Comment 16460

By mark (registered) | Posted December 31, 2007 at 08:12:04

I'd like to respond to Ted Mitchell's latest posts here today. Please allow me to summarize the challenges made to the main points he lists as the gist of this article thus far:

You cite the strip malls and fast food joints along Upper James as evidence that there is not enough destination points along this proposed higher-order transit route to justify this existence. This is an extremely weak arguement. Following the route from its northern terminus to its southern terminus, one can identify several destination points that should be served by higher-order transit. Most obvious is the downtown core itself, which will be a destination for mountain residents who commute downtown for work, who want to shop downtown, or enjoy one of the many events scheduled downtown, be it a show at Hamilton Place or a Bulldogs game at Copps. In addition, the Hunter Street bus terminal, being a multi-mode transit hub, is a destination in its own right. The next major destination that this route will serve is Mohawk College. Post-secondary educational facilities are obvious destinations to be considered when planning higher-order transit routes. And, like it or not, the airport at the southern terminus of the proposed route is a destination point as well. Other lesser destination points include the retail centre at Upper James and Fennell, bus transfer points to east-west mountain routes at Fennell, Mohawk and Stone Church Roads, and the cinema complex south of Stone Church.

To address the concern that there is not the ridership potential along this route, I'd ask you to refer to Exhibit 3.5 in the city's May 2007 working paper on higher-order transit strategy. The population density across the mountain is pretty much consistent, and there is no area on the mountain with superior density levels to that along Upper James. Moreover, of the existing north-south mountain routes, the highest riderships can be found on routes 26 and 35, the routes that most closely follow the proposed north-south RT route.

As for the first words out of the consultant's mouth, of course they woudl be espousing the benfits of an airport link to the downtown core. This is a no-brainer. Airport transit links to the core of the city it serves is apple-pie and motherhood for practically every major city with an international airport - it just makes sense. Major cities with international airports have, or are in the process of developing transit links to the core of the city that airport services. Since the capital cost of the RT is being covered by the province and the feds, why not implement the infrastructure while it isn't the city's cheque being cut?

While previous attempts to serve the airport with an HSR route have not been successful, please keep this in context. The first attempt was made when annual passenger counts were less than 30,000. This year, passenger traffic will exceed 700,000. Furthermore, airport employment a decade ago was a fraction of what it is today. And, if memory serves, the second attempt showed promise, but fell victim to post-amalgamation cost-cutting efforts. Had the HSR stuck it out, the route extension to the airport would be successful. In fact, the route service to the airport was never abandoned, just shelved until a more sustainable ridership could be achieved. Given the current level of employment at the airport and the current passenger counts, reintroduction of HSR service would be inevitable regadless.

As for the final point about putting buses where the ridership is, this is really a rehash of a point made earlier in your summary. Once again I refer you to review the 2007 working paper for Hamilton's higher-order transit strategy. There really is no north-south mountain route with greater potential, or a higher count of key destination points.

Now, with regards your post today about Munro Airport, you are bang on about its success being tied to the rate of expansion at the airport. As you say , if expansion is too rapid, the airport would risk becoming a white elephant. That is exactly why expansion at the airport contues to be measured expansion.

Vancouver's Tradeport has been a stellar performer as far as matching expansion at YHM to growth. Continued expansion of the airport is tied to growth, as witnessed by the phases of expansion it has on the books for the coming years. The airport is not about to expand at a rate more rapid than growth, so the white elephant analogy simply does not apply here as it did in Mirabel.

Surely you are not interpreting aerotropolis as an airport expansion megaproject like Mirable of the 70's. If so, your logical progression is seriously flawed. I would strongly suggest you actually spend some time carefully reviewing the airport employment growth study reports as they are made available on the city website before making such a precarious leap.

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