Comment 69350

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2011 at 08:46:59 in reply to Comment 69349

mrjanitor: My views on LRT have been fairly consistent. If you dig around in many of my older comments here - it has always supported LRT as one of the modes of transportations (a component of the larger Transportation Network) - which connects the under serviced suburban and urban areas to form an integrated city.

You will also notice that I have often referred to the ideas expressed here, back in April 2009: "Transport investment and the promotion of economic growth" by David Banister and Yossi Berechmanb:

One of the major unresolved research issues in transport is the question as to whether transport infrastructure investment promotes economic growth at the regional and local levels. The concern is not with the transport benefits, principally measured as travel-time savings, but whether there are additional development benefits from these investments. If they do exist, can they be measured? In this paper, we have developed a new approach based on defining the set of necessary conditions for economic development to take place – in addition to the economic conditions, there are the investment conditions and the political and institutional conditions. It is argued that it is only when all three sets of necessary conditions are operating at the same time will measurable and additional economic development benefits be found.

Since then, our economic uncertainties has increased not decreased - since then, the public consultations on LRT which was highly celebrated yesterday - was never about true design inputs from the public - it was about what someone in their fancy had slashed right across the lower city, and handed it down for validations via pat-on-the-head kind of public input sessions.

Upon realizing the extent of damage that such a thoughtless linear pattern of rail tracks would do to the entire lower city - as someone who is professionally knowledgeable about such issues, I have on many occasions raised these concerns which you will find here and elsewhere.

My views on LRT did not change, my views on how the tracks should be laid thru the lower city changed on seeing the approach to planning.

This high cost - boondoggle in my opinion was a direct result of this absurd design overreach - which I felt would directly destroy the very chance of introducing an alternative mode of transit.

This is the kind of planning that is done - when you think you are spending other peoples money.

Besides above, upon seeing the current global and national economic climate it behooves us to be cautious - especially considering that the final costs, cost sharing and inherent escalations are not yet discovered.

So we have a poor design pattern (my opinion), and no costs, no cost sharing principles, no local budget commitments -all in a highly questionable economic climate (factual).

What would your position be under such circumstance - if the fixed funding for preliminary design studies has been exhausted - and a provincial election is a month or two away, (with fair odds of a new prov. govt. nixing the commitments of the previous govt)?

Would you immediately start beating down the mayor and the chief of staff for such confluence of circumstances? or would you yell and scream at them two months later for choosing to spend beyond the contractual obligation - upon discovering that the project was nixed by the new govt).

It is your call - you are the Chief of Staff of Hamilton. You are the Mayor of Hamilton. What would you have done?

Even after the Liberal MPP's earnestly continue to assure you that they are paying for it until the last day of the election - would you have gambled Hamilton's weak cash position on such assurances? or would you have put the project on a discovery mode for council presentation - and focused on extracting the commitment for an all day GO service while the election is still undecided and the motives of the present govt. are very strong if only to win votes?

City planning is a fairly complex affair when you get down to it. It requires a lot of patience and understanding. Let us give credit where it is due - and learn to stop pillorying people when things don't work out as we expect it to.

LRT will come to Hamilton when the right circumstances evolve - in the meantime let us not stop doing what needs to be done to get ahead.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-09-10 10:00:14

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