Failure to seize the opportunity for massive provincial capital investment in our transit infrastucture would be devastating for the city.
By Craig Burley
Published December 22, 2014
My fellow downtown business owner Sean Burak has had some very good and trenchant thoughts about the chronic underservice that plagues our transit system and makes it difficult for transit-first travellers (such as myself) to get around the city.
Rendering of light rail transit on King Street (Image Credit: City of Hamilton)
I visit clients all over Hamilton, and commute daily from my home in Ainslie Wood to my office downtown by bus, car and bicycle. Good transit is critical to the success of my business.
I want to reiterate Mr. Burak's frustration with the lack of adequate bus service. Even the nominally well-served B-Line routes face crushing crowds, including in evenings and especially on weekends when there is no B-Line Express service.
Attempts at bus/bike multi-mode trips are sometimes nearly impossible, as the infrequently-spaced route 5 weekend buses already have full bike racks.
All this makes trying to get around the city a huge amount of trouble.
It is no wonder that HSR has seen a 25 percent decline in ridership since 1990, when municipalities and transit systems everywhere have been desperate to boost ridership to take pressure off their overloaded and hideously expensive roads.
Most of all, though, I want to underline the message that failure to seize the opportunity for massive provincial capital investment in our transit infrastucture would be devastating for the city.
LRT on the B-Line will provide significant knock-on effects for HSR operations, the ability to redirect bus service to other routes being only one example.
This is all good. But the bottom line remains that Hamilton - as a community and as a municipality - must be committed to appropriate, growth-oriented investment in our transportation infrastructure.
The smartest growth of all is in moving people with municipal transit. Not just the smartest, either: also the cheapest, cleanest, greenest and most pleasant.
I understand that not everyone shares my view that a less intransigent attitude to the Province on funding issues is politically savvy. But please do remember that this can only be a debate over tactics and politics. In terms of strategy and policy, the need for this investment is both plain and obvious.
I urge Council to reiterate its support for a full commitment from the City, the Province and Metrolinx for B-Line LRT as outlined in the City's Rapid Ready LRT report.
This article is adapted from a letter to City Council.
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