Municipal Election 2018

Brad Clark Flip-Flops on LRT ... Yet Again

In what is becoming a habitual act of pure cynicism, the Ward 9 candidate keeps reversing his LRT position.

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 02, 2018

Brad Clark, former Stoney Creek councillor and a current candidate for Ward 9, is a veritable see-saw when it comes to the city's light rail transit (LRT) plan. Despite being on record supporting LRT since before submitting his nomination, Clark just shamelessly flip-flopped this morning [PDF]:

Brad Clark, City Councillor Candidate for Ward 9, is calling for the cancellation of the LRT. "I have confirmed that the Province of Ontario is indemnified should the current LRT request for proposal (RFP) process be cancelled. As such there is no risk of financial penalties to the City of Hamilton", said Brad Clark.

"Therefore, I can unequivocally continue my opposition to LRT without fear of legal or financial penalties to taxpayers. There are far more pressing infrastructure needs across our city," said Clark.

It's particularly cynical that he claims he will "continue" opposition to LRT when he is on record clearly supporting LRT as of just a few weeks ago. On September 12, the Hamilton Spectator quoted Clark's LRT position in their profile of Ward 9 candidates:

Yes. I can't in good conscience oppose LRT when the environmental assessment, land acquisition and the request for proposals have all been approved. Reversing that direction has serious cost implications, potential legal risks and will damage the city's reputation to potential investors. It's time to move forward and implement the approved city-wide transit enhancements on a parallel track.

You'll note that he raised a number of reasons to support LRT that have nothing to do with indemnification.

And Clark's position in September was also consistent with what Clark said this past June at a panel discussion on the city's transportation challenges:

It's been eight or nine years now where Main Street, the infrastructure on Main Street has not been improved. Pull the plug on LRT and you're going to start a brand-new EA which could be two or three years, you now will have 12 or 13 years of no work on infrastructure, water, sewer, pipes, everything. It's a mess. So they have to proceed with that infrastructure upgrade one way or the other. With LRT, the province is paying for it.

Again, it's clear that his sudden interest in the city's risk of financial penalties is just a cheap rationalization.

If we decide to kill the LRT plan, the following negative outcomes will all still be true:

Clark is a very smart man who certainly understands all this. However, political flip-flops are becoming a habit for Clark, who did the exact same thing in 2014 when he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor.

Indeed, we can go back to 2011, when Clark was a City Councillor and stated that Council "must make a final decision" on LRT once the Province confirmed funding. That funding confirmation took place on May 26, 2015, and Council did, indeed, make a "final decision" to accept the funding and work with Metrolinx to implement the line.

Regardless of how you feel about the city's LRT plan, such breathtaking cynicism should give anyone pause.

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 fmurray (registered) | Posted October 02, 2018 at 09:35:04

Why am I surprised again that there is a PC wolf under the sheep's clothing?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 02, 2018 at 23:06:28 in reply to Comment 123856

Have you ever met and talked with the man? This is a wolf in wolf's clothing.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 03, 2018 at 13:07:53

I realize that these comments come during an election campaign and that I don't even live in Hamilton. I also know that one wannabee city council candidate doesn't necessarily speak for a whole city. That being said, with a provincial government that doesn't necessarily share the same enthusiasm for LRT as the previous Liberal government and worrying sounds that provincial funding for future lines will most likely be, let's say, a lot less bountiful, it's most annoying to read so many Hamiltonians don't feel that LRT is the way to go.

Especially, after 10 years of hard but successful lobbying and planning, a rather vocal minority wants to derail the entire process just as construction is ready to begin. Most of all, you got all the money for the project and don't have to contribute the customary 33% of the capital costs. Will there be costs on Hamilton's budget because of the LRT? Yes, but considerably less costs to have to absorb than what the citizens of Waterloo and here in Ottawa have!

There's no nice way of saying it, these anti-LRT people in Hamilton are misinformed at best and at the worst, are flat out lying about LRT. I'm a trained professional planner and have dealt with this type of resistance to transportation projects before. Again, even though I don't live in Hamilton, these people are now pissing me off!

Here in Ottawa Stage 1 of the Confederation Line will hopefully open to the public (late) sometime in the early winter of 2019. Certain elements of Stage 2 are already under construction and will hopefully lead to three extensions (1 to the Trillium Line and 2 to the Confederation Line) being opened to the public in 3 separate phases in 2021, 2022 and 2023-24. The total for Stages 1 & 2 is around $5.1 Billion plus an extra $300 million of related city projects, so $5.4 Billion.

