The Time Has Come for Light Rail

By Jason Leach
Published June 18, 2007

There haven't been very many times over the years where we at RTH are in complete agreement with the editorial position taken by the Hamilton Spectator.

Saturday, however, was one of those days.

The Spec is absolutely right on the money in urging city council to seize the moment and present plans for light rail lines to cross our city instead of just settling for bus rapid transit lines.

The proposed rapid-transit lines for Hamilton would essentially be dedicated routes for better or larger buses. This is the time for Hamilton to push the province, and the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority charged with implementing the plan, to consider light rail transit (LRT) lines for Hamilton that would replace some buses with quiet, environmentally friendly electric trains.

The facts are very plain to see in other cities in North America. Streetcar/LRT lines have the potential to transform neighbourhoods, downtowns, business districts and entire cities.

Hamiltonians don't realize how blessed we are to still have a relatively compact, walkable city. Two new modern streetcar lines, coupled with enhanced bus, cycling and pedestrian amenities, would create a boom in this city like we haven't seen for many decades.

As of this fall we'll be built-out of highway capacity with no new ones possible in our city. The future lies in the current, built-up city, and light rail is the backbone of our future.

As the Spec has urged, we need to direct our city council to upgrade the BRT plans to full fledged LRT or modern streetcar lines.

The effects on our city, economy and quality of life will be greater than any other single initiative or plan.

It would appear that Hamilton's time has come. Council must seize the opportunity.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By bsamstag (registered) - website | Posted June 20, 2007 at 11:34:34

Plain old, ordinary Streetcars make more sense, from a financial (and affordability) standpoint than Light Rail. Cities all over Canada and the U.S. have already come to that conclusion. Even Los Angeles, which once had over 1,000 miles of "rapid transit" (aka: Red Cars) has plans to install trial streetcar lines in the downtown area to connect Chinatown with the Staples Center. It's a beginning . . .

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 20, 2007 at 12:16:21

But the long term financial payback from light rail is higher... that has to come into play as well, right?

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