Special Report: Light Rail

Councillors Approve $300M Change to Provincial Transit Request

This new plan accomplishes two politically palatable goals simultaneously: it lets the City off the hook to invest local money in local transit, and it lets the Province off the hook to invest Provincial money in rapid transit.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 09, 2015

Last Friday, the General Issues Committee voted to modify Hamilton's rapid transit request to the Province by adding $302 million in capital funding for local bus service, including a $200 million bus maintenance and storage facility.

And with that, I do believe we have screwed ourselves out of ever getting the light rail transit (LRT) funding the Province has been promising since 2007. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong on this, but every indication is that the fix is in for Hamilton's LRT plans.

In mid-2013, Council directed staff to identify $45 million over ten years in new local investments to increase local transit service to support the east-west LRT plan we had submitted to the Province back in February.

Senior staff came back with a completely different plan: a request for $302 million - almost seven times as much money - in Provincial money over ten years to boost local transit.

We also heard, out of the blue, that Hamilton is not ready for rapid transit and won't be until we have ten-minute headways to Waterdown.

Sharp Break in Policy

This is a sharp break from what we've been hearing for the past eight years, which is that Hamilton is ready for Provincial investment in LRT. The Rapid Ready LRT plan, approved in February 2013, noted that ridership on the B-Line LRT would be midrange for successful North American cities on opening day and a top performer by 2031.

It's also a sharp break from what City Manager Chris Murray told Council in April 2013, when then-Mayor Bob Bratina - now a Federal Liberal candidate - was busy claiming that the Rapid Ready plan was not really an LRT plan:

What we've given you is a report that has a wide range of transit investments that we believe should be made in Hamilton at the end of the day. There isn't anything there that we would say is unimportant. So in terms of where we've been all along, we've been focused all along on the B-Line and advancing the detail of that B-Line so the Province can make a decision on the B-Line.

But clearly Rapid Ready has added to that a number of other investments that, should they choose, should the Province choose to defer the B-Line to some later date, we are still there with our hand in the air saying, wait a minute, there are other things you should be investing here in Hamilton. That is it.

Nowhere has the Province announced that they have "chosen to defer the B-Line to some later date" - in fact, Premier Kathleen Wynne just told Hamilton they remain committed to full capital funding for rapid transit in Hamilton.

(Incidentally, City Manager Chris Murray was at that meeting and didn't mention a staff report was coming down the pipe with a $300 million transit request. Murray says he didn't know about the staff report until after the meeting with the Premier.)

But out of the blue, senior Hamilton staff are dangling a Plan B and Council has gone for it, hook, line and sinker.

The Fix is In

This new plan accomplishes two politically palatable goals simultaneously: it lets the City off the hook to invest local money in local transit, and it lets the Province off the hook to invest Provincial money in rapid transit.

Council can keep telling themselves that LRT is still on the table if that helps them rationalize what they've done, but the most likely outcome of this coup is that the Province agrees to the $302 million and pushes LRT funding out to the "next phase" of investment - i.e. never.

Back in 1981, City Council voted to reject a Provincial proposal to fund an elevated LRT system in Hamilton. That technology was eventually adopted in Vancouver as the Skytrain, a network that has worked out pretty nicely.

This time, Council is spared the embarrassment of having to vote to reject the promise of LRT funding. Instead, they have been given the chance to kill it under the guise of voting to support it (eventually).

Likewise, the Province gets to maintain the pretense that they haven't reneged on their promise by insisting they're just following Council's will in terms of transit priorities.

And yet the Ontario Liberal Party's fingerprints are all over this file - right down to the too-cute tweet from Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale) warning council to hurry up and make a decision.

This is the classic high-pressure sales tactic: Limited time offer! Don't delay! Act now! Are you panicking yet?

Council voted to implement an unsolicited $300 million change to its transit strategy after a single meeting, with no public consultation whatsoever, only a week after the new plan was made public. That is insane.

