Transportation

MacNab Transit Terminal Nears Completion

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 27, 2010

The new MacNab Transit Terminal just west of James St. between Main St. and King St. is nearing completion. Workers recently installed the new sign.

MacNab Transit Terminal
MacNab Transit Terminal

Transit Terminal Sign
Transit Terminal Sign

Among some nice environmental design decisions, the terminal will have a Green Roof once completed. Workers have already installed the underground green tubes that will circulate warm water year-round and keep the platform from freezing. This system will pay for itself in a decade with the savings from reduced wear and tear and not having to shovel and salt.

The project was originally slated for completion in August 2010 but should be completed in the near future.

Once the MacNab Terminal is in operation, city buses can move from their current stops at Gore Park. Then the City will be able to start moving forward with the Gore Park Master Plan.

Gore Park Master Plan Study Boundaries (click on the image to view full-size)
Gore Park Master Plan Study Boundaries (click on the image to view full-size)

According to Le' Ann Seely in the Public Works Department's environmental and sustainable infrastructure division, her department is moving ahead with the Gore Pedestrianization Pilot Project, which will be developed jointly by the City's Landscape Architectural Services, Culture, and Transportation Planning groups, in consultation with stakeholders.

The timeline for completion has not yet been finalized, but Seely expects the pilot will run next spring or summer to coincide with warmer weather.

While the Pilot Project moves forward, the Master Plan is still in design development. Staff observations and lessons learned from the Pilot will inform their finalization of the preferred plan.

The timeline for implementing the Master Plan depends on the progress of the city's Rapid Transit initiative, in which a proposed Light Rail Transit service will run along a King Street that may also be converted to two-way traffic. Rapid Transit planning staff are currently undertaking a comprehensive planning, design and engineering study.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 27, 2010 at 22:14:24

more great news downtown. Supercrawl and Open Streets should give some valuable lessons for the pedestrianization of the Gore. If they only get one thing right, they need to make sure that there is plenty of patio space for all the buildings on the south leg of King along the entire length of this project.
A lot of sitting space, gardens, art and space for tents and stalls to be put up all along the new pedestrian promenade. Perhaps a weekend home to that 'other' downtown market folks were suggesting in a recent thread upon learning that there are more applicants than space at the Farmers Market. Makers Market could work here along with many music and film events.

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By green house (anonymous) | Posted September 27, 2010 at 23:44:30

i was puzzled when i heard that they have built heating systems into the concrete slab. sounds counter intuitive that heating a couple of hundred thousand square feet of road all winter is more environmentally friendly than sanding and clearing the snow when needed.

i'm wondering if there other details that people know of that make this system more efficient than it sounds to me. is it geothermal? is it only turned on when it is supposed to snow? sounds interesting and it was very cool to see them laying all the insulation and pipes but i'm very curious to hear how it all works...

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 28, 2010 at 08:47:08

green house, depends on how you heat the water. what I'm looking at seems to be a heat exchanger to heat the water. It has environmental controls as well so it won't be on all the time.

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 28, 2010 at 08:48:41

wait til you see the west platform....

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 28, 2010 at 08:57:39

The warm water year-round thing seems strange to me. For most of the year, all this system is going to do is heat dry concrete.

Sounds to me like there's a lot of energy for a Stirling Engine here, or something else that can make use of the massive difference between the temperature of water going in and coming out.

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By James (registered) | Posted September 28, 2010 at 08:58:02

The new transit terminal looks fantastic. However, I really worry about the impact of reduced foot traffic in Gore Park. A lot of people only go through Gore Park because they're either getting on or off of a bus. What effect will that reduction in people have on nearby businesses? I can't even count the number of times I've gone to the Tim's in the Right House to get a donut during the wait for a bus.

I also worry that Gore Park will become just another parking lot.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 28, 2010 at 09:06:27

re: underground heating. I don't know much about the system, but anything that removes more salt from the equation can't be that bad. Frank - what's so great about the west platform??

Gore: No disrespect meant to the handful of businesses that currently operate on the south leg of the Gore, but we really could and should have so much more there in terms of retail,cafes, restaurants etc.... Based on my transit-riding experience, most people just stand and wait for their bus as opposed to going to buy things from area restaurants. The pedestrianization plan, if done properly, will create an entire new district right downtown that is for people. Anyone who loved supercrawl, should be excited about the prospects of a pedestrian zone right in the midst of the beautiful greenery and fountain of Gore Park. Perhaps we'll see some of the cultural facilities of James North begin to spill into Gore Park area buildings. Sit on a patio at Al Centro currently and you are annoyed by the constant bus noises. Imagine all of that gone, and replaced with an afternoon sax player or violinist to complement the sound of the fountain etc.... The downtown BIA doesn't have a good track record with doing things properly, so make your voice count and your opinions heard and help the city shape the revamped Gore in a way that will be desirable for people to want to come to.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 28, 2010 at 10:27:08

perhaps the gore park plan should be a topic of another question to the candidates for the hamilton election website?

