Transportation

McLean: Better Transit for a Healthier City

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 22, 2007

If you didn't catch it on Tuesday, the Hamilton Spectator carried an excellent op-ed by Don McLean in which he argues that the city should "start using public transit to improve our local economy, reduce air pollution, fight global climate change and help Hamiltonians cope with rapidly rising fuel prices."

Detailing nearly two decades of funding cuts, fare hikes and all around lack of love for the beleagured HSR, McLean makes a strong case for transit as a public good that can catalyze downtown economic revitalization, improve prospects for low income residents and improve our environment.

He notes that Council is reluctant to allocate more tax revenue for transit, prefering to raise fares and use the gas tax transfers to offset operating costs instead of improving service.

Between competing priorities and the political minefield of area rating, in which different parts of the city pay different rates toward transit, City Council has long been stuck in a mindset where transit is a "budgetary pressure" to be minimized rather than an investment in making the city more vibrant and livable.

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 November 22, 2007 at 13:24:55

he's right, and isn't telling us anything we don't already know. The real problem is the fact that this might be a lost cause in Hamilton. City hall simply doesn't care.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted November 22, 2007 at 13:59:07

Some of the folks at city hall may care but they don't matter because the people who hold control are from the previous generation where private vehicles and paving are paramount. (lots of p-words :) ) It's nearly impossible as a young person to get a job in transit or transportation management (believe me, I've tried) simply because they're always looking for people to fill vacant positions. What should be done is to allow new individuals with a forward thinking perspective to work alongside those who think that solving transportation problems means building more roads. That way new ideas are aired instead of old ones.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted November 22, 2007 at 14:37:27

Great article from Don. Once again I am left to wonder why the citizens of Hamilton are the ones having to cover these issues. How much work did Don have to put in the put this report together? And how much did he get paid for it?! The Spec needs to be held to account for it's lack of municipal issues reporting.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 22, 2007 at 14:54:33

Well, at least they printed it. Faint praise, I know.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 22, 2007 at 14:58:03

the Spec's too busy chiding us for voting down the gold smeltering plant...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 22, 2007 at 15:04:24

and the abattoir that laid a golden egg.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted November 22, 2007 at 18:23:47

Jason...had to laugh at your comment...seems all the ideas the folks at the Spec can think about for their "Future City" is roads. Did you see they've paved a causeway now from Burlington to Grimsby. And the "chunnel" to Toronto.

I was hoping that would be an interesting exercise in mapping out what kind of future city Hamiltonians want to live in, it's become a complete joke. Now they want us to vote on whether the city gets hit by an earthquake and a flu pandemic. If the city evolves like it does in their "simulation", I vote both.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 22, 2007 at 22:48:30

I'd like to see the Spec play SimCity and build Hamilton exactly as they propose. I bet every natural disaster that game can muster up would be rolling across the harbour within a month. If you want a real laugh, go onto the future city website and check out their little "i" popup symbols at the site of past votes. Sounds like Maple Leaf all over again - "the city loses investment to another municipality by voting down a gold smeltering plant". "Port businesses take a financial hit when citizens vote against building a new canal through the east end". It's hilarious. I wonder which disaster we're 'supposed' to vote for. Probably the earthquake, that way local builders can make a fortune rebuilding the city afterwards.

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