Special Report: Light Rail

Hamilton's LRT Plan is Already Comprehensive and Detailed

We have been ready for a funding commitment since early 2013. The time for confusing and delaying the issue is over.

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 09, 2014

I was a bit surprised to read in today's Spectator column by Andrew Dreschel that Ted McMeekin, Liberal MPP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale and a minister in Premier Kathleen Wynne's new cabinet, doesn't think Hamilton knows where the B-Line light rail transit (LRT) tracks will run.

During the election, Premier Kathleen Wynne and [former Transport Minister Glen] Murray both promised 100 per cent funding, but Wynne also muddied the waters by suggesting the province still needs to hear what Hamilton's transit priorities are.

That mixed message worried LRT supporters, perhaps with good reason. McMeekin says the blunt conversation that needs to take place goes well beyond council's resolution for 100 per cent funding.

"It's one thing to write a report and pass a resolution, unanimously or otherwise, and send it on. But when you're talking upwards to $1 billion, you need to have detailed discussions about the business plan. If you want to do LRT, where are the tracks going to run? Who's acquiring property? How's it part of a comprehensive scheme? The whole bit."

The "comprehensive scheme" McMeekin is looking for is the city's Rapid Ready LRT plan, which includes a completed class environmental assessment and 30 percent engineering and detailed design work - exactly as the Province requested of us.

B-Line LRT route map
B-Line LRT route map

Rapid Ready is a comprehensive 263-page document that defines and specifies Hamilton's LRT plan to a high level of detail, including a detailed land use study to ensure maximum economic uplift and a conservative analysis of tangible and intangible economic, environmental and social benefits.

Distribution of new taxable assessment with LRT and without LRT (Source: Canadian Urban Institute)
Distribution of new taxable assessment with LRT and without LRT (Source: Canadian Urban Institute)

Rapid Ready also reminds us that we already have high enough ridership on the B-Line to support LRT service on opening day.

B-Line LRT boardings per kilometre compared to other North American cities with LRT
B-Line LRT boardings per kilometre compared to other North American cities with LRT

Again, we have already completed 30 percent engineering and detailed design on the line. If Minister McMeekin wants to know where the tracks will run, here are a few examples from the city's routing design work:

B-Line LRT typical cross-sections
B-Line LRT typical cross-sections

B-Line alignment through Dundurn
B-Line alignment through Dundurn

B-Line alignment through Gore Park
B-Line alignment through Gore Park

B-Line alignment through Scott Park/Gage
B-Line alignment through Scott Park/Gage

Minister McMeekin claiming we need to do the detailed design work we've already done is eerily similar to his claim in 2011 that the city needed to complete a "feasibility study" on LRT - three years after the city had already completed its extensive two-part feasibility study and was far along in its actual planning and design work.

The time for confusing and delaying the issue is over. We have been ready for a funding commitment since early 2013.

Before the provincial election, the Liberals could claim that their status as a minority government meant they could not easily commit to capital funding for Hamilton's LRT.

Now that they have a majority government and Premier Wynne just repeated her party's promise of full capital funding for Hamilton's rapid transit plan, there is no excuse not to get on with it.

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.

5 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Meeker (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2014 at 12:47:13

But where will the tracks go? All I see here is detailed designs for Hamilton LRT. This could be Hamilton New Zealand for all I know. We really need to have an adult conversation about this studied, promised, re-promised, campaigned on (three times) investment.

Permalink | Context

By hshields (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2014 at 10:26:38 in reply to Comment 103118

Hi Ted (Meeker). Please tell your OPS advisors (before you lay them off) to get you a detailed briefing before your scheduled meeting with the City.

Also ask for the re-development plans already in the works for Dundurn Plaza that anticipates LRT.

I agree, an adult conversation is needed. Typical adult conversations start with well thought out ideas (done) and well informed participants (in the works) and then concrete steps can be taken as follow-ups. Adult conversations also require a certain level of trust and respect between the participants. This particular City leadership, in my view, has shown some distrust at the least and some disrespect at times, with their vacillation on the issue. Likewise, Ontario has shown a lack of leadership at times but, Ontario has at least been clear where their promises.

Ted, you have to be the bigger adult in the conversation: reiterate where Ontario stands; be informed about the work that has already been undertaken; be proactive in putting out commitments and follow-ups. This City needs leadership and this is the opportunity to show how great a leader a local cabinet minister can be.

Permalink | Context

By Core-B (registered) | Posted July 09, 2014 at 14:54:37 in reply to Comment 103118

Look at the B-line LRT Route map above, and you can clearly see that it is not New Zealand unless we're looking at some alternate universe.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2014 at 14:57:34 in reply to Comment 103127

Whoosh!

Permalink | Context

By zing! (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2014 at 13:58:49 in reply to Comment 103118

/sarcasm

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds