Light Rail

This is How You Champion LRT

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 03, 2012

The City of Mississauga issued a Novemer 30, 2012 news release after the recent Metrolinx announcement that Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Mississauga is part of the next phase of regional transport projects, but the funding has not yet been determined.

It leads with an extended quote from Mayor Hazel McCallion (paragraph breaks added for readability):

We are pleased with the announcement by Metrolinx yesterday that the LRT is part of its next wave of projects in the Big Move and we look forward to working with Metrolinx on the implementation of the LRT.

We have done our homework. Our residents have told us this is what they need and want. We have a completed feasibility study and resulting Master Plan. We are working towards bringing it to Mississauga.

We will face funding challenges and we are preparing for that. We are working with our funding partners including Metrolinx that has strongly supported us along the way.

Light Rail Transit continues to be a priority and we know it represents the future for our City. Light Rail Transit on Hurontario can be found in all aspects of our future planning. It will not be easy. Anything worth doing takes time, money and effort and we respect that and are thankful for the support we have received.

Let's see what's going on here.

And finally:

This is how you champion LRT for your city. Mississauga started after us in LRT planning but is moving quickly and decisively to complete the engineering, design, planning and political legwork necessary to be ready to seize the opportunity when it arrives.

In Hamilton, by contrast, we continue to drift aimlessly on LRT. The mayor is noncommittal, council seems more concerned about the cost than the opportunity, staff are practically mum on the progress of their planning and design work, and the public discussion is sliding sideways in the absence of any forward momentum.

A recent study on LRT by the McMaster Institute of Transporation and Logistics stressed the necessity of "strong political leadership" and a "political champion" to bring the city's LRT plan to a successful conclusion.

What we're seeing today is what happens when political championship is missing.

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 slodrive (registered) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 11:48:03

Few surprises here. Though, the one eyebrow-raiser for me is how LRT would function in Missy. Public transit, in general, seems more challenging in a city where everything has been built with about 1 km of walking distance between them. Doesn't seem to have the density (from the outside looking in) that would maximize the usage of LRT.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 12:43:33 in reply to Comment 83387

Peel is deceptive. A click-through of the census tracts adjacent to the 7km of Hurontario from Hwy 403 to Lake Ontario (ie. neighbourhoods west of Cawthra, east of Mavis) gives you a population of 110K+ as of the 2006 Census within 2km of the proposed LRT line. The population has probably grown over the last six years: The populations of Mississauga and Brampton have grown by 16% and 61% respectively, 2001-2011, and 7%/21% of that has been in the last census period.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 12:41:43 in reply to Comment 83387

I believe they want LRT for two purposes: 1) To try and generate some of that density which is lacking, and 2) in the meantime to use LRT as a long-distance commuter network, funnelling people to and from Toronto transit connections.

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By justdoit (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 12:04:58

Between Metrolinx building all of Toronto's projects first and Hamilton fumbling the ball over and over again, I'm afraid this is going to pass us by completely. I shudder to think of what Hamilton will look like after another 20 years with no progress!

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By Scott (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 12:22:46

I completely agree that light rail NEEDS to be a priority in Hamilton and across the GTHA. We don't need to be expanding roads and highways, we need to be laying rail and making it both more convenient and affordable than driving a car.

However, after speaking with several city councillors, I do think they are dedicated to the idea of light rail transit across Hamilton, they just have some larger issues at bay: urban revitalization, balancing the budget, and a $2 billion infrastructure deficit.

Maybe this article can give us some comfort though:

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By C (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 13:21:53

Perhaps if there were some private leadership (Chamber of Commerce, downtown BIA, Real Estate people) that could organize the downtown developers, business owners and prospective condo residents and current residents to advocate for LRT and explain how it could accelerate downtown developments, and increase the city's tax base much more quickly. Sell this fact to the burbs, explain that it will ease their tax burden. Most opposition seems to be hung up with cost. Benefits need to be explained and comparisons drawn to $500m for aerotropolis and nearly $400m for QEW HOV from Guelph Line to Trafalgar that does little.

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By Delores (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 14:06:22 in reply to Comment 83397

I heard the Chamber of Commerce is going to be starting an LRT task force to do just that.

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By C (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 19:01:48 in reply to Comment 83400

Better start soon. Funding decision coming in June. Important to get the message out ASAP.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 13:44:03

So where has our mayor been? Do we even _have_ a mayor? On that has opinions, champions causes, makes statements to the media, etc?

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2012 at 18:10:36

I've said it before, I'll say it again.


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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2012 at 18:52:35

Preach it, Hazel!

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 21:19:07

If the Vranich's would simply come out publicly in support of LRT we'd be off to the races.

