Downtown Bureau

LRT Could Really Happen

Jason Leach is encouraged after meeting with the public works planners studying rapid transit.

By Jason Leach
Published April 30, 2008

I recently had a meeting with Jillian Stephen, Lisa Zinkewich and Jim Dalhmers from the city's public works department.

I honestly think we are going to get light rail transit (LRT) on the east-west line.

I really hammered home the points about economic development being prominent on LRT and not on bus rapid transit (BRT).

The Skoda/Inekom vehicles used in Portland's streetcar address several issues being brought up by the Hamilton rapid transit feasibility study.

Size: No need to expand lane widths with these vehicles. They are LESS than 3m wide. The report talks about widening lanes through the lower city to 3.5 meters. Not doing this, of course, allows for perhaps an extra lane of parking or even some turning lanes.

Grade: They can climb a continuous grade of 9 percent, steeper than the Claremont Access.

Cost: these things are incredible. Shallow-slab construction cuts the cost down to about $15-17 million per km.

Capacity: Portland uses the 3 section vehicle. They purposely chose this since they already have full sized LRT and wanted their streetcar to be just that – a mixed-traffic streetcar. The vehicles are also available in five-sections, which would be more suitable for us since we'll be using them in an LRT type of system.

I really think these modern streetcars are the ticket to us being able to pull this off, not just on the B-Line, but A-Line as well.

We discussed the fact that any obstacles to LRT on the A-line (North-South from James St. up to Mohawk College and then along Upper James) can be easily remedied. They had already thought of my idea of using the Claremont and exit to Mohawk College instead of James Mountain Rd, due to grade.

I suggested my cross-section for Main and King that I did last year with two eastbound lanes on Main and two west on King with LRT both ways on Main and all 1-King buses on King.

They agree that there is ample lane capacity on York/Cannon/Wilson.

I spoke to them about the modern streetcars instead of full-sized LRT vehicles. They said Hamilton can handle 80 foot long trains. That is awesome!

The Portland Streetcar is 66 feet long, so we can easily add another 15 feet to the length of the Skoda/Inekon cars. I left them some info about those vehicles.

I'm excited - I really see this happening. I told them that I was shocked at how quickly this has happened and they said, "so are we."

They had good questions about economic development along routes and I was able to explain the concept by using Red Hill as an example.

One of them asked, "How soon does economic development follow?" I likened it to the homes that starting sprouting up on top of Red Hill while it was still under construction. Same thing here, but it's urban, high density development, not low density.

Hamilton Light Rail / Transit Users Group are holding a public meeting on May 1. Make sure you attend!

The city is also organizing public information centres to get feedback on the study, on May 6, 6:30 - 8:30 PM at the Sackville Hill Seniors Recreation Centre - 780 Upper Wentworth St., and May 8 6:30 - 8:30 PM at the Board of Education - 100 Main Street West.

Visit the city website for more details.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

40 Comments

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 01, 2008 at 14:09:33

I'm not quite sure why Jason is pushing the smaller 'modern streetcars' rather than full LRT.

As the photo from Grenoble in Wilson's Spec interview shows, even a long 44m Citadis car can fit into very small streets since it is not very wide (2.4m) and has 7 articulated sections (which allows it to negotiate tight corners). The modern streetcars Jason mentions are 80ft = 24m which is MUCH small than the full-size LRT.

Since operating costs are similar for smaller and larger vehicles (the major cost is the salary of the driver), Hamilton should go for full-size from the start. If a 44m articulated vehicle can fit the narrow winding historic centres of European cities, they can definitely fit Main St!

This is an important point since the 300 passenger capacity we've used at Hamilton Light Rail is based on full-size LRT.

We don't want to make the mistake of building infrastructure for short modern streetcars and then discover that the platforms are not long enough when we need to scale up. Vancouver fell into this trap with skytrain (initially called ALRT: automated light rapid transit). The platforms are not long enough to meet current demand.

