Special Report: Light Rail

BRT Presentation an Unfortunate Artifact of Absent Leadership and Lost Focus

The problem is not that Council and staff do not know this stuff. In the absence of leadership, Council and staff have lost the courage of their convictions.

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 09, 2014

this article has been updated

At this past Wednesday's General Issues Committee meeting, roads engineer Ted Gill made a presentation arguing that the city abandoned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) prematurely in its rapid transit planning along the east-west B-Line and north-south A-Line transit corridors.

Thanks to Joey Coleman's livestream, you can watch the presentation and discussion in full:

Ted Gill was senior director of roads for the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth from 1990 to 2000. In 2005, Gill started working as a project manager for McCormick Rankin, a Mississauga-based transportation engineering company that specialized in highway design and bus rapid transit. (In 2008, McCormick Rankin merged with MMM Group and the MRC brand was dropped in 2013.) Since 2011, he has been working part-time as Ted Gill Consulting.

In his report to committee [PDF], Gill reviews the 2008 Rapid Transit Feasibility Report and concludes that the City made the right decision in 2008, but "the economic, political, and technical climates have changed since 2008."

The good news is that Gill recognizes that rapid transit is essential. He opens his report with, "Make no mistake - Hamilton needs to get on with implementing rapid transit". During his presentation, he made it clear that the B-Line should be the city's first priority.

LRT Needs Land use

Citing 2012 studies by McMaster Centre for Engineering and Public Policy and McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics, Gill notes that using LRT technology by itself does not guarantee success. However, the City's own studies clearly acknowledge this, which is why a parallel land use study and secondary plan development for the B-Line was undertaken at the same time as the LRT planning.

Gill writes:

I strongly believe that LRT may not necessarily result in greater economic benefit than BRT in Hamilton, all other things being equal ... [sic] station locations, dedicated lanes, traffic signal priority for RT vehicles, high-quality urban design and streetscaping, modern efficient vehicles, and a proof-of-payment fare system. Furthermore, it would be possible to implement a BRT system that could be converted to LRT in future, if conditions warrant, as is happening in York Region's new VIVA system."

Of course, building BRT for future conversion to LRT is by far the most expensive and most disruptive way to build a rapid transit system, because it means paying to build a BRT system and then paying again to convert it to an LRT system. It also creates a situation in which it becomes necessary to disrupt a working BRT system in order to do the conversion work on LRT, after already having disrupted the street to build the BRT system.

Of course, Gill's principal claim is that BRT is just as effective as LRT so there would be no need to convert it later. He describes BRT as "an interim and/or permanent RT technology" but the obvious implication is that BRT is fine as a permanent solution.

New Technology

Gill argues that BRT should be re-evaluated in light of the recent increased prevalence of diesel-electric hybrid, battery-electric and alternate-fuels buses, including hydrogen fuel cell. "To be clear - BRT technology is evolving!"

While these offer improvements over conventional buses for emissions, they still pollute far more and generate more greenhouse gas emissions than grid-connected LRT vehicles. In Ontario, more than three quarters of our electricity is generated in nuclear (56%) and hydroelectric (22.3%) power plants. Only 2.7% of our electricity comes from coal.

Despite the recent headlines about rising electricity costs, fuel is still far more expensive than electricity, and prices are more volatile. Likewise, battery-electric buses still have limited operating range due to the current state of battery technology.

At the same time, LRT technology is also evolving. Many people who oppose LRT tend to think of it in terms of old-fashioned trolleys, but modern LRT systems are as state-of-the-art as modern buses or, indeed, modern automobiles. No would would argue against buying a car by claiming that the Model T was clunky.

Comparative Disruption

Gill argues that BRT requires less new infrastructure - like electric substations and catenary wires - and saves the need to "remove, repair or replace all underground infrastructure located 1.5m - 3m below and beside LRT rails prior to implementation."

However, much of that infrastructure is due to be replaced anyway so it would be a savings to do it in concert with installing the tracks. In addition, a dedicated BRT line requires a new roadbed and concrete surfacing to handle the impact of the high volume and axle weight of all those buses.

Further, the primary disruption of a rapid transit system - building the dedicated, physically separated transit lanes, constructing stations for level boarding and so on - are equivalent for both BRT and LRT.

Many people who favour BRT (I don't think Gill is one of them) do so because they mistakenly think BRT is just a glorified express bus. When they find out how disruptive it will be to build a proper BRT system, they will oppose it just as strongly as they currently oppose LRT.

Studies Claiming BRT Superiority

Ultimately, Gill's report fails to make a case that BRT will be as successful as LRT at attracting new ridership and leveraging new private investment. At best he provides hand-wavy skepticism about the conclusion from Hamilton's rapid transit feasibility study that: "It is generally accepted that LRT has a greater impact on investment decisions and economic growth than BRT."

However, the evidence from dozens of cities that have build rapid transit systems bears this claim out.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, a transit advocacy group that promotes BRT in cities that are skeptical about investing in rapid transit, recently released a study that LRT opponents have been citing enthusiastically.

It generated some dramatic headlines by claiming that BRT can attract more new private investment than LRT.

But peel back the headline and the report's own data merely confirms what we already knew: in most cases, BRT costs less to build and attracts less new ridership and lower levels of new private investment than LRT.

The dramatic claim comes from comparing the two most wildly successful outlier systems - Portland's MAX LRT and Cleveland's Healthline BRT - instead of comparing the normal case for each system.

Looking at the full picture of LRT and BRT systems, the study shows that top-of-the-line "Gold Standard" BRT combined with exceptional land use planning produces a similar relative ROI to LRT - relative because it attracts less economic development but it costs less to build.

The study also ignores the ongoing operating cost comparison between the two technologies. BRT requires around three times as many vehicles - and vehicle operators - as LRT to carry an equivalent number of passengers. Since operator wages are the biggest part of transit operating costs, this drives the per-passenger operating cost for BRT way up.

The only way BRT ends up costing less to operate than LRT is if total ridership is far lower. Another study [PDF], this time by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, makes the claim that BRT can actually be cheaper to operate than LRT. Again, once you parse through the mess of apples-to-oranges comparisons, the claim falls apart.

