Special Report: Bus Lane

Transit Users Are Our Customers Too

I recognize that there are faults with the pilot program, but that is why it is a pilot - so we can learn from it, change it and correct it, not scrap it.

By Jessica Maurice
Published December 10, 2014

I am a business owner downtown and I support the bus lane: as a citizen, I am a cyclist, transit user, pedestrian as well as car-driver.

Bus only lane at King and Mary (RTH file photo)
Bus only lane at King and Mary (RTH file photo)

My business, which is along King Street East, sees much of the traffic congestion as it begins to form into the downtown core.

Council now wants to remove the bus lane pilot without waiting for the final report. They want to make a decision without examining the evidence.

I have heard numerous times over the past year about how the bus lane is crippling businesses, how this one lane has had detrimental effects on their customer base and ultimately their sales. Naturally, I question this as the sole factor for decreased revenue.

Unlike those businesses, our sales have grown over the past year. Do I attribute it to the addition of the bus lane? No. Perhaps it's the advertising we do, the social media we regularly push, the products we carry, the addition of a liquor license, or maybe it's a combination of all of those factors.

For businesses to lay blame on just the bus lane does not add up. There needs to be some accountability here.

Over this past year, our business has yet to have one single customer complain about not finding parking, the traffic getting to/from our store, or really, anything bus-lane-related.

Is it because all of our customers are transit users? I doubt that.

I recognize that there are faults with the pilot program. I see them daily while driving along King Street. But that is why it is a pilot - so we can learn from it, change it and correct it, not scrap it.

Transit users are our customers and we are ready to accommodate them. We are ready to move forward in this ambitious city that we all love.

Jessica Maurice lives in downtown Hamilton and is one of the owners of Gameopolis. When she is not playing board games, she can be found out enjoying the city.


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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted December 10, 2014 at 08:47:15

Great segment on the Scott Thompson yesterday at 1pm from another King Street business owner. The followup phone-in comments were additionally fascinating...if only to point out a) how the public can be so misinformed about a topic, and b) how badly ill-equipped it can be when applying context.

Both of these result from a dearth of general dialogue and debate on such things as the bus lane; they generally don't take place aside from articles and comments here and in The Spec. Which means that the public, in the main, are not involved in the discussion. (Great example is how the HSR riders' voices tend to be absent. Or at best, whispers.)

I'd be willing to bet that the average Hamiltonian can't answer the question 'What is the intent of the Bus Lane experiment?' Instead, the question that's been asked (especially on yesterday's broadcast) is 'Do you want a bus lane?'. To me, this is like asking a child 'Do you want a curfew?' or 'Do you want your Internet time to be limited?'

More public, visible discourse please. (And to sound like a broken record, this will not be accomplished as a result of a Council impetus.)

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 10, 2014 at 09:35:24

Great article.

Jessica would be a breath of fresh air on council. Well written.

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By SSnowling (registered) | Posted December 10, 2014 at 10:16:19

Awesome article Jess. Great perspective...

I always think of you guys when I hear people claiming that businesses are up in arms over the bus lane pilot. Of course there are some, but it's great to hear from those that actually support it -- and have evidence of great businesses to back it up.

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By angelune (registered) | Posted December 10, 2014 at 10:34:26

So great to see a positive attitude and a love for making this city greater by being inclusive. I've never been in gameopolis yet, but I will be checking it out now.

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By Kevkill (anonymous) | Posted December 10, 2014 at 10:40:20

How long was Gameopolis open before the bus lane was installed? I believe it opened less than 6 months prior to the bus lane, but I could be wrong. If so then there would be no historical sales data to compare in determining whether or not the bus lane has had any impact. Would be nice to hear from some of the long standing businesses and get their input on the sales impact of the bus lane.

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By fools (anonymous) | Posted December 10, 2014 at 10:40:21

I look at all these 'Business Improvement Areas' and think how much money they are wasting whereas all that really needs to happen is to implement complete/ two way streets. These knuckle heads on council don't seem to get this. Are they uneducated or just uninterested for political reasons?

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted December 11, 2014 at 12:29:09 in reply to Comment 106860

BIAs are crucial organizations, particularly for small businesses, that enable us to take collective action at a hyperlocal level to encourage customers to patronize us. BIAs promote economic development and also make physical improvements and beautification in our local business communities. They are important to merchants and other business, are incredibly diverse in their approaches, and can never be replaced by any one-size-fits-all solution!

No one is a bigger booster of complete streets than I am. Similarly for two-way conversion. But that's not going to replace the need for BIAs.

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By Well, it's S, Thompson (anonymous) | Posted December 10, 2014 at 14:53:50

Remember, it's Scott Thompson you're talkin' about, on CHML's rile-em-up show. That's why he was hired (heaven knows why the Spec publishes him). Even when I've heard snippets of him while waiting for the 3:00 o'clock weather etc., his degree of plain fact-wrongness MUST be deliberate. Either that, or he & IQ are separated how?

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By No (registered) | Posted December 10, 2014 at 18:15:09

I wasn't aware of your business, but I don't travel around that section. I will be checking it out soon. Thanks for letting us know about it!

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By don't like arbitrary filters (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2014 at 13:50:25

I wrote a long eloquent response here but your filter stopped me saying I used spam words but I did not so forget it, I am not retyping to suit a computer program. Especially when it won't point out what it has a problem with.

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