Desperation Planning

In the absence of a coherent vision for the future, City Council keeps lurching from crisis to crisis, fumbling opportunities and losing its nerve at the first sign of difficulty. Instead of responsible stewardship we get desperation planning driven by fear and cynicism.

The City has no plan or strategy to reduce the city's huge - and steadily growing - unfunded infrastructure lifecyle obligations. Indeed, Council keeps voting to approve the construction of new roads when we can't afford to maintain the roads we have.

We know how the suburban buildout ponzi scheme plays out, but Council can't imagine a future that looks different from the 1970s. The contrast with Waterloo Region's growth strategy couldn't be more stark.

Yet we have councillors and senior bureaucrats telling us with a straight face that Hamilton is so different from other places that we can't learn from them.

I've come to understand that Hamilton is different from successful cities - but the real difference is in our dysfunctional, self-destructive political culture.

Wedge Politics Wins Again

As I wrote after Council voted to kill the King Street transit-only lane, Hamilton has an auto-immune disorder that attacks and destroys the connective tissue of civic engagement and frames every issue in us-vs-them terms.

The ugly wedge politics that dominate every urban/suburban issue in Hamilton are fundamentally instances of an organism attacking itself - stabbing itself in the heart and saying, "Take that!"

Perhaps the biggest nail in the coffin for the city's LRT plan is that it was designed to run from Eastgate Square on the edge of Stoney Creek through the downtown core to McMaster University on the edge of Dundas.

Never mind that this is the obvious choice in terms of existing transit ridership, connection to to major destinations, compatible land use and potential for new intensification.

Far too many people - including members of Council - see downtown Hamilton as nothing more than a fast automobile drive to somewhere else.

That view has prevailed for decades, with the exception of a few years around the turn of the millennium when downtown Hamilton was in real danger of collapsing entirely.

Council's sense of urgency led to the two-way conversions of James and John Streets, the esablishment of a Development Charge exclusion zone and the Residential Loan program.

Those modest programs have been paying dividends over the past several years and downtown Hamilton is no longer on life-support. However, as downtown has slowly emerged from crisis, Council has reverted to the resentment and divisiveness that led to decades of neglect in the first place.

The mini-boom is not self-sustaining and may well fizzle out if Council and senior staff can't muster the integrity and vision to do what's right rather than what's politically expedient.

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 Fran (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 09:36:15

I hope the good citizens of this city do not let these politicians off the hook by continuing to apply pressure wherever and however possible. These decisions effectively kill the potential of this great city and should not be accepted by people so easily.

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 10:59:23 in reply to Comment 110053

"I hope the good citizens of this city do not let these politicians off the hook by continuing to apply pressure wherever and however possible."

Not sure how effective using a pea-shooter is when you're looking at getting the attention of a Woolly Mammoth.

Or maybe the notion of 'herding cats' is more apt.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 09:47:32

From what I'm hearing and reading they aren't making two requests or asking the province to pick which request they would like to fund. They are packaging the bus improvements together with the LRT request for a total of something like 1.1 billion. My concern is that when the request is this large (and even 811 million was huge) and the project this extensive - what will the cost overruns be? And there will be overruns there always are. Can Hamilton foot that bill? Toronto's Spadina extension has gone 400 million over budget and the province will not bail them out. What if Hamilton is stuck with say 250 million in overruns? It would be a disaster. TO has a huge tax base, we do not.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 17:41:10 in reply to Comment 110054

I wonder how Kitchener-Waterloo is able to afford their $250 million commitment to LRT, if Hamilton's tax base is too small?