The study manages to make this claim by comparing the operating cost per vehicle for BRT and LRT, while ignoring the fact that an LRT vehicle can carry a lot more people as a bus.

Growth Potential in Hamilton

Since the purpose of rapid transit is to attract high numbers of new riders and leverage new private investment to shape land use around the line, BRT is necessarily an inferior option along the B-Line.

This is a corridor that already carries 13,000 transit rides a day on an overburdened transit system characterized by frequent "pass-bys" of full buses. 13,000 passengers a day is in the middle of the pack for North American LRT systems, and we would already have that ridership on opening day, with huge potential to grow ridership dramatically from there.

In addition, the area around the B-Line has an intact urban built form capable of accommodating medium- and high-density urban development, but it has been underperforming for decades due to the city's singular focus on suburban sprawl.

Decades of urban neglect and demolition have left huge opportunities for new infill developments along the line, and especially in the downtown area. Despite this, downtown is still the city's single largest employment cluster with 24,000 jobs, most of them paying above the median income.

Because the lower city is underperforming its potential, it has tremendous potential for uplift with a new rapid transit system combined with a favourable land use policy to encourage urban development.

If we are going to invest in rapid transit, we should aim to maximize the potential for development and uplift. BRT makes sense on some corridors, but along the B-Line it is a cheaper, lower-performing alternative that will deliver less of the transformative change that Hamilton needs to become economically sustainable.

In Waterloo Region, planners calculated that if the region continues to grow in the status quo suburban form of land use, it will force the region to spend an extra $1.4 billion in new infrastructure. They determined that even with a municipal contribution to the cost of LRT, it will still cost them less than what it would cost not to build it.

In Hamilton, we remain stuck in the mode of approving status quo suburban sprawl without acknowledging that every new survey actually increases the city's net infrastructure obligations. Council just voted to approve a massive urban boundary expansion to build low-density single family houses for 15,000 people on prime orchard land in rural Stoney Creek.

If Hamilton is to get its infrastructure costs under control, we absolutely need to make much better use of our existing infrastructure than we currently do. In particular, we need to dramatically increase the level and quality of land use through the lower city.

Not only will this reduce our per-resident infrastructure costs, but also it will help unlock the essential urban economies of scale, density, agglomeration, association and extension that are central to the growth of new businesses and new jobs.

Instead of trying to lure companies to consolidate their operations in our suburban business parks by bribing them with the lowest rates - an inherently unsustainable loss-based plan - we should be fostering the conditions in which a diversity of creative entrepreneurs settle in Hamilton and start innovative new high-growth companies.

We've Lost Focus

It's clear that we have lost focus on why the City embraced LRT in the first place. Council has forgotten why they enthusiastically supported LRT through six years of unanimous votes, the Public Works managers who developed the plan have all left, and the senior management team has lost all its enthusiasm.

The City completely stopped communicating with the public in 2011 and has been silent ever since. No wonder people are confused and skeptical.

Transit Director Don Hull was downright inspiring in February 2013 when he extolled the benefits of the Rapid Ready plan to our Councillors, but more recently he has clearly reverted back to thinking of LRT as something we should build toward incrementally over at least a decade or longer.

Much of the blame for this lies at the feet of Mayor Bob Bratina, who ran for election in 2010 on a platform supporting LRT but started to confuse, misinform and undermine the case for LRT in early 2011.

Bratina launched into a seemingly unending stream of nonsense, including: claiming that the city would have to choose between LRT and all-day GO service, claiming that the B-Line doesn't have the ridership to support LRT, claiming that LRT would only make sense if a million people move to Hamilton and, perhaps most bizarrely, claiming against all reason that the Rapid Ready LRT plan is not actually an LRT plan.

Bratina told former Premier Dalton McGuinty that LRT was "not a priority" for Hamilton, a dodge that allowed McGuinty to backpedal from the Province's original promise, back in 2007 and 2008, to fund "two light rail lines across Hamilton" - the promise that got the City exploring LRT in the first place.

The Liberals are still playing games today, saying they will cover 100% of the capital cost of "rapid transit" but refusing to clarify whether this means LRT.

We're stuck in a self-reinforcing circle of failure: Bratina sent the province mixed signals on whether Hamilton wants light rail, leading the Province to send us mixed signals on whether they are willing to pay the capital costs, leading Council to waver on its support for LRT, leading the Province to sit back and wait for us to decide whether we want LRT before telling us whether they will pay for it.

What we need is a strong leader in the mayor's chair to try and undo the terrible damage Bratina has done to this project and get the city back on track. Thankfully, Bratina has already announced he will not run for re-election, so that job will surely fall to someone else.

The problem is not that Council and staff do not know this stuff. The problem is that Council and staff have lost the courage of their convictions. What we need is a champion to take the lead on marshaling support and pressing the Province for a commitment, not another redundant exercise in reviewing what we already know.

Update: Updated to embed Joey Coleman's video of the LRT discussion.

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 wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2014 at 08:53:21

There is a saying that you "deserve the leadership you vote for". Well this city voted for Bob Bratina, Terry Whitehead, Tom Jackson, Brad Clark, Scott Duvall, and Russ Powers. Look what we got. Speaks volumes for the need to get younger people engaged and participating in the political process.

I would not give a pinch of racoon poo for anything that comes out of the mouth of any Liberal provincial politician in Ontario. I cannot for the life of me understand why council is hung up on 100% funding. There is only 1 taxpayer. If we want to move Hamilton forward, we may have to accept the fact that we (the citizens) will have to bear some of the cost.

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By Hamilton1 (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 09:01:41

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 11:03:41 in reply to Comment 101162

"do we need to spend billions on it?" - It is much better investing in things like LRT than continuing the current unsustainable practice of urban sprawl. THAT will cost us ALL much more. Dense, urban development needs to complement suburban, less dense neighbourhoods in order to keep all of our taxes down and more sustainable. LRT is a proven, successful venture in many North American cities.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2014 at 10:03:58 in reply to Comment 101162

Buses are for hobos and teenagers, right?