The city's share of this is a staggering $1.9 Billion. It's been painful and not everyone was happy about it, to say the least! The reality is that, there are no planned large infrastructure projects payed for by the City of Ottawa until 2031, because of the LRT program.

We are now planning for Stages 3 & 4. There is no set budget and Ottawa will need a lot of help post 2023-24 to keep building LRT. I have been told by a spy of mine that various Stage 3 LRT projects are almost ready for the Transit EA process.

To the anti-LRT people in Hamilton, you are dreaming if you think this Conservative provincial government will just keep $1 Billion plus in an account waiting for you to spend, while you decide what you want to do. I'm being nice when I say you are politically naive and extremely uninformed about what is good rapid transit. A decade of studies and planning have gone into what you simply dismiss as a poor choice. If you cancel LRT that Billion is gone! You won't see any of it. You are easily being duped by people who are not anti-LRT but anti-transit! International business and city planning experts the world over say LRT is the way to go. The days of wide suburban roads and low cost driving is over. The wealthy are moving back to the city, it's cheaper than living in far flung suburbs. As transportation costs increase in the coming years, the increase in land values downtown vs. the suburbs is showing off this new reality. It's cheaper for large companies to be attached to rapid transit stations than paying for enormously expensive to maintain parking lots in suburban office parks.

If you really don't want LRT in Hamilton, we here in Ottawa have a proposal for you. We want LRT and have been putting our money were are collective mouths are for years now! So we will just take your Billion in LRT funding match it to new federal funding and we'll happily build more LRT and yes, even more BRT. You guys won't have to worry about LRT sullying the City of Hamilton. With Ford in power, you will get nothing, not LRT or BRT funding. The time for whining about LRT is over make up your freaking minds!

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 03, 2018 at 20:25:21 in reply to Comment 123873

I'm a trained professional planner and have dealt with this type of resistance to transportation projects before. Again, even though I don't live in Hamilton, these people are now pissing me off!

In my opinion, the behaviour of these people is best explained by the Marxist analysis of this situation.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 04, 2018 at 11:37:05 in reply to Comment 123876

Always liked Groucho! Very funny!

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 04, 2018 at 09:32:00

BRT is generally cheaper to build than LRT however, you have to spend a lot more to continuously upgrade the right of way as passenger levels grow than with rail. In fact at a certain point, BRT stations and rights of way have to become larger and more robust than rail infrastructure to carry the same number of passengers as rail. This was one of several key breaking points for Ottawa.

Ottawa as a city has a population of 970,000. Around 2008 when the bus fleet was creeping up to 1100 buses, the budget people at O.C.Transpo took notice. To accommodate future growth on the Transitway Network (Ottawa's BRT System Marketing Name) as well as the rest of the system, a fleet of 1400-1500 was being planned for. Budget people soon realized that this was not affordable at all. LRT requires far fewer buses so many older ones will be retired (about 110 in total) and many unneeded drivers laid off. 475 (fewer than the 600 originally stated) drivers will be laid off when Stage 1 opens. As many as 600 more when Stage 2 opens in 2023-24 and up to 120 more buses. Ottawa's current bus fleet is around 1025 units. Many new double decker buses are replacing articulated buses as they age out. Double decker buses are still hard on roads but hold more passengers and don't get stuck in snow storms as quickly as articulated buses do.

Bi-articulated (24 metres long) and even tri-articulated (28-30 metres long) buses had been looked at in the mid to late 1990's but refused because Transport Canada was going to require extremely expensive safety measures to run them even in a test program. They still only last as long as normal buses do, have horrible hill climbing capability on wet pavement, need a huge fleet of snow plows because like any articulated bus they can't handle more than 10-12 centimeters of snow and are so heavy that, Transitway stations require concrete bus pads in the bus docking lane because they can chew up asphalt roads in less than 2 years. They aren't road legal in Canada or the USA, there are no North American manufacturers, their spare parts and maintenance/training packages are stunningly expensive oh yes, they cost as much as 2 single articulated buses to buy.

Both the bi-articulated and tri-articulated bus designs are significantly shorter than the length of 1, 48.5 metre long Citadis Spirit LRV. Ottawa will be running 2 LRV's on each train on the Confederation Line. The 80 metre long Stadler FLIRT DMU's with replace the current Alstom Lint 41 DMU's on the existing Trillium line in 2021. Both Alstom's Citadis Spirit LRV's and yes, even Bombardier's Flexity LRV design planned for several of Toronto's LRV lines like Finch West and the Crosstown are modular and can add more sections to increase the length of the vehicle. Unfortunately, the Bombardier Flexity Outlook vehicles used on Toronto's streetcar network can't be expanded because of the super tight turning radius of the existing streetcar tracks. These modifications can be done in the existing maintenance facilities and doesn't require the vehicle to be sent back to the factory. This built in capacity is something BRT just can't do cheaply.

