Transportation

Incoherent Anti-LRT Rant is Incoherent

By Ben Bull
Published February 01, 2010

David Serwatuk owns a car wash. A downtown Hamilton car wash. Little wonder, then, that he doesn't support the City of Hamilton's proposal to ram an LRT through the core.

"I have been a business owner for 15 years at King St. East and Queenston Road," writes Serwatuk, in Saturday's Hamilton Spectator. "The currently proposed light rail transit (LRT) route will have a huge impact on my businesses and other businesses and homeowners along the way."

No doubt. One thing LRT aims to do is reduce Hamilton's dependency on cars, reduce its spending on road infrastructure and improve the environment to boot. If it succeeds, Mr Serwatuk might have to sell something else.

He continues: "Who has really heard about the LRT? The city has not done any scientific surveys. They have all been random, via the Internet, mall surveys, tables at McMaster etc. Demographics have not been taken into consideration."

What's wrong with asking people's opinion exactly? The city's studies are ongoing. And they have a mountain of case studies and reports to work from (try here and here for starters).

"I do not see the need for the LRT. Is there a congestion problem? Are we a metropolis catering daily to 100,000 jobs downtown?"

We wish. One thing Hamilton does not have is a congestion problem. Acres of tarmac and one-way streets take care of that. What Hamilton does have, though, is a traffic problem. Cars are a significant impediment to pedestrian traffic in the downtown core. Pedestrian traffic that I'm sure would be more than happy to pop into Serwatuk's other business, Little Caesars Pizza, if they weren't so scared to walk.

"Is King East and Queenston Road a tourist destination compared to Europe? It seems that the catalyst is the Pan Am Games. Please, how many people have watched the Games before? Can you name five events?"

100M, 200M, 400M, Steeplechase, Javelin, High Jump, Swimming, Cycling, Badminton, Tennis...how am I doing? And what's wrong with LRT having a catalyst? Doesn't every important decision need a catalyst? Please Mr. Serwatuk, help us understand...

"LRT in Hamilton would not exist if the Games were not coming."

No, still not getting it, keep going.

"Metrolinx has not determined how much it is putting toward the project. Guess who is going to flip the rest of the millions and millions? Us, local taxpayers."

Ah, so now I see! You don't want to pay for it! (Curious that you seem to think that the Metrolinx funding is not coming from taxpayers... but, whatever).

OK, so I get your dilemma. But are you going to finally explain to us why you don't want to pay for it?

"Let's look at reality."

OK.

"Do you think people are going to walk or drive to the LRT and jump on it?"

Yes. That's generally what people do when they have a streetcar stop at the bottom of their street.

"Most people will not give up a car in Hamilton."

Says who? Perhaps today that's true, but that's precisely why we're building an LRT!

"Twenty per cent of the area's employment is within 800 metres of the LRT line, which means if you take the LRT, you may have to walk almost a kilometre to work through rain and snow. Statistics show we only walk 200 to 400 metres at best in these situations."

Why are you assuming that LRT is just for workers? Can't we use it for, oh I don't know, visiting friends, going shopping, out for dinner, to the Doctors, the Bingo, the movies? The beauty of LRT is that it interconnects so many places efficiently.

And what's with the weather forecasting?! The core design criteria for the LRT accounts for the ease of the user experience - close proximity to key destinations, links to alternative transit. And in the event, God forbid, that you have to walk a couple of blocks to finish off your trip well, all I can say is hey - it might not be raining!

"You can drive to downtown and park without a problem."

Something you can't do in a successful downtown.

"As for time savings - yes you will save five to seven minutes from Centennial to downtown, but how much time do you save getting to the LRT and then waiting for it - still having to park somewhere before you get on)."

Nobody claimed LRT would be quicker door to door (but if Hamilton's car culture continues at this pace, it pretty soon just might be.)

"We do not pay European gas prices (double ours or more), therefore savings is not an issue. The cost to ride the LRT in other cities for 19 kilometres is $5, more than double the bus and very comparable to the 407."

OK...and the cost of owning a car is how much? This is a pretty selective (and once again incoherent) analysis, but one of the more obvious benefits of LRT is that a lot of two-car families can forgo the extra set of wheels. A healthy saving by anyone's analysis.

"With downtown being closed off, it will now be more unaccessible [sic] and more of a hangout, where crime will thrive."

