Special Report: Transit

Take B-Line Off-Campus for Better Rapid Transit

Moving the B-line to Main Street West saves time on the B-line route. This time should be filled by stops at Wellington / Victoria and Gage.

By Thom Oommen
Published September 11, 2008

A lot of concern has been expressed about moving Hamilton's existing bus rapid transit route, the B-line, off of McMaster University campus.

Previously, the B-line made stops in front of Divinity College and the McMaster University Health Centre providing students with two stops, literally a hundred metres apart, on campus.

The new plan involves shifting B-line service to Main Street West.

This is a faster route with fewer turns and stop signs to slow down the service, and the key for rapid transit is that it is rapid. That's my primary reason for supporting this move.

Moving the B-line service out of campus inconveniences students, to be sure. There are fewer buses traveling through one of the busiest transit hub in Hamilton.

But how many students (myself included when I was at Mac) catch the B-line into Westdale to save a walk home? The B-line is held up for as many as ten minutes as students load and unload on campus and in Westdale.

Rapid Transit for the Whole City

Let's not forget that many students don't live in Westdale. Many live in other parts of Hamilton and transit needs to work for them too. When it slows down, that's even less of a reason to begrudge riding the bus.

By moving it to Main Street, these short ride students are unlikely to go out of their way to catch the B-line. For one thing, it doesn't go through Westdale, their ultimate destination.

However, if you're going downtown or to the east end or mountain and want to get there fast, you'll make the short hike to Main Street and know that ultimately you're going to save time since you are no longer loading and unloading in Westdale.

Besides, with B-line buses every ten minutes and all day, you won't be waiting long.

Finally McMaster is physically creeping toward Main Street. New buildings are constructed there meaning that more and more students, and let's not forget staff, are closer and closer to this transit corridor.

This makes shifting the B-line an even more sensible move.

New Stops Now Needed

I have spoken with staff at the HSR on several occasions about much needed stops at both Wellington / Victoria and Gage. Currently, bizarrely, these important intersections are not served by the B-line.

It's outrageous that Westdale and McMaster used to have four stops whereas huge gaps existed in the east of the city. By moving the B-line to Main Street West, the HSR must fill in these gaps.

The reason the HSR provides for not adding these new stops is that it will slow down the rapid service. This argument no longer has any legs.

Moving the B-line to Main Street West saves time on the B-line route. This time should be filled by stops at Wellington / Victoria and Gage.

Even if you make the argument that the HSR is underfunded, as we all know, new stops for the rapid transit service cost almost nothing. You'd be making a world of difference for many (potential) transit users and connecting rapid transit with the HSR's newest route: #12 Wentworth.

So I guess I should refine my position: I support taking the buses off McMaster University campus as long as it leads to more rapid transit service in other parts of the city.

Thom Oommen is passionate about building truly sustainable communities. But far from technological solutions and other flights of fancy, he believes that the only way to build a just and ecologically responsible community is to embrace frugality and simplicity. He is currently focusing on actively learning the skills that will enable him and his community to face an unknown future with a measure of confidence. Check out his blog.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted September 12, 2008 at 13:38:54

Thom, and we thought you were retired!

Excellent points. I can confirm that several students take the bus from King/Sterling (8 min walk) and Longwood (15 min walk) in good weather, which is pretty lazy.

The move to Main makes more sense to me, but it brings home the need for more pedestrian priority at the insane main/emerson intersection. The recent, useless re-engineering of that should be grounds for jail time.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 12, 2008 at 15:14:21

Great points. I agree.

I know the Westdale BIA fought moving the buses to Main when it was originally proposed as part of moving the University's main entrance to Main fearing that it hurt business. The King/Sterling route was kept to placate them. As a Westdaler, I certainly wouldn't want to see anything that would have a negative impact on local businesses, but I wonder how real this fear is. I've seen several businesses catering to students that didn't survive because the expected foot traffic didn't materialize. There doesn't seem to be a critical mass of people willing to get off the bus to shop, then get back on or walk the rest of the way to campus. I really don't think moving the buses to Main would have that much of an impact, but I'd be interested to see the BIA's opinion.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted September 12, 2008 at 16:49:54

I support the move in principle, but the implementation has two major flaws:

  1. Splitting the route means you have to know the schedule and then determine which stop to go to, since there is now a 10 bus only every half an hour (instead of every 15 minutes) at the two East-bound stops. This makes it much less convenient to just hop on the bus.

