Special Report: Light Rail

Next Steps for LRT in Hamilton, Part 1: Time for Province to Keep its Promise

With a new majority in the Ontario Legislature, the Liberal Government no longer faces any external barrier to fulfilling its commitment to fund LRT in Hamilton.

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 17, 2014

Before and during the recent Ontario election campaign, the Liberal Party danced around the question of whether they would keep their commitment to pay 100 percent of the capital costs for Hamilton's planned east-west Light Rail Transit (LRT) system.

Rendering of planned LRT line
Rendering of planned LRT line

In early May, Transport Minister Glen Murray stated repeatedly that the Liberals would fund "100% of the capital costs of the proposed rapid transit line" - but would not specify whether "rapid transit" meant LRT or bus rapid transit (BRT), which some people have proposed as a possible alternative to LRT.

BRT: Higher Operating Costs, Lower Benefits

Two of the people proposing BRT instead of LRT were Ontario Liberal candidates Javid Mirza (Hamilton Mountain) and Ivan Luksic (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek).

They co-authored a confusing opinion piece in the Hamilton Spectator earlier this year which misrepresented the facts and implied that BRT is just express buses.

This is incorrect: BRT vehicles run on dedicated lanes (usually concrete lanes to support the heavy vehicle loads) with proper transit stations, just like LRT. BRT requires the same space on the road and is just as disruptive to automobile traffic as LRT.

BRT costs less upfront to build than LRT, which makes it superficially appealing to the cost-conscious, but not that much less: it would still cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build.

On top of that, BRT has much higher ongoing per-passenger operating costs than LRT. BRT vehicles only last ten years (compare 30 years for an LRT vehicle), and the line requires more operators to carry the same number of people, since an LRT vehicle can carry many more passengers than even an extended bus. Operator costs make up most of the cost of operating a rapid transit system.

Even worse, BRT draws fewer new riders than LRT and attracts a lot less new private investment in transit-oriented development around the line.

In other words, BRT delivers a much smaller overall benefit than LRT but carries a higher ongoing operating cost - the cost that Hamilton will have to pay under the Liberal rapid transit plan.

Yet it is clear from reading the arguments of BRT supporters that they either don't understand what they are talking about or are merely using BRT as a tactic to confuse, undermine and block LRT.

Liberals Refused to be Pinned Down

In the case of Mirza and Luksic, the Liberal Party stated that the candidates' article did not reflect party policy - but at the same time refused to be pinned down on whether they would approve the Rapid Ready LRT Plan that Council approved and submitted to the Province in 2013.

In a lunchtime speech to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce soon after the op-ed by Mirza and Luksic, Transport Minister Glen Murray stopped just short of telling Hamilton we'd be crazy not to invest in LRT.

But then, during the election campaign, Liberal leader Kathleen Wynne was quoted in the Spectator saying she still needed to hear from Hamilton whether we want LRT or BRT. (This followed an exchange in early February in which Wynne asked whether Hamilton has "decided whether they want BRT or LRT".)

Wynne implied that the dissenting opinions of Mirza and Luksic - her own party's candidates - indicate Hamilton needs to make up its mind, despite the consistent support for LRT from every Council vote between 2007 and 2013.

Wynne was actually the Ontario Minister of Transport in 2010, during the period when Hamilton worked with the Province to develop its LRT plan and Metrolinx released its Benefits Case Analysis.

Now that the election is over, I hope the Liberals will consider it instructive that voters in both Hamilton Mountain and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek elected pro-LRT candidates to represent them: the NDP's Monique Taylor and Paul Miller, respectively.

Mirza and Luksic played up their opposition to LRT repeatedly during their campaigns, hoping it would resonate with the suburban commuters who make up a lot of their electorates.

In contrast, winning candidates Miller and Taylor made the following statement about LRT:

The Ontario NDP has been behind the Hamilton LRT since day one and we remain committed to this essential investment for the people of Hamilton. Our plan includes full provincial funding for an LRT line from McMaster University to Eastgate Square.

If Premier Wynne was still looking for a pro-LRT message in the election - since the Rapid Ready LRT report apparently wasn't enough - I hope she has now heard it loud and clear.

Time to Keep Promise to Hamilton

With a new majority in the Ontario Legislature, the Liberals will be able to pass the budget that triggered the election. That budget includes $15 billion for rapid transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), and specifically mentions "Rapid Transit" in Hamilton.

'Hamilton Rapid Transit' in 2014 Ontario Budget
'Hamilton Rapid Transit' in 2014 Ontario Budget

The Liberals can no longer argue that the opposition parties will block their funding strategy to pay for this investment. Funding for the LRT is included in the budget that will be reintroduced when the Legislature starts its new session.

Not only that, but the project is essentially shovel-ready. All we are waiting for is a provincial commitment and funding to get working on it. There are no un-resolved engineering problems, there are no feasibility isues, and we have multiple studies that all demonstrate the huge social and economic benefits of LRT for Hamilton.

Hamilton began to study LRT in 2008 after the Ontario Liberals promised to build LRT in Hamilton as part of the MoveOntario 2020 regional transportation proposal. The Liberals actually campaigned in 2007 on the threat that a Progressive Conservative government would put "two light rail lines across Hamilton at risk".