That's the problem. Buses suck. They toss you around, the drivers are rude, and the only people who want that experience are hobos and teenagers. Hippies put up with it for reasons of principle, but nobody likes buses. Drivers have to put up with a lot of crap and a lot of conflicting requirements so I don't really blame them for being surly and impatient, but the end result is a miserable experience. You want to talk about congestion? King and main don't have much congestion at rush-hour for drivers, but there is tons of congestion for bus-riders. The buses get full and drive right by instead of picking you up, they get thrown off their schedule by making too many stops and taking too long at each stop, etc. Trains are huge and fast (including fast loading/unloading), and so they don't do that so much.

People like trains. Middle-class people take trains. You go to any respectable city and take any rail-based transit and you'll see guys in thousand-dollar-suits taking rail-based transit. You don't have to deal with surly drivers, you get where you're going fast, and the ride is comfortable.

Nobody likes to talk about this because it's kind of inherently classist - it's about transit for normal middle-class adults, because they won't deign to ride the bus (for some good reasons - buses kinda suck).

Now here's the thing: we need to get Hamilton's middle-class who lives and/or works downtown out of their cars. All those parking lots and high-speed roadways just destroy the land-value because they make everything spread out and miserable. Hamilton's lower-city construction just wasn't designed for car-oriented development and the kludges and hacks like one-way corridors and private parking lots just make it a miserable worst-of-both-worlds compromise between suburbia and a real city. Converting it into properly-designed suburbia would involve knocking half of it down and in the end we've already got all the suburbia we could ever want. Converting it back into a real city requires transit that people don't hate. With transit that people don't hate, we can intensify development downtown without parking requirements that there just plain isn't room for.

The B-line represents the most intense and active transit corridor in the city. A crapload of people take those buses. The city says that at rush hour, the bus lane is carrying as many people as every other lane put together. They're just, y'know, bus-people. Imagine what that would look like if all those students and hobos and hippies and other bus-people had cars and were driving - imagine King and Main street twice as wide, full of just as many cars. Holy crap, that's a lot of people, right?

So we've already got this intense, high-density, heavily used transit corridor. It connects many of the city's important destinations - the university, a couple of hospitals, the city centre, a few malls, a whole whack of office-towers, some shopping-vilages, and about 13 kilometers of dense-packed residential housing tucked behind and between all that stuff I mentioned.

But only weirdos and losers ride it. We get everybody riding it by making it rail.

We can't do that up the mountain because the mountain is too spread out. Where would you run a light rail line on the mountain where you could reach all that cool stuff? You could get a decent amount at Upper James, maybe Upper Wellington, but even then there aren't that many huge offices and dense-packed houses and high-rises along Upper James or Upper Wellington.

Plus there's the whole "insanely rising costs of gas" and "global warming apocalypse" thing related to those cars that an LRT line avoids.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-05-09 10:12:50

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By DriverandCyclist (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 13:50:11 in reply to Comment 101172

A no BS, non rhetoric response. Thank you. People like you give me hope for our city. Seriously.

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By Please read (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 09:56:38 in reply to Comment 101162

Please read and then ask questions. Thank you.

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By AlHuizenga (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 09:46:12 in reply to Comment 101162

Well, our infrastructure deficit is a pretty big problem, as is the fact that big swaths of our downtown core are economic badlands, when our downtown should be the economic engine that makes the entire city work. This site is filled with hundreds of articles explaining exactly why Hamilton requires rapid transit, and why LRT is the best investment. Or you could check out the Hamilton Light Rail Initiative site, which Ryan links to in his bio at the end of the article.

If you don't want to engage the facts and arguments, that's fine. But it's weird to come to this site in particular and claim that no one is saying why we need rapid transit.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 09:44:53 in reply to Comment 101162

Get reading ... there are many dozens of articles on this site that explain precisely that. Just type "case for LRT" into the handy search box in the upper right corner of the page.

To help you out: you can start with this page: "Articles in Special Report: Light Rail"


Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-05-09 09:45:20

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By RTFA (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 09:19:26 in reply to Comment 101162

FTFA: "the purpose of rapid transit is to attract high numbers of new riders and leverage new private investment to shape land use around the line"

FTFA: "In Waterloo Region, planners calculated that if the region continues to grow in the status quo suburban form of land use, it will force the region to spend an extra $1.4 billion in new infrastructure. They determined that even with a municipal contribution to the cost of LRT, it will still cost them less than what it would cost not to build it."

FTFA: "If Hamilton is to get its infrastructure costs under control, we absolutely need to make much better use of our existing infrastructure than we currently do. In particular, we need to dramatically increase the level and quality of land use through the lower city."

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By typical (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 09:31:28

An old roads engineer who doesn't like LRT. Color me not surprised.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 10:59:35 in reply to Comment 101166

And a bus/BRT consultant

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 10:00:05

I'm sure that ATU 107 would ensure it saw a bumpy ride, but LRT can be fully automated, as with the Montreal Metro (admittedly, I'm not sure if that counts as an LRT/BRT hydrid).

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By special interest (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 10:01:19

Need to ask how these LRT opponents benefit from not having LRT, when clearly LRT is for the greater good. Looks like nefarious hidden agendas at play to benefit a corrupt minority.

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By jayrobb (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 11:58:09

I relied on public transit while I was at university and during my first five years in the workforce.

So I believe transit's an essential service for connecting people to school and jobs. This is especially true in our lower city code red neighbourhoods. The single mom who has to drop her kid off at daycare and then get to work or classes (and often both in the same day)is absolutely dependent on fast, frequent and affordable transit. Citizens in our code red neighbourhoods deserve the best citywide transit system that we can deliver.

This seems to be missing so far from a conversation dominated by talk about economic uplift, downtown renewal and getting "normal middle-class adults" and "guys in thousand dollar suits" riding the rails (I'm hoping that earlier comment posted on this thread was tongue-in-cheek).

It may be worth talking with lower city residents who ride the B Line 13,000 times a day (it should be easy to do since we know where to find them and they're a captive audience). What do they value most in a transit system? Do they want a system that's fast? Frequent? Affordable? Do they care if they're riding in a bus, a BRT or an LRT?

If LRT meets their needs and is a poverty to prosperity solution for families living in our lower city priority neighbourhoods, then let's start adding that to the conversation.

I don't really care about the guy in the thousand dollar suit enjoying his commute to work. But I do care about making a hard life a little easier for the single mom determined to build a better life for her and her child.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 17:21:46 in reply to Comment 101179

For the most part I liked what you wrote, however given that work has turned into precarious, temp jobs where you have no protection does not lead you out of poverty.

