By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published February 12, 2010
A draft of the Metrolinx Business Case Analysis for Hamilton's east-west rapid transit corridor is now available online [PDF link], with summary and recommended resolutions on the agenda for the February 19 Metrolinx Board meeting.
As expected, the BCA shows that LRT has by far the greatest overall economic benefit ($850 million compared to $313 million for full BRT), but is also the costliest (while retaining a net benefit 1.1).
This reinforces what HLR has been saying about LRT v BRT for the past 2.5 years, and explains why there is such strong support for LRT from diverse groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and Environmental groups.
The report also strongly supports the two-way conversion of Main Street and King Street, and says these conversions are essential for BRT or LRT to achieve its full benefits.
The BCA also considers a phased approach (LRT from McMaster to Ottawa St, and then BRT) which has benefits and costs intermediate between the full BRT and full LRT options.
I was very disappointed, however, by the fact that staff are recommending that no decision actually be made:
THAT the Metrolinx Board approve and publicly release the Hamilton King-Main Rapid Transit Benefit Case Analysis (BCA) report, demonstrating positive benefits for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), full Light Rail Transit (LRT) and phased LRT options;
THAT the Board direct staff to continue to work collaboratively with the City of Hamilton on the planning, design and engineering (PDE) workplan for the King-Main corridor in 2010; and
THAT staff report back to the Board in late 2010 with a PDE workplan status update.
In other words, even though LRT is clearly the best option in terms of overall benefit, we are still going to keep studying this thing to death and avoid making an actual decision.
(In fact, if we study it long enough we won't have to make a decision because the window of opportunity to get something done will have passed.)
The resolution is also self-contradictory: how can the detailed design and engineering be done when a preferred technology has not even been chosen?
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