Yes I can see it now. All those Mac students, Mums and Dads, office workers, shoppers... It'll be a bloodbath!

"What about all the downtown underground parking garages? Do they have to be rebuilt at cost of the taxpayers? They won't be accessible by cars anymore, nor will our downtown hotels and new condos. I guess our tourists will catch the LRT with their luggage after they are dropped off on the outskirts."

Hmm...You seem a little fixated on the car, Mr. Serwatuk. Is this the only way you know to get around? Perhaps we should we just rip up all the sidewalk while we're at it?

Who cares about the garages? Just because something is there now doesn't mean we have to frame our future planning decisions around it: You can't put a bike lane there, Mr City Planner, there's already a row of parking meters on that street.

Back to the article:

"Let's talk about business."

OK.

"Business is built on 25 per cent convenience and 25 per cent impulse, that leaves you with a 50 per cent customer loss."

Huh? I guess I don't understand business...

"The design now proposed makes a driver pass your business or street a kilometre and do a U-turn - at certain intersections only - and backtrack. If I want to grab a coffee, stop at a variety store, get gas, a car wash, a slice of pizza, do you actually think, I'm going to backtrack? No, I go on. Do you actually think jewellery, and fashion stores a la Versace are going to pop up at King and Wentworth because of the LRT?"

A-ha! And now we see what this all about (I think). Perhaps, when you run a car wash, you see life only through the eyes of a driver? Sudsing all those hub caps day after day, polishing all those bonnets... A 'backtrack' to Mr Serwatuk involves four sets of lights or an illegal U-Turn.

To an LRT user of course, it involves nothing more than a brisk walk of maybe a block or so. I wonder if Mr. Serwatuk ever considered making the rounds of the downtown on foot? He might just see that he could sell even more of his pizza.

[Editor's interjection: not to mention the fact that most of the proposed LRT route is currently one-way streets, which require extensive backtracking to get to any downtown destinations by car.]

"What about the four-to-five-year construction time with streets closed, traffic nightmares, business loss? Here come the lawsuits. What about the noise and vibration from the construction and the LRT itself?"

So we shouldn't do it because it won't be easy? Here's another obvious point of contention for the writer. He doesn't want LRT because it's construction will disrupt his business. A valid concern, but not one that justifies a half-baked analysis.

"I'm sure residents near the LRT line will love the overflow on their streets. The residents won't even be able get home properly. They have to once again drive past their street and make a U-turn only to come back. Talk about fuel wastage."

OK, really, seriously - I'm lost (and the Spec printed this?!).

But there's more (yes really, this piece got a whole page):

"Oh, wait. They can pay $5, take the LRT home only to go past their street get off and walk back six blocks."

Yeah, that clears it up.

"Bylaws will have to be changed."

And?

"Is it fair that a store on the Mountain requires parking spots according to the city and the same store along the LRT route does not? We cannot make provisions for some and not the others."

Agreed! So let's take those spots away from the Mountain shops, build up the density and stick an LRT route through there too. Would that work?

"In conclusion..."

Thank God.

"...the design is terrible. If you think the LRT has merit then redraw it. Make it overhead (since we are paying for it) or put it on Main Street which is much wider (five lanes) and we don't have to close downtown. LRTs require 20 metres in width; King Street is only 15 to 17 metres."

OK so now we've got a monorail? Where did that come from? I guess it's because you've proven that King Street is too narrow for LRT anyway. How did our city planners miss this?!

"Better yet make the LRT go north/south from the city to the Mountain, to Upper James or our growing airport. Maybe that will help our tourists."

Tourists? What tourists? (Perhaps they come here for all the free parking...?)

"The design now will flop. I think they are trying to fast track the LRT (no pun intended)."

Who's 'they'? And why does this article read like a badly written e-mail?

"Let me leave you with only one question: What would be the worst thing that could happen if we did not go through with this LRT? EXACTLY."

I'm not answering this question. This article, the quality of the writing (capital letters for emphasis? Really?), the lopsided 'analysis'...it's a disgrace.

The fact that the Spec agreed to be a vehicle for it (no pun intended) is simply shocking. But it does make me wonder: If you check the article's web page you will see a series of adverts: A home builder (you know who!), an insurance company, and links to the Spec's Truck section.

I wonder what, exactly, the Spec is trying to sell here? Informed opinion, astute analysis, or...well. I'll let you decide.

I think we've all learned something today. I'm just not sure what.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.

59 Comments

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 01, 2010 at 09:12:06

I'm going to give the Spectator the benefit of the doubt here and assume they published this because they editorially support LRT and decided to show firsthand just how incoherent and irrational the scattered opposition to LRT actually is.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 09:30:02

Wow...just wow.

This is why I skip over the "letters to the editor" section. This guy literally has no clue what he's talking about.

"With downtown being closed off, it will now be more unaccessible [sic] and more of a hangout, where crime will thrive."

He talks as if the LRT will completely block King, which is apparently the only street that leads downtown. Clearly no one will ever drive on a 2 way Main, or the planned 2-way York/Cannon, or even on King right next to those scary trains!

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted February 01, 2010 at 09:33:59

sigh

what is going on over there at the spec?

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 09:35:35

Opinion fail.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 01, 2010 at 11:11:16

There may be legitimate arguments against investing in LRT and those arguments deserve to be heard and examined. However, publishing nonsense just for the sake of 'balance' does a grave disservice to the Spectator's readers and Hamilton's residents.

It cashes in the lofty democratic and editorial ideals of print journalism for the cheap sugar high of controversy-for-its-own-sake.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 12:43:27

I love how the time calculations for these things never include stopping at the gas station or cleaning snow and ice off the car, or taking the car to the mechanic (or DIY) or whatnot. These hypothetical cars get themselves all ready, back up to the door and let you off at your pizza counter. Like magic. And the cost analysis is always this one trip I took this morning versus one ride. Forgetting maintenance, insurance, cost of buying the car, parking, and so on.

I'm also curious where he got this closed parking garage concept from. I hadn't noticed that in any of the plans floating around.

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 13:13:24

If this were any other city, such drivel could be laughingly dismissed.

But in Hamilton, it's crap like this that captures hearts and minds.

Disgrace is right ...

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 13:13:49

I'm also curious where he got this closed parking garage concept from. I hadn't noticed that in any of the plans floating around

I think he's referring to the existing u/g parking structures at some of the larger downtown buildings (Jackson Square, Copps, the "Commerce Place" buildings, etc.)

It ties into his fear that the LRT is actually some sort of monster, encircling the city and preventing any vehicular traffic through. Leading to empty parking structures which taxpayers will have to pay to repair because the parking fees won't cover the costs.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 14:24:18

It cashes in the lofty democratic and editorial ideals of print journalism for the cheap sugar high of controversy-for-its-own-sake.

Yep. And these are the clowns who still claim they have more credibility than online media because, because, well I said so!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 14:25:00

Nice fisking, BTW.

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 14:35:33

For the sake of clarity, Mr. Serwatuk is a business owner in Hamilton. His businesses include a car wash, a tanning salon, and a pizza parlor in the east end of the city, not simply a downtown car wash as Ben implies (as if a proprietor's opinion is somehow less important if his business happens to be a downtown car wash).

While his opinions are scattered and poorly organized, he is among the many business owners along King who will be directly affected by the proposed route of the LRT. His concerns should be recognized and addressed in a respectful manner rather than simply ridiculed and dismissed with a condescending wave of a hand. Not every business owner is gifted with prosaic abilities, but they do literally have a vested interest in the well-being of the city.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 14:50:05

For the sake of clarity, Mr. Serwatuk is a business owner in Hamilton. His businesses include a car wash, a tanning salon, and a pizza parlor in the east end of the city, not simply a downtown car wash as Ben implies

FTFA:

Pedestrian traffic that I'm sure would be more than happy to pop into Serwatuk's other business, Little Caesars Pizza, if they weren't so scared to walk.

Sophistic comment is sophistic.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 14:59:05

His concerns should be recognized and addressed in a respectful manner

Serious concerns should be recognized and addressed, as Ryan said, but this was an ill-informed, ill-conceived, ill-written attempt to scare and mislead his readers with scenarios that bear little connection to reality. I happen to prefer LRT on Main, and I don't like the idea of losing on-street parking on King, but the Spec had no business publishing this tripe. (Although as Ryan says, they may have inadvertently given the cause of LRT a boost.)

If he is so concerned about the "well-being" of the city, he should do what credible advocates do: do his research, refine his thinking, and present his arguments coherently with evidence to back them up. If he can't be bothered to do that, why should he be taken seriously? If LRT advocates had used the same methods to argue for LRT, do you think anyone would have taken them seriously?

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 15:14:01

While his opinions are scattered and poorly organized...

and poorly researched, and nonsensical.

It just bothers me that with all the information at his fingertips he couldn't come up with a single valid argument. He does nothing but make claims and predictions, that are at best uninformed, and at worst purposely misleading.

The Spec is clearly trying to create some controversy to drum up sales.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 15:36:47

I think this was just called in to View Magazine's rant line but it was too long so they let the spec print it.

Comment edited by jonathan dalton on 2010-02-01 14:38:10

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By lukev (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 16:16:46

I LOVE THIS ARTICLE.

First he tells us that Chicago and Detroit are home to LRT failures... THEN he says the LRT should be elevated, not at-grade.

Too many golden quotes here to list!

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 16:50:58

Heaven forbid if anybody has a dissenting opinion. I agree his rant was poorly written. Last time I checked people are allowed to have an opinion. I have been routinely downvoted because the regulars do not like what I write because I am not anti car and I do not believe transit is the answer to all our problems.

Thank heavens it looks like saner heads will prevail. We certainly cannot afford this boondoggle.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 17:06:22

having a different opinion is fine. spreading lies and misinformation is not.

it's not merely an opinion that all downtown parking garages will have to mothballed if we build an LRT system. It's a blatant, fear-mongering lie. I'm sure the Spec gets garbage letters all the time. the fact that they continue to publish them is the real stunner.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 17:07:43

"The design now proposed makes a driver pass your business or street a kilometre and do a U-turn - at certain intersections only - and backtrack. If I want to grab a coffee, stop at a variety store, get gas, a car wash, a slice of pizza, do you actually think, I'm going to backtrack?"

Funny, that's already exactly what it's like trying to find a business on a busy street ... when you're in a car! Look for street numbers or a sign? Most difficult to do in a car. Much easier on a bus/streetcar, or any other method for that matter.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted February 01, 2010 at 17:12:58

"Statistics show we only walk 200 to 400 metres at best in these situations."

Statistics also show alarming rates of heart disease, obesity, asthma, high blood pressure...

Burgermeister Meisterburger:

Of course everyone is allowed their opinions. But the spec is not a democratic forum. The editors have monopolistic power to shape opinion in this town. So we see distortions....

Whether or not new urbanism and gentrification happen, this city is going to be one hotbed of social conflict in the coming years.

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 18:25:00

The author asked, "What's wrong with asking people's opinion exactly?", nothing when you position them as people opinions in an unscientific survey, but there is much wrong when you position the opinions as "fact" in position papers. And as "fact" is exactly how those running the project have positioned these unscientific self-selected, biased surveys.

Heck, a City LRT project rep didn't even know there was such a thing as a scientific survey when questioned at a meeting I attended. That in itself should be enough to question the validity of the whole project. But I won't question the whole project, as I would support a LRT on Main, but King is a non-starter.

A LRT will never be built on King.

BTW, name a Canadian PAN AM Gold Medalist from the last games without looking it up...... Better yet, stand on the street and ask 100 people to name one.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 01, 2010 at 20:41:47

Pan Am medalists have nothing to do with it.

Surveys are, by nature, an enumeration of opinions. What opinions are being presented as fact by "those running the project"? And who exactly are those people that you are talking about?

As for the spec article, the author is so misinformed, it's absurd. For one thing, LRT has been on the table for over two years. The fact that he has not heard of it until now is a perfect example of how out of touch he truly is. Every other point he makes is based purely on assumption and imagination. There are too many inaccuracies to even begin to address in such a small comment box.

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By sbwoodside (registered) - website | Posted February 01, 2010 at 20:59:33

Here's a list of 14 factual errors in the original opinion piece:

http://simonwoodside.com/weblog/2010/2/1...

Enjoy and feel free to steal any of it.

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By Rod (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 20:59:35

Really can't add much to the torrent of (deserved) criticism of David S, here, save to say that one is left with the impression that the Spec is desperate for space fillers.

What one might expect from one in the car wash business, I wonder? (OK, maybe that is a tad condescending, and perhaps others in the same business are better informed, but you get my drift.)

Really, it wouldn't be quite so bad if his basic claims were correct - to describe the 'People Mover' in Detroit, which pointlessly goes around in a circle downtown, never going anywhere, as 'light rail, and to selectively overlook the fact that that same city is now poised to reintroduce LRT on its main thoroughfare, Woodward Avenue, does nothing to enhance the writer's (sorry, car washer!) credibility.

