Special Report: Bus Lane

Bus Lane Question Should Be: How Do We Fix It?

We need a solution that works for everyone. We can't just ignore the needs of transit riders just like we can't ignore the needs of drivers or businesses.

By Martin Zarate
Published January 14, 2015

I've lived in Hamilton my entire life, and I can't remember a time I have been more excited about my city's future than the last few years. The city is quickly becoming bikeable, and the new transit plans can revolutionize how we get around and develop the core.

I'm envious of kids growing up in this city because they get to see a city on the rise instead of watching it slide downwards like I did. I've started biking (even in snow) and taking transit around town myself, something I haven't done since I was a teenager.

Of course, there has been disappointment. I think we all know the bus lane hasn't gone as well as it could have. It's shown some success, but the traffic downside is higher than anybody would have liked.

But why give up? Why did we wait a whole year before even discussing improvements? Why all the fear?

The sad part of the bus lane isn't that it didn't go well. It's that we reacted to things going badly with the discussion of "keep it or get rid of it" instead of "how do we fix it?"

It took a whole year and an election before the Mayor and city staff finally started having that conversation, and that's much too long. It hasn't just harmed the commuters and the businesses, it has also jeopardized transit improvements on the whole.

We need a solution that works for everyone. We can't ignore the needs of transit riders, just like we can't ignore the needs of drivers or businesses.

I like what I hear from our new/old mayor and from the staff report, and hope that council will consider making the needed improvements so the bus lane (or HOV lane?) can work for everyone.

I know nobody likes to talk about the environmental side of this, but I have three young children. One day I hope to see grandchildren - even great-grandchildren.

And one day in the far future, those kids are going to ask us about climate change and fuel reserves and why we didn't do anything when we had the chance.

At the very least, I'd like to tell them that we tried.

This article is adapted from a letter to Council.

Martin Zarate is a software developer who lives in Westdale with his wife and three children.

29 Comments

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 14, 2015 at 12:36:42

Here is Scott Duvall's transit vision (from a recent open email thread regarding the transit lane):

Council fully supported and has been acceptable to an LRT project as long as the provincial government wholly funded the capital project as they stated originally.

As time went along, Hamilton Staff did their due diligence homework and submitted the plan to the provincial government.

As Hamilton was in phase 2 of the provincial moving forward plan and praised by the government how great Hamilton plans was ahead of others, the city has not been given no provincial funding commitment to what the amount will be.

Since the provincial government has dragged their feet in making a funding announcement to Hamilton since 2007 and waving on what full capital costs mean, residents have been not so acceptable now as they were before.

To date we still do not hear any announcement from Minister De Luca who stated he would let us know in a couple of months after meeting in July 2014.

So since my original support, I still commit to support LRT on conditions the province announces they will pay full capital cost which means all construction and rail cars and the city meet other service needs.

I heard at the door we need substantial HSR service improvements on the mountain along with bus landing pads and shelters before we start going for other ideas.

I believe in the transportation vision downtown for our future children and others, however I still believe we must at least meet the basic transportation needs for all other areas of the city before we go forward with LRT downtown.

Respectfully

Scott

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By MattM (registered) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 18:20:44 in reply to Comment 107805

If Mr. Duvall has a proofreader, they need to be fired. That was terrible.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 20:28:47 in reply to Comment 107814

I agree. This piece was almost unreadable for me. If writing is not your thing, have someone proofread and copy edit!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 15, 2015 at 13:29:41 in reply to Comment 107821

whew When I saw that in the "recent comments" box I was worried you were talking about my article, not Duvall's email.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 15:22:57 in reply to Comment 107805

"We need substantial HSR service improvements on the mountain along with bus landing pads..."

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 15:21:52 in reply to Comment 107805

"Residents have been not so acceptable now as they were before."

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 14:29:32 in reply to Comment 107805

"...the city has not been given no provincial funding commitment..."


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 14, 2015 at 12:43:17 in reply to Comment 107805

Except every time the city tries to improve mountain service, they shoot that down too. Remember Ferguson killing the Rymal improvements?

Providing a pre-condition ruins the chance of anything happening. Focus on doing everything at once, then if anybody drags their feet they're only screwing themselves.

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By Groan (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 18:37:06 in reply to Comment 107806

"Focus on doing everything at once"

That's a recipe for disaster. Projects are never done in that manner. "Ready, Fire, Aim" is already not getting us anywhere.

Do the low hanging fruit. Put in the landing pads, the signal prioritization, and bus shelters. Those are quick and easy. Then start ramping up for a major project.

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By Sigh (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 17:32:06

Chad Collins is a short sighted pessimist. He can't see past what is to what could be. He's focused on few businesses on Queenston that won't get car traffic because of a no left turn option due to LRT, whilst forgetting about all the business growth potential along the King-Main-Queenston corridor that will likely be realized because of LRT. What an idiot.

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By Groan (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 18:35:20 in reply to Comment 107812

Yeah, he's an idiot for listening to existing businesses and not banking on " business growth potential along the King-Main-Queenston corridor that will likely be realized because of LRT" hypotheticals. What an imbicile!

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By Jeet (anonymous) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 18:58:56

Short of acts of God, there's really no reason to not bank on business growth potential due to LRT. So yeah, he is an imbecile! Seriously though, our political leaders are supposed to lead, as the mayor pointed out, for the greater good sometimes do thinks people don't like. Chad doesn't seem to get that.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 21:49:10

In related news, Mississauga can't afford LRT if they even have to pay a third of it. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/01/...

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 22:23:09

anyone have any simple way to find out how everyone voted today on all these votes??

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 23:25:34 in reply to Comment 107823

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/n...

  • Defer the bus lane issue until Feb. 6 (Moved by Jason Farr. Tie vote [7-7], which is a loss)
  • Kill the bus lane (Moved by Chad Collins. 8-6 against)
  • Suspend the bus lane and bring it back later (Moved by Terry Whitehead. 8-6 against)
  • Modify the bus lane to make it run smoother and bring it back in the spring (Moved by Aidan Johnson. 8-7 against)

Who voted consistently in favour of the lane:

Aidan Johnson, Jason Farr, Matthew Green, Sam Merulla, Mayor Fred Eisenberger

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2015-01-14 23:26:43

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 14, 2015 at 23:33:29 in reply to Comment 107826

Thx...I saw this on their article. I'm hoping to find an actual break-down of each vote.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 15, 2015 at 10:36:25 in reply to Comment 107827

Iirc the surprise was Conley who voted "yes" on making improvements.

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By PublicRecord (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2015 at 00:22:11 in reply to Comment 107827

Best to watch the coverage on Joey's site.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted January 15, 2015 at 12:06:26

I agree with the headline. A dedicated bus lane is a good idea. The problem is that the current configuration creates a bottleneck between Wellington and James (even though the bus lane does not really start until John, the traffic back-up mid day backs traffic up down to Wellington.)

We either need to move the buses such that they do not block King by crossing over to McNab, or get rid of people driving through downtown.

The merchants on King want the auto traffic but we have removed the Gore Park "station" in favour of McNab because we did not like the buses at Gore Park so I am not sure what the answer is.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-01-15 12:07:01

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By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted January 15, 2015 at 13:29:34 in reply to Comment 107833

the answer is 1) a turn signal for buses and 2) for drivers to realize that 12 minutes to get thru the core of a top ten Canadian city at the height of rush hour (and 7 minutes the rest of the time) is really not an emergency

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