You also have to take into consideration the workfare rules of Ontario Works. Believe me that these rules are enforced and one does need to know the legislation under the Ontario Works Act 1997.

Some discussions need to take place more then others. Walk in my mocassins !!!!

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 12:06:50 in reply to Comment 101179

I care about everyone enjoying their commute to work, and making it enjoyable for everyone, of all backgrounds to enjoy public transit. Maintaining a transit system that is only appealing to the poorest in our community won't allow us to turn the corner from being a car-dependent city. Everyone, from poorest to richest needs to be provided with a transit and walking experience that is first rate and enjoyable.

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By Hamilton1 (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 12:46:33

So let me understand this, if I put a long bus on a track, suddenly home builders will stop building homes, businesses will uproot and move to Hamilton or chose to start up here.

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By Hamilton 1 (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 12:47:15 in reply to Comment 101181

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 14:31:33 in reply to Comment 101182

You actually don't want to know you are more interested in anonymous trolling.

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By Ham1 (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 12:48:14 in reply to Comment 101182

It will not stop urban sprawl, only City Hall can stop that by stop issuing building permits. Who along the tracks are going to sell there properties to builders to build condos like in Toronto? they are a even greater wasters of energy and pollution generators.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 12:53:16 in reply to Comment 101183

Please read the articles first (at least the ones that make the general case, and those explaining the economic development argument and the reasons LRT is more attractive to developers than BRT or regular buses).

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By Hamilton1 (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 12:50:00 in reply to Comment 101183

why does this site reject English words as spam?!

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By Hamilton1 (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 11:14:51 in reply to Comment 101184

I’ll try this one last time. Can someone please explain why Hamilton needs the LRT?
Don’t give links to studies; don’t tell me how great it is. Don’t claim it will solve every problem the city has. Simply tell me why it is needed.
If you can’t, then it is not needed.

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By Ham 1 (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 12:12:32 in reply to Comment 101259

Okay, its not needed at all. Its an investment that might have a big ROI, but most likely won't.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 12:23:43 in reply to Comment 101262

How do you justify the "most likely won't" .. your gut feeling that Hamilton is somehow different from the many other cities where it has? That's not what the Metrolinx BCA, City and McMaster studies found?

Hamilton is in one of the fast growing urban areas in North America, and there is a huge portion of vacant or under-used land within 400m of the line, which are two conditions that have lead to large net ROI in other cities. Why won't that work here?

In addition, there is the basic transit argument that the bus lines already carry more people than all the other traffic lanes combined, and the current bus system is way over capacity (especially during rush hour). Providing proper capacity would require investing in many new buses (with an average lifespan of about 8 years) and hiring many new drivers. As has been pointed out before, the operating costs of LRT are far lower than buses. This is one of the things that convinced Councillor Ferguson to support LRT: when he visited Calgary he discovered that their LRT costs about 25 cents per passenger in operating costs compared with $5 (half paid by the city half paid by passenger in Hamilton). Over the 40 to 50 year lifespan of the system that adds up!

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By Ham1 (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 12:55:07 in reply to Comment 101264

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 13:21:41 in reply to Comment 101267

Reading comprehension fail. You've simply waved away the entire ecdev argument based on your feelings about things, refuse to actually read the articles that already address your concerns and keeping throwing out obviously false claims and making things up.

Goodbye, anonymous troll.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-05-12 13:24:51

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By Ham 1 (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 14:23:19 in reply to Comment 101270

Be Tolerant

Finally, exercise tolerance. You won't agree with everything you read, but argue respectfully, and agree to disagree before taking an argument personally and attacking the one who wrote it.

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By Ham2 (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 17:09:43 in reply to Comment 101275

No tolerance for wilfull ongoing ignorance.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 17:59:39 in reply to Comment 101281

Ham2, you go on about willful ongoing ignorance, I fail to see why you cannot see that you fall into that catagory.

We are suppose to be a community, looking out for each other no matter what.

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By Ham2 (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 19:17:26 in reply to Comment 101282

I'm not going to dignify your ignorance with a response, ignoramus.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 19:57:55 in reply to Comment 101285

Why not? Smarty pants! You push forward hubris, yet when push cmes to shove, we see empty words.

If you have a solid arguement then present it, otherwise STFU, sorry if I m being rude.

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By Ham2 (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2014 at 09:48:13 in reply to Comment 101287

It's okay, I was only kidding. In truth, I love you, brother.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 11:45:30 in reply to Comment 101259

Yeah, because you (whoever you are) are the arbiter of whether or not it is needed...the arrogance...

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By jpg (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 13:00:52 in reply to Comment 101261

Arrogance: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions
question a sentence, phrase, or word that asks for information or is used to test someone's knowledge.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 11:26:27 in reply to Comment 101259

And I'll try to get you to honestly engage and make some effort yourself first rather than demanding that someone else click on a link for you. I did not link to "studies" I linked to articles (many by myself) that used the data and results from studies to make a coherent, evidence-based argument for B-line LRT in Hamilton.

I gave you the links, because there are many article on HLR that have explained over and over and over why it is a great idea and you could at least have the courtesy to read what I have already written myself instead of asking me to write it all over again.

That is why this site has an archive, so everything doesn't have have to be repeated!

If you want my reasons in a nutshell, please see this presentation from 2008 that I prepared and gave to many different groups around the city:


As a result of this presentation, every group except one (the Homebuilders, who wanted to make a common endorsement with the Chamber of Commerce) endorsed LRT for Hamilton http://hamiltonlightrail.ca/lrt_endorsem...

The is also a list of rebuttals to various anti-LRT arguments, such as your own, here (please don't ask me to cut and paste into a comments box!)


Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-05-12 11:49:08

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By tre (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 19:19:22 in reply to Comment 101260

There are some carefully selected and manipulated facts from the HLR. If I were to call out on every attempt to mislead the readers, it would take a big wall of text. Instead, I will challenge the "facts" on two counts:

  1. On the issue of attracting new ridership, it mentioned that Charlotte's Lynx line saw a growth in daily ridership to from 9,100 in 2008 to 21,000 in 2010. An impressive argument for the LRT if you reject all other factors, for example the effect of the economic downturn on the travel pattern. What's also missing is the other part of the story - that ridership has since dropped to 15,400 in 2013. Was it a coincidence that they just happened to have picked the biggest ridership number as their "fact"? And why was the subsequent decline in ridership not even noted?

