In a candid interview, Councillor Brad Clark argues that Hamilton is running out of time to get a decisive commitment from the Province to keep their promise to build two light rail lines in Hamilton.
By Ryan McGreal
Published September 12, 2011
In a phone interview with Raise the Hammer, Councillor Clark expressed frustration and raised concerns with the way the City has handled the light rail transit (LRT) file in recent months.
Back in July, Clark suggested that the LRT supporters were overreacting to ominous comments about LRT from Mayor Bob Bratina and that Council was merely doing its due diligence.
Asked whether he still feels that way, Clark replied, "I'm a little concerned now." He explained that he and Councillor Collins did not want to commit more resources to planning LRT until Council had a clearer picture of how much the Province was prepared to pay toward the capital cost.
Today, "everyone seems to have forgotten the original promise from the Province to pay 100% of the capital cost of LRT."
He explained, "I was under the impression that we were going to go to the Province and ask, Is this commitment still on or not? And then we could make decisions."
At the same time, Clark says, "it sounded like the Mayor and [City Manager] Chris Murray were backpedaling on LRT." Contrasting his own comments from the time, Clark explains, "From my perspective, we were simply asking questions to verify that we were getting the money."
But after reading Premier Dalton McGuinty's comments to the Spectator on Saturday, Clark said, "Now I'm not so sure."
Asked to explain what changed his mind, Clark said, "It sounds to me, based on what the Premier said, I gather the Mayor went to Toronto and the folks in charge and indicated that GO train expansion is our priority and not LRT."
That, said Clark, must have been "music to the Premier's ears, because he had an over-promise on LRT, based on dollars committed and what he had promised" through the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan. Since then, "the GDP shrank and the Premier has to find savings. Metrolinx has already had to find $4 billion in savings" on what it was planning to spend.
When McGuinty "heard from the Mayor in Hamilton that his priority is GO Transit, that frees up $1 billion of LRT money that had been promised to Hamilton."
Clark pointed out that the shift in priority from LRT to GO transit does another thing: "No one's talking about this, but GO transit capital expansion is paid for by the municipalities," not the Province. "This has been the case for quite some time."
When Clark was the Minister of Transport in the Harris Government, he uploaded the operating costs for GO Transit to the Province, but "we maintained that a portion of GO capital was to be paid by municipalities. There have been a number of iterations since then, but for now the capital cost goes on development charges to the city. If we don't have the money, we have to tax for it."
According to Clark, when the Premier promises GO Transit expansion over the next ten years, the capital cost is on the City's dime, not the Province's.
He said, "That's an easy promise to make. Unless they're going to change that formula, which they have not done - and you never ask policy questions during an election - I'm fearful that because of misguided intentions, Council finds itself in the position where we lose the committed capital dollars for LRT in exchange for a commitment to expand GO Transit trains to all day service, which becomes a part of our capital cost. No one's talking about this."
Clark noted that when he was the Transportation Minister, he looked at expanding to all-day GO Train service. "It's very costly and there's no business case for it. It's a commuter train service, with less volume in off-hours. It's very expensive."
He also noted that commuters leaving Hamilton go to Burlington, not Toronto. "There has not been an economic development case for expanding all-day GO Transit service. If it's such a great win, why didn't GO Transit do this in the last 20 years? They have looked at it time and time again. They have to justify the service based on demand."
Asked whether increased frequency of GO Trains would attract more riders, Clark said, "We did increase train runs and increased bus service for GO Transit. Back in 2001 we had pilot projects to see whether or not you would pick up more passengers. The reality is that the statistics show the demand is simply not there. Our population growth has not increased significantly since then to change that demand."
Asked about City Manger Chris Murray's July email suspending all LRT work beyond what the City was contractually obligated by the Province to complete, Clark said, "Now, when you're starting to see where we are with the Premier's announcement that GO Train is the priority, whose decision was it?"
"Did the Mayor and City Manager make that decision? Because council has not made that decision. It was never brought to us to have a discussion."
With respect to Go Transit, "The last that Council had heard, Metrolinx indicated they were going to go forward with expansion of train service to Niagara through Hamilton, but on their schedule. There's never been any Council discussion about all-day train service."
Asked what he thinks Mayor Bratina and Murray are trying to do with LRT, Clark said, "I don't know what the motivations are, but by talking about - I guess there's some misquided intentions here. You have one item that is a Provincial bailiwick - GO Transit, that's not our issue. Then we have LRT, which is a municipally-initiated project, but the Province was the one that committed to paying for it."