LRT was already the preferred technology when the Province gave Hamilton $3 million in funding through Metrolinx to conduct a class environmental assessment on the B-Line.

Council has consistently voted to support, endorse and submit the LRT plan through a series of motions dating back to the creation of the city's Rapid Transit office in the start of 2008.

The City has also conducted complementary land use studies so that when the system goes in, we will be ready to approve a secondary plan that encourages new transit-oriented investment around the line.

There is no question that Hamilton wants and is ready for LRT, its councillors and citizens alike. No other single public investment will do as much to transform Hamilton into an engine of innovation and economic growth as this essential investment in urban vitality.

I sincerely hope we can count on the Liberal Government to keep its commitment to make this happen. If they are worried about the inevitable opposition that any large, ambitious project faces, perhaps they can take heart from Glen Murray's words:

This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Part 2 considers the City's role in bringing LRT to completion.

with files from Nicholas Kevlahan

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 writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 08:52:55

Well then, let's get on with it.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:39:08 in reply to Comment 102542

Our all day GO is going to cost over $2B, double that of B-line LRT, both of which are a small drop in the BIG MOVE budget of $50B

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 09:48:12 in reply to Comment 102542

Get your cheque book out!

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:13:07 in reply to Comment 102549

we're getting our cheque book out regardless. Let's at least snag a billion for our own community instead of simply sending it all to TO, Ottawa etc....

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 09:58:39 in reply to Comment 102549

We're getting our chequebook out either way. Toronto is getting new rail transit, Ottawa is getting new rail transit, Mississauga is getting new rail transit, Waterloo is getting new rail transit.

Do you want a piece of the pie you're paying for, or are you generously donating tax-dollars to cities that are somehow less-fortunate and more-deserving than Hamilton?

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By Timeline (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 09:46:48

I'm becoming less concerned about whether the system will handle bikes and more concerned with how I'll use it with my walker. I think I was commenting on fitting strollers on when the planning started.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 09:53:33

Two business days after the election the MoE announced that none of the bids for the Randle Reef clean-up were in-budget. Two business days. I think it's clear what the Province thinks of Hamilton, regardless of election soundbites.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:52:32 in reply to Comment 102550

Environment Canada (federal) is the one handling the Randle Reef clean-up, not the Ministry of Environment (provincial). Ports- like the Hamilton Harbour- fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:00:19 in reply to Comment 102574

Oh, my mistake.

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By BRT is the better way (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:22:46

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 16:26:32 in reply to Comment 102555

And, no, BRT does NOT require dedicated concrete lanes and "proper" transit stations.

Newsflash: Hamilton already has this.. its called a 'bus'.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 14:47:22 in reply to Comment 102555

I understand all too well the gratuitously insulting statements of a narrow minded bully when I read them.

I seriously doubt you understand much of anything.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:41:58 in reply to Comment 102555

BRT - You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:09:00 in reply to Comment 102555

Define what you mean by BRT, exactly, because you're not using the same definition of BRT as everybody else.

It sounds like by "BRT" you mean "the beeline". We've already got one of those.

Don't think of the LRT as a street-car. It's not a street-car. It's an above-ground subway. Compare the TTC subway experience to the TTC bus experience - buses suck, right?

So we want a subway. The bad news is we don't have the money to build it underground. The good news is that Hamilton has so much excess lane-capacity we can build a subway right on the street without screwing up Hamilton traffic too badly (yeah, it's going to screw it up a bit, of course - you can't make an omelette yadda yadda yadda).

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-06-17 11:09:15

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By BRT is the better way (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:29:09 in reply to Comment 102561

To Pxtl - there is no single definition for BRT - whatever configuration works to fit the specific, often changing, needs would determine what form BRT takes - regardless of what "Wikipedia" defines it to be. Yes, we do have a "B Line" service, and if there were more routes modeled in the same fashion, both east-west and north-south, it would provide a vastly improved level of transit service in Hamilton at a fraction of the, upfront AND operating, costs of LRT.

To Pxtl, jason and kevlahan - I understand the terminology quite clearly and am not confusing LRT with streetcars. Have ridden both for many years. LRT has existed from the Kennedy subway station in Toronto eastward for decades now. shannon (comment above) has added other quite salient points vis-a-vis the St. Clair disaster.

By the way kevlahan, I don't "claim" to support BRT, I DO support BRT and am well aware of what they actually are.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:34:24 in reply to Comment 102567

Fine, let's assume your definition of BRT is just as legit as the one we're using. Please elaborate on it. Is BRT just express buses? What do you have in mind beyond more B-lines?

And remember, we do have an express bus up the mountain. We have an A-line. It's perpetually empty. The mountain buses are a money pit.

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By BRT is the better way (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:37:29 in reply to Comment 102569

To Pxtl - I believe your comment - "Hamilton has budgeted $800 million the the King Street LRT line, which is almost triple the average North American LRT cost per-km...." - serves as a stronger argument AGAINST LRT than for it!

To Not BRT - BRT is no more limited to a single configuration than any other mode of transit. There are subways above and underground, LRT at road level and elevated, single and double-decker buses etc. There is no law which states we must conform to Wikipedia or your rather constricted view of the "facts".

