-vehicle seating capacities of anywhere between 40 (assuming single three-module train) and 272 (assuming four five-module trains).
Not sure that it means anything but the LRV passenger capacity used in the Metrolinx Benefits Cases is close to the tri-module Flexity Freedom.
By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 11:19:58 in reply to Comment 107544
Note that Ottawa is using the Alstom Citadis in a two-car configuration which has a capacity of 600:
"2 car trains totaling 98 m (321 ft 6.3 in) with a capacity of 600 passengers. Train to be built in Hornell, NY and final assembly in Ottawa"
Although allowing for two-car trains would require longer platforms, it would allow very high capacities to be designed in from the beginning (e.g. up to 7200 per hour with 5 minute headway). Note that the next generation of the Toronto TTC subway cars carry up to 1374 passengers on 6 cars, so the Ottawa LRT will provide capacities almost half the latest subway cars at a small fraction of the cost.
Further, although Ottawa's vehicles will be built by Alstom in Hornell, NY the final assembly will be in Ottawa, helping the local economy. This local spinoff is another of the benefits Hamilton should expect from LRT.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 10:52:23 in reply to Comment 107546
The TO LRT trains will be joined together to carry 840 passengers at once. Base capacity is 280. Amazing savings in the sky-high 'employee expense' category.
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 14:52:35 in reply to Comment 107603
"Depending on demand, up to three will be linked together, for a total of 840 passengers per train."
This is the same asterisk that applies to the Ottawa 600-passenger Citadis. The default train carries around 280-300 passengers. In peak times, vehicles can be doubled (or, in Toronto, tripled). Artics on demand, essentially.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 11:52:46 in reply to Comment 107546
Great points. And as I pointed out from the budget docs, employee expenses are far and away the largest expenditure each year in the transit department. We'd be foolish to not be pushing for vehicles with large capacity like this that can be driven by one operator.
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 12:25:21 in reply to Comment 107551
Ottawa’s 60-meter Alstom Citadis Spirits will seat 145 at around $16.5M per LRV (including maintenance)
Waterloo’s 30-meter Flexity Freedoms will seat 56 at around $6.6M per LRV (exclusive of maintenance)
The City should absolutely be advocating for the best possible outcome, though as gift-horse recipient we may not be in the same position as Ottawa, whose council staked $900M of capital costs and is on the hook for cost overruns.
Driverless LRT technology could offer additional efficiencies.
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 12:52:36 in reply to Comment 107557
*60-meter Alstom Citadis Spirit is maxed out while 30-meter Flexity Freedom can be quadrupled.
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 13:48:19 in reply to Comment 107560
An April 2014 Alstom promo clip for Rideau Transit Group promotes Ottawa’s Citadis Spirit as being delivered in two iterations: a four-car, 48m model (AW2 capacity 340 passengers) and a five-car, 59m model (AW2 capacity 370 passengers, crush load around 480).
AW3 capacities for the 48m and 59m Spirits work out to be around 440 and 480 respectively.
By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 12:31:33 in reply to Comment 107557
Yes: driverless LRT will be coming very soon and that should be factored into the lower future operating costs of LRT.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 12:46:40 in reply to Comment 107558
But doesn't driverless need a completely separate track? Like a monorail? I can't see a driverless LRT crossing through the city on King with cars missing stop lights on through streets or swerving in front of the train with nobody driving to avoid collisions.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 06, 2015 at 16:43:15 in reply to Comment 107559
Driverless cars are coming, and those have to navigate parking lots and other horrifying things.
A driverless train seems comparatively simple. Use the same hardware but the only controls it needs are "stop" and "go".
By Brandon (registered) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 09:52:09 in reply to Comment 107574
Driverless cars can't manage rain, snow, parking lots or new traffic lights currently. They aren't going to be on the roads for consumers any time soon.
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 11:36:22 in reply to Comment 107546
Looking closer, the Metrolinx contract with Bombardier (182 vehicles delivered by 2020, 118 possible at a later date) seems like it's earmarked for the GTA (and K/W), so maybe Hamilton is positioned for better options.