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By Tim Jacobs (registered) | Posted May 01, 2008 at 17:01:04

Terrific news! I can't wait to ride the LRT in Hamilton!

I know this is early, but is there any chance that the east-west line can somehow be extended to the end of King ST in Dundas and then maybe up Ogilvie or Osler, then back downtown via Main ST?

Just a thought. Anyway, terrific work on the LRT advocating!

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 01, 2008 at 18:05:59

some clarification re: modern trams. The Skoda/Inekon vehicles can be built to suit Hamilton's needs. I'm not suggesting we use the small vehicles that Portland is using as their streetcar line.

Here are some examples:

http://www.inekon-trams.com/pento_low-floor_tram_tech_specs.html This tram holds between 215-300 people.

This one holds between 230-324 people: http://www.inekon-trams.com/superior_low...

Here are some more images that I think would be suitable for Hamilton: http://flickr.com/photos/trainplanepro/2...

http://www.inekon.cz/showdoc.do?docid=14...

http://www.skoda.cz/darkblue/produkty.as...

These vehicles are slightly narrower than many LRT vehicles, and are cheaper to construct tracks due to their lighter weight. Yet, they still hold as many passengers.

I agree with kevlahan, if these trains can exist in narrow European streets, we should have no problems here.

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By trey (registered) | Posted May 01, 2008 at 20:13:31

Given the City's love of consultants. If ever they decide to hire a consultant for LRT, I'd hope the City would be wise enough to hire someone like Jason Leach, Ryan McGreal, Nicholas Kevlahan, Sean Burak, etc.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 02, 2008 at 08:44:52

Hi Tim,

I think that's an excellent idea. One common result of cities building light rail lines is that after a few years, they start planning to extend them.

The best thing to do now is to contact the city's rapid transit planning team and let them know that you support LRT and even want to see it extended:

http://www.hamilton.ca/rapid-transit

I helped organize last night's public meeting on light rail, and I can't stress enough that every rail advocate needs to communicate their support to the city during this crucial public consultation period.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted May 04, 2008 at 16:49:49

Gotta Love Those Stations Espoused of the Grand Central's Air

LRT could really happen but should it? Not if the only arguments are through the eyes of worn out green spectacles. Two of the four points in MoveOntario 2020's (perfect vision?) of what "effective and expanded public transit" will do:

  • Cut smog and provide cleaner air to breathe
  • Help Ontario reduce greenhouse gas emissions

MoveOntario 2020's main focus is on less pollution by discouraging 300 million car trips with 800 million more transit trips on GTA roads. Forget about how the grid's additional electricity is generated folks, whether it be with Nanticoke's coal or those little cubes the nice lady holds in her hand on those billboards around town. So small and so clean and there's always a market for DU on some others fields, battled greenly unseen. The energy required to power those trams or those citizen's cars, is roughly the same environ-mentality speaking like czars, so please take off the green velvet smock spun of stars.

Besides, we live in a steel town full of stacks, so give us a break will ya Jack!?

MoveOntario 2020 claims 175,000 jobs would be created "during construction" and modern transit will "attract" thousands more jobs in the future. That point is the last of the four poorly made, though it still has a greenish tinge with the "quality of life" slur:

  • Support sustainable urban development that leads to stronger communities and a higher quality of life.

Even the Rapid Transit Feasibility Study makes a similar claim:

  • be a catalyst to economic development and growth.

Shall we look at claims of stronger communities for sustainable urban development as a support catalyst for growth?

STRONGER COMMUNITIES

We the people who will lose our mobility with the loss of our motor vehicles because we can no longer afford the loan, the insurance, the maintenance or the parking and the gas, will have to carry by hand on foot our goods to trams ass. This exercise will make us less fat and most likely stronger also at that. Gone will be the Sunday drive and picnic baskets loaded for a trip to the countryside. Usher in the family of four half day trips to the city's core grocery store. With 200-300 other shoppers, their kids, their goods and bags pocket pickers galore.

SUSTAINABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Not so much here but over there, in the old Soviet Bloc. The Czechs will be receiving 100% of what we pay for a tram into THEIR sustainable urban development's manufacturing base. Working Moms and Dads in the Czech Republic villages will be feeding their families with money from Canadian taxpayers in the midst of this:

Rail car maker heads south http://thespec.com/article/221661

National Steel Car to build Alabama plant http://thespec.com/article/221208

National Steel Car plans layoffs http://thespec.com/article/362651

CATALYST FOR GROWTH?

Perhaps it is a bit apropos where in Seattle they boast:

Ride the SLUT!!

I hope everyone knows the joke...if not, here's what happened.

When Seattle launced the plan for the streetcar line they had not really named it. About 6 months ago, about the time the cars for the line began showing up from the builder, Seattle named it the "South Lake Union Trolley". The acronym was picked up right away by a coffee lounge in the area that, realizing the value of it, had lots of T-shirts and hats, I think prepared that said, "Ride the SLUT" Officials in Seattle, claiming they had not thought of the acronym immediately changed the name to the "South Lake Union Streetcar".

Well the first acronym has stuck, T-shirts are everywhere and the thing will forever be called the SLUT!

For those of us who reside in Washington's real rail city, the whole thing is hilarious and so typical of the pretension in Seattle.

http://www.trainorders.com/discussion/re...

CATALYST FOR GROWTH?

I wonder if the respectable Lords and Ladies are planned preparing to secure the Canadian workers quality of life like down in the good 'ol USA. Where under “Buy America”, 60% of the dollar value of the vehicles must be American, or from components that also qualify under the program. NOTE: NAFTA requires the same percentage for goods to be stamped "Made in Canada."

http://portlandtransport.com/archives/20...

I wonder as I'm unable to perform the social mens math, which does not compute Left to ponder dear brethren what formula thou hath, for I am not so astute.

Joseph told the king to fill the storehouses, not to bill for more horses. Show us the Hammer Tram Fairest Uncle's of Sam! We are the people that live with our mouses, invest in us, our kids and our clearing house spouses!!!

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By BrianE (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2008 at 11:03:31

^^^

I never thought it was possible for someone to write so much, yet say so little...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2008 at 12:09:38

I humbly offer a summary for busy people (let me know if I got it wrong):

  1. LRT reduces air pollution and GHG emissions.

  2. LRT can provide affordable mobility.

  3. We should leverage Hamilton's manufacturing base to source construction of our LRT system locally.

  4. In cities with LRT, it has become a source of pride and a cultural signifier.

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By BrianE (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2008 at 13:12:20

Sorry, comment was directed at WRCU2. Not at the original article.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2008 at 13:55:51

Oh, yes, I realized that. I was offering a quick summary of WRCU2's comment as I understand it. :)

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By Jon (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2008 at 16:06:50

A couple points to respond to WRCU2.

Calgary's LRT runs completely on wind generated power. It is grid connected but the wind turbines installed in this initiative supply more energy to the grid than the LRT takes, so effectively the LRT is wind powered.

Hamilton used to have rail transit that operated on hydro power. The Hamilton, Beamsville and Grimsby Electric Railway switched to hydro after the first hydroelectric generating station was installed in the area.

Electricity may be generated using cleaner methods and the grid will remain the same. Whatever systems we build using electrical energy are adaptable to the energy sources of the future. Any energy source can be converted to, stored and transferred as electricity. The most efficient way to use electricity is to transmit directly through a high voltage grid rather than storing it in batteries or as hydrogen. The future of tranportation is in clean power sources and grid-connected light rail vehicles.