Contrasting the two, Clark said, "One would think we'd be fighting tooth and nail to get the Province to keep their promise to pay 100% of the capital cost for LRT, instead of GO, which is a capital cost to our development charges."
He added, "These discussions have not occurred in Council and have occurred in a vacuum, without the enlightened conversation that would asist people in making appropriate decisions."
Councillor Jason Farr has introduced a notice of motion to be presented at the October 11 Council meeting that would reaffirm Council's support for LRT. Clark warned that October 11 is too late, given that the Provincial election is October 6.
Clark has submitted a notice of motion to the City Clerk that he wants to bring to Council before the election. "I want Council to say to the Province before the election - I want Premier McGuinty and his Regional Minister to say: yes, we promised two LRT lines and you wouldn't have to pay for that, and we're committed to that. Because if they're not committed to that, you're going to have Councillors say, We don't have any money so we're done."
"My challenge - and Councillor [Lloyd] Ferguson is also saying there's a problem here - is that we had an election promise in 2007." Clark noted that the Ontario Government promised Hamilton two rapid transit lines in June 2007, and then the Liberals promised "two light rail transit lines across Hamilton" in September as part of their re-election campaign.
He noted that the Province has already committed to LRT projects in Toronto. "There's a clear record of documentation on this project. Toronto has $9.5 billion in LRT under construction right now at no cost to Toronto. I would expect that we'd be fighting to get the same thing."
Asked whether he thinks Council is willing to go against the Mayor's will in support of LRT, Clark said, "I think we'll get support for it. Council wants to find out where the Province is. In my discussions with some of my colleagues, we said from the beginning that we wanted the Province to pay. That's their promise. I want to put that forward before the October 6 election."
This past July, Clark and Councillor Chad Collins told a planning committee that they felt Council was being "backed in a corner" on LRT and that Council had to "regain control of its destiny".
LRT supporters worried that this, combined with Mayor Bob Bratina's disparaging comments about LRT in the news media, suggested the City was losing focus on its LRT plan.
Asked what he meant by that, Clark said, "We were being backed into a corner with all of the studies and reports, without verifying that we're not going to have to pay anything. As I said, if we don't secure the money from the Province now, we're going to find ourselves backed into a corner. They'll say to us, You've done all this work, how can you not agree to pay?"
Clark believes enough work has already been done for the Province to commit to a capital funding promise. "We have sufficient work done now to give an excellent estimate on the amount of cost for capital construction of the project."
He thinks the Province needs to come clean. "The province should be stepping up and say, Yes, we promised this and we're going to fulfill it, or Yes we promised this but we didn't mean it."
Clark repeated that it was the Province that encouraged Hamilton to study LRT based on the promise of full capital funding. "The City of Hamilton should not be giving them the 'out', and that's what this has become. They made this commitment - the Province committed to the lines. They sang the praises of LRT, they coughed up the money [for an environmental assessment], here's the future with LRT."
He also repeated, "Other municipalities have secured 100% capital funding for their projects. They were all at different stages of planning, but regardless of where they were in the process, the promise wasn't based on how much work was completed, it was based on the end goal of ensuring the line was constructed."
He points to speeches given to the Toronto Board of Trade: "'We understand, Toronto, you don't have the money. We're not going to make you pay.' Gee, we don't have the money."
Clark emphasized that citizens who support LRT "have got to get involved. They've got to start writing to their MPPs, calling campaign offices to demand candidates' opinions on this. I find it frustrating that these candidates who campaigned in 2007 are not held to account today."
He added that Hamilton does not need to prove to the Province that the Hamilton LRT line is viable. "Metrolinx did it with their own study," the February 2010 Rapid Transit Benefits Case Analysis that concluded LRT, though more costly, also provides more return on investment.
Referring to Liberal MPP Ted McMeekin and Minister Sophia Aggelonitis, Clark said, "It was McGuinty, McMeekin, Aggelonitis who stated clearly in 2007, if we want two LRT lines, they needed to be voted back in."
Clark cannot understand why Council seems willing to let the offer of 100% capital cost for LRT slip away. "It is incredibly frustrating that we were promised this commitment and now this Council has jumped through hoops to get the Pan Am Games money, and the entire argument was, 'Why would you turn down 56% of the money?' Well, I'm curious: why are we going to look the other way on LRT when 100% of the money was promised by senior levels of government? I don't get it."
Asked about Mayor Bratina's claim that Hamilton might have to pay $150 million toward the cost of LRT, Clark replied, "I keep hearing that we're going to have to pay. Where did that come from?"