  2. The Emerson stop is just a regular bus shelter. Replacing three campus bus stops with one stop will cause havoc in the winter. Last year there were dozens of people waiting at each of the three campus stops. Hundreds of people milling around at the intersection of Emerson and Main is chaotic and possibly dangerous. What they need is a proper transit terminal next to Main St, similar to what they've done for GO at McMaster.

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By Geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 13, 2008 at 03:58:24

I, for one, am not fond of the new alignment. There are a lot of mostly empty 10s running now (moreso than before), particularly on the routes coming from campus. I can see why - For students with classes on the north end of the campus, it is not convenient to walk from Main to the other end, and it is even less of a draw to walk the reverse to catch a bus home. Better, it seems, to catch one of the full-to-bursting non-articulated buses that stop right outside the student centre.

One aspect of the problem that was not adequately considered is what will happen in the winter. First, few are going to walk all the way across campus in a blizzard. Second, the north-south sidewalks are simply not wide enough to accommodate any large number of students (not that many will trek all that way in the cold, of course).

From a former student's perspective, the 10 was one of the only buses during the school day that I remember consistently being able to get a seat on (which is an issue if you're carting books around, believe me). Now, you're guaranteed a seat, of course, but since it's much less convenient to take, you're more likely to squeeze into an incredibly overcrowded 5 or 51. I recall the westbound 10 being mostly full of students from downtown and queen during the week. Many, if not most, of these students, will now be crowding onto other buses, particularly in the winter.

As others have mentioned, another problem with the 10 stopping at Main and Emerson is the obvious fact that pedestrians aren't welcome there, and pedestrians=transit users. Although Main is at what is becoming a busy part of campus, there is nothing as of yet on the other side of the street (unless the university is planning on building there). The previous route went through campus, and drew its ridership from every corner of the university. A move to Main would be easier to understand once the city has LRT, and there are two less lanes of traffic on Main. Otherwise, it just doesn't make sense to me. It's analogous to running a north-south line that steers away from James north.

Conversely, of course, bad transit=drive to campus. If the focus is the speed of transit, not its convenience, why not run it down the middle of the 403?

I hated it too when lazy Westdalians would take up room on the bus instead of walking for 5 or 10 minutes. I also agree that "rapid" transit should be more efficient for those traveling the longer distances that make such rapidity necessary. However, I don't think making transit to campus even more inconvenient than it was before is the answer. How about only having one stop in the Westdale westbound, and no stop on eastbound trips through the neighborhood? Honestly, why not?

If the city insists on running half-empty 10s along Main, they could run an articulated 1 or 51 bus that makes all stops through the university. Justifiably, of course, there would be an uproar due to the tax dollars being thrown away on the giant, largely empty 10 buses going along Main.

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By brodiec (registered) | Posted September 15, 2008 at 08:36:44

I think the alignment makes a lot of sense when it comes to delivering a good quality of service to all users of the Beeline route rather than focusing the service on McMaster.

As somebody who has taken routes through the westend and the Mac campus for more than 20 years now I have to say that the failure is not the alignment of the routes. The failure is the meandering suburban layout of the McMaster campus.

Historically speaking let's remember that University Ave, now re-aligned next to the Medical Centre (MUMC), is actually a poorly drawn return to form. The unfortunate part being is that poor planning of the campus has put a building blocking direct alignment of roads at intersections perpendicular to Main St. The most horrendous mistake probably being the MUMC parking arcade which not only impedes transit and pedestrian access to the front of MUMC but also emergency vehicle access.

This means that running any sort of rapid transit through campus is basically impossible without unnecessary left turns, cueing in turning lanes etc.

As per students threatening to drive to school if there is not a transit stop located next to every facility on campus... I think it's probably time to get a nice winter jacket and grow up a bit.

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By not happy (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2008 at 20:51:31

I have to say I am completely unhappy with the removal of the bee-line bus stops off of McMaster's campus. Last year, as an employee at Mac, I decided to turn in my parking permit and for the good of the environment, take the bus to work. It worked out really well. Now, I am so tempted to get back into my car and drive.

