Special Report: Light Rail

Letter: Past Mayors, Regional Chairs Support Light Rail

An open letter signed by seven former Hamilton Mayors and Wentworth Regional Chairs calls on Council to continue supporting Hamilton's LRT plan.

By RTH Staff
Published June 14, 2016

A distinguished coalition of former Mayors and Regional Chairs has signed an open letter calling on the current Hamilton City Council to "re-affirm its commitment to continue working with Metrolinx" on the city's light rail transit (LRT) plan. That plan has full capital funding from the Province and is currently being implemented by Metrolinx in cooperation with City staff.

The letter is signed by: Anne Bain, Stoney Creek Mayor from 1997-2000; Terry Cooke, Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Chair from 1994-2000; Larry Di Ianni, Hamilton Mayor from 2003-2006; Don Granger, Flamborough Mayor from 1991-1994; Bob Morrow, Hamilton Mayor from 1982-2000; Bill Sears, Regional Chair from 1986-1988; and Bob Wade, Hamilton Mayor from 2000-2003.

Following is the text of the letter:

June 14, 2016

Open Letter from Past Mayors and Regional Chairpersons

We, the undersigned former mayors and regional chairs, believe that Light Rail Transit will be a great benefit and building it is the right thing to do for our community.

LRT will attract new investment and new jobs. It will mean rising property values and assessment and create significant economic uplift, not only for the downtown, but for the entire city.

In short, LRT will accelerate increasing energy and vitality in Hamilton.

It should be noted that city infrastructure updates, such as new water pipes that will be done as the project goes forward, will be covered by the $1-billion LRT project, and would otherwise have to be paid for by the city directly.

People might wish to consider that if the $1-billion in provincial spending goes to another city, we as provincial taxpayers would still be paying for it, but getting no direct benefit for our city.

Council naturally has legitimate questions - and will continue to throughout the life of this initiative - since not every question can be answered immediately due to its scope and necessarily complex implementation. We appreciate its vigilance.

We urge Council to re-affirm its commitment to continue working with Metrolinx on the $1-billion, fully-funded-by-the-province, LRT initiative.

Yours truly,

Anne Bain
Mayor of Stoney Creek (1997 - 2000), Stoney Creek Councillor, Regional Council (1994-2000)

Terry Cooke
Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Chair (1994 - 2000), Ward 1 Councillor (1985 - 1994)

Larry Di Ianni
Hamilton Mayor (2003 - 2006), Stoney Creek Councillor (1982 - 2000)

Don Granger
Mayor of Flamborough (1991 - 1994)

Bob Morrow
Hamilton Mayor (1982 - 2000), Board of Control (1970 - 1980), Alderman, Ward 1 (1971-2), Councillor Ward 3 (2014)

Bill Sears
Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Chair (1986 - 1988), Stoney Creek Mayor (1980-1985)

Bob Wade
Hamilton Mayor (2000 - 2003), Mayor of Ancaster (1984-2000), Regional Council (1978 -2000), Ancaster Councillor (1978-1984)


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By jimmie (anonymous) | Posted June 14, 2016 at 14:48:48

No Bratina? Did he not once represent Ward 2 downtown? Wasn't he the mayor exactly when the City made its ask? Isn't he a member of the same party that's putting up the money? I don't get him.

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By AP (registered) | Posted June 14, 2016 at 18:17:51 in reply to Comment 119314

He also added further anti-LRT FUD to the fire recently by writing a letter to the editor in the Spec: http://m.thespec.com/opinion-story/67183... A real disappointment.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 07:18:41 in reply to Comment 119317

An interesting article in the Bay Observer regarding Dave Dixon's resignation actually support's Bratina's comments. Dixon was convinced that Hamilton does not have the ridership - not even close actually - to support the need for higher order transit. His goal was to first build ridership and then push for LRT when it was justified. He says that 4000 people/hr on a line is the level you need for LRT to make sense. The King bus line in Hamilton currently moves 1100 people/hr.

He seems to allude to the notion that the only argument for LRT at this time is the 'city building' one and it is a weak one at best.

This guy worked for the TTC for 25 years and was the COO for a while. He seems to know his stuff. So is he right? IS the LRT going to run at 25% capacity? I've certainly heard differently in articles on RTH so what is the truth here?

Seems like Dixon quit because he was being overridden by politics. Mayor Eisenberger wanted the LRT and pushed for it when it was specifically not in Dixon's 10 year plan.

Not sure who to believe at this point.

Comment edited by ergopepsi on 2016-06-15 07:21:23

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By Or, Just Maybe (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 08:17:28 in reply to Comment 119319

Although it would suck for the conspiracy theorists, according to the media, he took a higher paying job back in his hometown of Toronto.

