Special Report: Light Rail

Don't Let Rapid Transit Be Decided Behind Closed Doors

Council has an opportunity to demonstrate that Hamiltonians can count on its leadership to ensure that we do not slam the door on the transformative investment we need.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 03, 2015

The draft HSR Ten Year Strategy seems designed to kill Hamilton's light rail transit (LRT) plan by giving the Province an easy Plan B to fund $300 million worth of the local transit we should be funding ourselves, rather than the $800 million worth of rapid transit they've been promising.

If Council approves this plan, I do not believe we will see any more of the $15 billion Big Move money dedicated to Hamilton transit (notwithstanding a possible GO train expansion) - certainly not to rapid transit, which we were promised and which we have been planning since 2007.

The Ten Year Strategy is being framed as a precursor to LRT, but it over-reaches what Council directed staff to do, which was to develop a plan to invest more local money to grow transit service.

The Strategy itself acknowledges that it will only be enough to get ridership back to 50 annual rides per capita, rather than Council's goal of 80-100 rides per capita. For this reason alone, Council should be sending the plan back - it fails to achieve Council's objective!

We should be funding local transit from the local levy and farebox, not expecting the Province to pay for it. At the same time, we should be asking the Province for the rapid transit investment we cannot make at the municipal level.

This Ten Year Strategy effectively hijacks the city's transportation plan and lets the Province off the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in investment. This is unacceptable.

Moving Forward

Council needs to seriously consider the following responses:

Council has an opportunity here to demonstrate that Hamiltonians can count on its leadership to ensure that we do not slam the door on the transformative investment we need to shape a fiscally sustainable future for the city.

Please contact City Council and ask them to follow proper due diligence on the Ten Year Strategy.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By brendansimons (registered) | Posted March 03, 2015 at 15:27:16

Forget it Ryan, it's Hamilton :(

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By brendansimons (registered) | Posted March 03, 2015 at 15:31:58 in reply to Comment 109882

Ugh, I hate reading my own cynicism (even if it is a clever movie reference), but this town, its residents, and its politicians seem determined to preserve the terrible status quo. That's why your insight into these "Plan B" manoeuvrings cuts so deeply. I fear you've hit on exactly what will happen.

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By Unethical (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2015 at 15:44:58

This isn't about transit. It's about unelected senior staff rewriting city priorities to further their own careers at Hamilton's expense. It's disappointing and unfortunate but above all else, it's simply unethical.

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By Batman (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2015 at 17:19:13

This town is run by the mafia, plain and simple.

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By Eggem (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2015 at 17:20:57

Ryan, emailing council won't do anything judging by past events. We need to mobilize bodies. I am willing to show up at a rally, with eggs.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 04, 2015 at 08:42:47 in reply to Comment 109898

How about you organize the rally?

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By Eggem (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2015 at 12:21:19 in reply to Comment 109914

I'm not a leader, just a follower.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 04, 2015 at 12:59:51 in reply to Comment 109926

Or an agent provocateur. Either way, your idea, your project, if that's your fancy. Stop trying to talk others into whipping eggs. It's a bad and counterproductive idea, and possibly against RTH TOS.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-03-04 13:02:11

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By drpgq (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2015 at 21:13:35

Ryan's right about this. I think the worst thing is if the province only spends $300 million on plan B, that's way less money per capita spent on transit capital costs in Hamilton versus Toronto, especially if you go back to 2007 when the OLP first promised LRT for Hamilton.

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By walter (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2015 at 22:10:41

I know sending emails may seem like a lost cause, but I have found success before even from Bratina. The trick is to make the email very formal and call the council or mayor honourable and all that jazz. Seduce them first, then make a plea.

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By eggregious (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2015 at 00:40:35

Assault, with an egg. Seriously that's a rather mild form of assault.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2015 at 00:47:54 in reply to Comment 109961

No less than a Councillor grabbing and arm with a slight shove?

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By Marx (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2015 at 10:53:10 in reply to Comment 109964

That's relatively minor too, but symbolically more problematic given it was a leader/ someone in power. Lower classes should be allowed some freedom to vent at the upper class.

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By Kang (anonymous) | Posted March 05, 2015 at 14:19:28 in reply to Comment 109979

Abortions for some miniature American flags for others.

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