And are the overhead L Trains in Chicago, which he seems to look upon favourably for Hamilton, supposed to meet the definition of 'light rail'? Nothing, needless to say, about the great success of light rail in countless other cities, like Denver, for example.

Some more discretion and good editorial judgement, Spec editors, please!

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted February 01, 2010 at 21:52:02

Since TorStar took over The Spec a few years back, it has turned into an "Anti-Hamilton" pile of crap. Why are we allowing a far-left paper from Toronto hold a monopoly in this city? Stop paying attention to The Spec ... it had its day. Hamilton is long due for a new paper that reflects current attitudes and the positive energy to move forward.

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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 06:32:35

My clear-cut differences of opinion with Ben and almost all the commenters aside...

...where on Earth is "King St. East and Queenston Road"? Or is this just another example of things getting muddled; Mr. Serwatuk is actually referring to multiple business locations, not an intersection? "Is King East and Queenston Road a tourist destination compared to Europe?" surely gives the impression that he's talking about one place. (Yes, I Googled all three businesses, and he is referring to two different locations.)

I'll admit that a person loses credibility (and much of my interest) when they can't express themselves properly. We're talking about a substantive issue here (LRT), not whether a snowless winter is a good thing.

I've lots to say about the discussion at hand, but I'll settle for registering this admittedly petty grumble for now. Where's my coffee...?

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 08:48:10

just to clarify one thing that I see popping up in these discussions over and over. If LRT is to be built on Main they will not keep street parking on King. King would become 2 lanes each direction 24-7. Main would become 1 lane each way with LRT down the middle. The only hope of saving street parking is to put the LRT on King. That leaves the '5th' lane on Main available for parking virtually from Dundurn to Sherman, save for turning lanes etc.....

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By frank (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 09:16:23

Haha, I started reading this in the Spec on the weekend and had to read it at two separate times because I was so sick of it by the time I was halfway into it. FTR, I believe his Little Ceasars is at Parkdale and Queenston. From what I can tell, his closest business to downtown is the Wash Me Car Wash. King Street East and Queenston Road don't cross... they're parallel. I think he might have been thinking Queenston and Centennial (Eastgate Mall).

Whatever his position, the fact that the Spec printed his article belies the lack of editorial responsibility of the paper. Printing misinformation and nonsensical arguments in the interest of providing a "balanced" argument does nothing to help the naysayers and gives those supporting LRT no choice but to point to their opponents' ignorance as the reason why they don't think LRT would be a good idea.

I'm sorry he chose a car wash as his business, but expressing his concern for the welfare of the car parks downtown is laughable... I know how they can survive - eliminate some of those paved parking lots and replace them with businesses.

Jason, King downtown has bumpouts etc... if that goes to 2 lanes each direction they'd have to remove those. Didn't they just put those in a few years ago? Why can't King Street be kept the way it is with LRT on Main?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 10:56:53

Hamilton is long due for a new paper that reflects current attitudes and the positive energy to move forward.

I agree, I just wish the Spec could be that paper. I'm sure they would like to be a part of the important conversations our city needs to have over the coming years, as would I, but when they print shite like this, serious minded Hamiltonians just shut them out of the debate.

I'm a subscriber myself. Readers like me really should demand better of our paper, but crap like this makes it harder and harder to care.

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 14:11:11

Here are some facts that many of the proponents might want to chew on.

1. David Serwatuk did attend a neighbourhood association meeting in 2009 that included a presentation from a city employee.
- I guess those who are calling him a johnny-come-lately didn't attend the local neighbourhood meeting.

2. The 20m (65ft) right-of-way comes directly from the city literature, and it includes the space for curbing and platforms.
- Note, this right-of-way quietly grew from 18.6m between March 08 and November 08

3. Sidewalks will need to be reduced/eliminated.
- The city rep clearly stated in a neighbourhood presentation, that in areas of King East sidewalks would either be narrowed on both sides, or eliminated on one side of street to accomodate LRT. WTF, you call that walkability.

4. For those that don't know the roadway along parts of King Street curb-to-curb narrow to only 12.3m (40ft).
- 7.7m (25ft) is a lot of sidewalk to simply disappear. Again, walkability?????

5. The plans presented in November 2008 showed the elimination of 2 or 3 B-Line stops (exact number not yet decided).
- When asked which stops were to be eliminated, a vague answer mentioning low-density Longwood (sorry Mac Innovation Park) as one potential place to eliminate one stop.

