Today's Hamilton Spectator includes an op-ed by your humble RTH editor making a case for LRT as a means not just of moving people around but of transforming the city's pattern of development. It was just posted on the Spec website if you don't have a print subscription. Here's an excerpt:
LRT is only incidentally about moving people around. Its more ambitious purpose is to transform the city's relationship between land use and transportation.
LRT doesn't just get people from here to there and leave everything else static. It provides an anchor around which Hamilton can attract billions of dollars in new private investment - investment into dense, mixed urban uses that make downtown more valuable.
Hamilton is currently stuck in automobile-path dependence. We design our neighbourhoods around the car, which pushes destinations far apart and makes car ownership necessary. High car ownership, in turn, increases pressure to design our neighbourhoods around the car.
LRT breaks us out of that path dependence. Designing neighbourhoods around rapid transit brings many destinations close together and reduces the need to drive everywhere. A family with two cars can give one of them up. A family with one car can leave it at home more often and experience city living at its best.
It's easy to dismiss this as pie-in-the-sky optimism, but we have hard numbers from cities across North America and around the world proving that LRT really does attract the investment Hamilton needs.
You can read the full op-ed at thespec.com.
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