Light Rail

Bratina Replies to Durand Neighbourhood Association on LRT

By RTH Staff
Published July 21, 2011

Mayor Bob Bratina has responded to last week's letter of support for light rail transit (LRT) by the Durand Neighbourhood Association with a point-by-point rebuttal. Following is the text of Bratina's letter.

"....... strongly encourage you to champion LRT in the city."

I personally strongly endorse Light Rail Transit and always have. I'm not able to say at this point whether I can endorse the project that is being proposed.

"..... LRT is a proven catalyst to economic development and growth."

It has done this in many cases, but certainly not all.

".....It reduces the use of single-occupancy vehicles and increases the use of public transit."

Congestion along the proposed corridor is not at a critical level.

".... LRT would directly benefit the core, urban neighbourhoods and all of Hamilton by replacing polluting, noisy buses that crowd our streets, "

BRT proponents claim otherwise.

"..... help to concentrate economic development downtown, "

All day GO train service at James North would have a much bigger impact.

".......increase business assessments to help reduce the residential tax-burden,"

At this stage of evaluation, using the Waterloo experience as a guideline, residential taxes might well increase ten per cent or more depending on the funding formula, yet to be determined.

"........ and speed up travel to downtown and other areas of the city ."

The estimate is about 8 minutes end to end.

"....... The province granted $3 million for the study of the LRT line from Eastgate to McMaster University precisely because it is the only sensible choice for the first LRT line. It is the most highly travelled route by car and bus (the B-line) and the ridership already exists on that route."

The concern is that all revenues from LRT may have to be dedicated to its funding, leaving other routes currently subsidized by the profitable B line buses open to fare increases, etc.

".........There are many options for intensification apart from demolishing homes."

We are not hearing at all from the development community on this.

"........ The city has a once in a lifetime opportunity to receive 100% of direct capital costs from higher government. That money will be given to another city if Hamilton’s LRT project is not approved."

We can always negotiate with our funding partners in this regard.

"........ The cost to Hamilton taxpayers in the short term will allow us to reap the proven economic development benefits of the LRT in the longer term."

We are not yet fully informed as to the costs, how they will be covered, and what the economic potential may be, in the absence of interest from the Development community.

".......The majority of the city’s costs will largely be streetscape improvements which are desperately needed in any event."

Can't comment on this.

Thanks for your interest and messaging.

Sincerely,
Bob Bratina,
Mayor, City of Hamilton.

26 Comments

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 09:48:19

Wow, what a dismissive response.

They take time to write a lengthy detailed letter, and he provides one line "soundbites". Does he think he's still on the radio?

Either provide a fullsome response, or don't bother responding.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 09:52:16 in reply to Comment 66695

Either provide a fullsome response, or don't bother responding.

Be careful what you wish for...

: )

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By Surprise me (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 09:59:51

Just once I would like to see Bob Bratina get as excited about this project as he used to. These aren't the words of a man who wants to make this work, these are the words of a defeated man who has already given up. When he really wants to see something happen, he starts pulling out-of-the-box solutions from his hat. Sometimes they're a little unorthodox, some might say hair-brained, but at least you can tell he's trying.

With the signals he's sending, why would any developer want to get behind this? You don't go around buying up property based on an un-funded proposal that may not be operational for 5-10 years unless you get some very strong signals that it's going to happen. With the number of unrealized dreams in this City that started and ended with concept drawings, it's no wonder developers are shy. I think the only reason they're flocking to invest around All-Day GO is because it's largely the province driving it and there's a sense that Hamilton can't possibly screw it up... but then we've diverted 5 or 6 staff to it, so stay tuned........

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:06:42

Just once I would like to see Bob Bratina get as excited about this project as he used to. These aren't the words of a man who wants to make this work, these are the words of a defeated man who has already given up.

I can't verify this, but someone who witnessed it said that when it was clear Councillor Bratina was going to become Mayor Bratina last October, there was a look of abject shock on his face. And I don't mean 'shock' in any good sense of the word.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:06:55

I personally strongly endorse Light Rail Transit and always have. I'm not able to say at this point whether I can endorse the project that is being proposed.

What specifically about LRT do you endorse?

What proposal would you personally suggest that you could get behind?

How would all-day GO service at James North have more impact?

Perhaps the development community would get behind it more once more concrete plans were laid out and made public.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:12:30 in reply to Comment 66701

What proposal would you personally suggest that you could get behind?