6. A follow-up question on support for LRT in areas where stops were to be eliminated elicted an uncomfortable deer in headlights stare.
- I guess no survey addressed that question........

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 14:15:36

BTW, Frank, he owns the Little Cesars at King & Wentworth. I believe he meant that he owns businesses on both King East and on Queenston, not at King & Queenston. He's a businessman, a taxpayer, and an employer, not a writer. I'm sure he's not perfect, but you guys feel free to keep on taking shots at him.

For the sake of clarity, I don't know him personally only met him once briefly at a neighbourhood meeting.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 14:57:52

As stated in a different posting regarding the same subject...

If he runs that Little Ceasers at King & Wentworth, then WHY IS HE AGAINST LRT?

I pass this store every day, and see it stocked with Cathedral Students. Students who do not drive; students who currently use Public Transit.

If a Driver passes his store at present, they must actually loop around at Grant Ave, south to Main St, east to Sanford, then back to King & Wentworth... That's a WHOLE Kilometre out of the way!

OR... You could walk the 400-600m distance Mr Serwatuk seems to think will kill people. Imagine... having to walk almost a whole KM! What has this world come to!? ;)

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 15:40:41

yup, that little tidbit that he owns the pizza shop at King and Wentworth makes this even more perplexing. Has he ever seen what urban corners like that look like in TO or Portland?? Not abandoned on one side, parking lot on another, rundown building on another and pizza place on the 4th. He could have a booming neighbourhood business district there with an LRT stop surely planned for Wentworth. What's funnier is the complaint about one-way traffic flow with an LRT...ummm, take a look at King St. He should be pressing for Wentworth to go two-way with street parking so that people can:

a) drive from the north OR south to access his store, and b) then proceed to turn left OR right onto King as the LRT plan calls for 2-way King.

Something is way off here....makes no sense at all.

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 15:46:39

Hmm, 3 negatives for clarifying what store David owns and that I'm not a personal friend.

You guys are too funny, and BTW biased. Gotta love those survey results.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 15:58:28

What's The Spec?

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 16:00:18

"grab a coffee, stop at a variety store, get gas, a car wash, a slice of pizza," hilarious, judging by Hamilton's retail it seems that's all we do in this city.... and go to Money Marts.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 16:01:35

Thanks Ben for this. Total Win .... (I can't stand when people say "no pun intended", I love how you treated that)

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By z jones (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 16:29:38

Not to mention...

1. David Serwatuk did attend a neighbourhood association meeting in 2009 that included a presentation from a city employee.

So when he asks, "Who has really heard about the LRT?" he's being just a little bit disingenuous, isn't he?

Comment edited by z jones on 2010-02-02 15:29:48

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By z jones (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 16:32:03

You guys are too funny, and BTW biased.

Downvoted because you don't pass the sniff test. Your comments are apologia not honest debate.

Comment edited by z jones on 2010-02-02 15:32:32

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 16:44:07

Correction, my comments are fact. 20m is the right-of-way currently in the city presentation, 12.3m is width of King Street curb-to-curb at it's narrowest. Look it up.

Next time you see a city LRT rep ask them which B-Line stops are they proposing disappear, and what surveys with that knowledge did they do in the areas of those stops.

Peel back the onion, take a look. Again, to reiterate I support the LRT on Main, but King is a non-starter.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 17:58:28

The ROW is different for Queenston than it is for King. I too have attended the public meetings and read every word on the city's LRT website. Along King St, through the booming, bustling, vibrant central Hamilton area the design is slated to have one westbound lane, one westbound LRT lane, one eastbound LRT lane and one eastbound lane. In other words, they'll be using all 4 lanes that are currently there.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-02-02 16:59:32

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By frank (registered) | Posted February 03, 2010 at 14:42:55

Jason, isn't King downtown 2 lanes with parking on either side? Why can't they run one direction down King and the other down Main through there? That'd make the area of influence bigger and keep sidewalks on King, no?

Even keeping both directions on King, why the frig does one lane of LRT need 20m? I think it's more likely that an LRT line requires a 20m ROW rather than one direction being 20m wide. A 20m ROW would fit inside the existing 12.5m (as sniffer says) King street turning part of the sidewalk into the platform for the rail line...