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By PearlStreet (registered) | Posted December 03, 2012 at 22:05:51

Imagion if the area's biggest developers came together for just one media session to announce their enthusiasim of the LRT. This would greatly benefit their projects and the overall city. I doubt it would upset their dealings with the city. It would be verry enthusiastic and Hamilton of them - a great customer relations move.

Comment edited by PearlStreet on 2012-12-03 22:07:22

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 02:18:37

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 ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 12:53:40 in reply to Comment 83419

Don't forget that most of Hamilton's land area is rural. We're actually talking about most of those half-million people living within a geography a couple hundred square kilometres in size.

And the Captain is right - it's about corridors. Hamilton's LRT corridor will be a feeder to the GO service as much as it will serve cross-town transit users, similar to the case along Hurontario in Mississauga/Brampton.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 20:30:33 in reply to Comment 83441

So you are very willing to use all the citizens in all the rural areas to add to Hamilton's total but not willing to add all those km2. Hamilton before amalgamation was a city of 320,000 use that number. Can a city of 320,000 afford LRT? Does a city of 320,000 need LRT? Does a city of 320,000 want LRT? You cannot have it both ways, no matter how much you want to. Sorry to rain on your little fantasy world.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 23:49:45 in reply to Comment 83459

Both ways? No, not at all. I was not including the rural residents - note that I said "most" of the half-million. But if you want to pick at population data as a little side track, sure, let's do that. Because my fantasy world is based on reality.

At the time of the 2011 Census, Hamilton's population was 519,949. According to the Census data, 475,352 resided in one large "population centre" (i.e., urban area) and 7,881 in another small one (Waterdown), with 36,716 living in the city's rural area.

This means 93% of the city's residents were urban in 2011. To me, that is "most".

Back to the real issue:

Snarkyness aside, your questions are valid and should be discussed.

  • The question of "need" is what the transportation studies have been aimed at answering - and they have shown that the transit demand is there. In my opinion, you have to examine the entire market for transit in the city because the LRT creates an opportunity to rationalize many of the HSR's existing routes, as well as free up buses used on King/Main to expand service on other routes, or create some new ones.
  • The question of "want" has not really been discussed, aside from those who are interested in seeing this happen, and those who are interested in seeing this proposal fail to happen. How do we determine "want"? Wider public meetings? A plebiscite? Perhaps those need to happen along with balanced education of the facts, so the average resident can voice an informed opinion.
  • The question of "afford" is coming up next year and will probably be discussed extensively. How much will the city be asked to spend? Can the province afford its share? What other funding tools will be available and how will they affect the province and residents of Hamilton?

It does no service to the case against LRT to be so dismissive based on a limited interpretation of information, just as not having the right analysis and factual information does no service to the case for LRT. This is why Metrolinx and city staff have been exhaustively studying transit in Hamilton, so we can get to those questions of want and affordability.

Is there room for informed discussion in your little fantasy world?

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 23:31:08 in reply to Comment 83459

Ridiculous argument. It's like saying, "hy should rural Hamiltonians "be used" to pay for a downtown fire station or school?"

LRT is a proven city builder and density increaser. This will ease rural Hamiltonians' tax burdens. It's good for EVERYONE.

Are you questioning aerotropolis at all?

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 11:38:43 in reply to Comment 83419

Of course B-Line LRT make sense. It's not the city's population. it's about the corridor being served. Study after study shows the ridership is there whether you want to believe it or not.

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By LOL@LOL (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 07:20:42 in reply to Comment 83419

Yeah, those traffic and land use planners with the city, transportation consultants at Steer Davies Gleave, project analysts at Metrolinx and researchers at the McMaster Institute of Transportation and Logistics don't know what they're talking about. They should of just saved their time and asked an anonymous internet troll named "LOL" instead.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 08:52:40

Facing the need for a drastic tax increase, Mississauga councillors are second-guessing their own plans for a $1.5 billion LRT to modernize the city and ease congestion.

Weak support for the project became apparent this week after staff proposed a 7.8 per cent increase for the city’s portion of the 2013 tax bill. Nowhere in the budget was there funding for the light rail transit the city wants to build along its north-south spine, Hurontario St.

The mayor, who has been floating the idea of a land transfer tax to raise an estimated $74 million annually, finally said the LRT won’t t go forward if residents have to fund too much of it.

Carlson and Councillor Pat Saito said their colleagues should stop talking about the LRT like it’s a done deal.

Be mindful of wearing rose coloured glasses Ryan. Mississauga is doing a better job in some areas but there is just as much infighting and doubt as anywhere else.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 09:33:07 in reply to Comment 83426

See also K/W...

Again, challenges, not barriers.

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By Quemsilvae (registered) | Posted December 07, 2012 at 09:42:56

This rail idea down city streets is overly expensive and not only unnecessary, but a huge step backward to the movement of this city.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 07, 2012 at 18:33:26 in reply to Comment 83585


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