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 11:41:54 in reply to Comment 110054

Yes large infrastructure projects can go over budget. There are better ways of management that could have done. However, the $400 million over budget in the Spadina Subway extension project for example must be thought of in the context of what that project will produce for Toronto and York Region. At the least, 50,000 more commuters a day out of their cars and taking transit instead. So far no less than $200 million worth of development at York University alone just because of this subway line and it isn't even open yet. The TTC can now redirect up to 75 buses currently taking students to York University everyday to other routes to beef up service somewhere else. Vaughn's new downtown (in York Region) will receive a big development boost. This improves the commute because now companies can locate somewhere other than downtown Toronto, that has a high density of development thus making better use of the available infrastructure and not be stuck in a empty suburban office park. In fact having a series of high density ancillary downtowns in places like North York, Scarborough and Mississauga where people can work and live have relived a lot of pressure already on downtown Toronto's over stretched infrastructure.

Hamilton is blowing away a chance at a rapid transit project that will truly be transformative for a bus garage Hamilton residents should be paying for anyway. This is truly bad planning in action, the province has said by providing Rapid Transit funding, "you handle the local buses and will give you the rapid transit to propel you forward". Doing what Hamilton appears to be doing is just a real stupid way of saying, "we don't like that plan, we don't believe in rapid transit". Now Hamilton will loose in another round of infrastructure funding and probably watch many new LRT and BRT systems start around them. The hard part of this plan is that, not only are you giving away free LRT funding, it will kill off any BRT funding for Hamilton as well. As a transit guy I can tell you that, a well designed BRT system, can also be an effective form of rapid transit, that has some operating advantages over rail systems, especially when you need to building up ridership. It all depends on how you operate your system and you take advantage of the operating technology you end up choosing. Its just plain sad!

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 13:28:25 in reply to Comment 110062

I can't argue that transit isn't beneficial to a city but it is a concern that the potential liability might be too much to bear for a city of Hamilton's size and budget. Further, if the overruns come to bear when the project is half completed there may be problems paying contractors (see Pan am stadium) which will delay the work and could delay it until a council is voted in that favours cutting and running.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 12:49:59 in reply to Comment 110062

Oh just one more thing, before all the pro LRT people jump all over me, I am not against LRT. For the pro BRT people, a good BRT system done well and effectively is never cheap! If your primary argument for BRT is, like LRT but cheaper, your BRT system will fail, and fail big! All these cost arguments for BRT being so much cheaper to build than LRT hides the fact that many of the cheaper BRT systems can't move anywhere near as many people as even a starter LRT system can.

To make BRT really useful you have to do what Ottawa and York Region have done. Invest a great amount of money in expensive physically segregated rights of way that allow for maximum bus flows, not painted bus lanes on city streets although, they can be effective as well. Those painted bus lanes have severe limitations in high volume bus operations. If the bus is alone in mixed traffic it is not BRT, its an express bus regardless what politicians are promising.

Great care must be taken in how stations are designed. The number of buses that can stop at each station must be maximized meaning, bigger rail like stations with passenger platforms that can actually function moving buses in large number are better. This means allowing for bus passing lanes at each station in both directions. Deciding whether a BRT system is a open or closed one and then designing a operating plan that maximizes each types most positive elements.

Branding the system not the vehicles is a big advantage. Lots of marketing names get used and many systems have built nice GPS equipped bus stops. You can make the buses nicer all you want but, that is not going to help if the bus is slow or stuck in mixed traffic. Ottawa's experience shows that, people want a fast trip first and a seat if possible please. Buses equipped with WiFi that, look like trains are useless if you can't get on it because the transit agency couldn't afford to buy and or operate more of them.

The final point is that, if you want a BRT system over an LRT system because you believe its cheaper to initially build, you will most likely get a BRT system that isn't much better than an express bus operating in mixed traffic. Real BRT systems that have been effective over a long period of time at attracting passengers are just as expensive LRT to build and usually get more expensive than LRT to operate over time. This is the primary reason why Ottawa is converting the central Transitway to a LRT line. Yes, the right of way was designed to be converted to LRT many years ago so it has rail like shallow curve allowances and a very flat (really expensive) route, thus the conversion cost is greatly reduced. But, it was the operating cost that really made the conversion to rail an easy decision.

