By Jason Leach
Published February 11, 2008
At RTH, we have advocated strongly that Hamilton use the provincial money being offered for our transit system to build an light rail transit (LRT) line from Mac to Eastgate instead of a bus rapid transit (BRT) line.
Among the many advantages of LRT, possibly the most important is the spin-off development that takes place along a transit rail corridor. There are no examples of cities that saw huge amounts of development follow a BRT route. LRT is a magnet for it.
In Portland they like to say that their LRT network is first and foremost "an economic development tool". As we all know, Hamilton could use some economic development, and has ample capacity for a whole bunch of it through out lower city.
An enlightening discussion over on the Skyscraper page highlights the radical difference a rail line can bring over a bus line.
Richmond, BC has had a BRT route running through the centre of town for several years. Currently, it looks like any suburban area you'd find in Canada. Low density, car dependant and full of one-story plazas.
They are now converting the BRT route into an extension of the SkyTrain, Vancouver's elevated rail transit network.
Work is still progressing on this new rail line and already the city of Richmond has received applications or planning documents by private developers to construct 50 new condo towers along the rail line.
Obviously these developments include new retail and commercial space as well.
Why didn't this construction boom happen during the years with BRT running through Richmond? Quite simply, BRT is not LRT. It will never attract this sort of investment.
Hamilton City Council faces a decision on how to spend tens of millions of dollars from the province. Do we waste it on snazzy buses or lay down tracks that will have the potential to attract investment here like we haven't seen in decades?
Don't expect them to make the right choice on their own. Get involved:
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