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 21:33:43 in reply to Comment 107529
(Or, failing that, three 40' buses within comfortable standing capacity.)
By iow (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 21:05:47
In other words, the issue of whether or not there should be an LRT is a dead issue. All other voices need not be heard. We do not need to talk about if. We need to talk about when. Is that what this article says?
By Really (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 21:40:36 in reply to Comment 107528
That is exactly the point. ALL other voices (i.e. Anti-lrt, or pro-BRT, or pro-nothing at all), have not offered ANY viable alternative to LRT. So... screw off.
By Yeah (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 22:00:06 in reply to Comment 107531
Yeah. Screw off and stop reading this site. Nothing new going on here!
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 06, 2015 at 01:05:09
I have zero confidence in the HSR or city hall at this point. We've been talking about LRT and BRT for years and yet our bus network is still designed with a network of local buses that have zero synergy with the anemic B-line. While there are a zillion buses along the B-line corridor, the ones that get real service and usage are the King, Delaware, and University lines - not the B-line.
If we're planning an LRT or BRT or any RT, why aren't we getting cracking on it now? Why aren't we rearranging the routes around the B-line stops? Why does every bus go downtown? Why do folks going to Dundas hop on a bus that stops every block between Downtown and University Plaza? How frequent would Dundas service be if the bus only had to service Dundas? That is, loop around through Dundas and then go back to University Plaza where the B-line ends?
In a twisted sense, Clark was right: the HSR needs to implement BRT before implementing LRT. My difference of opinion is that we should be implementing his "slacker/enhanced" BRT (that is really just improving the B-line express) today and rearranging every route to exploit that. With that program in effect, LRT would be a drop-in-replacement for the east/west express buses. And we should be doing both of those things - chase the government for LRT money, and simultaneously switching our bus network over to an LRT-oriented plan even without LRT.
Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-01-06 01:07:15
By Larry R Thomas (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 11:59:58 in reply to Comment 107540
Yes! We need to build the BLAST spine now, redesign local routes to feed into rapid transit lines now, grow ridership now, show the province we're serious about transit NOW (in fact 0% increase in the budget tells the province we don't want any transit investment from them), then we can make a case for LRT!
My preference would be to see B-Line LRT and the rest of BLAST as BRT right now! Since we don't have trains or tracks right now, let's start with express buses. NOW!
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 12:23:14 in reply to Comment 107552
Agreed totally. Buy however many new buses we need, mostly artics, to fill those other 3 routes: L, S, T.
Add in the Delta and Scott Park stops on the B-Line. So annoying having no stops from Sherman all the way to Ottawa. http://www.hamiltontransit.ca/wp-content...
Use the same simple shelters and signage that we use for A and B-Line: https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8120/89157...
And adjust some of the other routes to connect with these stops.
And some people won't like this suggestion, but eliminate some of the stops on local routes. It's ridiculous when buses stop one block apart so one person can get off each time.
The city already come up with some route change ideas in 2011 to support B Line LRT. No reason we can't implement the ones still needed, and add in the express routes as you've suggested: http://www.hamilton-today.com/hsr/hsr-ro...
I still can't help but feel an express route connecting Limeridge Mall to Mohawk, then downtown, then McMaster would be far more used and valuable than the A-line. The only mountain routes that really face large amounts of pass-bys are the Limeridge Mall ones, and Mohawk College ones. The airport route is fine to have, but shouldn't take priority over where people are actually going everyday.
Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-06 12:25:38
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 06, 2015 at 15:35:31 in reply to Comment 107556
I wouldn't stop with small tweaks to the local routes - I'd completely break up many of the long routes that go downtown into short ones that stay in their neighborhoods and hit their local B-line stop instead. Kill the various 5 routes totally and break it up into small routes with more north/south action. 5A for University Plaza to Ancaster, 52 for University Plaza to Dundas, 51 for Ainsliewood/University. Send the 6 up Dundurn instead of going to Downtown (becomes the Dundurn/Longwood bus) - let the 7 cover Locke/Aberdeen instead of Dundurn (an inverted T-shaped route). Then create a U-shaped Sherman/Gage route, change the terminus of the 3 to pull down Strathearne and cover Cochrane/Rosedale, and extend the 56/Centennial to cover the Nash/Greenhill component of the 5. Boom, a north/south grid over the whole lower city, each hitting a B-line stop instead of relying on the 5 that meanders all over every random neighborhood of town.