Are there BRT systems that handle more people than Ottawa's peak hour passenger demand of 10500 people/hour/direction and 185-200 vehicles/hour/direction? Yes, there are but, the physical length of the required downtown station platforms to maximize the needed space for handling up to 8-10 buses loading at the same time plus, a passing lane at every station and in each direction was going to turn downtown Ottawa into a bus filled expressway, not a nice experience for everyone involved and down right unpleasant for the businesses operating downtown, including some major Ottawa hotels. The operating costs of having so much of the available fleet downtown regardless, if it was stuck in on street painted lanes or a Transitway right of way through the core of the city, which Ottawa lacked, was at first slowly but now not so slowly strangling the operating budget of OC Transpo. There was just not enough room physically downtown for anymore buses and even less budgetary room for the increasing number of bus driver/operators. Will Ottawa still operate Transitways for years to come, yes, there are still many km's of Transitway untouched by the LRT plans and we are still building more of them in the southern areas of the city. One thing the Transitway was not was cheap but, it was and still is very effective at moving people. It all depends on how you use it.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 09, 2015 at 13:02:44 in reply to Comment 110068

Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I don't think any reasonable person would be against BRT in contexts where it makes the most sense. But in Hamilton, the "we should reconsider BRT" argument has come mainly from people who wanted to use BRT to undermine and kill any form of rapid transit. When pressed on the matter, the BRT contingent has acknowledged that what they really want is just express buses like we've had on the B-Line since 1986 - not rapid transit by any reasonable definition.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 11:32:08 in reply to Comment 110054

2010 Metrolinx King-Main BCA Costing:

Option 1: Full BRT 14.2 km = $220M CDN 2008 ($245M CDN 2015)
Option 2: Full LRT 14.2 km = $830M CDN 2008 ($923M CDN 2015)
Option 3: Phased LRT 9.3 km = $600M CDN 2008 ($667M CDN 2015)

metrolinx.com/en/docs/pdf/board_agenda/20100219/hamilton_king-main_bca-final.pdf

Rapid Ready allowed for a capital cost margin of plus/minus 20% (p. 5).

hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/76D38C17-DC96-4C54-8E55-3A6EA1C71D73/0/Feb25EDRMS_n414203_v1_5_1_PW13014.pdf

So full LRT alone could (using Metrolinx's 2010 numbers) come in at $1.1B, even before the HSR ask.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 09:48:33

Speechless at how council could vote to add this amount. Ryan do you have the vote break down? Who voted and how.

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 11:08:08

To me, one of the hazards of addressing situations such as this (when it seems like what's been foisted on interested parties is plain crap) is the tendency to demonize Councillors.

Besides the fact that it really doesn't frame honest future engagement all that well (and I'm being facetious here...), it also means that there's this view of Council as a group who -in camera- sit around wringing their hands while bellowing 'Mwuhahahahaha!"

If they were, then we'd have a dynamic that actually could bear less bitter fruit.

But they're not. (And if you believe they are, then I think you have sufficient motivation to correcting the situation.) They're pretty much the same people who were voted in last time, and all things being equal, they'll be the same bunch voted in next time. So with this variable kindasorta locked in, a better regard of the other variables at play is called for. Isn't it...?

Hmm... I can see it now: a panel discussion entitled 'Managing Your Councillor'.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 11:16:59

What if the province says yes and both projects are able to proceed? :)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 09, 2015 at 12:55:02 in reply to Comment 110060

I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong on this.

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By casey1 (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 11:56:32

It only stands to reason that most people on this site fail to realize that we live in a democracy where the majority vote rules. Thankfully the 11 councillors who voted for the increased investment in the current bus situation realize that the Province only committed to funding without specifying a time line. David Dixon has put some reality into the city with a plan that makes common sense a priority. Also the comparisons to Kithener Waterloo fail to realize that Regional Council has deferred a large portion of this years transit related tax increase to subsequent years after considerable public backlash. Councillors have finally demonstrated that this term of Council will be governed by common sense and that we no longer have to worry about transit being neglected in our city. Transit taxes collected by Waterloo Region this year amount to $24,000,000. Anybody that believed LRT was coming to Hamilton with no connection to the new Go Station is not being realistic. Transfers from LRT to a bus shuttle is just poor planning. MetroLinx is all about connectivity and David Dixon realizes this and has finally made up for years of transit neglect and attached the dollar figures to make it happen.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 15:57:53 in reply to Comment 110063

Thankfully the 11 councillors who voted for the increased investment in the current bus situation realize that the Province only committed to funding without specifying a time line.