  2. As for the operating cost, it compared the cost of Calgary's C-Train (and there is at least one article that questions this estimate) to the cost of the HSR. But this comparison omits an important discussion. Calgary has a trunk-and-feeder system, with the C-Train being the trunk lines. C-Train operates with high efficiency only because it's supported by a bus network that feeds passengers to the lines; this creates a co-dependency between the two modes. But the "fact" took the profitable part of the system in isolation and compared it against the system average of another. What you get is a distorted and meaningless conclusion.

What we need is a real discussion, not with numbers exaggerated and taken out-of-context. For this reason, I find it difficult to view HLR as anything other than a disingenuous attempt at selling the LRT.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 22:04:15 in reply to Comment 101286

I agree that we need to be careful about how to compare costs, especially when the terminology is not always clear (e.g. Calgary's report calls 'total operating costs' what Hamilton calls 'net operating costs').

The $0.25 figure for the C-line was the one provided to Hamilton staff and councillors by Calgary Transit when they toured Calgary's system several years ago.

Let's carefully examine the numbers in context, and compare them with the estimated numbers from Hamilton's Rapid Ready Report.

Calgary's report


gives the precise net operating cost of $0.27 per passenger for Calgary's LRT compared with $1.50 for bus passengers, i.e. about 6 times cheaper.

Hamilton's Rapid Ready Report (Appendix A) estimates the current net operating cost per passenger as $1.07 on the B-line bus route (the most profitable corridor) and a system-wide net operating cost of $2.00 in 2012 (total cost of service is about $3.59 including fare revenue).

Thus, based on the Calgary experience we could reasonably expect the net operating cost to eventually be about 4 times cheaper if we switched the B-line to LRT and the overall operating cost of the bus+LRT system could drop by about 25%.

The rapid ready report estimates that based on the experience of other systems the likely Day 1 net operating costs on the B-line would drop from $1.07 to $0.45 as there would be an 8% increase in total system ridership, but the net system cost would remain the same at $2.00.

The expected 8% increase would place Hamilton's LRT sixth out of 24 North American systems in terms of ridership on opening day.

With the existing bus network + B-line LRT they estimate that by 2031 the overall cost per passenger would drop to $1.51, while keeping the existing bus only system would increase net costs to $2.28 (i.e. about 50% more expensive per passenger).

The bottom line is that net cost per passenger to the City of operating the B-line would likely drop by a factor of more than two one day one, and that the net operating per passenger cost of operating the entire HSR system would also likely drop by 50% compared with a bus only system over the longer term. These are significant savings for a much higher capacity and attractive system.

It is important to note that the consultants deliberately made very conservative "worst case" assumptions in all their estimated benefits of LRT:

The benefits captured within this report have used conservative values (i.e. worst case scenario values to ensure that the benefits are cautious rather than optimistic).

The likely benefits (both cost savings and economic investment) are therefore much greater than the estimates in the Rapid Ready Report, and Calgary's experience gives a pretty good guide as what we can expect. We should also not forget that Hamilton's Main/King corridor buses (e.g. 1, 5, 10, 51) are currently way over capacity with multiple drive-bys and it desperately needs increased service levels that will be hard to achieve using conventional buses. LRT is a good cost-effective way of providing the necessary increased service and attracting much needed economic development.


Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-05-12 22:36:12

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 09:17:17 in reply to Comment 101293

As a follow up to my previous point that although Calgary describes the $0.27 and $1.50 as the "total operating cost" per passenger, it is clear they must be net of revenue.

In Calgary the average fare per passenger is $1.43 and they recover 47% of total operating costs from fares (and another 8% from other revenue like advertising). This means that the average total operating cost per passenger is $3.05, and the average net operating cost (for both bus and LRT) is 0.45 * $3.05 = $1.37, less than buses and more than LRT, just as expected.

It is therefore impossible that the "total operating costs" of $0.27 and $1.50 are not already net of revenue.

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By puzzled (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 14:06:20 in reply to Comment 101324

Does that mean Calgary's rail costs 27 cents per passenger after all expenses and revenues? I understand that HSR's B line actually has a net profit. How is going from profitable to subsidized not going to cost taxpayers?

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By incomplete question (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 17:17:57 in reply to Comment 101326

To make that leap you would have to compare the 27 cents to the pre-LRT operating cost of the buses it replaced and see if it went up or down. You can't compare calgary's post LRT cost to hamilton's pre-LRT profit on a single line, it makes no sense.

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By puzzled (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 18:16:08 in reply to Comment 101327

I wasn't. I was saying HSR is currently profitable on the B line. If we use Calgary as an example it won't be if conv erted. It really has no bearing on pre LRT in Calgary from where I sit

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By incomplete question (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 19:09:41 in reply to Comment 101331

What if calgary's pre-LRT line lost $2 per passenger? then, indeed, LRT saved those taxpayers money. So yes, the pre LRT numbers do have a bearing no matter where you are sitting, unless you are sitting in wonderland.

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By puzzled (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 19:23:05 in reply to Comment 101332

Its not about Calgary's pre LRT costs or their savings. Its looking at their current costs to see what HSR can expect the costs will be if we install a similar line with similar passenger loads and similar fares. There isn't any information to tell us the similarities between

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By tre (registered) | Posted May 14, 2014 at 21:09:17 in reply to Comment 101293

I appreciate your effort in re-examining the stats. That said, after spending hours studying the reports, I find many problems with the sources you've chosen and your claims.

Starting with the Calgary report:

  • The $0.27 figure is the total operating cost (expenses only, including "operating, maintenance, and utility costs"), not net operating cost (expenses minus revenues) which the Rapid Ready Report uses. If so, you have mistakenly compared two different numbers when you stated "the net operating cost to eventually be about 4 times cheaper if we switched the B-line to LRT".

  • The report uses "passenger boardings" per hour to compute the cost figures. By definition, passenger boarding is different from ridership in that one trip may involve transfers which count as multiple boardings. The Hamilton report estimates per-passenger cost using annual ridership number. This, again, makes any comparison pointless.