Wind power is not a joke. I was at an international trade show recently and there must have been at least a dozen companies that produced or made material for wind turbines. This is an industry that is growing and developing itself rapidly. It is just slow to catch on over here.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2008 at 16:16:29

Related to wind power:

Happy Windsday http://raisethehammer.org/blog/992

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted May 06, 2008 at 07:50:49

Ryan,

  1. LRT reduces air pollution and GHG emissions.

Only at the end of the line, the tram itself. The source of generation is still polluting, only more because there is an increase in demand. Please don't blow me down with your wind all propped up with spin, when in the GTA area there are scant few within. (Or that even work )

  1. LRT can provide affordable mobility.

Haven't seen the social mens math yet

  1. We should leverage Hamilton's manufacturing base to source construction of our LRT system locally.

Close, very close. I'm quite sure there'll be plenty of local workers bought, to bear the menial labor during construction. What is not clear is if skilled trades will be required locally once it is up and running. Or will the only service contracts awarded, just be to those which change the adverts.

We've got skilled manufacturing workers in this town accepting a wage freeze and related industry heading south, yet we're gonna throw our hard earned money overseas, AGAIN! Build the friggin hammer trams right here or forget it. Spawn a new industry in this town with all the necessary industrial infrastructure already in place and we CAN troll right into your next point.

  1. In cities with LRT, it has become a source of pride and a cultural signifier.

Is a new and improved Hamilton, of and for its people, to be an affectionate rail makers Hamlet or a lightly raled pestilent Harlot? It depends on how we begin seeing it purr-form. Again, some social mens math needs the face to face talk down a transforming path.

I'm afraid dear friends, that heavy investments in this kind of infrastructure at this stage of the game, is foolish and frivolous if we don't keep our spending close to home.

Y'all be thinking big, but not big enough. There's so much cash buried in this regions backyards that this village's requirements are nothing but a small child's sandbox full. We've got the United Nations in town, condo kings and software gurus with a new starting strings. Where does this to US bring?

A T H & B thought loudly rings!!!

For crying out crowd, what are they doing under that innovation park shroud?

Such unthinkable things as the choir calmly sings..

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted May 06, 2008 at 10:03:51

WR:

Regarding your point #1, the choice is BRT (pollution in town for the life of the buses) or LRT (pollution moved externally for now with the capability of the energy source getting greener and greener every year).

We all understand that LRT for now only moves the GHG emissions elsewhere, but at least there is a potential for GHG reductions as greener electricity production technologies spread -- a potential that BRT definitely does not offer. With BRT we are stuck with diesel fumes for 20 more years in a city that routinely gets hit with air quality warnings as it is.

Seems like a valid argument to me still... thoughts?

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By aslanjasonp (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2008 at 10:21:19

I think that an LRT in Hamilton is a great idea. I lived in Portland, OR in a ground floor apartment no more than 20 meters from an LRT (they call it The Max in Portland) station and there was no noticeable noise, even when we left our windows open at night in the summer.
My wife and I had a car, but we would regularly ride the Max downtown to go to a baseball, football or basketball game, or just to go downtown to go shopping or out for dinner. Incedentally, our favorite restaurant was steps away from another Max stop downtown. Sometimes, I would hop on the Max just to go down the street to get groceries. While on the Max, we would see all sorts of people, from businessmen to parents with kids, even the elderly rode the Max.
There was also (and still is) plenty of development along the Max line. Businesses are just springing up all over the place. And old neighbourhoods are being restored.
When compaing an LRT to a BRT, here is what I think. I can't recall how many times I rode the Max during my time in Portland, but not once did I ever ride a bus in Portland. Also, I visit my folks in Hamilton on a regular basis and I look forward to the day when the Hammer has an LRT. I would take my kids on it just for the experience, but if they do decide to do a BRT in it's place - forget it.
Finally, there is one thing that I would say about the Max in Portland that I would like to see Hamilton avoid if they were to get an LRT. In Portland, there are new LRT lines springing up everywhere, out to the airport, down to the southern part of town and others too. But, it seems to me that it is all coming at the expense of drivers. There has been very little invested back into roads or highways in Portland in the last number of years, it all goes into LRT. The eastbound 1-84/I-5 split is always backed up, even on weekends, and little ever seems to get done about it. Now, I know that Portland as a city is different than most, but I hope that Hamilton might be able to avoid that problem at least. I don't ever think you'll get rid of cars, but don't let the roads get so shabby that every person has no other option that to take the LRT.
That's my experience and my two cents worth.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 06, 2008 at 10:25:42

seancb wrote: "We all understand that LRT for now only moves the GHG emissions elsewhere"

Actually, because grid connected electric motors are so much more efficient than internal combustion motors, LRT is cleaner than buses even using conventional electric power generation.