I'm not sure you understand what is happening here. The city did not commit to increasing investment. They committed to asking the province for that money --- the same province who's other transit funding promises you are calling into question. This is the same point Chad Collins made during the debate and its senseless. If you don't believe the province is actually committed to funding LRT, what sense does it make to turn around and ask them for a bunch more money to fund a dubious plan for transit expansion?

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By drpgq (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 13:59:03 in reply to Comment 110063

I think we need to nip this idea of connecting the East West LRT in the bud. It is ridiculous. How many people are going to take all day GO from this station? A GO train hitting all the stops to Union is incredibly slow; the bus will remain a considerably faster option not to mention the bus station is much more centrally located and in the middle of some density. Sure people could use it to get to intermediate stops, but there's little around Burlington/Oakville/Mississauga GO stations necessitating use of poor local transit systems to get anywhere useful. Anyone I've ever known that used GO to get to their job in Oakville or Mississauga didn't do it for very long. They either quit or got a car.

Now a Beeline express bus on Barton that stopped at the new GO station, I could get behind. But having the LRT to divert to the new GO station is stupid, even if bureaucrats in Toronto think it is a great idea. They won't be taking it though.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 09, 2015 at 14:10:03 in reply to Comment 110076

To be fair, the $1XBillion dollar plan to electrify GO is supposed to make the trains faster, and I assuem there will be more semi-express buses between here in Toronto, and Mississauga is building the Hurontario LRT all the way out to Brampton which should provide another stop.

In short, the metrolinx money is for building the GO network which is why Hamilton's LRT must interact with the GO station.

Of course, the province could just stop treating the Hunter Street terminal like it has leprosy and so the LRT would only be 3 blocks from the train station, but whatever.

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By drpgq (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 16:42:55 in reply to Comment 110079

Electrification will help a bit, but the main problem is the raw number of stops. I take the S Bahn in Germany quite regularly and even though it is electrified, with a lot of stops, it isn't particularly fast. And those stops have a lot of density around them, rather than the stations on the way to Toronto which are a sea of parking lots.

The LRT doesn't have to go directly to new station. The province should let the city pick the route that gives the city the best return, not whatever makes some Metrolinx executive happy.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 14:39:29 in reply to Comment 110079

Not to mention the fact that many Hamiltonians work in Mississauga and Burlington.

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By drpgq (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 16:38:56 in reply to Comment 110080

My point still stands. If you work in Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga your commute will be miserably long using the GO train and one would be way better off by car. There's not much in terms of jobs right by the stations and adding transit to the new GO station and transit away from the traveled to GO station will take a long time.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 09, 2015 at 18:01:59 in reply to Comment 110089

Mississauga is getting an LRT line at Hurontario. That could be a huge game-changer for the Port Credit GO station. But yes, GO does need more express-trains - trains coming to Hamilton should not be hitting every minor stop between here and Union Station.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 10:43:06 in reply to Comment 110094

Currently there are a bunch of trains at rush-hour that travel express between Union and Port Credit. I'm imagining that when all-day service comes to Hamilton this will get pushed back further to Clarkson or even Oakville to keep trip times to Hamilton reasonable.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 17:39:24 in reply to Comment 110089

Thanks for that. I've been saying that on this site for years (live in Hamilton, work in Mississauga) and right now, it's 1.5-3 hours to get in to my office at Dixie/Eglington. I hop in my car and it's 45 minutes to an hour. I'd love nothing more than to take transit in to work every day, but unless there's some sort of express from downtown Hamilton out to near where I work, it doesn't work. Right now, depending on day of week/time of day, it's either: Downtown Hamilton GO to Square One, then Mississauga Transit to my office, or, Hamilton Go - Union Station, then Union back to Square One, then Mississauga Transit in. That just doesn't work.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 13:04:18 in reply to Comment 110063

"Thankfully the 11 councillors who voted for the increased investment in the current bus situation realize that the Province only committed to funding without specifying a time line."