Bratina has said on a few occasions that he thinks we should be building A-Line LRT instead. Never mind the City and Provincial studies concluding that B-Line a) has the ridership already in place to justify LRT, b) has more immediate development opportunities along the transit corridor, and c) is actually inside the urban boundary and so will drive intensification rather than sprawl.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:32:21 in reply to Comment 66702

So let me ask you this: How much of a come-down would it be if it was the A-line that was LRT'd...while the B-Line was injected with more resources as BRT?

(And I have to say that talk of an A-line approach reminds me of what 2010 Mayoral candidate Mahesh Butani put forth with his 'GreenPort' development solution...essentially focusing on the north-south corridor, ie Upper James, rather than the traditional east-west one: http://www.butaniformayor.com/solutions.... )

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By Chris L (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:25:23 in reply to Comment 66702

As well as the fact that building the B-line does not put the A-line on ice. The A-line is the next priority after the B-Line. If the B line is successful then it makes the A-line all the more likely to be built.

Sometimes it seems like people in Ancaster/Stoney Creek/The Mountain think that LRT means just the B-Line and that LRT will only serve the Downtown. But when fully in place (admittedly in 25 years or so) LRT will serve Ancaster, Stoney Creek, the Mountain and even Welland with the network of B,L,A,S and T-Lines that are part of the plan. The B-Line will make a huge difference to the corridor that it runs along, but maybe we need to emphasize that it is only one part of the package in order to get more of the suburbanites on board.

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By Chris L (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:16:29 in reply to Comment 66704

And by Welland I meant Waterdown.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:36:48 in reply to Comment 66704

Don't you know? Hamilton can only do one thing at a time.

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By Chris L (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:27:11 in reply to Comment 66704

Oops. That was meant as a reply to Ryan and Brandon above.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:38:43 in reply to Comment 66705

No problem - I moved it up.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:24:14

"..... help to concentrate economic development downtown, "

All day GO train service at James North would have a much bigger impact.

It seems from other posts, that many agree with me that we are fairly satisifed with the way all-day GO Transit into Hamilton already runs. It's a way to get people out and then back in again at the end of the day. How is that helping economic development downtown?

There are 10's of thousands of cars parked at GO lots from Niagara to Toronto and beyond. Sure, it's better then them all stuck in traffic on the 401/QEW/407, but for the most part it's kind of a band-aid solution. Cities need to work on creating more local jobs and if they have state of the art transit like LRT, that can help promote that.

I know they are working towards electrifying GO transit but as it stands now, they are smelly and loud vehicles. Ever stand beside one on the platform as they screech to a stop. The brakes reek, and the stops along the way are all covered with large areas of heat emitting blacktop.

If companies could look at their employee-base, where they are commuting from, and either re-allocate them to regional offices or let them office-share between where they need their employees most, and an office more local to them to help us solve traffic problems, or not just give them laptops with VPN access but let them work from home once or twice a week so that they are not only 1. not on the highway/clogging up transit, 2. buying their coffee, lunch, etc. in their own cities and able to support their local econmoies.

GO is great and all. I use it every day, but there are more greener solutions than just expanding GO. Trains do need to make their way to Niagara no doubt about that, but if we had to choose between LRT and GO and everyone says we don't, than I chose LRT.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:35:24 in reply to Comment 66703

Done right, all-day GO service can make it easier for people to commute into Hamilton as well as out. It's a good thing and I'm glad the province is doing it - in fact, I'd like to see them commit to electrifying GO at the same time - but the issue here is that we don't need to stop working on LRT while we work on all-day GO. The province has already confirmed that we're getting it, so what is the "task force" actually going to do?

A man sits in a dimly-lit office behind a clean desk with a phone in the middle, all silhouetted in front of a big window. He picks up the phone and speed-dials Metrolinx. "Are we getting all-day GO yet?" He listens, frowns, and hangs up. A minute later, he picks up the phone and dials again. "How about now?" A minute after that: "Now?" Fade slowly to black.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-21 10:39:17

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:32:32 in reply to Comment 66707

Going off the StatsCan's Commuting Flow Census Subdivisions (2006): Other than Hamilton, Burlington is the place most Hamiltonians work, but as commutes go, Burlington may be too close to Hamilton for a GO train to compel adoption for residents of either community – it's probably easier to drive. So factoring those numbers out of the picture, Hamilton has 21,880 commuters headed west to Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto and 4,675 Hamilton-bound commuters from Oakville, Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto. I'd hope that the numbers would have grown since 2006, and they don't take into account recreational ridership (shopping, concerts, sporting events) – or commuters who drive religiously – but the key to justifying GO service extensions is delivering healthy ridership numbers. I hope we're able to maintain all-day service once we eventually get it.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 10:43:23 in reply to Comment 66707

It would be nice if more people were coming into Hamilton that is for sure.

