The latest anti-LRT tactic has been to pretend that there are no benefits to LRT by insisting that we deny, ignore and exclude all of its many well-documented benefits.
By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published April 13, 2017
In addition to not being able to decide whether Light Rail Transit (LRT) is risky new technology or obsolete, anti-LRT critics have another couple of tricks up their sleeve.
In order to demonstrate that LRT has no benefits, they first ignore or rule as irrelevant the very real non-transit benefits to Hamilton.
For example, Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins has decided that you don't build transit to get infrastructure upgrades, and so we shouldn't be considering the many tens of millions of dollars in paid-for infrastructure upgrades when evaluating LRT.
He also claims that there is no benefit to upgrading the infrastructure since it isn't in the City's ten-year capital replacement plan, which means that 62-year-old bridges and hundred-year-old pipes are just fine ... until they rupture.
This is a pretty cavalier attitude from a Councillor representing a city with a huge unfunded and growing infrastructure deficit!
There is lots of infrastructure that is overdue for replacement but has not made it onto the ten-year capital replacement plan - not because it doesn't need replacing but because we don't have nearly enough money to replace everything that needs to be replaced.
Infrastructure replacement is not the purpose of investing in LRT, but it is totally disingenuous to pretend that it is not a very important ancillary benefit!
Other opponents have similarly discounted the economic uplift, new private investment and increased tax revenue that LRT-driven development will provide by saying that this should only be about transit - not transit, land use and economic development in strategic conjunction.
They also ignore the direct economic benefits of thousands of well-paid construction jobs over the five-year construction period, plus life-changing opportunities for skilled apprenticeships for at-risk Hamilton youths through the Community Benefits Plan - again, presumably because transit shouldn't be a make-work project.
And when it actually comes to the direct transit impact of LRT, they decide (based on their own feelings) that LRT will not improve the transit experience for riders, will not attract more riders, and will not help the rest of the HSR network.
Instead, they conclude based on no evidence that revenue will drop and the operating subsidy will be higher than for the buses.
But we don't have to guess about these benefits.
The City, Metrolinx and McMaster University researchers have all studied each of these questions, and we have reliable, data-driven analysis that quantifies, in great detail, exactly why LRT will deliver big and lasting benefits for Hamilton for transit, jobs, development, and infrastructure improvement.
Of course, it is much easier to make a case against LRT if you rule all of its benefits to be 'out of bounds' and then assume it will fail as a transit project!
Obviously, a failed project will be a failure. However, planning staff have spent almost ten years working very carefully and meticulously to ensure it will be a success.
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