The stop at the south-end of campus (McMaster Hospital) is not very convenient. Further, the number of east-bound Beeline buses that stop right at the hospital is split in half (the other half going to the Main/Emerson stop). More inconvenience.

Things were easier when I just went to one stop and all the buses stopped there. I just hopped on the next bus! Now, the buses don't stop at all the same locations. Takes more time now.

As a result, I find all the other buses that stop on campus overly crowded! Not as many people are taking the Beeline bus. So what's the point?

Things will get only worse in 2011 when McMaster kicks off all buses from going through campus. I can't believe that strategy. It discourages people from taking public transit to work.

Transit should deliver people to places they want to go; not to where it makes it easier for the buses to get to! I'm hoping the HSR gets its priorities in place. If they can't drive the Beeline buses anymore on campus, at least keep the route as close as it used to be. Have a stop at the Sterling entrance. Or better yet, work with McMaster so they allow buses to drive up to the Student Centre and circle right back out.

I find that people who make public transit decisions, don't take public transit! If they did, they wouldn't route popular bus lines away from destinations where people want to go.

That's all (for now!)

where people want to

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2008 at 02:06:48

brodiec - OK, so academics are lazy and childish. No argument there. However, don't you see a problem with running mostly empty, articulated 10s on a lower-density route while the other buses are jammed full?

Last spring, I caught the 10 westbound every day downtown - Almost every person on that bus from downtown to the campus was a student.

I agree that the system should not just cater to the university. As I suggested above, however, why can't the efficiency of the 10 be increased by removing one of the Westdale stops on westbound trips, and having no eastbound stop in Westdale at all?

The university is by far the most important stop on the B-line between downtown and Dundas, and should be better connected.

U of T has three subway stations accessing its campus, the Bee-line in Vancouver has been a staple of transportation to UBC for some time now, and the city is building a subway line to the university in the medium-term future, and Montreal has two subway stops. What is particularly annoying about Hamilton is that the city (which is home to what is by many accounts Canada's fourth most important post-graduate university) seemed to have had their priorities largely in order in the first place - only then to change them drastically.

Finally, lazy or no, a well-planned transit system requires at least two things - that people make the commitment to switch from driving their cars to using public transit, and that the city make it convenient for these people. If the city and school is willing to do little to coax people out of their cars, this will not affect the committed few, but will surely discourage others from giving up their cars. This will likely have negative repercussions for the entire city.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 17, 2008 at 09:13:50

I used to take the B-Line regularly, and now haven't set foot on one since this route change. This is nothing more than a short-sighted move by Mac. We are hearing good news about LRT in Hamilton. I know some folks are scared that Hamilton will find a way to screw that up, and not having rapid transit on our largest university campus would be exactly that. It's time for the city to remind Mac that the HSR is run by the city. Mac is a public institution and pays no property taxes. They have no right to tell the local public transit system where to go. Better Rapid Transit is transit that people can actually use in their everyday lives. This B-Line change is causing the opposite effect. All that was needed was to eliminate one of the Westdale stops if 'lazy students' were truly causing such a massive backlog in transit times. I rode the 10 regularly and never encountered this problem. All B-Line buses should run the full route and all of them should come up into the middle/back of campus. I've now joined the nervous masses worried that our fine city will become one of the few cities to botch up an LRT system. Nothing should surprise me anymore, but getting transit right is so easy, even our council should be able to figure it out. It's time for the city to put it's foot down before Mac sets us back any further in the quest to become a real city again.

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By here! here! (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2008 at 20:15:16

Well said Jason! The re-routing of B-line routes off of campus is a really bad idea. The change has caused reduced and more inconvenient service. What were these people thinking? I too am scared that Hamilton will screw up its LRT opportunity. Any ideas how one can get involved so that the plans for the LRT in the future ensures that several the LRT stops on campus in at least a couple of places?

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2008 at 20:29:54

I'm actually quite surprised the MSU hasn't gotten involved. I've never been a member myself, but as a former undergrad at Victoria, I seem to remember the student union being much more visible and willing to confront university, civic and provincial authority over matters such as this (it was the "left coast", of course).

An additional reason I'm surprised is that, if I recall, the MSU declared their support in principle for LRT, provided it served Westdale and the centre of campus.