He noted that Waterloo Regional Council agreed to cover some of the capital cost to fast-track their LRT proposal after years of development, but that Hamilton should not be held to the same cost breakdown.
"People in the media kept saying to me, Who really believes the Province was ever going to pay 100%? I said I believe it, because they're doing it in Toronto. So it's to our own neglect that we're not looking at what's happening in other municipalities, because Toronto asked for it and they got it."
He concluded, "There's a very limited time now, because if we don't get a commitment before the election, we don't get a commitment at all. If the Province can throw this under the carpet during an election - if people don't know they're going against one of their primary promises from 2007 - then we're making a huge mistake for Hamilton. we're being played. I don't like being played."
By Woody10 (registered) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 17:54:54
Unbelievable, finally some straight talk about what needs to be done. What the heck is the mayor playing at?? He should be meeting with anyone and everyone to get this commitment NOW!!!
By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 18:03:26
"municipalities pay Go Transit expansion costs"
What. Am I right to read this as: Bratina jettisons free provincial money in exchange for all day Go which will be paid for by us, and for which there is no business case???! If so this is a screaming outrage. Out of some misguided, or Billy Kelly guided idea of fiscal restraint, have we just lost a free infratstructure boost and taken on an expansion that will increase our taxes?
By Woody10 (registered) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 18:07:28 in reply to Comment 69485
Can we impeach??
By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 12, 2011 at 18:14:25 in reply to Comment 69487
Can we impeach??
No, but we can prepare the electorate better for next time, so they make better-informed decisions.
(Oh, and while I'm at it, Councillor Clark was re-elected. And he sure seems to know what he's doing. So I have to ask: do all the 'term-limit' fans still feel so strongly about the notion...?)
By Kevin (registered) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 18:20:58
Unbelievable, yet believable. We need better caretakers.
By GlapTallinger (anonymous) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 18:26:34
Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-09-12 20:26:21
By theOther (registered) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 19:48:03 in reply to Comment 69491
I don't know precisely what meaning you were striving for, but by any calculus, your remark is worthy of a douche.
By jason (registered) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 19:18:05
Yep, sounds like a logical thing for any mayor to do. Turn down hundreds of millions in investment paid by the province (cue 'theres only one taxpayer' on CHML tomorrow in 3...2...1..) for no good reason..... (other than keeping with the status quo of scrapping everything that was previously in motion to get us some mojo back). I think Clark is right and council will want to re-affirm their position and hold McGunity to his promise. His campaign can hardly believe their dumb luck, having a mayor turn down funding for 2 LRT lines.
By theOther (registered) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 19:51:07 in reply to Comment 69493
Am I the only one pausing to consider the Councillor's motives regarding this issue on the eve of a provincial election?
By misterque (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 15:48:47 in reply to Comment 69498
Politics makes strange bedfellows. I think Hamilton will benefit from the East-West LRT along King regardless of the process. Clearly we cannot put too much support in a transparent, fair process in this city. If Mr. Clarke is willing to drink some Kool-Aid with me, and we get LRT. So be it. Point this LRT zombie in the direction of the nearest pro sprawl brain and I will write wrrrrrrrite.
By HartffordL (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:10:27 in reply to Comment 69498
I too wonder about the timing of Councillor Clark's "get tough on the Liberal government" approach as per LRT. Mr. Clark has been a naysayer from the very beginning and told rapid transit staff in no uncertain terms after the last municipal election that he was not in favor of LRT, and even went so far as to make a smart alec comment about "not drinking the LRT cool-aid." It's a bit rich for this same councillor to now stand high above the crowd on his Tory soapbox to shout out McGuinty and the local liberals. It is also a little known fact that Tim Hudak's staff (both at Queen's Park and in his riding which includes part of Hamilton) refused time and time again to schedule an LRT information meeting with the city's rapid transit team. The request was ignored and Mr Hudak is still not in favor of expanding/improving public transporation in Ontario. No, this is a man who wants to pave over the escarpment lands for truck traffic to ease congestion. Well, Mr. Clark and Mr. Hudak, here's a suggestion. Why don't you promise to build modern public transportation in the form of Go trains and light rail between Toronto and Niagara (in all municipalities that will benefit) and then watch how the traffic congestion on the QEW miraculously disappears. Sorry, but Mr. Clark's new tack smacks of partisan politics and convenient timing. He's had almost a year to call out the liberals on LRT and, in fitting "last minute" fashion, he's waited until almost the 11th hour to take the Liberals to task.