Remember also that half of Canada's electricity generation is non-polluting (mostly hydroelectric), and that the Ontario government is committed to growing solar and, to a lesser extent, wind power generation.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted May 06, 2008 at 19:06:24

There y'all go again with the green splattered smocks! This is steel town and the smog reduction is a moot point. Besides, most of the buses I see are the "Clean Burn" natural gas variety.

Why is it that no one will touch the outsourcing? The four million bucks a tram to the Czechs is what I'm adamant about. HELLO? If these pieces of machinery are stamped "Made In The Hammer" I'm behind it 100% because I love trains. Do you hear me? Listen up, I have a 1:87 scale model of a 4-6-4 N.Y. Central Hudson steam locomotive I've been itchin' to build as a T,H&B replica someday. But do you think I'll ever find the spare time? HELL NO, not when a body has to work eight hours to earn seventy bucks and fix up an eighty year old house by himself (with a little help from the misses who's working ten hour days).

What is more important to me, is when my family, my friends and my neighbors are able to make ends meet AND EAT, irregardless of a little dirty air. Got it? And to all those persons with plenty of extra resources to attend sporting events and go out to eat, God Bless You.

We should get together and talk about this someday off the record because I've got nothing nice to say right now.

Although it's nice to see YOU again Jon.

Later

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 07, 2008 at 08:45:30

WRCU2 wrote:

"This is steel town and the smog reduction is a moot point."

Nonsense. According to Clean Air Hamilton, more than half the air pollution in Hamilton is from motor vehicles. As industry gets better, vehicle emissions on the whole are actually getting worse.

"Besides, most of the buses I see are the "Clean Burn" natural gas variety."

The HSR is phasing out its natural gas buses. NG is past its North American production peak and going rapidly into decline, and unlike oil, it cannot easily be transported between continents. NG is not a solution.

"Why is it that no one will touch the outsourcing?"

It's a red herring. Most light rail supporters I know actually hope that Hamilton can become a manufacturing centre for mnaking and exporting light rail systems and vehicles, just as France and Portland did after pioneering modern light rail systems. After all, we already have National Steelcar.

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By Jon (registered) - website | Posted May 07, 2008 at 12:09:41

Electric motors have at least 80% mechanical efficiency. An extremely good diesel engine is around 40%. Transmitting electricity is also cheaper than trucking gas. Pollution coming out of a tall smokestack far away from population centres has much less of an adverse effect than it does coming out at ground level in the city core. LRT is indeed less polluting than buses, both now and especially in the future.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted May 07, 2008 at 18:16:06

I do love the company and that you accept my quirkiest devil's advocacy; And even though I'll not dispute modern electric motor efficiency with anyone because I know it's true, I am still in Bernice's camp with bickering price over where we should buy trams and about asking please nice. In order to hit the balls, you must make an askew swing, once, twice or even thrice.

As far as the red herring goes, I don't really care about the trams color too much, though I'll admit the full size images are a knock-out advert on BRT. What might be appropriate is if we could do up the maiden tram servicing Ivor Wynne as three crouching cats. You know I love cats. Most important to remember and I'm sure promoters will point out too, is window placement, their size and shape. These are innovations that should be hammered out by locals who will be designing and building the units. Our custom Canadian hammer trams should be stylish, serve snacks and beverages and have nice HD screens with driver overrides (I'll save that for later). I already have a place in mind where we can get the highest quality rivets money can buy and they're near perfectly flush. I wouldn't suggest painting them like fish however, at least not until the coal tar reef is capped and we've reason to celebrate our clean water too. I'm breathing easier now, how about you?