As an aside, a commentary in the National Post claims the total operating cost may be as high as $2.88 per passenger. I don't know which one to trust.

Then we come to the Rapid Ready Report, which is also hopeless. For instance:

  • It predicts a 8+16% system-wide ridership increase by year 2031 and gives a further 30% "ridership uplift" for the LRT option. However, it gives no increase in service hours and flat-lines the expenses because, apparently, you don't need to add a single vehicle trip to accommodate a 25-50% increase in passengers. Any transit advisor will tell you this is baloney.

  • Then there is some clever use of wording when discussing the operating cost. The report could have stated the same conclusion: "the likely Day 1 total operating costs on the B-line would drop from $2.66 to $2.04 as there would be an 8% increase in total system ridership, but the total system cost would remain the same at $3.59". I suppose it wouldn't sound as impressive as stating the cost "would drop from $1.07 to $0.45", a deceptive way to present facts to the unsuspecting audience. Same thing goes to the other truthful statement on buses being "50% more expensive per passenger" than the LRT, which could be interpreted incorrectly if you don't read the fine print.

  • Since the report mentions the revenue side of things, it's pretty much necessary to note that a proof-of-payment system, such as the LRT, would be prone to fare evasion that a bus-only system could avoid. A ballpark estimate would give a 5% discount on revenues generated on the LRT portion, which is not something you can neglect in a cost-analysis report.

  • And what is this "ridership uplift" for the LRT? Another baloney I say. According to Waterloo Region's "Regional Transportation Master Plan – Progress Report", Waterloo had an average annual ridership increase of 6.5% since 1999; York Region had 9.3%; Brampton had 8.2%. All three transit agencies invested in their express bus or BRT systems in the last decade, and none had an LRT to this day. If anything, this completely dispels the myth that LRT is the only way to increase ridership.

It's wrong to assume that B-line will achieve similar efficiency as the C-Train. C-Train has significant passenger volume per track mile than the proposed B-line, and so it can operate on short headways and still maintain high vehicle load. For B-line, you will end up with either long headways, which won't be attractive to riders, or underloaded vehicles, which are less efficient.

According to the 2010 report "HSR Operational Review", B-line corridor routes have average afternoon-peak loads ranging from 13.2 for the Delaware route to 20.6 for the University route, and "well below the loading guideline of 53 people". The report also notes that "incidents of high loadings are generally isolated". Dedicated and signal-controlled bus lanes through the corridor can mitigate the problem by reducing delays and increasing corridor capacity. Having the LRT will just make the already-low vehicle load even worse during most times of the day.

And lastly, the so-called economic development is another half-truth that often gets exaggerated. It's common sense for cities to build LRTs in areas with already-planned development or high development potential. You would still see most of that development if you built a BRT or nothing.

Comment edited by tre on 2014-05-14 21:24:34

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 14, 2014 at 22:28:59 in reply to Comment 101315

Are you sure that Calgary's LRT figure of $0.27 is the total operating cost, not the net cost? If it is the total operating cost (without revenue deducted) then the LRT would actually have a net operating profit of $1.16 based on the average fare per passenger of $1.43. Since Calgary only recovers 47% of its costs from fares overall, I would be surprised if the LRT is really making such a big net profit.

That makes LRT look extremely good, although I am doubtful it could really be that efficient. However, if you can confirm this I am happy to start saying that Calgary's LRT makes a net profit of $1.16 per boarding, not a net operating cost of $0.27! Why aren't you supporting such an efficient service?

You do not give a source for the $2.88 figure, but it comes from the libertarian Frontier Centre for Public Policy: http://www.fcpp.org/files/1/PS104_30CTra...

It is an extremely misleading figure as it starts with the $0.27 total operating cost and then adds on: the cost of park and ride parking charges, the transit tax credit, the university student pass, the cost of policing, and an annualized total capital cost for the system. Since it doesn't add the cost of fares, this backs up my interpretation that the $0.27 figure is net of fare revenue.

The Rapid Ready Report uses ridership for the entire system and boardings for line B. (see figure 10 and p 86). In any case, ridership is the same as boardings when talking about a particular line (HSR counts the number of people boarding to get the figure!). The boardings figures are available in the 2010 HSR Operational Review http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/9D86...

The economic development argument is well-justified by a many different examples, notably Portland which has measured the net increase in economic development near the line compared with other areas. It is simply not true that LRT is only built in areas with already planned development. It is a tautology to say that the areas that have seen development must have had a high development potential.. that potential would likely not have been realized without the catalyst of LRT!

This is particularly true in Bordeaux, which has seen a huge boost in property values, and attendant development, due to LRT. I know this because I had a long chat with the head of economic development in Bordeaux a few years ago: they are convinced the development would not have happened without LRT, and there was certainly no sign of it before LRT was built. Anyone seeing the moribund decrepit state of much of the downtown and especially the waterfront before the LRT was built would not believe that it was just on the point of massive renewal!

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SczprOGK...

As someone who takes the bus regularly from downtown to McMaster, it is simply not accurate to claim that overloading is isolated during peak hours. Many buses are full to capacity by Dundurn and do not stop! And the problem is getting steadily worse each year.

I'm not sure why you deliberately refused to quote the next sentence from the operational review: "However, there are several routes where 10% or more of the buses are operating over capacity on some segment of the route during peak period. These include King, Barton, University, Cannon, B-line, Upper Wentworth and Mohawk." Having acceptable peak capacity is essential for a transit system and it is deceptive not to acknowledge that many bus routes are unacceptably crowded during peak periods! Since the operating costs of LRT are so low (possibly a net profit of over a dollar per boarding according to your interpretation), it is better to run LRT than buses because they can provide both the peak and off-peak capacity efficiently. And, despite your claims to the contrary, the evidence is clear that LRT systems greatly boost ridership.

I also disagree with your claim that LRT does not increase ridership more than BRT, which is also in contradiction with the 8% day 1 increases quoted by GSD in the Rapid Ready report on the basis of experience of other systems. And no one is claiming that BRT does not also increase ridership, just not as effectively as LRT!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-05-14 22:53:48

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By tre (registered) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 17:19:47 in reply to Comment 101317

The Calgary report is unspecific about what the $0.27 number actually means, and there is no calculation to support that. I assumed this way because the report does not mention anything about fare revenue. I wouldn't even use the number because it's very vaguely defined.