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:13:43 in reply to Comment 102570

I'm reminded of Lewis Carroll's Humpty Dumpty:

'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. 'They've a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they're the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'

'Would you tell me please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'

'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by "impenetrability" that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'

'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

'When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'I always pay it extra.'

'Oh!' said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.

And the modern art of trolling for lulz was born.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:55:42 in reply to Comment 102570

I assume you are referring to the Scarborough RT, which is an elevated system developed in Ontario in the 1970s and 1980s and installed only in Vancouver (as the Skytrain), Detroit (as the people mover) and in Scarborough (Hamilton refused a similar system in the mid 1980s.

Again, this is not at all the same as the street level LRT technology being proposed for Hamilton.

If you want to invent your own personal definitions of BRT and LRT and not explain what you mean, there is certainly no law against it. But it makes communication extremely difficult!

Why not either: explain what you mean by BRT and LRT and why this is specifically relevant to what is being compared in Hamilton (i.e. in the Metrolinx BCA which clearly explains what is being proposed), or just use the terminology in the standard way! Do you support the BRT plan for Hamilton that was analyzed by Metrolinx, or not?

Just say Rapid Transit, and then explain precisely what you mean when criticizing Hamilton's LRT or what you would propose for "BRT" (seems to be just express buses).

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:44:46 in reply to Comment 102570

$800M is far less than what we're going to be spending in Toronto, Ottawa, Mississauga, and Waterloo. The St. Clair dedicated lane street-car was expensive because they were also doing needed upgrades on hundred-year-old-plumbing while they were at it. Hamilton has billions in plumbing work to do, so some of the cost of the King LRT would be doing that work. Work that needs to be done anyways.

Why should Hamilton accept less?

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:03:47 in reply to Comment 102555

Toronto has LRT?? Where have I been?

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By Smartass (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 18:22:30 in reply to Comment 102560

>Toronto has LRT?? Where have I been?

Probably Portland.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 10:43:28 in reply to Comment 102555

Toronto has had streetcars for years, maybe that's what your thinking about. Streetcars are not the same as modern LRT.

BRT (as opposed to express buses) does require dedicated lanes and special stops to enable riders to pay before boarding and board from multiple doors.

Please at least try to understand the terminology first: LRT is not not "streetcars" and BRT is not "express buses".

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_rapid_t...

"To be considered BRT, buses should operate for a significant part of their journey within a fully dedicated right of way (busway) to avoid traffic congestion. In addition, a true BRT system will have most of the following elements:

Alignment in the center of the road (to avoid typical curb-side delays)

Stations with off-board fare collection (to reduce boarding and alighting delay related to paying the driver)

Station platforms level with the bus floor (to reduce boarding and alighting delay caused by steps)

Bus priority at intersections (to avoid intersection signal delay) "

You'll have to do better than "pure drivel" as an intelligent criticism of the economic arguments as laid out in three separate studies of Hamilton's system (by the city, province and McMaster) and demonstrated in dozens of cities in North America and Europe if you want to convince anyone!

Unfortunately, your comment illustrates the confusion propagated by people who claim to support BRT over LRT: many do not even know what BRT and LRT actually are!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-06-17 10:46:08

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By shannon (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:12:51

As someone who has experienced the St Clair right of way in Toronto I would say that a BRT is a better choice. Over 200 businesses went under during the construction, which was supposed to last a year to a year and a half and ended up lasting 5 years. All of the unions piled on a they ended up burying electrical lines and because of the construction, old rotting infrastructure could no take the vibrations from construction and were replaced. Water was running non stop for those five years onto the street from the broken water mains and the construction went 4 times over budget. Traffic is now gridlocked on St. Clair causing more pollution than ever. Large trucks have a hard time making turns and end up using the curb on corners to make the turn. Anything involving a raised platform with rails, whether it be a train or a streetcar will end up costing a lot more in maintenance over time. It was a disaster from the beginning which is why residents and business alike fought to keep this project from happening. Be wise, Hamilton and avoid this like the plague or you will be paying forever. Buses can man

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 16:36:47 in reply to Comment 102563

If the St. Clair line was a BRT it would have had the same problems.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 21:27:01 in reply to Comment 102590

Notwithstanding Rob Ford and the Toronto Sun's relentless naysaying, the St Clair streetcar has already attracted a boom of new investments and developments around the line. In addition, transit ridership is way up and automobile traffic actually flows more smoothly with fewer collisions, now that the transit line runs in its own dedicated lanes.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2014-06-17 21:27:43

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By Source please. (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 18:26:36 in reply to Comment 102593

Please back up your claim of "the St Clair streetcar has already attracted a boom of new investments and developments around the line.". Would love to see how many businesses a non-biased survey/review found that clearly stated they are investing money and developing land in that area because of the streetcar.

Give. It. A. Rest.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 19:26:52 in reply to Comment 102643

The St Clair project was badly executed, but a huge success, after the worse than necessary growing pains were out of the way. Mind you they completely rebuilt the street. Moving hydrants, burying hydro, etc.

Here are what people are saying:

http://torontoist.com/2012/03/behold-the...

link to infographic from here

This infographic based on City stats reveals a dramatically different picture than the one Ford paints: traffic congestion and collision rates are down, while traffic speed and ridership are up. Another nugget Lorinc dug up: for the period from 2006 to 2011, the total value of all building permits issued by the City on St. Clair from Yonge to Keele was $162.5 million. And as he pointed out to us, the peak was in 2008—right in the midst of construction on the street. This is an area people are quite literally buying into.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/david-r-mil...