Maybe he just left for a better opportunity minus the soul sucking Toronto to Hamilton commute and his departure has nothing whatsoever to do with the planned LRT.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 08:29:45 in reply to Comment 119322

The reason he quit really is unimportant. What I'd really like to know is are his numbers correct? Based on outdated thinking maybe? According to him the B line only has 25% of the required ridership to make LRT worthwhile.

Maybe this project is being pushed by the province not because Hamilton needs it but because Ontario needs an economic boost?

Comment edited by ergopepsi on 2016-06-15 08:50:24

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 08:12:40 in reply to Comment 119319

For further interesting reading check out why he was let go from the TTC when they finally decided it was time to do something about their long inadequate transit system

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 14, 2016 at 15:10:16 in reply to Comment 119314

Not only that, but he was a very strong supporter of LRT right up until he was elected. In fact, one of the planks in his platform was to "build LRT". He strongly supported LRT in the Durand Neighbourhood Association sponsored election debate October 6, 2010.

He also mc'd an early Hamilton Light Rail meeting with the Waterloo LRT planners in March 2008.

Here is his response to the RTH LRT question at the time of the 2010 election:

I have supported the concept of LRT from the beginning. We will have to fine tune a number of details before a final plan is implemented. What has not been done the the securing of commitment from Council to provide financial support for the plan in partnership with Provincial and Federal funders.

No one knows why he abruptly reversed his position soon after being elected.

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By Flip-Flop Bratina (anonymous) | Posted June 14, 2016 at 19:44:07 in reply to Comment 119315

Go West Harbour!

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2016 at 00:33:52 in reply to Comment 119318

While Bob Bratina (and others) have enthusiacally supported GO trains, we need to realize how important the Hamilton LRT actually unexpectedly is to West Harbour GO viability:


I have done hundreds of hours of research on Hamilton GO service, and visited/photographed ALL of these construction sites. I have huge articles written, Part #1 and Part #2. (Part #3 is coming soon).

Beginning late 2016 or early 2017, all the technical pre-requisites required for all-day 2-way Hamilton GO train service are complete -- found in the 2011 Niagara Expansion ESR Appendix E -- are completed for the CN subdivision -- the West Harbour GO station!

The 2011 Niagara ESR analyzed what construction is needed to permit hourly all-day service. And the image above is all the checkboxes already successfully being 100% funded and 100% under construction -- with an unexpected above-and-beyond element: The Hamilton Rail Junction Expansion under construction! But none of the checkbox items for the CP side (Hunter GO) is being done at all at this moment. Telling, telling.

From the money trail, it seems quite apparent that negotiations have gone much more smoothly on the CN side of things than the CP side. Although the official Ontario word is the downtown station actually gets all-day service. But reading between the lines and following the money trail: Only West Harbour is technically able to receive reliable all-day 2-way GO train service.

Even the question of which station gets all-day service, is actually an open question as late as in 2016 Metrolinx documents:

  • "...Additional work needed to determine the roles of the Hamilton GO Centre and the new James North station" (p.14, Sept 2014 RER Update)
  • "...All-day two trains per hour EMUBL4/EMUBL8 or E1BL8 to Hamilton West Harbour, or Hamilton Hunter with express Burlington-Union requires electrification of Aldershot to Hamilton..." (p.12, Appendix A, March 2016 RER Business Case)

There are only two freight trains a day on the Grimsby subdivision heading to Niagara, and the Hamilton Rail Junction Expansion (which is above-and-beyond the Niagara ESR Appendix E) eliminates the majority of the GO-vs-freight conflict. There are WAY more freight trains conflicting with Hunter, and the single-track tunnel is an expensive problem. All indications point to more success in negotiating with CN. (Especially with recent CN's friendly co-prescence at the earlier Kitchener GO expansion announcement -- very, very, telling).

Beginning 2017, nothing technically stops Metrolinx from introducing all-day 2-way GO service on the West Harbour side.

Here are the construction completion dates:

  • Hamilton Rail Junction Expansion (3rd track, towards West Harbour), November 2016
  • West Harbour GO (full completion, including underground parking garage), Early 2017
  • Centennial Parkway Bridge Expansion (prep for Stoney Creek GO), completes soon
  • Lewis Layover Yard (GO train parking), 2nd half 2016

Since West Harbour is so far way from 403, West Harbour GO needs to depend more on high-order transit. Unfortunately, Metrolinx is not likely to introduce full hourly (or better) all-day commuter GO service until West Harbour GO station has better transit connections: the Hamilton LRT

Want more GO? Want electric GO too? Leave Hamilton LRT alone.