By pulling each route into the B-line, you can get from any neighborhood to any other quickly, provided the B-line has frequent service Then when the B-line is replaced with LRT, your routes already work!
By Stephen (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 16:59:35 in reply to Comment 107567
A lot of staff time was consumed planning a rerouting of the 7 to connect it with the B Line and other transit at Dundurn and Main/King. In the end, the change was cancelled to avoid offending a handful of people whose walk to the bus would increase. I think it would be a similar slog in other areas where these local routes operate.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 06, 2015 at 17:52:34 in reply to Comment 107578
I realize it's politically impossible, but a boy can dream, y'know? At the very least the legs of routes that are completely redundant with King/Beeline might be eliminated in favour of the Beeline - the Ancaster, Dundas, and Westdale buses don't need to go downtown if there's hyper-frequent bus-service to the transfer points. If over half the route is gone, then the frequency of these routes could double without adding any extra buses. There's a nice carrot in exchange for "you have to transfer in the west-end main-street now". Then throw a bunch more artics onto the beeline.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 18:49:18 in reply to Comment 107586
This has become a huge trend in other cities. Restructuring long, circuitous neighbourhood routes in favour of more direct, fast, frequent service to a larger segment of the population.
I would love Hamilton to hire someone like this to help us streamline our system. I guarantee you there is TONS of waste in our current system.
Check out the maps and imagine a similar approach in Hamilton:
As for the comment above regarding the #8 bus being extended all the way down Dundurn, the problem was once again the HSR insisting on a long, out-of the way routing. I live in Strathcona and was up the speed on that plan. Here it is in a nutshell:
Instead of #8 ending at Strathcona loop (Victoria Park) they wanted to extend it to the Hillcrest/Dundurn loop so residents could have access to Fortinos, Zarkys and neighbourhoods from Dundurn Castle to the escarpment base.
Easiest solution = continue the bus south on Dundurn to the loop, then bring it back up Dundurn and over the Victoria Park loop to resume it's usual routing downtown.
HSR solution = turn the WB #8 off of York at Locke St, right turn onto Florence and remove resident curb-side parking, left turn onto Strathcona, right onto Head, left onto Dundurn and then head SB to the Hillcrest loop.
Everyone who lives NW of York/Dundurn would lose their transit service so the HSR could meander a bus through a narrow residential neighbourhood instead of just coming up York and hanging a left at Dundurn like it currently does.
The last thing I heard was that the solution was now going to involve an extension to the #6 or #7 to the Hillcrest loop.
By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 11:27:25 in reply to Comment 107591
An important factor to remember here is that bus stops don't have to happen every 100m, especially in high-density areas. IMO higher frequency buses that you have to walk a bit further to catch are much more effective, since you can care less about missing your bus when another is coming in 5-10 minutes. Fewer stops also means lower fuel costs, less wear on vehicles and a smoother, more enjoyable ride.
By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 19:07:56 in reply to Comment 107591
They did hire IBI to do a comprehensive operational review back in 2010. Here is their report:
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 07, 2015 at 10:56:01 in reply to Comment 107594
I just read it too. Yeah, I can see why they didn't implement it - that would be a tough sell in some of the areas of the city with the biggest ridership.
Seriously, they were arguing to remove the 3, 5 west, 51, 6, 7, and 8 buses. And reduce the frequency on the King. The only new service in that area would be extra B-Line service, vague notions about a "flexible" system for Kirkendall/Durand/Strathcona, and new buses going west from McMaster University into Ancaster/Dundas/Ainsliewood.
And at the same time, the plan describes increasing the rush-hour service of just about every suburban bus.
One thing that was a good point and should have been obvious: all West End buses running down King instead of Main. That's a good point for the LRT, too - the lower-city is North-heavy as Main passes Westdale. Running on Main means you're basically going around most of the ridership - it shows that the Westdale Village stops are are actually some of the best-used stops in the city outside of the major transfer points.