In light of that position, why should the province have a timeline dictated to it on an entirely separate technology?

Assuming they even agree to council's dollar ask, what's to stop the province from dragging its feet or attaching qualifiers to the spend?

Example: "The Province will work with Metrolinx and municipalities on how best to prioritize transit investments through the use of rigorous business-case analyses. These analyses will help prioritize Next Wave projects that could be accommodated within the Province’s dedicated fund for the GTHA and provide the best value for Ontarians."

fin.gov.on.ca/en/budget/ontariobudgets/2014/ch1b.html#s1-26

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 14:07:26 in reply to Comment 110071

It really would be surprising (or maybe not ;) if the Province and Metrolinx accept the $302 million local bus request (which has had no BCA, no outside analysis and is clearly not for rapid transit), over the B-line LRT which has been extensively studies since 2007 and had a positive BCA review in 2010. Not to mention that $302 million request did not appear at all in the Rapid Ready report Council submitted to the province in 2013. And that there has been no consultation whatsoever on the $302 million project.

Don't forget that the province already invest $3 million in Hamilton's Rapid Ready team to contribute to the EA, 30% engineering design and consultation process.

It would be extremely cynical of the province to just throw all that due process and careful analysis away and send Hamilton $302 million over 10 years just to save money in the short term. You would hope they would at least do an opportunity cost analysis (the cost of not building the LRT). Actually, you would have thought the City would have done it, instead of making a last minute decision to turn everything upside down after just telling the Premier that B-line LRT with 100% funding of capital costs was our first choice!

Has Dixon actually explained how he thinks his proposal makes it more likely that Hamilton will get funding for LRT (as he claims)? Has he explained concretely what steps he will take and how he is working with the Province to ensure Hamilton gets LRT? Or is he just talking about some vague distant future that we can say nothing about ... maybe LRT by 2030?

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-09 14:13:09

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By Truer (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 19:04:09 in reply to Comment 110077

Good points. If the Liberals cancel LRT it will represent another gas plant scandal. Maybe that is really what's going on here, again. If they want to stay in power its better to stick to their promises. I'll not be voting for them or my wards Councillor if LRT is killed.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 10:56:36 in reply to Comment 110095

If the Liberals cancel LRT it will represent another gas plant scandal.

How so? $3 million in sunk costs is pennies. The Ontario PCs actually advocated this cancellation on their election platform, that's how uncontroversial it is. Even the liberal candidates in Hamilton ran on the same platform. Meanwhile, Toronto cancelled an LRT for a cost of over $70 million and there is no scandal. If the province walks away from this, a lot of people are going to think it was a smart move given that Hamilton council isn't even willing to spend their own tax dollars on local transit improvements. It may be disappointing but it won't be a scandal.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 11:16:55 in reply to Comment 110109

It won't be a "wasting money" scandal, but it should be a "lying to the people and wasting 7 years of time and effort and costing Hamilton $1 billion in investment" scandal.

Remember that the Liberals have promised Hamilton two rapid transit lines in three successive elections: 2007, 2011, 2014. And they kept repeating the promise in between elections as well (most recently just a couple of months ago). They also claimed that any funding decisions would be based on full benefits case analyses, which has been done back in 2010 for Hamilton's LRT but not for the $300 million over ten years in bus funding Hamilton is requesting.

The real scandal should be that the Liberals have effectively promised Hamiltonians well over $1 billion in rapid transit investment since 2007 and they have never followed through.