Disingenuous behaviour, through and through.
By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 12, 2011 at 22:18:42 in reply to Comment 69498
It had crossed my mind, as had the fact that a certain rival party leader is running and very likely to win in right at the nexus of the two lines.
There's a lot of politicking happening here. Clark is right - let's do some of our own. Grill McGuinty and get a promise, on camera, before the election.
By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 12, 2011 at 22:10:59
Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-09-12 22:14:39
By Fair is Fair (anonymous) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 22:26:58
So they want to grill McGuinty to get a promise. I say that they should grill both the premier and Clark's friend to get the SAME promise. Hey Brad? or is this just playing partisan politics?
By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 12, 2011 at 22:29:04
Councillor Clark, with all do respect the spectator, RTH, the Chamber of Commerce, the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington, members of the citizen's rapid transit committee, community neighbourhood associations and private citizens have ALREADY done their part complaining about the lack of priority LRT was getting at city hall back when the department was disbanded. At that point in time YOU and most of the other councillors were not "on the bandwagon" and sat back twiddling your thumbs.
Now, when we all turned out to be right, you have the gall to come in here and say that citizens who support LRT "have got to get involved. They've got to start writing to their MPPs, calling campaign offices to demand candidates' opinions on this. I find it frustrating that these candidates who campaigned in 2007 are not held to account today."
No sir, you do NOT get to have it both ways. We've done more than our fair share, and most of us have done so publicly. You have ample public support to cite. Now YOU and your fellow councilors have to STEP UP and bring this community support to the forefront at CITY HALL. Because after all, that is where the decisions are being made - as the Premier himself has indicated that Hamilton's priorities are being communicated by the mayor.
So quit trying to tell us LRT supporters to "do more" and get out there and do something yourself!
By misterque (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 16:12:24 in reply to Comment 69505
Let's not let our pride get in the way here. If Mr. Clark is hoping to score some political points provincially that is just politics. If this politicking can be used to lever political support in favour of LRT so be it. There is nothing keeping us from framing the letters we write in such a way that is supportive and not punitive. I.e., write a letter thanking McGuinty, reminding Horwath, and praising Hudak for supporting our LRT through Mr Clark. :)
Politics is human tribal insanity applied to (im)practical results. Moving things politically requires a kind of duality. I will disagree with Mr. Clark when he says supporting LRT is like "drinking the Kool Aid" and then support him when he "is looking for the cash for LRT."
I am not implying we abandon all principles, but if someone is spouting in a direction that moves things a way you want, help them spout. There is a lovely tag line used in this group by Chomsky “We shouldn't be looking for heroes, we should be looking for good ideas.” Well I think a good corollary of that in politics is that we "should not ignore good ideas because they come from villains."
Philosophically I understand that some may never be able to support Mr. Clark (for councilor, mayor or MPP), but don't let philosophy get in the way of the politics that will help make the world a little bit better (LRT in the Hammer).
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2011 at 16:36:13 in reply to Comment 69505
I'm happy to see Clark et al suddenly pushing for more openness and directly engaging the public like this (Whitehead's article was a similar pleasant surprise)...
But yeah, with Clark's timing I wo wonder if this isn't partially trying to stir up "throw the bums out" sentiment against the provincial liberals.
By H+H (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:40:18 in reply to Comment 69505
Robert D Well said. Many LRT supporters have been public in their support, while our elected officials ask the odd question at a meeting. I'm glad that Brad Clark is now speaking out, but dissatisfied that he is only now speaking out.
Where was this point about GO service improvements coming out of our capital budget? I'm still not clear on what that means exactly. I for one would benefit from some further clarification and/or information from Councillor Clark on his point.
By Hopeful (registered) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 00:23:28
Is it just me or does it feel like the next Hamilton mayoralty race has already begun?
The comments by Clark and Collins on LRT, as reported by the Spectator in July at least, (http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/558498--city-being-backed-into-a-corner-on-lrt-clark), were incendiary and no one should be be surprised where they've brought us. If there was a time for clarification it was then not now.
This silliness has got stop. Hamilton has a wealth of well studied great ideas (from the original Shifting Gears, to Vision 2020, to Richard Gilbert's peak oil reports, to any number of analyses that Jill Stephens and her LRT crew put together) that could truly transform our urban nature and make it the envy of 21st century cities.
Unfortunately, it also has a council that will repeatedly impede them in the name of press coverage, local ward tribalism and gamesmanship. To read this is to wonder where you've been all these years Brad.