I read that there is another public meeting set for tomorrow across from City Hall. So in light of the way I write and how my fencing posts do lean, I might just take flight down BRT for eve's scene.

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2008 at 10:03:59

what the blazes are you talking about?? seriously. oh, and you used the word 'irregardless.' need i say more?

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted May 08, 2008 at 17:04:24

Sorry Pete, I must've meant "regardless" instead of the nonstandard humorous form I irreversibly used. I should spend more time on capitalization and punctuation and less time wrangling with the words themselves. I'll try to do better next time.

Thanks for sharing...

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By Bee (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2008 at 20:37:02

I think it's time to refill those meds.

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By DavidG (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2008 at 18:53:36

Is LRT really a green solution?

I believe LRT's stated goal is to get 20% of the cars off the road. In doing so some 4 lane roads get reduced to 2. Assuming this goal is actually acheived the remaining 80% of the cars will now be fighting traffic jams. I would not be surprised if the 80% of the cars left are now producing more smog than before. (if fact I think this is the likely outcome) If green is your goal how about making downtoan more cycle friendly? Then I might leave my car at home.

Many people have produced lots of examples where LRT works. Unfortuantly all of these cities have populations much much higher than Hamilton. Can anyone name a city with a population similar to Hamiltons where it is successfull?

Finally buses, at least on the Dundas to downtown leg, are NOT being significanly delayed due to traffic congestion. This really begs the question of why an LRT/BRT system is needed.

DavidG

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 13, 2008 at 21:11:43

DavidG,

The goal is to get 20% of ALL cars off the roads, not just the two roads with LRT lines. An LRT car carries up to 300 passengers (or the equivalent about 300 one-passenger cars). With a frequency of 5-10 minutes, LRT has the potential to take an awful lot of cars off the roads.

Examples of cities of comparable size to Hamilton with successful LRT (just the ones I know about):

Grenoble, Lemans, Montpellier, Mulhouse, Nantes, Orleans, Rouen, Strasbourg, Valenciennes in France.

Edinburgh (city population < 500 000) is building a line, Sheffield, Nottingham in the UK.

Jersey City, Norfolk VA, Charlotte NC, Cleveland, OH in the US.

Kitchener-Waterloo is going for LRT right next door.

Remember that Hamilton is part of a megalopolis of about 6 million people. Metrolinx is now planning a coherent transportation network for this whole region. Hamilton's population is expected to grow to at least 600 000 over the next 20 years, possibly much more. The GTA+Hamilton is expected to grow by 3.5 million over the next 25 years.

During the morning, I am often have to wait for several full buses to pass by before I can get on. Buses are slower relative to cars: the goal of signal priority and dedicated lanes is to provide transit at least as fast, comfortable and convenient as driving. As the city and region grow, congestion will get much worse.

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By DavidG (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2008 at 19:19:03

kevlahan

I have to admit that I thought the reason I had never heard of an example of LRT working in a small city is perhaps because there were none. I would still question in those smaller cites how many of them put their LRT right on the busiest vehicular road. The Norfolk Va plan for example appears to be utilizing an existing railway for much of it's length. Hamilton also has a somewhat unique geography due to the escarpment and Lake Ontario which really limits the east-west routes available for cars. (Dundas to Hamilton you've got pretty much one option)

If LRT could be built in such a way as to actually offer people a choice whether or not to use it I would be all if favour of it, as opposed to being forced to us it because your 20 minute drive has turned into an hour.

A dedicated lane for buses may be a good idea in some parts of the city but again it sure does not look to me on the Dundas Hamilton portion that it would do any good since traffic flows great.
The only part of my commute where the roads get a bit congested is on King St heading W out of downtown. (as a side note this is partly due to buses zipping along in the right lane then cutting in when it ends due the courteous drivers and of course the yield for buses by law) Correct me if I'm wrong but I think this is the are where the proposed system would cut this from 4 lanes to 2. That strikes me as creating a traffic nightmare.