Remember that the Rapid Ready Report was submitted to the Province back in 2013 as Hamilton's formal request for LRT funding, backed up by an EA, 30% engineering design, land use study and extensive public consultation. It's been sitting there for two years, with no response from the Liberals or Metrolinx.

Unfortunately, our own Council is helping them reneg on their promises in order to avoid spending their own money on local, non rapid transit, buses and bus maintenance facilities.

The phrase "useful idiots" comes to mind ...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-10 11:22:27

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:08:52 in reply to Comment 110110

I think you are spinning this a little too hard. The other way to look at it is that the province is being smart by backing out of a $1 billion commitment that depends on the actions of local politicians who clearly are not prepared to take those actions. LRT in hamilton looks like a really great project if you assume that council would do all the obvious things to make it work (such as expanding local transit, reforming zoning laws/development charges, ending area rating, etc...). But it is entirely unclear whether or not council will actually do these things, and on those grounds I don't think would be entirely scandalous if the liberals decided its a bad investment. There are other billion-dollar projects in the GTA that have less political uncertainty.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 09, 2015 at 12:28:08 in reply to Comment 110063

Thankfully the 11 councillors who voted for the increased investment in the current bus situation realize that the Province only committed to funding without specifying a time line

Do you honestly think this offer will last forever? That the twisting economy won't lead the Liberals to withdraw it, or a change of government won't take it off the table?

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By Fram (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 12:21:45 in reply to Comment 110063

Except that the years of neglect need to come out of the local levy.

Why should the Province bail us out when we continue to sprawl outward and just keep building more roads? Do we wait until the "majority" bankrupt the system before we flip the paradigm?

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By tony (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 12:44:52

Two steps forward, one step back. Thank you Ryan, Joey, and the many others for doing what you do. Providing much needed analysis on issues the traditional media ignores or misrepresents. Holding our officials to account. Fighting to make this city more liveable despite the all too frequent let downs. I think we're slowly building up to a critical mass of people who are informed and care about the direction our city is headed.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 14:47:58

Anyone else find it odd that the councillor from Ward 5, one of the lowest contributors in our entire city, continues to oppose LRT and it's spin-off EcDev?

Is there some great hidden agenda in Ward 5 to continue to be a drain on the rest of the city??
And why don't the mangers at city hall point out this info not just to Ward 5, but the other low-performing wards who continually oppose urban revitalization?

http://raisethehammer.org/article/2482/?...

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By Delorean (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 16:22:25 in reply to Comment 110081

I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't just positioning himself for a run at the big chair in 2018.

Since all of this is just employment for him, by pandering to the "majority" whose city starts and ends at their property line, he should be in good shape to win.

Of course the city just continues to lose.

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By Conan (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 15:29:36

I find Chad utterly disgusting. He has the audacity to say those who thought province would ever fund LRT had drunken "Kool aide", meanwhile he actively worked to kill it. At the same time, talks about working to bring GO train to Stoney Creek and take credit for that as though it wasn't happening without him. Shame on him.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 16:02:51 in reply to Comment 110084

Not to mention he turned around and voted for a motion to ask the province for another $300 million for something they didn't even promise. He believes more strongly in funding that has never been mentioned for a project that is definitely not a Big Move priority than he does in funding that has been repeatedly promised for a project that fits squarely within the Big Move plan.

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By Roley (anonymous) | Posted March 09, 2015 at 15:39:50 in reply to Comment 110084

Chad has acted like an arrogant prick. But you know what they say what goes around comes around.

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By asingh (registered) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 10:05:12

The lack of transparency and openness at City Hall is extremely disappointing, especially when public accountability has been something City officials have been struggling with for years. This leads to a suspicion of the way decisions are made behind closed doors including arriving at these numbers. I would like to give the benefit of doubt to all concerned, although the behind-closed-doors way these numbers were arrived at does create an impression of political interference and it leaves a number of questions unanswered.