I know how complicated these things can be, but it would be great to see concerned undergrads lobbying the MSU to take some sort of visible protest action here. Whether all of Hamilton can agree on this or not is immaterial - It would be in the best interests of the MSU politically to call the city and school to task over something that evidently interests McMaster students and faculty a great deal. This should be done as soon as possible. I'm not a Mac student anymore (and I've never been an undergrad here), or I would start sending some e-mails myself.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 18, 2008 at 11:01:21

Actually they did get involved. They supported the University's move because they felt it was more important to attempt to intimidate city council than to provide students with the best possible service. I recall seeing an editorial in the Sil by last year's MSU president the gist of which was that students should suck it up so that the administration can throw it's weight around. I hope this year's MSU exec will see its role as advocating for students rather than enabling the administration's petty politics.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 19, 2008 at 00:13:23

Indeed - I admit that's not quite what I meant when by involvement. lol. Let's hope for some positive change this fall.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 20, 2008 at 20:14:04

This is what happens when you allow politicians to make decisions, rather than businesses.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 20, 2008 at 20:24:33

You know what, A. Smith? For once, I can't argue with you. I wholeheartedly agree, in fact.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2008 at 00:49:41

Geoff, your lack of disagreement with my naive free market theories is somewhat disturbing.

Nevertheless, does anyone think McMaster University would be making its clients (students) angry if it were a "for profit" institution.

In that case, since every student is another chance to make money, management would likely just suck it up, and let the city do what it wants to do. Rather than getting back at the city, like the way children behave, the university would have to ensure a satisfied customer, or else lose business.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2008 at 04:21:46

I think McMaster would be greatly improved in many respects if its administration adopted a more business-like approach to the task of running a university. It would, indeed, be more student-centred, to say the least.

I've argued elsewhere (www.forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?p=3813536#post3813536) that the current 10/proposed LRT route is largely the result of city/university politics - It simply doesn't make any business sense. The university has a higher student population than the city of Dundas, and should be looking at ways to serve that population better. The city should be concerned at the prospect of poor passenger revenue coming and reduced ridership from an LRT line that serves residents of the west end of the city poorly. The MSU should also get its priorities straight - I'm not sure it knows what it's actually doing at any given time.

As I argue above, there is economically virtually no reason why the 10 and LRT cannot simply run through Westdale and campus as before, only making less stops, thus serving the rest of the city more efficiently.

Don't worry, A. Smith, I'm not going to agree with you every time. There's no question here, however, that politics is unfortunately playing a very pronounced role in this debate.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 21, 2008 at 14:47:24

Oh it's run like a business, alright. A large monopolistic corporation with a captive customer base and a CEO making out like a bandit. What's not to like?

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2008 at 23:48:40

Two things are needed to correct this situation, the carrot and the stick.

Allow executives (including those who work for the government) to prosper financially when they do a good job, and punish them when they do not.

All human beings react to punishment and reward in basically the same manner, so lets embrace human nature.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2008 at 00:58:04

Highwater, I agree. When I said "business-like", I meant that universities like Mac should be competing for tuition dollars from students. I think we both have different ways of saying we wish the university was not run like some kind of nineteenth-century, dictatorial boarding school (in my own very subjective opinion and personal experience, both as staff and student). This is where the MSU would normally have a role to play in keeping the administration at least somewhat accountable.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2008 at 00:59:59

At any rate, that was the role of the student union at my alma mater on the left coast.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 22, 2008 at 08:56:31

That's the role of student unions everywhere. Unfortunately last year's exec saw their role as supporting the administration in its vendetta against the city and surrounding community. I can't speak for this year's exec.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 23, 2008 at 11:53:11

I'm sorry, but I gotta agree with Mr Smith here, despite my festering rage at how much King George runs Mac like a business, an opinion shared by nearly every McMaster citizen - staff, student, doctor or otherwise I know.

It simply does not make sense to take the fastest, largest capacity bus rout away from the single most important pedestrian-oriented business district in west Hamilton (Westdale Villiage), as well as taking it out of the University, unarguably the largest source of riders at least as far away as King and James. Do people get on for a stop or two and waste time? Sure, but that's true of buses everywhere. The 10, 51 and 1A are frequently full as far away as Queen or James (with mostly students), which makes that a non-issue. Main West, in contrast, is a highway, with few pedestrian attractions comparatively (especially before the university).

