It's quite exciting finally to see the future of transit being developed in Hamilton after years of neglect.
By Jason Leach
Published April 10, 2007
Now that Hamilton has brand spanking new buses - a first in Canada, no less - running the #10-Beeline, it seems the perfect chance to look at some simple, yet good, first steps in laying the groundwork for a future Rapid Transit System.
New HSR Articulated Hybrid Bus
It was amazing to ride these new buses and see the response from people. Teenagers scrambled to get on and take pictures. Many wanted to sit over the 'bendy' part to see what that was like. All along the trip down King folks on the sidewalk stopped, stared and smiled.
It brought me back to my Portland days when new rail lines and streetcars were actually part of the fun in the city. Ben used to write articles chastising Hamilton for not knowing how to smile, let loose and have some fun. I saw more grins and excited citizens of all ages today than I've seen in a long time.
Let's hope the HSR recognizes this and really begins to ramp up service and introduce new buses such as this into the fleet.
Let's leave that alone for now and focus on the rapid bus system that will be needed to augment the streetcar line. These are some initial steps worth implementing very soon and without much additional cost other than new drivers and probably some more of these 60-foot buses.
Make the Beeline a regular route. All day. Every day. Every 10 minutes from Mac to Eastgate. When citizens know that this rapid transit option exists it will be used more than the current Beeline. A night at Hess Village, a morning at the Farmers Market etc... Also, there needs to be stops added at Gage Avenue and Wellington Street. Why the HSR chose these two major streets surrounded by high density uses to fly by is puzzling. Bus stops already exist at both locations. Just slap some #10 stickers onto the poles. I heard more than one disappointed student today have to skip riding these new buses because they were heading to Gage or Wellington area. Many seniors live in the Wellington/King/Main area. They would love to have stops right in their area for trips to Mac, Eastgate or Downtown.
A new express bus route running along Upper James down the Claremont Access to Cannon and over to John to King, back up James to Wilson and back up the Claremont. Stops would be spaced further apart than regular routes.
Another express route along Mohawk or Stonechurch from the Meadowlands to the eastern reaches of Heritage Green. Of course, this route would join with the 'downtown-bound' routes at Upper James and Upper Wentworth (see below)
An express route from Limeridge Mall to downtown and onto McMaster University (why must all Mountain buses end downtown??)
A route from the Meadowlands, down the 403 (shoulder bus-only lanes anyone?) to Aberdeen, up Dundurn to Main and downtown.
Downtown Dundas to downtown Hamilton.
Finally, I'd like to see a route that comes from Centre Mall via Cannon to Dundurn Street, over to Mac and back up Dundurn to York/Wilson to Centre Mall. Currently, there is no bus that runs along York/Cannon/Wilson from Dundurn to east/central Hamilton.
New Flyer Hybrid Bus, latest design
Obviously, the newly-established rapid transit office will begin work on having traffic signals controlled by buses and adding bus-only lanes.
Also, future purchases of our 60-foot hybrids could be of the newer style (yes, there's already a newer one) being built by New Flyer. This bus has doors on both sides and is more sleek, meant to evoke thoughts of a train or streetcar. And after seeing the gleeful response of citizens today, I'm sure these buses would be a hit.
It's quite exciting finally to see the future of transit being developed in Hamilton after years of neglect. Let's hope this is just the beginning.
Now that's an articulated bus!
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