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 28, 2010 at 10:30:30

Undustrial, it won't heat year round. It has environmental controls...i.e. it won't be on unless there's snow falling on the surface.

Jason, if it's built like my imagination says it will be based on the architectural and landscape drawings, there's a garden in the curbed area at the end with a slat style wall that will advertise the transit terminal as well. There will also be a clock tower at either end.

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By LeGore (anonymous) | Posted September 28, 2010 at 10:50:05

Question to Candidates: What will you do to ensure new, pedestrian-oriented businesses open in Gore Park while maintaining the already-existing businesses, ensuring Gore Park as another Downtown success.

Or

What plans do you have to ensure people stay & play in Gore Park rather than just stroll through?

Or some sort of combination of the two.
As it stands, there is currently not enough to keep people in GP besides the buses.

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By Shame (anonymous) | Posted September 28, 2010 at 12:19:35

This is the single biggest waste of money I have seen in my generation!

Why was this built when we had a perfecty functioning Trasnsit Terminal at TH&B.
Not only did the existing building come complete with Washrooms, Climate Control & eateries but it would also have connected GO Trains & Buses to Coach Canada & Greyhound buses with HSR buses (along with future B & A LRT lines).

I take the HSR daily, but do not approve this project. Sorry. Huge waste of money!

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 28, 2010 at 12:34:41

Workers have already installed the underground green tubes that will circulate warm water year-round and keep the platform from freezing.

I certainly hope not.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted September 28, 2010 at 12:52:54

This is the single biggest waste of money I have seen in my generation!

Why was this built when we had a perfecty functioning Trasnsit Terminal at TH&B. Not only did the existing building come complete with Washrooms, Climate Control & eateries but it would also have >connected GO Trains & Buses to Coach Canada & Greyhound buses with HSR buses (along with future B & A LRT lines).

I take the HSR daily, but do not approve this project. Sorry. Huge waste of money!

The TH&B station had HSR routes 1 King, 2 Barton and route 3 Cannon added to them a year ago, moving them from the old Macnab terminal. They will be staying there permanently. There is no way the HSR could have accomodated all of the routes that pass through the downtown at the GO station. GO uses up to 5 platforms to themselves and another 4-5 are used by Greyhound and Coach Canada. They were also constructed in a way that is not conducive to urban transit usage, in a way that would allow the buses to pull to the side to unload and offload, then pull back out into a main lane to exit.

The TH&B station is currently being utilized incredibly well with exception to the low amount of GO train traffic serving it. Another HSR terminal for the mountain buses was not only necessary but overdue.

Comment edited by MattM on 2010-09-28 11:56:10

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 29, 2010 at 09:01:00

Undustrial, I think Ryan might have to change the year round heating reference...

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 29, 2010 at 11:20:22

Shame, I do not understand why your 100% valid point is being downvoted.

MattM, I understand what you are saying but you are basing it on an assumption of "leaving th&b exactly as-is" which is not a necessary or valid assumption.

First of all, there are definitely empty bus bays behind TH&B, and through more efficient bay planning, more HSR buses could use the space. FOr example, instead of having permanent signs for certain buses, the bays could have LED signs so they could be dynamically allocated when necessary.

Secondly, the bays on the south curb behind TH&B are inefficiently laid out and more buses could be accommodated there.

Finally, the space in front of TH&B is not being efficiently used. The ultra wide sidewalk could be reconfigured to accommodate bus bays on the south curb.

With some creative thinking, TH&B could have been a fantastic terminal for much less than the cost of macnab.

Why? Other than cost savings, a huge problem with having a local transit terminal physically separated from the regional station is the simple matter of visitors arriving and asking "Where do I go now?"

WIth a single terminal, figuing it out (or getting the info) becomes very easy. With separated terminals, it becomes a huge obstacle, not only for tourists but for commuters and regular local users.

We should be going out of our way to make all of the regional and local transit options very easy to use, and make the experience as smooth as possible.

This is also why I am against separating the all-day go station from the TH&B, and why I believe VIA should be at TH&B as well.

Of course, this is "impossible" because of the hunter street tunnel... except it's NOT impossible. Expensive, yes, but not impossible.

We can build a highway in a riverbed. We can replace a 4 lane overpass over a single long weekend. But we can't widen a train tunnel? The only thing stopping us from building a single fanstatic regional/local transit hub is a lack of will.

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-09-29 10:35:23

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By Shame (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2010 at 11:21:04

MattM, I would argue there is plenty of docking space both behind the TH&B and infront along both North & South curbs of Hunter. If desperate, another platform or two could be constructed on Haymarket St which is also connected by Stair & Ramp to the main building, under one roof.

Hunter St is low-travelled by personal vehicles, as per my observations living in Corktown for the last 7 years. There would be as much resistance for a bus to enter the street here as there is currently at Gore Park.

TH&B is underused (coming from someone who has been using the station since a Teen to travel to/from Toronto). There are also several floors of empty office space in the tower. The HSR main office is already located here!