But yeah, I can see why the city basically ignored most of their recommendations for the West Hamilton... instead of "here's how to make service to Durand, Kirkendall, Strathcona, and Westdale North more efficient" the plan was actually "these bus routes are messy so we're going to just cancel all service to those neighborhoods - they can walk to King Street".
By jason (registered) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 11:57:35 in reply to Comment 107604
yes, those west end suggestions I wasn't a fan of. But the express routes and signal jumping etc.... was exactly bang on.
FYI, the bus lane staff report just came out this morning and it states that ridership along the B-line corridor has grown by 20% over the past 5 years. Staggering considering it's a sardine can route much of the day. HSR as a whole only grew ridership by 4% during that same period.
B-line corridor now accounts for 42% of total HSR ridership. Yes, 42. Expect that to hit 50% in the next couple years if trends continue, and if council by some miracle actually approves expansion and improvements to the system.
Only in politics would anyone suggest we ignore the largest, fastest growing customer base and instead, offer the product to customers who aren't interested.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 23:05:58 in reply to Comment 107594
unbelievable. Just read this report. It contains ALL the suggestions that have been made here on RTH over the past year and a half. This report was for the transit improvement plan from 2010-2015. I don't think the city did any of it.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 22:40:02 in reply to Comment 107594
I wonder how it would work to think of the rapid transit lines as an 'X' cutting across the city with the Rymal/Centennial line to the south, a Barton rapid transit line to the north and the B-line and A-line slicing through the middle.
Quick ideas. Express routes to form the 'X'
C Line: from Meadowlands East along Stonechurch, down Upp Ottawa to Mohawk to Limeridge Mall, Mohawk College, down James to King and out to Mac
D Line: from Meadowlands Ancaster along Mohawk to the college, down to James up to Barton, to new Shopping Centre/GO station at Centennial/QEW
Along with A/B Lines and Rymal/Centennial express.
Now fix some of the 'uppers'. 23/24/25/26 basically run a N/S route from Rymal to Concession. Create a new mini-hub station at Sam Lawrence Park area on Concession with a regular express route down Jolley Cut to MacNab terminal instead of all theses buses following each other up and down the escarpment. Keep in mind, all of these routes cross Mohawk Rd, and thus have connections to the new C-Line.
34/35 and a new route 36? same idea. N/S route along Garth/Paradise/West 5th, all consolidating at Mohawk Transit Terminal to catch the A/C/D-Line routes to downtown with options to go straight to Mac or Barton/Centennial with no transfer. Downtown has transfer to B-Line.
Would be interesting to know how feasible this concept would be in light of eliminating all the duplication of having the 7 aforementioned Mountain routes all running up and down the Jolley Cut to MacNab next to each other all day long.
Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-06 22:42:50
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 06, 2015 at 19:03:43 in reply to Comment 107591
Was there any reason given for the lack of the obvious solution of a left-turn at Dundurn? Something funny about the turn itself or the roadway or something?
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 22:17:30 in reply to Comment 107593
no, it makes that turn currently and then comes down Dundurn to Lamaroux to Strathcona. Some residents in the seniors complained about having to cross York to catch the bus to Fortino's. We suggested a pedestrian activated light, but of course that went nowhere with staff.
By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 12:19:23 in reply to Comment 107597
There was a desire to avoid the traffic bottleneck at Dundurn and King southbound which would impact schedule adherence.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 12:23:16 in reply to Comment 107607
as one involved in the discussions, I disagree. It was suggested to HSR staff if that was really the concern, keep the current routing hanging a left from York to Dundurn, then left onto Lamoreaux, but then go right on Strathcona to King and then left on Dundurn. Much easier, simpler and in line with current routing than coming south on Locke, west on Florence and removing street parking etc......
By A-Line (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 12:53:32 in reply to Comment 107556
A-Line is a joke in its current form! Last time I was on it, it was only myself and a bus driver (guessing he got on at the mountain garage) from Stonechurch to Mohawk College, where a handful of students got on.
This was early December weekday evening rush hour.