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By frank (registered) | Posted February 03, 2010 at 14:44:10

and 18.6 to 20m is about 4'-7" feet, not something to make a stink about there snifftest...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2010 at 14:56:05

Why can't they run one direction down King and the other down Main through there?

Usability. Splitting the LRT lines onto different streets will make the whole system more confusing and less discoverable.

It means that to go one direction - say, toward the east end - you need to jump on the Main line. Then, when you're finished, you need to walk to a different street (King) to return home.

That may not sound like a big deal; after all, we do it today when driving in the city.

However, it's important to think of the line in terms of usability, where the devil is in the marginal costs.

Making something a just little bit more difficult or awkward or non-intuitive can often dramatically reduce the number of people willing to do it. The added cognitive overhead alone can be enough to dissuade a lot of people.

In this case, I think the usability cost of putting east and west on different streets is steep enough to eliminate that as an option.

Here's a bonus reason: if we design our LRT to mimic the existing traffic flows on our one-way streets, we a) create an incentive to leave the automobile traffic flows the same instead of converting them to two-way; and b) risk diluting the transformative potential of the LRT to disrupt current traffic patterns - patterns that traffic policy analysts have identified as the main problem that needs correcting.

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2010 at 15:03:10

[quote]and 18.6 to 20m is about 4'-7" feet, not something to make a stink about there snifftest...[/quote]

It is when the original 18.6m was still more space then provided by King Street.

Removing a sidewalk, or narrowing both sidewalks in a neighbourhood destroys walkability. And a neighbourhood that is a 6 minute B-Line ride to downtown, will not accept the lose of sidewalk space for a 5 minute, 30 second LRT ride downtown.

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By sbwoodside (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2010 at 16:07:58

@TheSniffTest: can you provide some kind of citation for your claims? I just reviewed the documents on the city website and there is nothing that I could find to support your claim.

On the other hand, the drawings clearly show LRT vehicles using one lane each.

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

I would appreciate it if you could share the documents you are looking at.

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2010 at 20:45:52

Rapid Transit FAQs From initiation to Preliminary Design November 2009

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted February 04, 2010 at 07:15:26

At least the Spec's editorial board is still on board.

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By frank (registered) | Posted February 04, 2010 at 09:51:28

Ryan, makes sense. I just thought it might be nice to have it both places because you'd have people walking between and outside both streets which would theoretically increase the area of influence.

Sniffy, an increase of 4' isn't a big deal assuming that we're talking ROW widths (which we in fact are). I've designed roads with 30m ROW and left the outside 10m on each side untouched. Just because it says that's the width doesn't mean there will be a track at the those numbers. Using my own common sense and having seen some drawings and pictures of LRT in other places, I can see how a 2 way line can run on King Street. Reading the Rapid Transit FAQs, it says "Rapid Transit Team staff is considering various ways that the corridor design can be modified to minimize impacts. This includes considering single tracks in some areas, minimal platform widths, minimal lane widths, minimal boulevard treatments and sidewalk widths. In some cases, substandard lane widths and sidewalk widths may be required when property acquisition opportunities are restricted by heritage and archeology features."

In the same document, they state that current ROW widths are minimum 17.3m in the downtown corridor, minimum overall is 15.8m around Sherman Ave. Take a look here... http://www.lrta.info/photos/Germany/de-m... From the Hamilton Rapid Transit site, plans here are to use vehicles with a width of 2.65m and a minumum required clearance of 1m. That means a minimum 6.3m is required for the actual rail lines and cars - the actual visible part of the rail line. The rest is boulevards, sidewalks and treatments.

I can only assume you enjoy the status quo but I have to ask, what are you so scared of?

Comment edited by frank on 2010-02-04 08:57:30

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By z jones (registered) | Posted February 04, 2010 at 10:43:21

At least the Spec's editorial board is still on board.

Sounds to me like they want to eat their cake and have it too.

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2010 at 13:33:50

I'm glad 2 others found that report BS. Or is it just no matter what I post even if it's only the title of a City FAQ it gets the "childish" negative? Yeah, that adds credibility to your point-of-view........

@frank. Totally understand the 20M includes; track lane, curbs, platforms, poles for overhead wires, etc. The issue remains that Jill from the City stood in front of the group and said point blank, that where ROW is restricted sidewalks will need to be narrowed, or eliminated on one side of King Street. Even if the lanes grow from their existing 10' to 11 feet, which they will to create the separated tracks, sidewalks will be narrowed.