If concerned that HSR riders + GO riders would make the terminal too busy/congested, don't forget James North GO is under EA as we speak, and should start construction in 2011. That would alleviate some of the preconceived congestion. Besides that, what's wrong with a packed Station Cafe? Seems like a win-win to me.

I would love, love, love for this new terminal to feature a 'Next Bus in...' type of system (as I noticed the new terminal has several digital displays along the platforms), but doesn't seem likely given how behind in technology the HSR is. It took them two years to install Callouts! And still only 60% of the buses I ride use them.

Sorry, this MacNab Terminal is a giant waste of taxpayer money! And that new terminal building is ugly, and will be closed to regular folks sooner than later. I don't blame anyone but City Staff for this blunder. Maybe Council, too, for choosing it over TH&B. Waste of Money!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 29, 2010 at 11:39:41

I would go as far as saying Hunter could be outright closed to personal vehicles from James to John and that the entire space could be used for bus bays on both curbs, with a nice large taxi stand right out front.

This is the kind of thinking we need at city hall if we are ever going to elevate our transit system beyond "second thought" status

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By MattM (registered) | Posted September 29, 2010 at 11:45:47

I have read that the new terminal will indeed include dynamic bus schedule times on the digital displays as the HSR equipped it's buses with GPS tracking in recent months, so the technology is available to be taken advantage of. You'll notice that the driver area on HSR buses now has a digital display to the right of the driver (Ranger unit), aside from the Presto unit's display as well. It handles the automatic stop announcement system through GPS as well as a host of other HSR communication systems. Updating the fleet to use this technology was a huge undertaking, as I have understood and has still yet to be full realized, re: "Next bus" times at stops. The HSR is planning to incorporate this technology at new and existing terminus points in the coming years.

Back to the TH&B station, I agree that the station could be modified to a better usage of space and I am fully in support of investing money to widen the Hunter street tunnel in order to bring more traffic to the station. Unfortunately this even has ramifications beyond the tunnel itself, as this would also make it impossible for GO/VIA to service existing stations beyond Hamilton (Grimsby, St. Kitts, Niagara Falls -> USA). The CP Hamilton Sub which the Hunter Street station lies along no longer services any passenger stations between Hamilton and the United States. Re-aligning services to make increased traffic at the Hunter street station would obviously be a giant undertaking and incredibly costly.

One can dream, though.

Comment edited by MattM on 2010-09-29 10:52:46

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By shame (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2010 at 12:40:49

seancb, I also dream of a transit only Hunter St, maybe one lane for local traffic. Same with Hughson. I always thought it would be perfect for the A-line through the core.

mattm, I can only dream too. I'll believe it when I'm standing at the platform and the bus arrives exactly when the LED display tells me it's supposed to.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 29, 2010 at 13:02:24

Again, the question (in regards to passenger VIA service) is one of political will.

Why not a Fort Erie VIA station that connects to Amtrack in Buffalo (surely a more populous amtrack destination which could offer better service than niagara falls NY does?)

And for that matter, why can't we lay MORE TRACK when necessary to improve service?

Anyway, it's all wishful thinking, but I'm tired if reading that this or that is not possible when it is all 100% possible, we just refuse to consider investing in rail and transit in a smart, efficient manner.

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 29, 2010 at 14:23:04

I guess we've all just "forgotten" the transit terminal that was there before? It makes sense to replace a bus terminal with a bus terminal. It's also right in the middle of the "entertainment area" being beside Hamilton Place, Jackson Square and Copps. Give it a rest. IMO it makes sense to separate regional transit and local transit into different venues even if it's only just up the street...

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 29, 2010 at 16:22:33

Why does it make sense to separate them rather than have regional-to-local transfer from the same platform/building/facility?

To prevent someone from accidentally getting on a one-way bus to toronto when they meant to go to limeridge mall?

On any occasions that I visit toronto, I am certaily glad that I can get to the subway from the go train within the same facility - especially if it is raining or snowing.

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 30, 2010 at 12:02:54

Because the facilities are run, staffed and maintained by two completely different entities. The existing GO bus station does fine for GO and this revitalized EXISTING HSR bus terminal will suit HSR buses. Jumping headfirst into combining the two stations in one location would inevitably cause headaches. FWIW you can't "just modify the width" of the railway bridge. There are a lot more aspects to redoing something like that than say widening a road bridge...

If they were both at a point where the 2 needed to be redone near the same time, it MAY be advantageous to sort out the administrative stuff and build a combined facility however they're both providing adequate service...if it ain't broke, don't go trying to "fix" it.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 30, 2010 at 17:41:57

Well, they are already trying to fix it. Problem is it will remain "broke", it will just be shinier.

The "existing terminal" was nothing more than, quite literally, a row of bus stops. This woul dhave been a perfect opportunity to make meaningful positive changes rather than just put a fresh looking suit on the status quo.

I'm sorry but the administrative headaches of which offices go to the GO and which offices go to HSR would have been minuscule compared to the (what will now be permanent) pain-in-the-ass of every user who wants to transfer between the two modes.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted October 01, 2010 at 00:24:11

Shuttle bus between the two???

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