The most frustrating part was that the driver wasn't passing the 27 Upper James in front of us, which negated the whole 'rapid' notion.
Also, why is the A-Line Fennell stop 10 meters south of the 27 UJ Fennell stop?
By Z-Line (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 21:07:07 in reply to Comment 107561
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 13:16:00 in reply to Comment 107561
I've always felt that was pushed up to the top of the line as a means to prop up AEGD and the eventual sprawl that is coming out by the airport. There's no other logical reason. The airport isn't a large driver of passengers and there are obvious routes such as the Limeridge Mall connection with way higher ridership and ridership potential than a route running along the big boxes of upper james to an empty little airport.
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 09:35:17 in reply to Comment 107540
well said. I'm guessing the only people feeling any amount of confidence in city hall right now are those who want to continue adding millions to our already enormous infrastructure debt load by spending tens of millions more in new and wider roads in every corner of the city, even though these same people praise the lack of congestion currently in Hamilton.
For anyone wanting to make a presentation to council about the budget and complete lack of non-asphalt priorities, here is the info on how to register:
By jason (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 09:51:20
More budget tidbits:
90km of new roadway added to the city since 2009. Cost just under $700,000 per year in new money just to maintain this 90 new km.
Public Works 'roads' budget. Gross budget 63 million. Net budget appears to be 63 million.
Transit gross budget is 107 million. Net budget is 57 million.
Seems user fees are bringing in close to 50% of the transit budget each year. But transit riders are the ones being subsidized and getting a free ride on the taxpayer dime......
Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-06 09:57:16
By Noted (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 11:02:30
The Brassington op-ed was a head-scratcher, for sure. Not sure why he didn't simply advocate for strong, smart commitments to building a robust and sustainable transit system — a strategy that would presumably take as its goal an optimized, harmonized system that operates as smoothly and reliably as possible within the GTHA transit network. But as matthewsweet pointed out, binary thinking seems to be a common feature when discussing transportation issues.
By Bullspec! (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 12:04:23 in reply to Comment 107545
That piece of Spec was definitely a balls-scratcher that one. Spec not interested in truth or greater good, only in creating controversy as that's their business.
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 14:15:10 in reply to Comment 107554
The sad truth is that it works. I almost couldn't believe my ears as I took the HSR home last night, but an elderly woman was talking the driver's ear off talking about Adrian's article. Despite her stating that she uses the HSR to get around, she was passionately against LRT, the King St. bus lanes, and basically anything that increased road volume--"King St. is too narrow as it is".
So here was a future rider of a completed LRT line basically arguing for the ongoing primacy of cars on downtown roadways. Unbelievably, she was advocating for a mode of transport she doesn't even use, and directly competes with buses for space on the road.
I tried to tune this bitter pill out around the point she started laying the blame for crowded buses at the feet of "Chickee-boos with their babies strollers taking up 3 spots on the bus", but it was still depressing. Sigh.
By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 15:56:41 in reply to Comment 107564
babies strollers taking up 3 spots on the bus
Yup because freeing the 3 or 4 seats taken up by a stroller or wheelchair, people who actually need the bus more, will totally relieve the crowding. Astonishing. The same stupid comatose illogic that would blame bicycles for kilometers-long backlogs of traffic when there is a pile-up on a highway. Perhaps, this is an example of how much thinking people allow to be done for them.
By Steve (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 14:52:51 in reply to Comment 107564
Yeah she's completely wrong about strollers taking up 3 spots, they take up at least 4 spots.
By mywinona (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 11:23:10
Mr. Brassington would like to think he is this ultra-aware and passionate observer of the city. He comes off sounding like a cranky crank. The Spec loves publishing op-eds like this one.
By BullSpec (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 16:51:06 in reply to Comment 107547
Thats why I call it BullSpec, and that article a piece of Spec!
By Fiberal (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 11:39:52
anyone who thinks Hamilton or it's citizens have a say in whether Hamilton gets LRT or not are just kidding themselves.
The Ontario Liberals have just played this seven-year-long game with Hamilton to give Mississauga enough time to complete all their reports and plans. Once they're done, Mississauga will get their LRT and Hamilton will be told there wasn't enough public support for this round of funding.