Surely the simple solution to your problem, which I would imagine is pretty frustrating, is to add a few more buses during peak hours.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 15, 2008 at 15:49:02

City engineers say that there is plenty of spare capacity on EW roads to allow for a two-lane reduction on Main or King.

Remember:

  1. We're talking about two lanes on two roads out of the whole city. This is actually a relatively minor re-balancing of our transportation network.

  2. Separating transit and traffic can actually be beneficial to drivers (as your comment on buses pulling out indicates).

  3. It is impossible to significantly improve transit without impacting drivers to some extent. Rapid transit is about providing an equivalent or better level of service compared to driving. It is also about fairness: even in the richest neighbourhoods 30% of residents do not have the option of driving (those under 16, the elderly and those who choose not to own a car). In Hamilton, this percentage is significantly higher.

  4. Removing capacity does not necessarily lead to delays because of the intrinsic properties of networks (see Braess' paradox http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braess'... and because people will change their travel patterns. This has been shown over and over (e.g. the collapse of the bridge in Minnesota and the removal a freeway in San Francisco did not increase congestion).

  5. Dedicated lanes have not lead to traffic chaos in other cities with much less spare network capacity ... I don't see why Hamilton would be the exception.

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By DavidG (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2008 at 17:59:32

All intersting points, however, the reason I think Hamilton may be the exception is this: How do you get from Dundas to downtown? You pretty much have one option. Main St. Going the other way you also have pretty much one option. King St.

Since it sure looks like we are getting an LRT/BRT system I cetainly hope you are right. Part of my problem is a complete lack of confidence with the City engineering and planning departments. Ask a developer what it's like to deal with the city of Hamilton. I really hope they know what they are doing.

PS thanks for your reply's. Although you have not changed my mind there is a least a glimour of hope that maybe the City can get it done right.

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By DavidG (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2008 at 20:50:30

P.S. Where did you get the information that the Minneapolis bridge collapse did not increase traffic congestion. I find that extremely hard to believe.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 16, 2008 at 12:05:54

DavidG,

There are currently some alternatives:

Travelling to Downtown: Main to Dundurn to York. Travelling to Dundas: Cannon to Dundurn to King.

Of course, two way conversion of Main, King, York, Cannon would provide even more alternatives for drivers!

However, even in the unlikely event that your total average trip speed decreased over 40% from the current value of about 33 km/h (based on Google maps value) to 20 km/h your approx 7.6 km trip from Dundas to downtown would only take 9 minutes longer than the current Google estimated time of 14 minutes ... is 9 minutes longer really a disaster? You might even consider taking LRT to get there a bit faster.

I can no longer find the original article on the absence of huge traffic jams, but here's some evidence from USAToday:

"the traffic nightmare that state and local officials feared in downtown Minneapolis did not materialize Monday."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007...

The reports I read indicated that the the "traffic nightmare" never did materialize (partly due to efficient detour information provided electronically to drivers).

Interestingly, the proposed replacement bridge will be "Light rail ready"!

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 16, 2008 at 13:04:44

DavidG,

There are currently some alternatives:

Travelling to Downtown: Main to Dundurn to York. Travelling to Dundas: Cannon to Dundurn to King.

Of course, two way conversion of Main, King, York, Cannon would provide even more alternatives for drivers!

However, even in the unlikely event that your total average trip speed decreased over 40% from the current value of about 33 km/h (based on Google maps value) to 20 km/h your approx 7.6 km trip from Dundas to downtown would only take 9 minutes longer than the current Google estimated time of 14 minutes ... is 9 minutes longer really a disaster? You might even consider taking LRT to get there a bit faster.

I can no longer find the original article on the absence of huge traffic jams, but here's some evidence from USAToday:

"the traffic nightmare that state and local officials feared in downtown Minneapolis did not materialize Monday."