Stating that us LRT proponents "have got to get involved.... start writing to their MPPs, calling campaign offices to demand candidates' opinions on this...", etc., etc,, is disingenuous. We've made our opinions clear, bolstered them with facts, and should have a City Council to lobby our MPP's (MLA's) regarding that for us. Your help on this file is questionable.
Finally, is it just me or does it feel like Hamilton is only interested in projects that some other level of government will pay for? What about controlling our own destiny?
Comment edited by Hopeful on 2011-09-13 00:32:53
By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 14:32:36 in reply to Comment 69508
"Is it just me or does it feel like the next Hamilton mayoralty race has already begun?"
The 2010 contest seems like it would have the potential to embolden ward heavyweights and give hope to underachievers.
By Woody10 (registered) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 00:57:19 in reply to Comment 69508
Controlling our own destiny with money promised from other levels of government is even better, isn't it??!
By R (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 00:35:46
Bratina flat out said to me a few years ago, "what's wrong with Hamilton being a bedroom community". There ya go folks....
By Woody10 (registered) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 00:56:11 in reply to Comment 69509
That doesn't surprise me. Seniors like it quiet.
By supercrawled (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 08:11:34
Had the opportunity to speak to Chris Murray while he was browsing art at Supercrawl and he told me if Hamilton wants Light Rail - "you will have to pay for it".
By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 14:48:25 in reply to Comment 69517
and my reply would be, "ok, how much?" Seriously, how much? Council just flushed how much on "half a stadium"? Oh wait, rememver the savings envisioned because of all that padding? Well instaed of returning it to the coffers, we're gonna build a whole new stadium... other projects/priorities be damned.
By George (registered) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:13:22 in reply to Comment 69517
How come no one is shooting straight here?
The province, metrolinx and the city should all know, and be public with, any and all LRT funding information.
Is McGuinty playing politics here cuz he is now not willing to fund LRT for Hamilton, and is afraid to say so cuz of the impending election?
By Carl G (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:17:27 in reply to Comment 69517
We'll have to pay for expanded GO trains as well through DCs, as per Councillor Clark's argument in today's article.
What a crock Murray and Bobra are trying to feed us.
By I Swear (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 09:09:01
If McGuinty gives us an LRT, fully paid for; we will unelect Andrea Horwath....fair deal no?
By Another Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 10:17:59
If Brad Clark said to bet on the sun coming out tomorrow I would bet against it.
A more dishonest person I've never met.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:25:55
Imho, the "All Day GO" thing is really about getting a Go stop with a big parking lot in the east end. That's what homebuilders on the mountain want - something they can offer to the suburbanites up the RHVP.
Comment edited by Pxtl on 2011-09-13 11:26:15
By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 11:53:21 in reply to Comment 69537
I agree, although I think it's dangerous and unfortunate to make such a move, consider the following:
Right now rush hour trains come out of hunter street - an urban station whose only parallel on the lakeshore west line, in my mind, is Union Station. All the other lakeshore west stops are little more than parking lots.
If we make such a "parking lot" station in Hamilton in the east end (stoney creek) or even on James Street North, the trains that leave from these stations will be bypassing hunter street station (the tracks don't meet up until near the York St. bridge). Now, all plans I've seen to date have suggested maintaining peak service at hunter, and off-peak service at the other stations, but if we're becoming a "bedroom community" this doens't make much sense as people who use these new stations with huge parking lots will want express service during rush hour to get them to and from work.
I'm afraid we'll gain all day GO and a parking lot, but loose rush hour GO services to Hunter Street, which in my mind would be a real blow to the core, and create an unfortunate division which exists, most visible in Mississauga, where the GO train stations and the GO Bus station are located rather far apart, making transfers not worth the hassle.
Additionally, since all day GO train service is a "money losing" proposition accoridng to Brad Clark's assessment of previous studies, I think GO will look to cut costs wherever possible, and I fear for the future of our QEW express service. We are, perhaps, the only city that has such an express serivce into downtown Toronto, and it becomes very redundant if we have all day train service.
If we lose the express bus we'll really be thanking Bratina for the "win" - until anyone tries to take the train to Toronto at off-peak times and realizes that the trains take longer than the old express buses did, especially if they're making all stops.
By Bobby1 (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 12:43:43
Finally the real story about LRT? The advantage of a Councillor with Provincial Gov't experience and with the guts to speak out! If this is all true,it's an outrage and leads one to think something smells of a deal made! McMeekin rides in on a white horse to add more money to The Mayor's highest pet project IW to save the day! Was there any strings attached, comments made and winks exchanged? We will never know! If LRT was to be 100% funded by the Province and Mayor Bratina didn't follow the money,Council needs to call for an investigation and find out why! I just can't get my head around this information if it's true! Council needs to ask McMeekin & Aggonitis what the true facts are before Oct.6th!