For those who still think Governments don't play games, see the Ontario Liberals' last decade of scandal (especially the gas plant cancelations).
By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 12:02:48 in reply to Comment 107550
Ontario Liberals have just played this seven-year-long game with Hamilton to give Mississauga enough time to complete all their reports and plans.
I think you almost describe the problem well but misplace the responsibility.
Hamilton spent the last 7 years whining incessantly and undermining the project, instead of planning and getting it going. RapidReady was a great launch, but it died there.
During those same 7 years Mississauga planned, put shovels in the ground, is halfway done its first rapid transitway with plans for more.
I don't see how the provincial liberal party is the factor here. The attitude, commitment, and action taken by each of the respective cities at the council and mayoral level is where the stark contrast is. If Hamilton had "Hurricane Hazel" the B-Line LRT would be almost finished and you'd now be planning the A-Line BRT/LRT.
By Fiberal (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 12:15:24 in reply to Comment 107553
Mr Mayor was fulfilling a request to derail LRT by powers that would ultimately lead him to different political ventures.
Again, if you don't think there are back end politics at play, see past decade of Ontario Liberals in office (eHealth, MaRS, Gas Plants, Pan Am, it goes on).
By Agreed (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 16:53:24 in reply to Comment 107555
There's always back end politics at play and its all inspired by dark demonic forces looking to destroy humanity.
By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 16:21:00 in reply to Comment 107555
Mr Mayor was fulfilling a request to derail LRT by powers
If I were to don tin-foil, I would sooner suspect Conservative collusion to kill inner city transit so they can build highways instead. However I make a sincere effort to not form partisan pet theories based on speculation and paranoia. Hence it is nice when the debate is not partisan and emotional, rather evidence based.
Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-01-06 16:23:35
By RobF (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 17:04:21 in reply to Comment 107571
The Liberals haven't stopped building highways. The Star reported over the weekend they have another east-west route planned to run parallel to the 401 and 407 across the top of the GTA. In the past they've committed to extensions of the 410 and 427 further northward, one of which will be a parallel route to the 400 up past Barrie. And of course, they approved the eastward extension of the 407 to Oshawa and beyond. The province has committed to doing some form of rapid transit in Hamilton, but they've been coy about what, and they were aided last term in that by Mayor Bratina ... a Liberal. Liberal candidate on the Mountain last provincial election ... against LRT. But yes, we only need to worry about out of power in Ontario for the last decade Conservatives when it comes to why we don't have LRT.
Comment edited by RobF on 2015-01-06 17:08:11
By Noneedformoredebate (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 16:55:10 in reply to Comment 107571
That debate is progressive is an illusion sometimes. There comes a time where debate is just meant to confuse and paralyze as we are now witnessing with LRT.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 06, 2015 at 16:39:47 in reply to Comment 107571
Nothing has been exposed, of course, but various Ontario Provincial liberals have been extremely resistant about confirming McGuinty's committment to LRT in Hamilton.
Also, when Bratina was running for mayor he was a bit bullish on LRT... when he became mayor? Two things changed:
1) He suddenly loathed LRT
2) Any provincial concerns about the cost of stadium construction miraculously vanished.
Our stadium project gained thousands of seats and millions in extra cost without a peep from the province that was previously penny-pinching about our myriad plans, and Bratina was the hero.
And now he's running for a seat in parliament.
I have no idea if there was a back-room deal or not... but if there was, I've got a pretty good idea what it was.
By Steve (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 17:20:27 in reply to Comment 107573
Stop the presses, we have an instance where a politician says one thing during an election and then doing the exact opposite. I never thought I'd see the day that happened.
Also, are you aware the Provincial Liberals and the Federal Liberals are two different organizations?
By RobF (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 18:10:34 in reply to Comment 107584
Sure, two different organizations. But in Ontario they are separate like David and Dalton.
By Steve (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 18:19:54 in reply to Comment 107587
Really? What relative of Bratina got him the job? Because from your example I think that's what you are saying.