If we in Ottawa had stayed with BRT instead of changing to LRT operating technology we would have had to build a massive BRT tunnel instead of an LRT tunnel in downtown. The right of way would have to on opening day handle a peak hour passenger load of 10500 passengers per hour per direction. Traveling on 185-200 buses per hour (65% of them articulated).

The tunnel would have to have each below grade station platform have to handle no fewer than 10 bus docks for the simultaneous birthing of up to 10 articulated buses. That's a 200 metre long platform at each station. That's an underground mainline railway station platform (imagine somthing almost as big as your favorite GO Train Station underground). That's just to cover planned passenger growth to 2031. Toronto's and Montreal's longest subway station platforms max out at 152 metres (500 ft.) and they have some of the longest platforms in North America. Ottawa's LRT tunnel has 120 metre long platforms some of the longest LRT station platforms in North America, although several cities do have LRT platforms that easily exceed this length.

The BRT Tunnel stations would need a minimum of 4 metre wide platforms, a 3.5 metre docking lane and a 4 metre wide passing lane (these are the current Transitway Standards in Ottawa). That's 11.5 metres of width for each direction of travel. That means a single tunnel would have to be a minimum of 23 metres or a minnimum station box width of 24-25 metres or 2 parallel tunnel and station boxes, on 2 parallel streets (Albert and Slater for example) 12 metres wide. The current LRT tunnel, including platforms is only 13 metres wide, 2 platforms, 2 tracks and a devil strip between the tracks of 1 metre. The station box width is about 15 metres (mostly under Queen and Rideau Streets). In fact, the tunnel box width of the single Bus tunnel design would have allowed for 4 tracks and 2 side platforms as well as 1 centre platform! Each platform would be 3 metres wide. You only have to look at pictures of the LRT stations under construction at Tunney's Pasture and Trembley Road (the location of our VIA Rail Station) and see how much wider the former BRT right of way was in comparison.

What is not generally appreciated is the work that would have to be completed to upgrade the capacity of the existing BRT stations outside of the core of Ottawa to accept the constantly growing numbers of Transitway buses. No fewer than 10 possible up to 12 stations outside of the tunnel would require huge increases in platform lengths most would have to be more than doubled. Many would also require big increases in their ability to handle passengers as well as much improved local bus platforms at many of the existing stations. There was kilometers of expensive concrete upgrades needed as well as converstions to concrete from asphalt at many of the station docking lane. The desperately needed work on the stations outside of the tunnel alone, was budgeted at over $1 Billion.

Many of the older Transitway stations would still have to be upgraded LRT or not, Tunney's Pasture, Lees, and Hurdman Transitway stations all were 30+ years old and in desperate need for outright replacement due to crumbling cracked concrete supporting structures as well as completely rusting through of the red steel tubes that made up the bulk of the stations roof structures. This is just for Stage 1 LRT work. One of the concrete elevator shafts at Tunney's Pasture was so bad a construction engineer told me that, they didn't need to do much to knock it down and it was probably going to have to come down in a few years anyway. Stage 2 work required or still requires knocking down Queensway (due to the widening of the Queensway or Highway 417), Baseline, Carling and Westboro stations where as Bayshore (built in the early 2000's) and Moodie Stations (just finished last year) will need modifications (Iris, Montreal Road and Dominion stations are just platforms with a bus shelter, so no big effort required there to take them down). Greenboro, Walkley and South Keys stations will require modifications and upgrades due to Trillium Line work even though they only date from the mid 1990's.

Many of the bridges on the network were in great need of work. The Mann Avenue bridge required outright replacement, the key Transitway Bridge over the Rideau River between Lee's and Hurdman needed 7 months of repairs and upgrades. Twice the length of repair time that O.C. Transpo thought it needed. The bridge over the O-Train right of way at Bayview collapsed as they were tearing it down. This was just for Stage 1, no fewer than 6 bridges will need replacement and another 7 needing serious work for the Stage 2 LRT project.

Comment edited by Haveacow on 2018-10-04 11:00:33

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted October 04, 2018 at 11:06:55

Sure go ahead!

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