This is shown in the answer of that FAQ where it states that property will need to be expropriated where sidewalks are unable to be made "substandard". Sorry, but the neighbourhood will not stand for substandard sidewalks, the sidewalks should be expanded not made substandard.

And the neighbourhood will stand and advocate for those facing expropriation, because that's what neighbours do.

My prediction is they'll end up moving the LRT to Main where these issues do not present themselves.

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2010 at 13:41:11

@frank. http://www.lrta.info/photos/Germany/de-munich05_std.jpg.

Yeah it's a relatively narrow LRT lane, but it neglects showing additional space needed for platforms. That will expand the 6.3m won't it.

Also, with 2 lanes drive lanes for cars in each direction, and a lane for parking I see they were wise enough not to squeeze it into a tight corridor, like King Street.

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By frank (registered) | Posted February 04, 2010 at 14:34:13

Sniffy, downtown the platforms are relatively unnecessary as the sidewalk would be the platform. They won't be squeezing traffic into the downtown area, they'll be closing that area down to traffic. That same website(just delete the picture part of the web address) has numerous pictures showing platforms and sidewalks integrated, traffic with LRT in narrow corridors... It doesn't take much of an imagination to see how it would work.

My prediction is that you're wrong... very wrong. Many people see advantages to making changes downtown and will support it. My question again is, what are you afraid of? (aside from feeling inadequate when people downvote your comment)

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By frank (registered) | Posted February 04, 2010 at 14:36:20

Please do a lot more research before posting about something. Read all the material on the LRT websites you can find, then come back with an informed opinion. You're coming dangerously close to making the same sort of vague statements and accusations rife with unsupported arguments that other naysayers have already done.

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By TheSniffTest (anonymous) | Posted February 04, 2010 at 17:01:41

@frank. Not talking about downtown, I'm talking about King Street East of Downtown. You were the one who pointed out the constrained space at Sherman, 15.8m.

I've attended 3 open sessions, seen the "this, not this" presentations, have different printed incarnations of presentaions and FAQs, and my opinion is informed.

We'll see who's right. And guaranteed I'll come back and tell you where right if you are. Please extend the same courtesy.

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By frank (registered) | Posted February 05, 2010 at 09:15:46

I will...

Even a constrained space at Sherman of 15.8m is adaptable considering the fact that many of the properties on the north side of the street have giant parking lots in front of them... If they can fit 4 lanes of traffic in there, they can fit an LRT... There currently is a rather large sidewalk on the North side of the street there along with a concrete boulevard and sidewalk on the south side. Even at the most constrained place (looks to be around Appollo Restaurant) there's ample room for 4 lanes of traffic with great separation.

I don't think the problem here is whether or not it'll fit, the problem remains that the old Hamilton way of thinking is deeply ingrained in the minds of too many people here. The status quo idea: "It has 'worked' for so long, why change it now?" or "You mean that there's another way to get downtown than use a car?". That needs to change...otherwise there will be resistance no matter which way you turn - new ideas require open minds.

Comment edited by frank on 2010-02-05 08:16:31

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By frank (registered) | Posted February 05, 2010 at 09:19:33

As an aside, since most or all of the utilities in the area will be affected it'd be a great time to take out the hydro poles and put in duct banks. Make it so the only things seen are the wires for the pantograph (which I hope doesn't become bulky...or maybe Bombardier will have their new system up and running by then) and the skyline will be much better looking...

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By Mr. David Serwatuk (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2013 at 01:40:54

To all of my critics 3 years later,
LRT
Nobody has addressed the the most obvious problem... Construction time... google Minniapolis St.Paul.. LRT CONSTRUCTION NIGHTMARE. Look at how many closed .
Most businesses cannot survive being closed 4 to 5 months, as opposed to years. Who's going to pay the rent. I'm sure the city will still collect taxes. People and traffic stay away from construction nightmares.
What I really plan on doing if LRT goes through is sell my property for 10 million to a condo developer, move south and send you all that cut me up a post card. And yes I know who most of you are.
So as you see I win either way.

David Serwatuk
Peace

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2013 at 12:10:34 in reply to Comment 87306

We could always consider what the hundreds of cities that have built LRT lines - and are glad they built them - did to accommodate businesses that were affected by the construction.

You know, if we were actually interested in making the best policy rather than rationalizing our preconceptions.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-03-19 12:11:45

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