Doing a favour for the P.Libs doesn't buy you points (or a nomination) with the F.Libs. But I get it, there must be a conspiracy.
By RobF (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 18:52:01 in reply to Comment 107588
I don't know anything about Bratina's nomination. I'm not a Liberal. Frankly i don't know why the Trudeau and Co. want him on their team, but that's their business. You're kidding if you think there are no linkages between Federal, Provincial, and Municipal politics in terms of each party's political machinery. Oh, wait municipal politics are non-partisan ... bahahaha.
By Steve (registered) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 13:59:59 in reply to Comment 107592
Yeah, but not as close as do something for the provincial wing and we'll give you a federal nomination. That's a big stretch.
Heck, Bratina didn't even get the riding he wanted.
Now other councillors led by Chad Collins say, "The sooner we can resolve (and shelve) the bus lane and LRT issue, the better"
Looks like council support was never very strong.
By RobF (registered) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 14:23:50 in reply to Comment 107619
Your point? I never suggested any of what you are implying ... certainly not a quid pro quo of that direct a sort. Another poster implied that. My David and Dalton comment was simply a reference to the provincial and federal wings being birds of feather, at least in Ontario. Not that an assertion of nepotism or something like that ... though, i think you'd admit that it hasn't hurt to be "the son of the father" in any political party ... or a daughter, niece, nephew and so on for that matter.
My original post was in response to someone who seemed to think the conservatives are colluding to prevent investment in inner-city transit. Everything you've said points to Liberal obstruction (not that the Conservatives would be different).
Chad Collins ... another one with Liberal ties? What can I say.
By Notaconspiracy (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 18:43:13 in reply to Comment 107588
Are you really that naive as to think the federal and provincial Libs don't work together? They're literally the same people, especially at the riding association level.
By Steve (registered) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 13:56:44 in reply to Comment 107590
Yeah, but not as close as do something for the provincial and we'll give you a federal nomination. That's a big stretch.
Heck, Bratina didn't even get the riding he wanted.
By Right (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 17:00:59 in reply to Comment 107573
Yes, its about time people realize that our so-called democracies are not as open as we hope/tend to think, not at municipal level and certainly not at higher levels. Power rests in corporations/elites, interest groups, etc. which often don't share same concern for masses. Only thing that keeps them in check is people angered enough to rise up, otherwise they operate with impunity.
By RobF (registered) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 13:50:18
I have to agree there's a heavy straw-manish quality to the Brassington Op-Ed. Overcrowding on the King and Main express buses is a pretty good operational reason to consider LRT on that corridor -- a really strong reason.
The question that bus-riders on other east-west low-city corridors might consider is how the B-Line LRT might reconfigure service for them. We might acknowledge that #2 bus on Barton Street might not operate as frequently if there were greater emphasis placed on moving riders north-south to ride on the LRT. That would impact some riders negatively, perhaps.
I haven't really seen detailed plans on what would happen to routes once the LRT is operational, and i don't mean this to be a reason to oppose LRT. All would depend on what HSR and the City decides to do ... if they opt for a ridership growth strategy, then we would see a general enhancement of service across the system. If they decide to use LRT to drive cost-efficiencies as first priority, then bus service on some routes could suffer as ridership patterns change based on the LRT service and the potential changes it drives via private investment and redevelopment, etc. Again worth discussing, but not a reason to oppose LRT.
I also don't think UMC new urbanists are the main target for the LRT (or at least the rationale for LRT vs enhanced bus service). For the foreseeable future Hamilton is attracting young families who might be broadly characterized as marginal gentrifiers ... i.e. those that possess high levels of cultural capital, but modest economic capital (they have longer-term income growth potential, however, and also include what might be called cultural entrepreneurs). There are various reasons why older urban neighbourhoods appeal to this group of in-movers.
Comment edited by RobF on 2015-01-06 13:59:11
By disabled (anonymous) | Posted January 07, 2015 at 14:31:12
Making it far more difficult to use HSR for those with the highest need? Walking farther is not a good option for the high number of mobility challenged transit riders
You must be logged in to comment.
There are no upcoming events right now.
Why not post one?