While having a coffee with a friend at one of the terrific new cafes on St. Clair Avenue West, I decided to do an informal and unscientific survey of people's opinions about the St. Clair Avenue right-of-way. "It's great!" was the common refrain. When I probed a little deeper, people spoke about the wonderful rejuvenation that has occurred on St. Clair. Excellent new restaurants, cafes, shops and an incredible sense of street life and community have emerged in a neighbourhood that 10 years ago had a large number of small businesses that were struggling to survive. For them, the investment that the City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission made to create the St. Clair right-of-way has been a roaring success.

The articles I found that were critical of St Clair had issues with the duration and extent of disruption due to poor handling of the project. For example this or this With those renovation pains out of the way, I have not found anything to support the notion that the area is worse off now, very much the opposite.

Now, when highway bridges get replaced in a single weekend, glorious masterpieces of choreography, we hear about it in the news and ooh and aah. An LRT build is far from minor, but with ambition and skill that Hamilton still has, betcha you could build it in the time it takes to erect a Walmart.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-06-18 19:41:06

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By Cool Story Bro (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 21:10:49 in reply to Comment 102648

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 21:45:12 in reply to Comment 102653

Here's one

In Toronto, the Official Plan calls for much of the new development to be built along our main thoroughfares; it's called the Avenues plan ... The convenience of the new separate right-of-way for the streetcar is now attracting new retailers, restauranteurs, and residents alike. The Nest itself will contribute 10,000 sq ft of ground level retail to the street.

Here's another

the project has brought development to the area ... the right-of-way has raised property values on the street

I'm sure you'll find something wrong with those article too. That's sort of the problem. You're selectively discarding everything you don't want to hear. Plus I don't even know if I'm talking to the same commenter.

I personally don't have access to the filing cabinet of building permit applications, and I don't know if there was a checkbox on those forms that says "did you file this application directly as a result of St Clair right of way?" so I personally may not be able to provide the exacting level of detail you require.

But I stand by how readily available good feedback is on whether St Clair is a nicer street to live on than before.

So, after going through your stuff which was all about how bad LRT was

Wut?

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-06-18 21:53:18

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By No not really (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2014 at 21:23:42 in reply to Comment 102655

So what I've asked for is:

- Someone who specifically says they have chosen to locate where they are based on the LRT

What you've given is:
- Articles taking about how great LRT is
- Articles talking about how LRT succeeded even if politicians said it isn't or wouldn't
- Articles talking about increasing property values

See, what you're doing is trying to muddy the waters over the point. It's not about how you feel about LRT or if you think it's successful or not. It's about business owners who have clearly stated something like "hey, I chose to invest here because of LRT. I know it'll make me successful". Have yet to see it.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 19, 2014 at 22:37:35 in reply to Comment 102712

I gave you examples of Rockport and Urbancorp which in their real estate listings explicitly list the vibrant walkability and St Clair streetcar as assets.

Larry Blankenstein of Lash Development is building two condos on St Clair and says:

"People are very happy that we're developing it and they hope that more developers will come in, because it's changing the whole face of the neighbourhood." Another thing that has changed the face of the neighbourhood is the new St. Clair streetcar right-of-way, which Blankenstein says is a major reason why the developers chose to locate the condos where they did. But he acknowledges that not everyone has embraced the line, in part because the lengthy project created upheaval in the community. "There have been a lot of growing pains because it took longer than expected. But I think it will be the way of the future," he says, noting that new restaurants and stores have been popping up along the strip.

The city of Toronto actually has a study in progress to gather metrics on the changes. In the meantime, say you're still not convinced. Who cares. It was a fun diversion reading up on that street's rejuvination.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 14:46:04 in reply to Comment 102563

Do you like making your life more difficult? How great will it be if we keep spending all our tax money on car infrastructure? Can you try for a couple of minutes to grasp what this continued pattern is going to end with? Try it for 5-10 minutes, have a teeny bit of foresight please.

Comment edited by DissenterOfThings on 2014-06-17 14:52:36

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By shannon (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:17:27 in reply to Comment 102563

This is the rest of my comment:
Buses can manoever through traffic in case of an accident. A rail vehicle, obviously, cannot. If your taxpayers like throwing money out the window, go for it.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:30:35 in reply to Comment 102565

So, do you take the bus? Why not?

Buses make constant long stops, which makes them slow, which throws off the schedule. With the schedule thrown off you get the 30-minute-gap-then-4-buses problem. They also shake the crap out of you and get horribly overcrowded. Plus, the drivers have to juggle managing the boarding process and driving safely and keeping their schedule, which makes them justifiably but unacceptably cranky.

Buses are a miserable experience. We put up with it for short sprints, just like we put up with walking from a parking lot on a hot or rainy day. But expecting anybody who has better options (ie: a car) to take the bus is hilariously naive. You may as well ask them to jog to work. Obviously many folks do take the bus, but they're people without better options (bums, students, and the disabled) or people who are ideologically committed to buses.