There you go.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-06-16 00:59:32

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 09:53:01 in reply to Comment 119371

CP is now actually very critical and slow moving if anyone else other than them wants to do anything with their rail rights of way. This is because in the past they have admitted that they closed down too many lines and pulled up way too much track in Ontario and Quebec. That's why there also has been very little action on GO using the mid Toronto line to the old North Toronto Railway Station (aka. the best dam looking LCBO store anywhere) built by CP and which was also used by the Canadian Northern Railway (the predecessor to Canadian National Railways) until 1917.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 08:15:15

This is a great story....The names included are a great cross section of Hamilton political leaders and geographic representation. Not sure why the Spec would try to make the story about Bratina. If DiIanni or Morrow didn't add their name that would be newsworthy.
Love or hate some of their policies while in office, you can't accuse any of these 7 for not doing their best to be city-builders while in office. To have the one non-city builder absent from the letter actually makes perfect sense.

The real story continues to be the city-wide groundswell of support for embracing the future and finally moving Hamilton forward.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 08:36:04 in reply to Comment 119321

DiIanni was a city-builder?? Come on. What was his greatest legacy? Building the Red Hill Expressway or violating the Municipal Elections Act?

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 16:02:10 in reply to Comment 119324

not everyone's style or version of city-building but he worked hard to advance the city based around greenfield development, highways, suburban industry etc..... I'd rather have someone with a vision and passion to move it forward than someone always being contrarian for no reason and saying no constantly.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 15:45:41

Having worked for a railway, assembling plans and car assignments for future freight trains trips and networked freight services, I can shed some clearing light on this debate. Yes, freight trains do move more by mass, volume and is better in efficiency (in theory) than trucks however, this does not mean a wholesale abandonment of highway based truck services in anyway should ever be considered, in fact, more road space for trucking is a must to make the whole national freight system work better.

  1. Our 2 Class 1 Railways, CN & CP (2 of only 7 left in North America) are designed to move very large amounts of freight either too dangerous and or too massive for roads or too far in distance to be affordable for both the road based shipper or the receiver of the cargo. This is why rail moves more than trucks in nearly every measure not because trains are necessarily better but to move the cargo's they are by truck is not affordable or practical, the huge scale of this kind of cargo delivery, tips any comparison of total national freight measure in favor of trains away from trucks.

  2. The economics of very large class 1 intercontinental railways make most short line distances (50-300 km) unaffordable. This is why we see so many new small class 2 or "Branchline" or regional freight railways popping up on abandoned, sold or leased out branchline railways that are no longer profitable for their larger class 1 owners. These railways must still however, stick to relatively large bulk quantities freight for single site deliveries to customers that are either very close or properties are on the line itself. Trucks do well also at this scale depending on the nature of the products and the number of total customers, locational distribution and quantities (usually many small to medium sized deliveries to multiple low density customer sites) of cargo.

  3. Trucks excel at moving medium and small quantity products (stuff that weighs less than 10 metric tonnes). Some branchlines can compete at distances smaller than 50 km but its because the customers is usually located on the rail line directly. Most everything else that is very light or requires multiple locations close by, make deliveries (within 50km) cheaper and more effective by truck. When trucks move cargo beyond 50 km the destination and number and spatial distribution of customers becomes important in whether it is affordable or not.

In fact, many railways have booming side businesses in multi mode container cargo transferring from rail to truck or truck to rail and direct transfer of truck trailers to and from freight trains. These types of container and trailer transfer is actually responsible for roughly 55% of all truck traffic on Canadian roads, that is not locally based freight delivery (within a city or city region).

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted June 16, 2016 at 01:49:10 in reply to Comment 119350

Haveacow, semi-offtopic, but since you are into freight rail considerations, check out massive Metrolinx-funded Hamilton GO rail construction boom along almost exclusively CN track.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 16:57:32 in reply to Comment 119350

I think the issue is that large semi-trailer trucks still routinely use Main Street through downtown Hamilton as a shortcut between the 403 and the QEW-Niagara despite the fact a ring road freeway system was completed around Hamilton in 2007.

Indeed, many residents still cut across downtown to get to Stoney Creek from West Hamilton rather than taking 403-Linc-RHVP. The five lane one-way design with lights timed close to 60 km/h make this an attractive option.

Some of the opposition to LRT is related to fears that it will make it difficult to use the lower city of Hamilton as a shortcut.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-06-15 16:57:50

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By stone (registered) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 09:42:26 in reply to Comment 119352

How dare people want their neghbourhood's back! I need to get to Stoney Creek in 16 minutes not 19 minutes!