A man sits in a dimly-lit office behind a clean desk with a phone in the middle, all silhouetted in front of a big window. He picks up the phone and speed-dials Metrolinx. "Are we getting all-day GO yet?" He listens, frowns, and hangs up. A minute later, he picks up the phone and dials again. "How about now?" A minute after that: "Now?" Fade slowly to black.

lol

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 11:34:09

You all know that I am against the LRT project. Mayor Bratina is taking an open-minded look at this thing and I support him for that. So should you people.

LRT is dead. You want to get economic development dt? Get rid of the bums and riff-raff. Make Hamilton attactive to middle-class residents instead of a ghetto for single mothers and other losers.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 11:50:32 in reply to Comment 66712

You all know that I am against the LRT project. Mayor Bratina is taking an open-minded look at this thing and I support him for that. So should you people.

LMFAO

Oh, this was a great tonic for the heat...although ironically, the observations come off as being the result of a humidex-addled brain. (Did I just type that? I only meant to think it...)

I'm struck by two things. First, that you're very representative of the voters who put Bob Bratina in office last autumn. And second, the notion that we 'should support him'. As if by being our Mayor, he deserves our unwavering obeisance...and that dissent is, by its very nature, bad.

Even though I'm about to toss some mud, I do deserve a pat on the back for the restraint I'm showing: It seems to me that you'd make a good Republican.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-21 12:03:41

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 11:40:05 in reply to Comment 66712

Thank you for that tasteless and entirely uninformative report on downtown economic development. See me after class.

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By Me 109 (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 17:26:31 in reply to Comment 66713

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:33:40

What disturbs me about Bratina's response to the Durand Neighbourhood Association letter is the manner and tone he takes. Instead of responding to constituents with a positive and well supported case for his vision of the future of transit in Hamilton, he refutes their letter on a point-by-point basis with vague, unsupported claims. It reads as though he thinks he is sitting across the table from a political foe, happy that he is scoring points.

He needs to treat the citizens of Hamilton with respect. As Dreschel would say: "Not exactly a Mayoral moment."

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By tranist (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:42:44

Maybe the focus should be on organizing a tranit users union. Those who use the ucrrent system should have a say into future plans about public transit.

I am aghast at people like the capitalist who labels people who may be not in the so called middle class realm, like this person is better then the rest of us, but really isn't.

Ego!



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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 12:56:24 in reply to Comment 66723

FYI there is a Transit Users Group that advocates for improved service. Disclosure: I've done some work for TUG in the past.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-21 12:56:44

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 14:53:05 in reply to Comment 66725

That page says last updated in 2007...is there still a TUG? If so, what do they do? They've been mysteriously quiet...

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2011 at 13:08:17 in reply to Comment 66725

Here's a non-glib question (and I apologize in advance for being lazy): What percentage of Hamiltonians use the HSR?

I know; it's almost impossible to reply with an answer that doesn't require some kind of qualification. But when I read this new bit about a transit users group, I got to thinking about how we regard certain aspects of Life as being not just necessary, but essential, regardless of whether we all use them. Such as education.

I suspect that there are a ton of people who have never used transit, or at least not by choice. And maybe this is where some of the indifference comes from; I read comments online all the time from people who clearly never, ever have any intention of using transit. And in this climate, they're somehow seen as being more 'rationale' than those who are striving for something better for the city. (Because of the assumed cost of the endeavour.)

If people don't use something, it's hard for them to see its merits...especially when there's little pro-active leadership attempting to sincerely enlighten them.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-07-21 13:09:29

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted July 21, 2011 at 16:54:41

He certainly isn't making any friends with responses like that. What an unlikable guy he comes off like with that 'letter'. I guess the good news is that with the sort of attitude on display in his response, it seems really unlikely that he will get elected for a second term. Hey.. maybe that's what he's hoping.

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