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007...

The reports I read indicated that the the "traffic nightmare" never did materialize (partly due to efficient detour information provided electronically to drivers).

Interestingly, the proposed replacement bridge will be "Light rail ready"!

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By adam1. LRT reduces air pollution and GHG (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2008 at 00:19:56


"1. LRT reduces air pollution and GHG emissions.

Only at the end of the line, the tram itself. The source of generation is still polluting, only more because there is an increase in demand. Please don't blow me down with your wind all propped up with spin, when in the GTA area there are scant few within. (Or that even work ) "

^^^
Only reason why Toronto's wind turbine doesn't ever spin is because of its placement. It was purposefully put in a high visibility spot -- not an are with high winds as a publicity stunt. Not fair to discount the entire technology based on one example.

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By DavidG (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2008 at 13:40:35

kevlahan

I think you just confirmed my point with your 'alternate' routes to and from Dundas in that they both still had the streets King and Main in it. Of course once I get to Dundurn there are alternatives.

I hope when you talk about the converting Main and King to two way you are thinking about the current 403 to Main and King on and off ramps. It seems no one mentions this. It would undoubtably require extensive reconstruction on the QEW.

Would an extra 9 minutes on my commute be a distaster? of course not. But can you not understand how I would oppose spending 1.2 billion dollars for this just so transit users can save a couple minutes? That is a huge amount of money that I think many people may have trouble appreciating. Every year the City begs the province for a mere 20-50 million to offset social service costs and avoid tax increases.

I think perhaps my main objection to this idea has gotton lost which is this; (and again I can really only speak to the Dundas - downtown commute) Buses are not being delayed by traffic congestion or running at capacity so why do we need this system?

Given that the LRT is planned to start at Mac Dundas residents would require a transfer wich of course requires more waiting so that I suspect even their commute time will increase.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 20, 2008 at 09:26:14

DavidG,

My suggested alternate routes assumed that congestion would occur downtown (i.e. East of Dundurn). No one is predicting congestion West of downtown due to LRT.

Morning buses ARE running at capacity (I take the buses in bad whether from Downtown to Mac) and they are slower than driving.

I'm not sure where you got the 1.2 billion figure from ... the entire East-West line should cost under $300 million.

However, you're right that is ultimately our choice where to spend infrastructure and transportation money: on polluting and energy intensive roads and freeways (e.g. the proposed mid-pen freeway which would cost billions), or on clean efficient rapid transit that will serve the city now and in the future (when the city and region has grown enormously in population).

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By gullchasedship (registered) - website | Posted May 22, 2008 at 16:04:07

I thought the article in yesterday's Globe, entitled _Road To_Hell Paved_With Public_Transit_ was fascinating. It was about the work of Randal O'Toole, Oregon economist and environmentalist.

Some tidbits: Cars are more efficient than buses on a per passenger basis.

No city in North American has managed to raise transit use above 1% of commuters or reduce driving by even 1%.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 23, 2008 at 09:17:55

Yet.

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By Jon (registered) - website | Posted May 26, 2008 at 12:21:48

I hope you do not take this guy seriously. He claims that public transit is a waste of money while not taking into account the enormous cost of expressways built to facilitate indiscretionary single occupancy vehicle trips for everyone.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 26, 2008 at 13:52:36

Randal O'Toole is a libertarian shill from the Cato Institute who has made a cottage industry out of telling the status quo what it wants to hear. His research has been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked by credible transportation analysts (see, for example, Todd Litman's work for the Victoria Transport Policy Institute), yet he continues to get coverage in a media environment that thrives on selling controversy.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2008 at 02:07:34

Randal o'toole has used numbers to determine the efficiency of cars such as 'the average occupancy of cars is the average family size minus one person'

When you make up numbers like that out of thin air, you can make them prove whatever point you want...

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By Jon (registered) - website | Posted June 02, 2008 at 14:10:15

He was referring to cars in high occupancy vehicle lanes there, which he opposes.

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