Is this why Collins is against LRT? Because everything West of the RHP is just a 400 series highway with houses on it to him?

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:06:21

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:09:14 in reply to Comment 119353

The ring around Hamilton includes the QEW through Burlington across the skyway bridge: QEW-RHVP-Linc-403. This is a ring of freeways that encloses Hamilton:


The ring has a radius of roughly 5km.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-06-15 17:13:36

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:14:10

comment from banned user deleted

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:16:08 in reply to Comment 119355

But there is still a ring of freeways around Hamilton, even if the northeastern section is not actually in Hamilton itself. And trucks from the industrial north end can use Burlington street to easily get to the QEW/RHVP.

The point of a ring road system is not that it is shorter in distance (it is almost always longer), it is that it avoids cutting through the (usually congested) centre of a city. It is time that's important, not distance.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-06-15 17:18:04

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:17:39

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:22:58 in reply to Comment 119357

From 403 and Main Google actually recommends the Linc and RHVP as the quickest route to the RHVP intersection:

19 minutes and 22.9 km compared with 21 minutes and 10.7 km along Main St.


What is the 23 km detour?

The whole point of a ring road is to save time by travelling around a city core. Going around a city is quite obviously further (about 60% further if it's a circle).

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-06-15 17:27:12

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:29:16 in reply to Comment 119359

comment from banned user deleted

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:19:06

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:23:25 in reply to Comment 119358

Why not? The peripherique in Paris is the boundary between Paris and the suburbs, it is not in the city. The M25 is considered a ring road and it runs outside London.

The point of a ring road is to circumvent a city instead of going through the centre. If Aldershot were part of Hamilton it wouldn't change the functionality of the road.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-06-15 17:24:53

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:51:53 in reply to Comment 119360

comment from banned user deleted

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:27:41

comment from banned user deleted

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:43:34 in reply to Comment 119361

It's a difference of 7.9 km to 26 km going from Victoria and Burlington to Highway 6 (15 minute difference with no traffic), or 14 km versus 34 km (15 minutes difference with no traffic) going to the Linc/403 interchange.

It definitely is longer, but that 15 minute advantage could easily disappear if Hamilton had traffic levels and economic vitality of comparable cities of half a million. In other words, if the downtown were actually performing like an economically strong and dynamic downtown.

In any case, I was not thinking of trucks with origins/destinations in Hamilton, but trucks simply passing through for which the ring road system is perfectly adequate. Or motorists trying to get from Westdale/Dundas to Stoney Creek.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-06-15 17:46:10

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 17:56:53

comment from banned user deleted

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 18:59:35 in reply to Comment 119365

I think we got a bit off topic.

My main concern was about trucks without a Hamilton origin/destination crossing to entire lower city to get from the 403 to QEW instead of taking the Linc/RHVP.

Trucks going east from the industrial north end can take Burlington street to the QEW, and I agree that for trucks going from the industrial north end to the 403 the most reasonable alternative given current traffic is still something like Wentworth/Cannon/York (or Wentworth/Cannon/Queen/King) to the 403. Trucks whose destination is the industrial north end could take QEW/Burlington coming from Toronto or Linc/RHVP/Burlington coming from Brantford (about 9 minutes longer with no traffic than Main St to Victoria to Burlington). They shouldn't be taking Main.

Secondarily, many Hamilton residents are still taking Main Street to go right across the lower city instead of the Linc/RHVP even though the Linc/RHVP is faster according to google maps.

And for traffic without a Hamilton origin/destination there is an effective ring road around Hamilton either to the north or south.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 07:52:44 in reply to Comment 119366

we absolutely have a ring road. I've never heard one of these ring-road deniers complain that Toronto doesn't have a true ring road since the entire 401, 427 and half of the DVP don't run through the former city of Toronto. It's all in suburban areas, like a very small portion of our 403/QEW that runs literally on the north shore of Hamilton Harbour. Shows what idiotic lengths people will go through to try to make a point when there isn't one to be made.

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By Ham4Ham (registered) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 06:24:56 in reply to Comment 119366

That's the problem, though - based on years of personal experience, the route east on Main St. through the city simply IS faster than the 403/Linc/RHVP to get from the Mac area to the Stoney Creek area, especially at rush hour.

I commute from just off of Greenhill Ave. to near Mac every day, and what I find is that in the morning (heading west) the RHVP/Linc/Rousseau/Wilson St. route is the fastest (26 km), but heading home (east) it's Main St. for sure (16 km). Many people know this, so it's why they do it. I don't think there really is much of a mystery as to why they aren't utilizing the ring road system, it's simply borne out of experience.