On another note, I read on Globe and Mail that the provincial government is exploring privatization of Hydro One in order to fund transit commitments: http://tinyurl.com/k2an7z6

Comment edited by asingh on 2015-03-10 10:06:55

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By Sickening (anonymous) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 12:46:40 in reply to Comment 110102

There is no accountability and that's the problem. Meanwhile, we talk about our brave young men and women fighting to protect our rights and freedoms. What are people dying for? To protect corrupt governments. We must think their lives are cheap. We should not be 'disappointed' but outraged to the point of taking action.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 10:09:10

Remember when Metrolinx gave the City $29.8M to be used for municipal capital expenditures for Transit Vehicles and Infrastructure to support A-Line and B-Line improvements?

hamiltontransit.ca/first-enhanced-a-line-b-line-amenities-set-for-spring/
hamiltontransit.ca/report-enhanced-a-line-b-line-amenities/

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 10:39:47 in reply to Comment 110103

years pass without a word from council.

But remove the bus lane? That took about 11 minutes.

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By Samson (anonymous) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 18:38:13

In Niagara they are holding a rally this Friday to bring GO transit service to them. And all of their mayors are on board already anyway! Where is our rally? Is this something the transit union would be willing to organize?

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted March 11, 2015 at 09:40:12

If council had agreed to reasonable transit funding increases over the last number of years instead of the ludicrous Zero tax increase fantasy; we likely wouldn't be having this discussion. The old Fram filter commercial said "pay me now or pay me later". Well it's pay me later time!
And I'm sure that council will continue their zero increase fantasy voyage.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:37:17 in reply to Comment 110117

IIRC....

Municipal Tax Levy / CPI Increase

2005: 3.2% / 2.2% = 1.0% above inflation
2006: 2.3% / 2.0% = 0.3% above inflation
2007: 3.4% / 2.2% = 1.2% above inflation
2008: 3.8% / 2.3% = 1.5% above inflation
2009: 1.7% / 0.3% = 1.4% above inflation
2010: 2.0% / 1.8% = 0.2% above inflation
2011: 0.9% / 2.9% = 2.0% below inflation
2012: 1.0% / 1.5% = 0.5% below inflation
2013: 2.5% / 0.9% = 1.6% above inflation
2014: 2.3% / 2.0% = 0.3% above inflation

For the last decade, Hamilton's annual tax levy has been 0.5% above the rate of inflation, on average.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 11, 2015 at 11:42:40 in reply to Comment 110119

Those are the over-all levies, not the transit share. Short-changing transit has been one of the keys to council's zero tax fantasyland.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 11, 2015 at 12:26:56 in reply to Comment 110120

Change in trips per capita between 2006 and 2013: Hamilton is he only municipality to see a decrease (of 6%)...the next lowest, Windsor, saw an increase of 7.5%!

Brampton 44.73%

Durham 40.71%

London 16.54%

York Region 19.50%

Mississauga 15.45%

Windsor 7.54%

Hamilton ‐5.96%

Average annual change in municipal funding per capita between 2006 and 2013: Hamilton is by far the lowest at an average of 1.80% (just barely keeping pace with inflation):

Brampton 10.92%

Durham 13.55%

Mississauga 9.30%

York Region 5.36%

London 4.44%

Windsor 3.78%

Hamilton 1.80%

data from HSR director Dixon's presentation to Council: http://www.hamiltoncatch.org/download.ph...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-11 12:27:55

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 11, 2015 at 13:45:46 in reply to Comment 110121

http://i.imgur.com/2JQveQv.png

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted March 11, 2015 at 12:45:35 in reply to Comment 110121

"Average annual change in municipal funding per capita between 2006 and 2013: Hamilton is by far the lowest at an average of 1.80% (just barely keeping pace with inflation)"

You're not kidding. Going off these numbers raisethehammer.org/comment/110119 average annual inflation between 2006 and 2013 comes in at 1.75%.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted March 11, 2015 at 16:15:31

Chicken and egg.

If there was some industry for someone to transit to down at the bayfront, ridership would have increased.

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