Trucks running through campus are a pain, yes. But that's the price of having tons of construction and hyper-wasteful facilities (like the student centre's food court, in which one cannot find a single re-used dish, packaging or utensil. Are kids getting hurt? Yes, and that's tragic, but shouldn't university students learn, at some point, to look both ways before crossing the street?

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By want it back (anonymous) | Posted September 24, 2008 at 23:59:26

We need the B-line service back to transporting students to where they want to go: the heart of McMaster's campus... not some remote bus shelter at Main and Emerson!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 25, 2008 at 13:08:22

Talk to your student union and the people you give your tuition $$ to, and don't let them give you any BS about how it's the 'city's fault'.

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By brodiec (registered) | Posted September 25, 2008 at 14:01:03

What I find odd here is that the LRT or BRT will likely be aligned along Main St anyhow. And no doubt students will be falling over themselves to use their u-pass on a train.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 25, 2008 at 20:16:09

brodiec: "What I find odd here is that the LRT or BRT will likely be aligned along Main St anyhow."

Indeed, for most of the commentators here, that's precisely the problem. We don't want that. What we want is - ideally - for the train to connect Westdale Village and Mac with the downtown core.

brodiec: "And no doubt students will be falling over themselves to use their u-pass on a train."

If those students are on a tight schedule, I wouldn't bet on it. True, it's much more pleasant to take a train compared to a bus, but I'm not sure how many students would be willing to significantly lengthen their commutes to do so.

For my part, I was too busy for that, and any free time I had would have been used more constructively than on a detour train-ride commute down a busy highway. It's not my idea of a pleasure trip.

It is rumored, however, that the city has plans to densify that corridor, which makes the Main route a tad more sensible than otherwise. If the city has no concrete zoning changes planned for Main, or if, like so much else, these plans never materialize, I think we can expect the system from downtown westward to be underused and therefore very expensive for the city to run. Guess those property taxes aren't high enough, that we can afford to throw our money away on expensive, half-empty "rapid" transit "service".

Not that I buy that it's entirely the city's fault. I'm with Ryan in that the politics are very much "tit for tat," back and forth, east/centre v. west/ Dundas.

I'm not on campus anymore, but would be curious to know if/when transit became an MSU issue.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 25, 2008 at 22:54:18

Hi Geoff. The Ainslie Woods/Westdale Secondary Plan included the necessary zoning changes to allow for densification on both Main W, and the commercial area on King W, so the city has done it's part. What's required now are developers with vision so expect it to be a long wait.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 26, 2008 at 04:16:59

highwater - I took a look at the plan, and there's some good stuff in there. When was it drafted?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 26, 2008 at 08:26:16

As far as I know it was completed in 2006. It was a collaborative planning process that involved members of the community as well as the city. I'm not sure to what extent Mac was involved.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 26, 2008 at 22:41:53

Highwater, I love this quote... "What's required now are developers with vision so expect it to be a long wait."

In the private sector, businesses don't have the luxury of spending money recklessly as politicians do. Therefore, they tend to be less visionary and more practical. If you have a problem with this, then you should start your own development company and show us all how it should be done.

If you are correct in knowing your customer, you will make a fortune. Good luck.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 26, 2008 at 23:40:19

I'm in the private sector thank you very much, so I don't need to be lectured to. My partner and I own a small business. I wouldn't be so quick to generalize about the private sector, if I were you. Last time I checked, business people were human. Some of them take risks, some of them don't. Sometimes the risks pay off, sometimes they don't. Talk to any successful business person and you'll usually find someone who has taken risks and failed a number of times.

Anyone who knows anything about Hamilton will know that my remark had to do with the current crop of vision-free developers we are saddled with here. I have no doubt that this will change as Hamilton's fortunes improve, God knows we had bold, ambitious builders and developers in the past, but we've got a bit of a wait ahead of us.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 27, 2008 at 02:09:21

Highwater, according to the city plan (west Hamilton), maximum building heights are limited to ten stories. Why is this? Why can't developers build fifty story buildings if that is what the consumer is demanding?

If you truly want visionary developers to work their magic, then stop allowing politicians to get in their way.

You can't have it both ways, either you embrace freedom and a little chaos, or you embrace safe, boring and beige. Life is about choices, so don't expect great buildings if you also want strict control.

Pick one or the other.

