This plan will completely reverse almost eight years and $10 million of rapid transit planning, without Council being clear what is being proposed and what the stakes are.
By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published March 06, 2015
I urge Council to please not support the HSR Ten Year Transit Strategy [PDF] until it has been thoroughly reviewed, the public has been consulted and its strategic and economic development implications have been thoroughly assessed.
I am very concerned that this plan will completely reverse almost eight years and $10 million of rapid transit planning, without Council being clear what is being proposed and what the stakes are.
Here are some reasons to take a step back and assess all alternatives:
1. The Ten Year Strategy is massive over-reach by staff, considering the 2013 Council motion was to propose a ten-year plan using $45 million of local money to achieve council's 2001 goal of doubling per capita transit use to 100 rides.
Instead, this is a $302 million plan using almost entirely provincial money that explicitly abandons our goal and proposes an extremely marginal increase to 50 annual rides per capita.
2. This Srategy costs 40 percent of the B-line LRT that involved years of public consultation, detailed land use planning, and an assessment of economic impact. The Ten Year Strategy was rushed through in secret and none of this work has been done.
3. The Strategy includes very surprising and incredibly expensive items: $200 million for a bus maintenance facility - one-quarter the entire B-Line LRT cost! - as well as $20 million for advertising, and 95% of the local money comes from high fare increases.
4. Despite claims to contrary, this plan is clearly designed to kill LRT for the foreseeable future. This is a major change of strategic direction that has held steady for the past eight years.
It is especially surprising since LRT would free up 18 buses, not much less than the 25 buses this plan is proposing to add.
The public will find it incomprehensible that we are passively throwing in the towel on LRT - and indeed any rapid transit - just weeks after Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne repeated her promise to fully fund the direct capital costs of the rapid transit system we choose!
Council needs to regain control over the LRT file. Hit the pause button, form the Citizens Forum on Rapid Transit on which the Mayor was elected, and let the citizens and council know what the real decision is.
Do we want a $200 million bus maintenance facility or do we want a $800 million B-line LRT, with all the economic developments benefits it will bring?
Please take a few moments to tell Council and the Province to keep their promise to support and fund LRT for Hamilton.
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