And no, I don't carelessly support a conclusion that's based on incorrect statistics and misguided analysis.

The average fare per passenger is based on trips, not boardings. If your trip involves taking a bus, and then a C-Train, and then another bus (a typical journey on a trunk-and-feeder network), it counts as 3 boardings but you pay only 1 fare. This is why your net-cost calculation is incorrect, because you over-estimated revenue by a multiple equal to the number of transfers and stopovers taken. Since the C-Train serves as trunk routes into the downtown core, many of the trips involve transfering onto and off the system. Also, if you must look at this particular line in isolation: some of the C-Train boardings are within the downtown free-fare zone, for which no fare is collected.

It's the same story with the Hamilton report. The fare revenue per passenger is obtained by dividing the total fare revenue by the annual ridership on the system. While "ridership is the same as boardings when talking about a particular line", the average fare per passenger isn't the same as average fare per boarding. Again, the cost is understated when you substract fare revenue per trip from operating cost per boarding. The consolidation of serveral bus services into a single LRT line through the downtown area may also yield a net increase in the average number of boardings per trip, because some passengers will then have to transfer between the LRT and local buses at where the previous bus routes diverge. Thus, the average fare per boarding for the LRT option may be even lower.

The HSR Operational Review estimates the system ridership to be 21 million, but if you estimate from the chart, the total number of boardings from all routes is close to 26 million. In Calgary's case, the C-Train boardings roughly equals 85% of the total system ridership, but there are almost as many bus boardings as LRT boardings (http://img834.imageshack.us/img834/3716/calgarytransitaptarider.jpg), and so it's wrong to simply state that ridership = boardings.

All cities should have some sort of official plan that lays out where future developments will go, and they upgrade the infrastructures to support that development. In Toronto's case, the TTC is building a streetcar right-of-way to the portlands area that is already undergoing redevelopment.

What we know from Portland's case is that the having the LRT is perhaps better than having nothing when it comes to development. This is not saying much because Hamilton's problem is not LRT vs nothing, but LRT versus other forms of transit improvement. We don't know what it would be like if Portland opted to implement a BRT or utilized some other policy tools to stimulate development. Thus, you are merely making a conjecture, an informed opinion if you will, but I wouldn't promote it to a fact.

I suppose we can just disagree on that.

Overcrowding occurs on all major transit systems, and there is nothing unique about Hamilton's case. Overcrowding could be due to a delay or cancellation of a scheduled run, or simply just a spike in ridership at a certain time (e.g. end of classes). The problem can be mitigated by reallocating resources to high-demand routes and improving service reliability. LRT helps too, but isn't necessary.

I could have said that should we follow the footsteps of York Region, then we could expect an annual ridership increase of 9.4% "based on experience", which equates to a 492% increase in ridership by 2031, and dwarfs the measly ~50% increase for the LRT as estimated by the report. I'm not making that statement because I think it's absurd. However, this is exactly what you are doing when you keep bringing up the Calgary numbers into your calculations! Instead, I will just say that I don't believe the choice of technology will make much difference on ridership, if the system is implemented effectively.

I'm not rejecting that LRT is the optimal solution to improve transit in Hamilton; it could be. But what I'm seeing are exaggerated facts and questionable claims for the LRT, to the point where I no longer believe in what I'm reading.

Comment edited by tre on 2014-05-15 17:34:39

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By tre (registered) | Posted May 16, 2014 at 15:44:45 in reply to Comment 101328

I'll correct one thing in my previous comment. The Rapid Ready Report actually scaled down the boarding numbers by multiplying the % of boardings per route by the system-wide ridership. With this adjustment, it's OK to compare the operating cost per boarding with the fare revenue per passenger in that report.

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By tray (anonymous) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 08:41:43 in reply to Comment 101317

Gotta love watching people argue stats with a math professor

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By bla (anonymous) | Posted May 14, 2014 at 21:45:33 in reply to Comment 101315

Cool, so we'll just leave everything the way it is then. It's working great.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 13:37:10 in reply to Comment 101184

Or you know, register an account and it won't censor any of your typing. It takes about 30 seconds to do so and given the fact that you seem to be a regular commenter, it shouldn't be a big deal.

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By Please (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 13:10:41 in reply to Comment 101184

Please either read and try actually adding to the conversation, or stay silent until you can. Otherwise, you're embarassing yourself.

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[ - ]

By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 14:11:49

"The problem is not that Council and staff do not know this stuff. The problem is that Council and staff have lost the courage of their convictions. What we need is a champion to take the lead on marshaling support and pressing the Province for a commitment, not another redundant exercise in reviewing what we already know."

So in other words, a 'saviour'.

Council and staff don't tend to stand behind something substantial as LRT (is there anything on the table that's more substantial?) unless they feel support from their constituents. (And not just the 1% who inform them, remind them and poke and prod them.) Pushing LRT forward when you've got Councillors that don't want to risk their careers means that you have to have groundswell, unarguable support that goes well beyond City outreach initiatives. And nobody seems prepared to try to generate this.

In the current environment, I'll venture to say that LRT could be an election-loser for whoever stands up and champions it.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 15:41:42 in reply to Comment 101194

In the current environment, I'll venture to say that LRT could be an election-loser for whoever stands up and champions it.

This doesn't make any sense at all. Bratina was elected on a pro-LRT platform and then did everything in his power to sabotage the case for LRT. The consultation done by the city during earlier planning stages found a 86% approval rating for the project. Citizens have and are saying they want LRT, and politicians have been elected for supporting it - the only thing that has changed since is that councillors have backed off because it is a risk.

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 09:01:30 in reply to Comment 101194

As a followup to my comment, a great example of there not being proof of wide support, and therefor the cause being easily dismissed is the attempt two years ago to get ward boundary reform looked at.

Despite the earnest efforts of those trying to push the effort forward, the number of Hamiltonians signing the petition was, in relative terms, infinitesimal. It was not shown that across the city, a sizable number of residents wanted ward boundaries looked at, and therefore Council was able to say "You haven't demonstrated the kind of support for the issue that we need to see. We appreciate that those residents who put the project forward are passionate, but there's no clear indicator of support." Therefore, Council was able to play it safe: they kicked the idea down the road until after the 2014 election.