But we need people to take more transit. Both for environmental reasons and also so that we can intensify downtown development (instead of giving over entire blocks to parking lots). So we need transit that doesn't suck.

And buses suck.

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By Not BRT (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:28:00 in reply to Comment 102565

BRT Buses can't manoever because they are on a separated lane - If you are in favour of BRT fine, but get your facts straight. If what you really mean is more basic bus service than call it that - but it isn't rapid transit: LRT or BRT.

As a straight up comparison LRT is:

Faster
More efficient
Cleaner
More economically efficient
Carries more people
Delivers more economic development benefits

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 13:03:06 in reply to Comment 102566

you must remember, folks who say they are in favour of BRT are really in favour of anything that will result in less money being spent anywhere except more roads and highways. Deep down they would rather not spend a dime on transit, but given the opportunity to confuse the public with misleading statements and untrue facts, they will take that route all day long. Sad part is, it's not like Hamilton will get to keep the extra few hundred million if we choose to not build LRT. We'll be sending it to all our competing cities who are begging for LRT money. And we'll be left with the higher operating costs and less economic development of BRT forever, while our competitors invest in a real transportation and EcDev network that will turn them into boomtowns, and allow poverty inc to reign supreme here for decades to come.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-06-17 13:03:37

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 17, 2014 at 11:16:00 in reply to Comment 102563

Hamilton has budgeted $800 million for the King Street LRT line, which is almost triple the average North American LRT cost per-km. I think the planners are ready for that.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 12:30:20

In my opinion, the debate will change dramatically once we see the first real LRT lines up and running in Toronto. Then we are not talking about photographs or something that is in far-away Europe or Japan but something that people can easily go and see for themselves.

The Eglinton Crosstown LRT is a good example. Among other things, for about 1/2 its route it is in an underground tunnel, and for the other half in a dedicated right-of-way. Thereby demonstrating the flexibility of LRT.

I note that, if it was not for a certain Rob Ford cancelling the project while it was underway, the Sheppard LRT would have started operation in September 2013. So we would already have a real life example in operation. Sigh...

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2014-06-17 12:33:41

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 16:41:48 in reply to Comment 102578

Then we are not talking about photographs or something that is in far-away Europe or Japan

Or Calgary or Vancouver or Houston or Portland or St. Louis or Minneapolis, to name a few. I do agree with you, but just to say that LRT is not a foreign concept in NA, there are examples of it all over the place already. But yeah, the Crosstown will be helpful in this debate although I would be pretty pissed if we are still just talking in 2020 when it opens.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:53:55 in reply to Comment 102591

interestingly enough, every city you mention is working on new lines and expansions of their LRT network. Apparently Hamilton's basement trolls need to do a better job getting out the 'real' facts and info before all these cities keep wasting millions of dollars. And of course, the first LRT lines in these cities must have been colossal failures. Because as we know, cities like to spend precious $ on expanding the network of something that has already proven to not work.

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By Andreas (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 15:13:09

I was born and raised in Hamilton. I have also lived many other cities across the globe, both small and large. I have studied urban planning and worked in a transportation planning office. The process of selecting these projects is far too political, for an obvious decision that will improve people's lives and the future of the city. Hamilton is at another turning point. A smaller city historically, Kitchener-Waterloo is now pegged to grow larger than Hamilton within 5 years, and they have decided to build an LRT in order to meet these growth challenges. Even a suburban paradise like Mississauga has Mayor Hazel championing LRT, for the benefits that it will bring. Hamilton needs to work together, the blue collar, the driver, the rural, the business as usual advocate, along with the progressives, the pedestrian, the urbanite, the politicians, and city planners. LRT is considered higher-order transit. It moves people far more efficiently, freeing up road space for others. It will help businesses downtown with its convenience. We should not be left behind by this decision. We all have to champion an LRT in Hamilton and figure out a plan for the Province and the Federal government to get on board. If Kitchener Waterloo can do it, we should not let this pass us by!

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2014 at 15:52:22

I agree that, like the stadium where you will have some people that didn't want it despite all the money coming from the province, the same for LRT. If you want the money, you have to be in the game despite naysayers as there will be with any large project. LRT, while an expensive proposition, could be a game changer for Hamilton help rejuvenate many areas of the lower part of the city and provide a transportation infrastructure that is needed.

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By Ignorance (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 00:12:19

The famous Muslim legal scholar said Imam Shafi said "I've never debated with a knowledgeable person, except that I won the debate, and I have never debated with an ignorant person, except that I lost." Seems to be characterize the situation with these ignorant LRT opposing trolls, an informed argument never seems to defeat them.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 11:24:48 in reply to Comment 102594

Why if they oppose the LRT are they Ignorant? maybe they are just as well informed and you are the ignorant one.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:39:00 in reply to Comment 102601

Green is Red, black is white, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:11:00 in reply to Comment 102601

^Exhibit A.

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By obarkov (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 11:21:22

Looks like the rest of the world is fine with BRT, I guess they are all wrong.

http://www.dmiblog.com/archives/2009/02/...

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By Trollbegone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:05:19 in reply to Comment 102600

Why yes, one blogger writing about an interview with a BRT lobbyist who thinks New York should build a BRT line on one street totally represents "the rest of the world", thank you for setting us straight.

