Comment 37778

By Mark State (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2010 at 13:26:44


As you may have noticed from past occasional postings, I love your website, and generally agree with your take on most things. However, be very careful on this one, because LRT can be either very well, or very badly applied. Without imposing my own opinion in this discussion as to whether and which varieties of LRT's are a good idea or not, this posting is a very serious caveat.

In terms of traffic management, Hamilton in comparison to most other cities in North America is a bright light of what efficient traffic planning can be. I drove my Toronto girlfriend on an illustrative cruise from McMaster to the Stony Creek Dairy for an ice cream and then back to Mac a couple of years ago without stopping for one red light en route in either direction. Because such a thing would be impossible to do in Toronto, she was completely amazed that such a thing was possible at all; and I didn't hesitate to tell her that we could probably have done the same kind of trip north and south through the city's major routes as well. Be proud of what your traffic planners have accomplished to date. In the light of what other cities on this continent are doing with their traffic planning, it is truly remarkable.

If Hamilton is to learn from the mistakes of others before re-implementing the LRT it justified getting rid of c1950, it doesn't have to look further than right next door for tips.

Toronto has scheduled new LRT lines to be built for the purpose of carrying an updated streetcar style. They will be located in reserved, curbed-off lanes called "Right Of Ways" (ROWs) built upon the 2 center lanes of our in-city rush-hour routes. The published material from "Transit City", which is the Toronto Transit Commission's LRT initiative, states clearly that running the ROWs up the center of the rush hour routes has the intention of both making it easier to use public transit, and to actively discourage the use of automobile traffic on those routes so that commuters will begin to favour public transit, which their publications label a "Higher Order" of transportation style over automobile transportation; and this despite the (more rapid) advance of automobile evolution to sustainable motive applications and Stats Can published reports that a majority (approx. one million per year increasing by approx. 10,000 annually) of commuters from Toronto's bedroom communities to the in-city area prefer automobile transit as their commuting transportation style of choice to either GO or TTC.

Moreover, the resulting lack of roadway after LRT ROWs are established in this fashion eliminates the possibility of reserving bicycle lanes on them without expropriating and demolishing at least one roadside line of homes all the way up most of the proposed routes, which, of course, would never happen.

The issue that becomes very apparent from this is not just whether LRT lines may not be a good evolutionary step for Toronto, but more importantly that not enough depth of study has been undertaken to determine what kind of LRT transit should be used, how it can be implemented to co-exist with other kinds of traffic, or where and how it would best be located to serve the city.

The TTC's expanded vision of establishing an LRT has been inhibited by its concept of the system's being a means of increasing its custom. In its current conformation, the LRT solution will act to the detriment of other forms of transportation rather than find a way where all varieties can co-exist to meet existing and forecasted population-movement styles. While its studies have concluded that LRT lines are cheaper and easier to build than new subway lines (although parts of them will be run underground), it has considered no other forms of LRT as potential alternatives to expanding the 130-year-old streetcar system now in use. And a variety of very interesting and efficient alternatives exist, even including a streetcar style implemented in a way that complements rather than impedes established traffic.

Toronto's inspiration for the streetcar style of LRT transit appears to have originated from the fact that streetcars are already in use and from the study of streetcar-style LRTs in foreign locales. But the idea of running the lines up the center of the rush hour routes --some of which will be reduced to a single lane in each direction as a result-- is the TTC's alone, since in those cities where LRT is employed (including Toronto's only existing pre-planned LRT line, by the way,) they are in built to co-exist with but do not interfere in any way with automobile, pedestrian, or bicycle traffic; and still magnificently serve their public transit function.

Because it is beginning with a blank slate, Hamilton has the advantage of being able to plan any LRT additions to the HSR from scratch. It behooves the city to take essential time to examine all the manifold possible configurations of LRT (PRT, Mag-lev, Monorail, subway, EL, streetcar, etc.) in the world, and carefully determine which varieties and installation styles would best serve the city before rushing headlong into recreating the mistakes of its good neighbour next door and spoiling the good stuff it already possesses as a consequence.

Let the city of Hamilton's LRT system continue its beacon of what is possible in traffic planning by training its eye on the future of people movement and moving forward accordingly. LRT implementation is long-term planning, and should be viewed as such.

By way of unabashed self-promotion, have I mentioned that I'm running for Mayor in Toronto in the upcoming civic elections? My websites are and (the latter not up & running just yet because it's being more professionally produced). ...Might be nice having a former Hamilton boy Mayoring the town next door, eh? Okay, Hamiltonians, turn your Toronto voters on to my websites! There'll be more about me in the media as my campaign heats up.

[Edited by request of Mark State to change the person addressed from Ryan to Adrian]

Comment edited by administrator adrian on 2010-02-03 14:48:02

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