This could change everyone's view of LRT as the main concern was mostly with the effect on property taxes!
By stanley (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 13:14:13 in reply to Comment 69545
you really think Mcguinty and Bratina would cook up a scheme of the magnitude you're implying? For what? Aggelonitis and McMeekin? come on. We all know Bratina is a grandstander but a clever conspirator just doesn't fit his MO. It's a lot more obvious why Clark would be trying to turn this into a jab against the liberals.
By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 14:40:04 in reply to Comment 69549
Indeed: Why on earth would a mayor ever do a solid for the province? It's not as if a municipal politician would ever have aspirations for higher office.
By Woody10 (registered) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 18:15:38 in reply to Comment 69549
Are you kidding? Of course they could and would do that. They managed to lie their way into government so why would they stop. Anybody who thinks all politicians don't play games is not of this planet.
By George (registered) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 12:58:28 in reply to Comment 69545
Agreed Bobby1, and all the while Toronto is getting over a billion dollars of provincial/metrolix money for their rapid transit while Hamilton gets screwed by the province yet again.
I hope I'm wrong!
Comment edited by George on 2011-09-13 12:59:50
By Woody10 (registered) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 18:16:16 in reply to Comment 69547
Unfortunately, your probably not.
By Siren Bang (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 16:48:20
"There was a sudden cascade of high-pitched warning beeps—90 seconds until takeoff!—and we all scattered down the platform for our respective doorways, like hunted rabbits looking for burrows. Miss Huang grinned broadly as we ran through her doors. “Do not worry!” she breathed as she settled me down gently into a red leather airline seat (“It costs $20,000,” she said reverently. “More than most cars, would you believe?”), handed me an ice-cold towel, and positively exhaled an air of relaxation, like a spa attendant handing out cucumber slices. “Wipe your brow. We go now.”
And so, with that, the station and the waiting crowds seen through the picture windows began to slip, quite silently, away. We swept out, in utter quiet, and with an imperturbable sense of purpose, bound as we were for China’s capital city, 820 miles away. When I first took this train, 20 years ago, the journey took a little more than a day. In May this journey would have taken 10 hours. Today it would take less than five.
Moreover—and as many of this day’s riders would remark—we were farther away from Beijing than New York is from Chicago, and yet while the normal Amtrak run from the Hudson to Lake Michigan takes 19 hours (though once, returning from a Bob Dylan concert, it took me three days, two of them stuck in a snowbank in northern Indiana), here in China this even longer journey could be measured in more appropriate units: it would take just 288 minutes. Four hours and 48 minutes. A quarter of the time it takes today to get to Chicago, and less than half the time that it used to take to get to Beijing."
By Woody10 (registered) | Posted September 13, 2011 at 18:18:05 in reply to Comment 69569
Yes, we're behind everyone.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2011 at 01:04:22 in reply to Comment 69574
Well, everybody's behind China.
By Siren Bang (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 10:02:36 in reply to Comment 69584
True. And Hamilton should be fine as long as they don't get start to dominate the steel or manufacturing sectors.
By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 16:16:08 in reply to Comment 69592
ha ha - I just returned from China and saw those trains in action. Seems like paradise. If only we could offer our workers those wages and benefits.
By Bob (registered) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 09:57:32
I understand that Clark may be using all of this to slam the Liberals prior to the election. His information was shocking to me and I would suspect others as well. What I don't get is that this new "information" has not hit the printed press. Bring this issue to the masses and let them decide if they should be as angered as we appear to be.
By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2011 at 15:05:26
"Someone's made it a political football."
By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 09:56:21
Councillor Brad Clark is hosting a community Round Table at Stoney Creek United Church (1 King Street West = http://g.co/maps/c3qr5) on Thu Sept 22, 2011 from 6:30-8:30pm. Topics will reportedly include LRT, council transparency "and other recent issues."
By AETHERMAN (registered) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 19:58:45
LRT = Lost Revenue Tomorrow! IF LRT happens, it will make RIBBONS happen in peoples underpants when they see increases on their property tax bill, year after year! Oh ya, don't forget about the excuses for increasing the fair costs for passengers year after year! Hamilton needs it's roads and infrastructure repaired FIRST before any Luxury rail tranSHIT!
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