Of the 65 candidates who responded, 47 or 72.3% support LRT, 13 or 20% oppose LRT, and 5 or 7.7% are ambivalent or undecided.
By Ryan McGreal
Published October 20, 2010
After the Province of Ontario promised new funding to build rapid transit across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) and a group of local citizens began advocating for light rail transit (LRT) in Hamilton, the City of Hamilton has been developing a rapid transit plan, with the specific goal of constructing an east-west LRT line from McMaster University to Eastgate Square.
A benefits case analysis prepared by Metrolinx, the Provincial body responsible for coordinating regional rapid transit across the GTHA, determined that the capital and overall operating cost to build LRT would be significantly higher than to build Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), but that LRT would also provide much greater net benefits in new private investment, increased ridership, and improved quality of life.
City staff are currently undertaking the planning and design of an LRT system with $3 million in provincial funding.
Raise the Hammer contacted the 83 active candidates for the upcoming Municipal Election and asked:
As of this writing, 65 candidates, or 78.3% of the total, have responded. Of the 65, 47 or 72.3% support LRT, 13 or 20% oppose LRT, and 5 or 7.7% are ambivalent or undecided. You can read all the candidate responses on the RTH Election site.
The 12 mayoral candidates who responded are split evenly - six in favour and six against.
Bob Bratina has "supported the concept of LRT from the beginning" but notes that the plan needs some fine-tuning and that Council has not yet committed to "provide financial support for the plan in partnership with Provincial and Federal funders." Note: Bratina has also recently argued in other public events that he prefers building a north-south line first.
Mahesh Butani supports LRT but believes the city must "focus on quickly creating the other vital components that makes an LRT scheme successful", including using zoning and economic development strategies to maximize the benefits.
Larry Di Ianni supports LRT and wants to bring together all the stakeholders to "initiate a community-wide lobby effort of both the Provincial and Federal governments." He also wants the LRT plan "revised to include areas of the city beyond the proposed LRT lines at Eastgate Square and McMaster University."
Fred Eisenberger identifies LRT as one of his top mayoral priorities and pledges to "establish and personally lead an LRT SWAT team of government relations experts and community partners to secure government funding of LRT for Hamilton."
Glenn Hamilton "would have an assigned professional dedicated to assuring a successful outcome for this opportunity."
Ken Leach argues LRT will "not only build the basis for the City of Hamilton, it allows for investment by our community." He wants infrastructure improvements to the east-west corridor to accompany LRT construction.
Michael Baldasaro opposes funding for LRT "in the present economic circumstances." He prefers to invest in repairing and improving existing infrastructure.
Edward HC Graydon "question[s] the usefulness of light rail" and believes addressing the incidence of brain cancer in Hamilton is a higher priority.
Andrew Haines notes that he is a former HSR bus operator and believes Hamilton can improve transit service without the exorbitant cost of an LRT system.
Tone Marrone argues that BRT is "much more cost-effective" and that it is impractical to assume that the Province will be able to honour a commitment to fund LRT. He also believes LRT "would mess up Hamilton's synchronized traffic light system" and remove lanes of traffic.
Gino Speziale argues that other cities are "having serious problems with their LRT", including congestion, high operating costs and falling ridership. He believes "The politicians of the City of Hamilton are not competent to see past their noses".
Victor Veri would consider BRT or lower-cost streetcars. He believes LRT is "much investment risk for the return on benefits that may result."
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