Comment 105487

By jimbob88 (registered) | Posted October 21, 2014 at 11:36:28

Hamilton LRT Project – Reading the fine print

The Hamilton LRT project is characterized by the production of a large volume of reports, written over a period of years, by many different parties at a reported cost of $9 million dollars. To obtain a real picture of what Hamilton LRT might be like requires the cross referencing of assumptions and information within these reports and, in particular, a review of the “fine print”.

Nowhere is this more evident than a seemingly innocuous reference in the Hamilton King-Main Benefits (business) Case) [1]:

“At the present time, King Street and Main Street operate as one-way streets . . . . . , it is assumed for the purpose of this comparative assessment that the BRT (LRT) route would run on King Street utilizing existing rights-of-way. Under this scenario both Main Street and King Street would be converted to two-way streets for general purpose traffic.” [2]

The seemingly innocuous reference is in the last sentence:

“However, as a result of the reduced number of traffic lanes on both streets, traffic capacity on both streets (King and Main) would decrease.” [2]

One has to cross reference to a previous study [3] (that has since disappeared from the website) to find out what “would decrease” would mean for Hamilton commuters.

“Current traffic volumes in the King-Main Corridor will have to reduce by 30-40% through increased use of transit, TDM (Transportation Demand Management), and diversions to alternate routes. A doubling of current transit usage is necessary, supported by changes in parking policies and costs [4], [5] and, road and traffic control changes”

Such a large increase (doubling) in transit usage is contrary to all known transportation science and essentially impossible for a City of Hamilton’s size. It would basically mean that if you are currently a vehicle operator or passenger that commutes via Main or King Streets, either you or the person in the vehicle ahead or behind you would have to switch to LRT or would have to take an alternative route or means of travel to and from work.

The devil is in the details and the fine print.

Light Rail Transit is an important and effective means of public transportation in cities with populations in excess of 750,000 and with downtown core employment in excess of 50,000. Other complimentary demographic conditions are also needed to warrant the implementation of LRT. For smaller cities, LRT is not viable and LRT’s alleged benefits can experience difficulty withstanding close scrutiny. The risks are: onerous on-going operating deficits; business and residential tax increases; and conventional transit service reductions to support a system that is not the best transit solution for the municipality.

[1] Hamilton King-Main Benefits Case, MetroLinx, February 2010 [2} ibid, Page 24 [3] Page 1 LRT Functional Planning Analysis B-Line, McCormick Rankin Corp. April 2009 [4] A fivefold increase in parking costs (ibid, Slide 23 PowerPoint addendum) [5] A reduction in parking spaces in the CBD to 0.4 per employee (ibid, Slide 23 PowerPoint addendum)

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