Councillor Lloyd Ferguson of Ancaster was an early skeptic about the city's rapid transit feasibility study, so I was intrigued to learn that he would be joining Public Works and Planning & Economic Development staff and Mayor Eisenberger on a three-city tour of light rail systems in Charlotte NC, Portland OR and Calgary AB.
Yesterday's issue of the Ancaster News included a delightfully upbeat opinion piece by Councillor Ferguson that flatly stated:
I am now convinced that we need to look at some form of light-rail system, among other things, to spur our local economy and get Hamilton into the next millennium.
He was persuaded that light rail's tremendous capacity for economic growth and operating cost savings are just too good to miss.
Light rail is truly win-win-win-win for everyone: good for public transit, good for economic development, good for urban revitalization, good for the environment, good for civic pride, good for municipal finance. Unlike many other issues that have cloven our city along ideological, political or geographic lines, light rail benefits everyone and can appeal to people with vastly different value systems.
But as with many things in life, the best way to discover just how great light rail can be is to experience it firsthand. Indeed, most of the volunteers at Hamilton Light Rail, the citizens advocacy group of which I am a member, support light rail because we've used it ourselves in other cities we have inhabited or visited.
Bravo to Councillor Ferguson for joining the 'light rail tour' with an open mind, studying the issue closely and recognizing the enormous potential light rail has to be transformational in a city that needs it.
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