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By obarkov (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:45:50 in reply to Comment 102603

Really have you been to Boston? Or Pittsburg? How are there BRTs? Did you like them or are they a failure.

One fact about LRT I know is that if you have a different opinion or idea you will get ripped on this site.

Sorry by the "the rest of the world" I meant 42 countries and 200 systems on 6 continents.. but I am a troll what do I know?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bus...

Comment edited by obarkov on 2014-06-18 12:52:41

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:56:34 in reply to Comment 102614

No one has claimed that LRT is always better than BRT in every circumstance.

We are discussing whether LRT is better for the B-line in Hamilton, and the City staff and Metrolinx specifically compared BRT and LRT on this line and presented good arguments for why LRT is the better choice.

BRT would probably be a better choice for the A-line route, both because of the escarpment and because of the lower ridership and densities (at least initially).

You'll notice that your list has many BRT systems in poorer countries. Indeed, BRT was initially developed in Brazil as a cheaper alternative to subways or rail based RT. In North America and Europe regular buses, subways, BRT and LRT and heavy rail (like GO) are all used, depending on the specific circumstances. You could have just as easily done a screen dump with dozens of LRT systems, or subways, but it doesn't prove anything about what the best choice is for the B-line in Hamilton, just that other cities have used BRT on some routes!

And you shouldn't be surprised that people are a bit annoyed when you post a dismissive, overly general, snarky comment like "Looks like the rest of the world is fine with BRT, I guess they are all wrong."

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-06-18 12:58:54

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By Trollbegone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:51:57 in reply to Comment 102614

I've been to Boston and Pittsburgh, have you? Both of them have very successful light rail systems. So do around 400 other cities, and many of those cities are busy adding to their light rail systems because they're so successful.

But feel free to be all butthurt because I called you out on defining "the rest of the world" to mean a BRT lobbyist in New York.

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By obarkov (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:09:44 in reply to Comment 102616

I just don't understand the hate for buses. Its public transit, its cheap, I have taken the bus thousands of times. Its not that bad.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:17:27 in reply to Comment 102623

We can do better than "not that bad". Everybody with a car experiences better and faster than "not that bad" and that's why they drive instead of take the bus.

The bus represents the bare minimum form of public transit. It's the Edsel of transit (ironically, I've seen the Toronto CLRV trolleys called the Edsel of trains). It gets you from point A to B with the minimal comfort, speed, convenience, etc. Which is why buses are predominantly filled with poor people who can't afford a car (because of disability, addiction, or being a young starving student) plus a few idealists who use it for ideological reasons.

LRT, subways, and commuter-trains get middle-class people into transit - people who actually have an alternative to transit take these conveyances. People who could drive into downtown will happily walk onto an LRT. They'll push a stroller onto one (instead of receiving the stroller-stink-eye from the bus driver as they painstakingly try to get it up the step). They get there quickly instead of adding a bunch of extra time to their trip.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-06-18 13:18:12

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 11:30:47

LRT is great to move large numbers of riders from one location to another. Unfortunately Hamilton doesn't have a need to move large numbers from point A to B. The current bus system stops frequently to pick up and drop off riders, as that is what the people of Hamilton need. The LRT would be a waste of Tax payers money in Hamilton. if we had one bedroom community that feed workplaces then I could see the use. We have several areas and not everyone works in the Core. Being opposed to LRT doesn't mean we don't see the value in LRT.

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By H2 (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:18:32 in reply to Comment 102602

If we don`t have the numbers, how come our CURRENT ridership would put us in the middle of the pack of successful North American cities if we open LRT on the B-Line today, never mind the growth in ridership that would come. These are not projections or estimates, this is our current ridership on an antiquated system.

I guess value is all relative. You certainly see value in having our share of provincial trasnit money go to another city. Whatever feeds you....

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:28:01 in reply to Comment 102606

Pleas provide the Stats. Our share of what?? you mean the tax dollars we pay? just to be wasted here or elsewhere. what a totally stupid way of looking tax dollars..."we will waste it anyways.

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By Trollbegone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:34:43 in reply to Comment 102609

Gosh, trolls just LOVE making other people re-do work that's already been done over and over again just to keep wasting everyone's time. Just go to the search box in the top right corner of this page and type 'ridership on the b-line', there's an easy start for you.

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By Trollbegone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:07:35 in reply to Comment 102602

The B-Line already moves large numbers of people from one location to another - enough to fill an LRT line as a matter of fact. But why let facts get in the way of FUD? You see the value in LRT, you just oppose it in the place where all the studies say it makes the most sense. Not ridiculous at all!

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:23:50 in reply to Comment 102604

What large group of people? If it already does then why do we need to spend so much just to change the type ride they use? Use say we ingnore the facts about LRT in Hamilton! there are no facts about LRT in Hamilton. it is all guess work.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:30:53 in reply to Comment 102607

Because the current B-line buses already cannot meet current demand, especially during rush hour when buses are over-crowded and by-passes of full buses are common.

Let alone increased demand from new residents and businesses downtown, the McMaster Innovation Park and other developments already under construction.

Bus frequency cannot be increased significantly without a change to some sort of higher order rapid transit.

There are an (over) abundance of facts about LRT in Hamilton: three professionally produced studies have been written (by the City, the Province and McMaster). If you reject all the data and analysis in these studies as "guesswork" no amount evidence would ever convince you about anything that doesn't already exist!

