Special Report: Bus Lane

Bus Lane is Dead, But Hamilton is Alive

The bus lane decision should have deflated me. But it only solidified my belief in the character and passion of the people living in Hamilton.

By Sean Meister
Published January 22, 2015

This is my sixth time starting this article. I guess that should have been expected, given my range of emotions about the death of Hamilton's bus lane. And oddly, they reflected the five stages of grief.

But then I found a new stage in the process. Resolve.

Many articles will be written about the negative side of this decision. And I'll be right there agreeing with them. But that's no way forward. That's not the Hamilton I've come to know. I choose to focus on how great the bus lane debate was, is and will be for Hamilton.

Last night I stopped and looked around Council Chambers and was struck by one thought and one thought only: Hamilton is an amazing city, an amazing city because of its people.

From the opening remarks about Lincoln Alexander, to the recognition of a remarkable group of Hamilton firefighters, to the sea of yellow clad transit supporters. And even those in attendance voicing distain for the bus lane. We celebrated the good in our city and witnessed the bad.

The Council Chambers was filled with people; people passionate about the future of the city and determined to advocate until that future is realized. That was so uplifting for me.

I'd never been to City Hall before last night. But a two kilometre bus lane pilot project debate got me to skip dinner, stand in a boiling hot room and watch some pretty mundane municipal government procedures. And I'm better for it.

I've never been in another city where so many people can see the long term social good of an issue that on the surface could be, and was by some, pegged as an isolated project.

The bus lane decision should have deflated me. But it only solidified my belief in the character and passion of the people living in Hamilton. So despite what certain councillors had probably hoped, this is only just beginning.

Citizens are self-educating on municipal issues, transit users are coming together with non-transit users, and downtown and suburban citizens are joining forces for whole-city development advocacy. All because of a two kilometre bus lane pilot project. How incredible is that?

Transit is just one area where advocacy is needed in Hamilton. I truly hope we see this spill over into the long list of social justice causes. Too many people are being left behind as Hamilton grows and strengthens.

So don't let a short-sighted decision on the bus lane stop the momentum built over the last few weeks. Don't let a short-term setback stop the work being done to make our city even better. Take this energy, apply it to transit advocacy, but then spread it to the other issues that will help our city grow.

The bus lane is dead. But Hamilton is alive.


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By rgelder (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2015 at 12:15:02

Good reason for optimism. Proud to have been with you in the Council Chamber last night. I had similar thoughts as I navigated the quiet, dark streets on a SoBi bicycle back to Dundas.

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By Tranny User (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2015 at 12:23:00

I use both transit and transimissions in cars. I was debate on TV and was not impressed with decorum. Catcalls? Really. Do we not deserve better?

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By Stever (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2015 at 15:18:32 in reply to Comment 108176

We do deserve better, but many of the old school councillors won't help with that goal.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2015 at 16:01:31

Fun fact about Lincoln Alexander: He didn't drive. Didn't even have a license - thought traffic was too scary.

So we celebrate his birthday and Hamilton's first "Lincoln Alexander" day by killing the bus lane, and with it seriously jeopardizing the future of Hamilton's transit. Not because of the cost, not because of the businesses, but just because we didn't want to slow down that traffic.


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By BrandonWard1 (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2015 at 18:25:54

Passion for our city can only get us so far. Sooner or later decisions will have to be made that will have a long-lasting, positive, and progressive effect on our city. Decisions made by a select few that send us back to the 1970s is not a way of moving forward. Killing an idea without presenting a better solution is not the way. If you are going to kill an idea (much like the "9" did last night), at least have the strength and courage to present alternatives in its place. Or better yet, use a fact-/evidence-based approach to your decision-making paradigms. The status quo is clearly not working and after last night, the "9" will go down in municipal history as having the same logic, the same mentality, and the same resolve as those who campaigned so ruthlessly against cultural acceptance, sustainability, closer-knit & safer communities, etc. What those "9" hold on to are old ideals and beliefs that no longer apply to today and it would be better for everyone if they accepted that Hamilton is ready for to change for the better.

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2015 at 22:19:09 in reply to Comment 108232

The 9 fingers around the throat of public transit.

No more politeness really. It is clear they are an intentionally destructive force.

What they say is meaningless. Their actions speak for them.

Sadly what the people want is meaningless to them. Only our actions will help now.

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By Eggem (anonymous) | Posted January 22, 2015 at 18:51:31 in reply to Comment 108232

Agreed. But problem is your assumption that the decision making process is open to public input. It's open to such input, but decisions are not made on its basis. In cases where dealing with shameless brazen criminals who make a mockery of democracy, eggs are a better option.

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By Just Joe (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2015 at 00:15:07

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By Megan (registered) | Posted January 23, 2015 at 16:01:40 in reply to Comment 108264

Also, I can't think of any time of day when there are only 2 buses an hour along that stretch. According to this, there are 83 in just the 4-5 p.m. period. http://www.hamilton-today.com/hamont/how...

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By bad math (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2015 at 01:51:00 in reply to Comment 108264

This is bad math. A king bus holds dozens of cars worth of people. It's not about the number of vehicles it's about the number of people a lane can move.

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By Just Joe (anonymous) | Posted January 23, 2015 at 00:17:01 in reply to Comment 108264

* Much more than it takes to maintain a lane of road way per year, is what I meant!

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