Had the petitioners taken a more fulsome approach, had they managed to get Hamiltonians in every ward, from Winona to Flamborough, from Binbrook to the North End to sign the petition en masse, if there had been indisputable support in the number of signatures...and here, I'm talking well in excess of 5,000...I believe we may well have seen an entirely different outcome.

My bottom-line point is this: 'indisputable support' across the city has to be paramount in any cause put forward by a group of Hamiltonians. When this hasn't been mustered by those who fervently believe in an issue, then it's easy (especially for Councillors) to regard those pushing for the issue as not clearly representing the group whom they never want to not piss off: their constituents. Like the man said, 'Sometimes being right isn't enough.'

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[ - ]

By Monkey (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 00:51:01

Maybe the reason businessmen ride public transit in other cities is because other cities have lots of businessmen. Correlation doesn't equal causation.

Building an LRT won't make Hamilton better off. Neither will a monorail. Neither will a subway. The province isn't going to waste money on building an LRT in Hamilton before they build one in Toronto, so you'll have to find your own money (good luck with that). I think a BRT is more appropriate (i.e. cheap).

My main transit issue is lack of connectivity with the rest of the GTA. Solve that issue first because it would actually solve alot of problems for alot of people and it wouldn't cost much.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 15:48:58 in reply to Comment 101214

Building an LRT won't make Hamilton better off...I think a BRT is more appropriate (i.e. cheap).

LRT won't help...but somehow BRT will? That makes no sense. If rapid transit can't help Hamilton, we shouldn't even be thinking of building it (thankfully the evidence is overwhelming that you are wrong and rapid transit can help Hamilton).

My main transit issue is lack of connectivity with the rest of the GTA. Solve that issue first because it would actually solve alot of problems for alot of people and it wouldn't cost much.

Its been said about 100,000 times on this site but we don't have to choose! Metrolinx is already commited to bringing all day GO service between Hamilton and Union station including eventually electrification and 15-minute headways. The province has also said they want to build LRT, so why pick one when you can have both? Also the timelines are vastly different, all-day Go service will be up and running in much less time than an LRT could be designed and completed. It doesn't make sense to wait for no reason.

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By Lyle Lanley (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 14:09:08 in reply to Comment 101214

Go to the Youtube and append /watch?v=xhpO_WcR_jE.

Sounds pretty much like Hamilton... In fact that whole episode is a great representation of Hamilton.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 09:44:38 in reply to Comment 101214

Don't let annoying stats stand in the way of your soapbox.

70% of Hamiltonians work IN Hamilton.

3% work in Toronto.


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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 09:07:56 in reply to Comment 101214

Maybe the reason businessmen ride public transit in other cities is because other cities have lots of businessmen.

Or maybe you're just making stuff up. There are tons of people that do business in Hamilton, especially downtown, unfortunately a lot of them are driving cars right now. Also we will never reach a point where there are more "businessmen" unless we make it more attractive.

Building an LRT won't make Hamilton better off. Neither will a monorail. Neither will a subway. The province isn't going to waste money on building an LRT in Hamilton before they build one in Toronto, so you'll have to find your own money (good luck with that). I think a BRT is more appropriate (i.e. cheap).

LRT, monorail and subway won't, but some how BRT will? I think you need to rethink that one. Also the province is on the record saying that it will "waste money building and LRT", so please come back with some facts instead of mindless, false assertions.

My main transit issue is lack of connectivity with the rest of the GTA. Solve that issue first because it would actually solve alot of problems for alot of people and it wouldn't cost much.

This is being solved, what do you think all the construction near LIUNA station is about? Please, before you comment, do 10 or 15 minutes of research (this site is very handy that way) before you spout off uniformed nonsense.

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By Non-monkey (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 04:34:51 in reply to Comment 101214

Listen, monkey... I agree that LRT won't solve all of Hamilton's woes, but it should be a catalyst for a lot of other positive change. Most non-monkeys realize this, hence the popular support.

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[ - ]

By Mark-AlanWhittle (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2014 at 09:33:13

The Rapid Ready report said we need to invest $30 million a year to improve bus service to the level needed to feed and support an LRT line. The report also says it will take a decade to build. Homes will be expropriated in many locations. The B-line express service we presently have should be dramatically improved. People don't use public transit because it is not timely, nor convenient. For $2.55 you can ride, if you have lots of extra time to waste, buses frequently stop. The HSR is heavily subsidized (56%) by all taxpayers, so we have a vested interest in seeing this ratio lowered. Times have changed, demographics have changed, yet routes are not rationalized. Low ridership drags the whole system down. Everyone should cool their jets and we have two elections to go through before anything new happens, especially a Billion dollar LRT. The HSR should try an experiment, run the system for free for 6 months and see if ridership increases. Personally I think the HSR needs a new leader, as the one we have now has been the Architect of the HSR's demise.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 15:51:18 in reply to Comment 101226

  • Worries about the cost of improving transit and the level of subsidy by taxpayers.
  • suggests eliminating fares.

Not following you on that one.

Comment edited by AnjoMan on 2014-05-12 15:51:32

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 11:37:40 in reply to Comment 101226

I don't disagree with your comments that changes need to happen and that improved B-Line service needs to happen. GRT in Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge did exactly that which is why they now have 10 minute frequency for most of the day and operates hous more per day than the current B-Line.

What I do disagree with is the notion that service should be free. Free service would essentially double the subsidy without providing any new service to alleviate existing problems nor providing capacity to deal with potential increases in ridership. With that size of investment and with current fares, we could increase our system by a third- a HUGE amount within the overall system.

IMO, the biggest problem holding the HSR back is the lack of leadership to push fare increase and other significant funding tools through. The HSR is behind the times in terms of fare structures and riders are paying way too little. No other transit agency has a cash fare so low nor a monthly pass so out of step with our peers. Look at the recent transit "gold stars" - Brampton, Mississauga, York Region, Waterloo Region - and part of the reason they've had such success growing ridership and and being able to make the case for investing in rapid transit is the fact they proposed fare increases while asking for property levy increases in order to show that the two need to go hand-in-hand. The current HSR

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