And the insufficient level of service provided by buses now and in the future is only half the case; the other half is the economic development argument which is also well laid out by these reports and by examples from dozens of other cities.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:26:55 in reply to Comment 102607

That's some impressive goalpost-moving right there.

"LRT is bad because there is no ridership"

"LRT is unnecessary because we've already got ridership"

You've pretty much demonstrated you're not really willing to discuss this in good faith.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:34:22 in reply to Comment 102608

can't anyone read and understand what they read? I am told we "need LRT". LRT moves large numbers from point A to B in a timely fashion. people don't like the current bus system because of the frequent stops. therefore the LRT will move from A to B quickly carrying lots of riders. if this need is being fulfilled now ,why do we "need" LRT? just because it is new? is there true need? no one will answer the questions.. please don't give links to articles or presentations glorifying the attributes of LRT. just explain why it is need in the Hammer>

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:54:42 in reply to Comment 102611

please don't give links to articles or presentations glorifying the attributes of LRT.

You ask for Stats and then you tell the commenters not to provide them.

just explain why it is need in the Hammer

The commenters explain and then you disbelieve and ask for stats.

You just want someone to concede to your point of view and you'll go in circles to do it. The answers to your questions were researched and answered years ago by the Rapid Ready team. You just don't like those answers, which is your right, but you pretend they don't exist, and refuse to be shown them.

There, how's that for a clear explanation.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-06-18 12:56:46

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:45:18 in reply to Comment 102611

Please read my reply: because capacity is insufficient now and in the future, and because of the economic development generated by LRT in the economically under-performing land near the line.

You keep asking people to answer your questions, but these questions have been answered over and over again on this very site.

Why not spend some time reading instead of demanding that others do the work for you.

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By Trollbegone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 12:52:58 in reply to Comment 102613

"Why not spend some time reading instead of demanding that others do the work for you."

Because the point of a troll is to waste everyone's time.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:21:05 in reply to Comment 102617

I have, the report writers and presenters all think its great. No one can show a real need for it. They just give examples how it works in other (very different) cities. They estimate the benefits as no one has any hard data on Hamilton. I someone was going to invest in the city if we agreed to build the LRT, then would be a need. one to get the investment, but claiming it will provide possible benefits is not a need. it is a want.

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By Trollbegone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:24:57 in reply to Comment 102627

Terry Whitehead, is that you?

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By Trollbegone begone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 18:29:50 in reply to Comment 102629

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 Trollbegone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:04:01

I can see you want to make this difficult, so I'll try to make it simple.

Regular bus service makes sense in some places.

BRT makes sense in some places.

Streetcars make sense in some places.

LRT makes sense in some places.

Subways make sense in some places.

Gondoliers make sense in some places.

I'm not against BRT. For some places, BRT makes the most sense. The B-Line is not one of those places. All the studies we have show that LRT will have more riders, more investment and more ROI than BRT and will be more cost effective for us to run.

But yay BRT in places where it makes more sense.

Is that simple and clear enough for you?

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By Trollbegone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:08:18 in reply to Comment 102621

Sorry this was a reply to obarkov but the comment is gone.

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By obarkov (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:13:57 in reply to Comment 102622

Ya, I didn't like my comment.

But I totally agree with you. Different systems work in different places.

I just have a feeling that BRT can get done but LRT is going to be a big stretch.

I feel if the gambit is LRT or nothing... we might get the latter.

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By Trollbegone (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:22:00 in reply to Comment 102625

Now we're getting somewhere. The Province has been promising LRT since 2007, and they LITERALLY just promised again that they will pay 100% capital costs for the rapid transit system Council supports, ie LRT. The research is already done. The planning work is already done. The engineering and design is already done. The Transport Minister loves Hamilton and practically begged us to pick LRT just a couple of months ago. Why would we throw that away and give up on LRT when we're finally so close to the finish line? BRT will be even more controversial to build than LRT since we'd be getting less overall benefit in exchange for dedicating two lanes of Main/King.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:32:18 in reply to Comment 102628

Exactly that. Other than the outlay of cash and construction, BRT has all the costs of LRT in exchange for far fewer benefits. And the outlay of cash? Every other city is getting that same deal or better. Why should Hamilton say "no, okay, Ottawa and Mississauga and Waterloo and Toronto can have our money"?

If the Province wants to back off on Metrolinx and say "y'know what, we can't afford all this municipal transit stuff we've got planned - you're all out of luck"... well, I won't be happy, but at least I'll understand. But I'll be damned if I watch Hamilton's nay-sayers screw this up for us the way they screwed up the stadium, while my tax dollars get funnelled into cities that already have far healthier economy and transit than Hamilton.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 13:09:49

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people
I guess because you can't simply state why we need LRT and just want it, it upsets you, sorry

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 14:05:03 in reply to Comment 102624

I guess because you like to change your argument, repeat nonsensical statements and just ignore any of the facts or evidence spelled out for you again and again, you've won the Internet. You can go back to bed now, the game is over.