This is obviously where part of the LRT opposition comes from. Even if Main St. "shouldn't" be a highway through the city, it is treated as one because it really is faster than the ring road system at many times of the day. It's a hard sell to convince people that it's somehow better to sit in stop-and-go traffic (on either a two-way Main or the Linc) than to move freely through downtown. I really believe that's the angle that LRT advocates have to address if they hope to win people over to their side.

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By Suburbanite (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 06:50:29 in reply to Comment 119373

Ham4Ham, you seem to fit the profile of a potential B Line LRT user. I'm genuinely interested to hear whether you would consider using LRT (transit) for part or either all of your daily commute? And if not, why not. Or what would have to change in the public transit system to make you consider leaving the car home more often?

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By Ham4Ham (registered) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 08:03:32 in reply to Comment 119374

Honestly, the biggest thing that concerns me regarding my commute is time. I work long hours, so anything that gets me home to my family faster and allows me to spend more time with them is, to me, the best option. I know that in theory I could utilize the LRT, but since I don't live directly on the line and would still have to walk/drive/take a bus part of the way, I can't see how it would get me there faster (unless traffic gets much worse in the upcoming years, which I acknowledge it might).

Don't get me wrong, I really do understand the arguments supporting LRT and I do support it for the benefits it will give to the city as a whole. But many people, including me, are also going to be inherently selfish to some extent and wonder how it will affect them personally - that's only natural. And I think it's that fear and uncertainty from those on the fence that advocates will need to address to get the general population on board. If the only effect they see is that it takes 20 minutes longer to get to work, then the PR efforts about the benefits of "city building" and the like will have failed.

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By lower expectations (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 11:34:18 in reply to Comment 119382

Maybe people ought to change their expectations with regards to commute times as well. If you drive, expect traffic in the city, period. Twenty minute commute by car to work is a luxury nowadays, as most people in GTA commute an hour to work I believe. At least with higher order transit you can predict stable commuting time.

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By Why (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2016 at 20:02:33 in reply to Comment 119400

There is no need to artificially increase commute times. That is fascist.

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By Empathy (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 08:16:39 in reply to Comment 119382

What everyone needs to understand and acknowledge is that we have a downtown that is massively underperforming. As a result we ALL pay higher property taxes to offset the lack of a more robust commercial tax base.

Maintaining the status quo (urban freeways that whisk people unimpeded through the core at all hours of the day) costs everyone. Bringing the downtown back to what it should have always been, benefits everyone.

LRT is not a magic bullet, it is however an important piece of the puzzle.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2016 at 19:10:41

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 07:17:30

I think Hamilton should look to London, Ontario which didn't choose LRT for their transportation strategy. Something like this could be more appropriate for Hamilton. --- shiftlondon.ca

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 10:15:46 in reply to Comment 119376

London may still choose LRT over BRT depending on how the show here in Hamilton goes. Waiting to see if there is an extra Billion dollars hanging around for rapid transit! There main reason for accepting BRT was the higher capital cost of LRT not the higher operating cost of BRT. In fact many of their councilors understood that LRT would give them a better long term product compared to BRT but were afraid to face voters and say yes, its better to spend more now and get a better product in the long term. That being said, although BRT will produce higher operating costs, the number of passengers they will be moving right now better suites BRT, for the time being anyway. After looking at what they are really proposing you can see that London at best, will maybe getting a few km of physically segregated centre of the road bus lanes and most of the rest off the system will painted bus lines with nice bus stops. Nothing to wright home about really and very little built in capacity.

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By Suburbanite (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 07:37:54 in reply to Comment 119376

We went through the exact same process and conducted the exact same studies. In Hamilton's case however, the very detailed study process of the alternatives resulted in a recommendation of full LRT for the B line in Hamilton instead of a BRT like what was recommended in London.
Looking to London, if we agree the process isn't flawed there, then we should be satisfied with our studies results; even if we might personally not like the results.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 07:49:22 in reply to Comment 119378

well said. This is what folks said when all studies had been completed and the verdict came in to forge ahead with Red Hill. Some of the same councillors who today are acting like babies, were the ones telling people to deal with it and move on like mature adults, even if the final solution wasn't their preference. Good to store these moments away for the next time one of these same councillors hisses "you're an activist!" to a citizen at a meeting.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 07:57:38

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By ref_erendum (registered) | Posted June 16, 2016 at 08:59:24

Past Mayors and Chairs make public plea for Hamilton." LRT will attract new investment....jobs."

There is a reason why these people are past Mayors and Chairs. Nothing more needs to be said about their opinions.

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