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By H2 (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 14:41:55

This debate is fantastic. I had no idea how empty the opposition to LRT had become. If it`s literally down to `Hamilton doesn`t deserve LRT` than we don`t need to bother with the detailed facts and figures that we have at our disposal. Life is too short to waste on folks with an inferiority complex. Let`s move on to more important matters...like what to call the system. Ottawa has the O-Trail, I like the Hamiltram.

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By obarkov (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 15:12:19 in reply to Comment 102634

I think a poll of Hamiltonians on the LRT would shock you. Just a feeling I have, I am not sure if there ever was a poll done. Personally I rarely talk to anyone who is for it... but I may be talking to the wrong people.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted July 24, 2014 at 08:39:45 in reply to Comment 102636

Everyone thinks their side would win a poll, until you do a poll. That's why we poll.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 17:25:11 in reply to Comment 102636

There was never an official poll of all Hamiltonians (and I don't think there ever has been one on any big issue in Hamilton), but the Rapid Transit team engaged in the most massive public outreach exercise ever in Hamilton and found overwhelming support based on thousands of comments gathered from meetings all over the city and online.

In addition, Mayor Bob Bratina was elected on a pro-LRT campaign platform.

And, as this article points out, all successful Provincial candidates in Hamilton ran on a pro-LRT platform, and the two candidates who made a big deal about being anti-LRT both lost.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-06-18 17:25:40

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By Huh? (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 18:30:57 in reply to Comment 102641

"In addition, Mayor Bob Bratina was elected on a pro-LRT campaign platform."

He was? When? His platform was no platform, other than exploring de-amalgamation.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 20:28:35 in reply to Comment 102645

To the extent that he had a platform, he campaigned from a pro-LRT position and only flip-flopped after the election.

A lot of progressives voted for Bratina due to the fact that he took a more progressive position than Eisenberger on many issues such as the aerotropolis. It's quite conceivable that he wouldn't have won if he'd run on an anti-LRT platform.

Comment edited by highwater on 2014-06-18 20:31:45

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By you're right (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 21:20:16 in reply to Comment 102650

You're right, my mistake. I took a look at archive.today/XPBAm and it does show that he claimed he would "Work with all levels of government to bring Light Rail Transit to Hamilton".

Some other things that brought a smile to my face:

"As Mayor of the City of Hamilton, Bob will...

* Provide real and effective leadership to our City Council."
"Leadership

As Mayor, Bob will...

- Provide strong leadership characterized by consultation, consensus-building and decision-making that will benefit the greatest number of residents
- Insist on strict adherence by Council to the Rules of Procedure so that Committee and Council meetings will operate in an efficient, business-like manner
- Confront the fact that forced amalgamation has created deep divisions in our community and has not worked effectively to improve the lives of our citizens
"I'm going to lead by example with an open door policy and demand the same of Council. I'll implement the live-streaming of all committee meetings so that the public can see city hall in action.""

Can't wait to see the postmortem on his term as mayor.

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By Gored (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 14:58:04 in reply to Comment 102634

Ooh, I call "Tramilton!"

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By Howabout (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2014 at 19:56:22

"Traminator!!"

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By positive1@cogeco.ca (registered) | Posted June 19, 2014 at 00:44:58

Regarding trolls or others who continue to make nonsensical arguments against LRT, could it be some sort of orchestrated campaign by bus lobbyists in disguise? How else could you explain their refusal to acknowledge sound fiscal, economic, environmental and social arguments FOR LRT? In a tit-for-tat dispute, they may claim that those in favour of LRT might be secretly shilling for the LRT manufacturers. However, at least those who are pro-LRT can claim numerous logical augments and legitimate case studies supporting LRT. For BRT, other than initial cost (for the nth time, which the province will cover) there's not much to recommend it after that. Unless you work for a company that makes them.

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By A Bit out There (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2014 at 07:10:59 in reply to Comment 102661

This is a bit tongue an cheek so don;t get whacked out, but by my calculations about 30,000.00 people take the bus every day in Hamilton. It's going to cost about a billion dollars to build the LRT. That's $33,000.00 per rider. (I know more will come.) why not buy them all a $15,000.00 car and put the balance in trust to pay for their insurance or a replacement car in 8 years.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 19, 2014 at 07:26:00 in reply to Comment 102665

You mean aside from the fact that Hamilton adds a hundred million dollars, mostly in roads, to its unfunded infrastructure debt each year; or that the city really would experience gridlock if all the people taking the B-Line bus were to drive instead; or that the downtown is vastly underperforming its potential and could be a major generator of economic activity and new tax revenue; or that car-dependent land use adds to the city's net infrastructure liability even after development charges and property taxes are taken into account?

Hamilton cannot function as a city without high quality transit. LRT is not just an investment in moving bus passengers, it is an investment in economic and social sustainability.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 19, 2014 at 12:59:56 in reply to Comment 102667

You know, I just had a thought experiment. It would be interesting if some eccentric billionaire conducted an experiment where everyone that takes transit was given a car instead, for a day, or a few days. Jam the roads right up, and likely, ensuing collisions would block even more lanes and intersections. Sort of a "reverse critical mass". I wonder what such an experiment would look like.

Do you think Mythbusters has enough in its budget to put everyone that takes the B-Line in a car and insure them for a few days? Assume user buys gas. Then again, at $1.41 maybe they'd rather bike, even with a free car.

Lulz.

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