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By frustrated commuter (anonymous) | Posted September 27, 2008 at 11:42:58

In any planning of the future rapid transit line route between McMaster University and Centennial Parkway, planners must ensure that the rapid transit line actually stops on campus. This is where people want to go and this is the reason why a rapid transit line to McMaster University is being proposed in the first place!

I thought this would be obvious, but it appears from the above discussions that the route would run along Main St only. If so, this is a mistake. Ideally, the rapid transit line should have a couple of stops throughout campus (to take people where they want to go). Also, have the line run through Westdale would be a good thing I would think... it's a destination people want to go to as well.

Building rapid transit lines along routes that are inconvenient to where people want to go is not the way to go. If they are built so that they take people to places they want to go to, then the rapid transit will be more greatly utilized and successful.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 27, 2008 at 18:56:57

Couldn't agree more, though the city's plan to densify Main, as highwater suggests, shows they don't have their heads completely in the sand.

On one hand, this vision could become reality with the added investment LRT brings. On the other, if this vision did not take off in a timely fashion with the construction of LRT, the city would be stuck with an expensive, underutilized route, and McMaster and Westdale commuters would be left - relatively speaking - out of the loop.

Without any more concrete action taken to densify Main (either on the part of the city or the university, in the form of student and market housing), or at least to attract interested developers, I've not quite come around to the idea of the Main LRT route.

At any rate, I think there should be some serious debate amongst the city, university, and perhaps prospective investors, student union reps, etc., concerning the relative merits of a Westdale or Main route.

In an ideal world, it would be possible to have the LRT run along Main through downtown, turn left on Longwood or Paisley, go through Westdale village, follow Sterling to campus, exit campus on the west side, and take Cootes Drive to downtown Dundas.

The choice of a Paisley route would prevent the delays that would likely arise from LRT having to share a ROW through the entire Westdale Village area. Following Main until this turn would allow the LRT to service Innovation Park. It would also likely pave the way for some private investment on that stretch of Main west of the 403.

An additional benefit of having LRT run through campus might include the possibility of having less bus routes go to campus, which would work towards Mac's otherwise half-baked idea of a more pedestrianized campus. With this in mind, the city might consider a new bus loop on Longwood somewhere between Main and King, or at the corner of Paisley and Main.

At any rate, I think the possibility of an alternate route to Main should be considered carefully. In order for this to happen, of course, the city would need to engage the university in constructive debate. . .

Anybody here heard of the SFU Surrey campus? Say what you like about Surrey (I know I often do), but there's an example of a city, university, metro transit and private sector working together in relative harmony. None of this suburban campus, ivory tower nonsense. . .

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 27, 2008 at 22:11:15

Paisley is way too narrow to accommodate LRT. Plus with no opportunity for further densification, one of the major benefits of LRT would be lost. As a Westdaler, I would have no problem trekking down to Main to catch LRT. Main has the appropriate width and the potential for commercial and residential development to justify the investment. It would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to change the face of Main W just because some people might be too lazy to walk a couple of extra blocks. A campus loop off Main might work.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 28, 2008 at 23:10:53

Highwater, how did you calculate the return on investment for this LRT route?

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By rail head (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2008 at 09:53:50

What it if it goes in a forsyth between MUMC and that new building, cuts down the middle of campus to scholars rd, turns left and goes to cootes and then comes back to main?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 29, 2008 at 10:12:49

Like Paisley, Forsyth is a narrow, residential street. It was too narrow to safely accommodate the University's construction vehicles. I think it's safe to say it's too narrow to accommodate LRT. And again, being a residential street, there would be no opportunities to realize the economic spin-offs Ryan sites above. LRT belongs on arterial roads that have been designed to accommodate transit, and allow for commercial development.

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By geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2008 at 13:45:39

I don't mean to be a bore, highwater, but in order for a street to be wide enough for LRT, would it need to have more than two lanes?

I agree with what you say, however, concerning the relative economic disadvantage of going through a residential area, even for a short distance.

It would be interesting to see what transpired if LRT actually lured a large amount of private investment to that corner of town. I was walking there myself earlier today - There's not a lot of undeveloped space, so I gather that a lot of very ugly buildings would be coming down. . . Not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2008 at 16:09:55

Ryan, are you telling us that net government income (tax revenue minus outlays) will be higher as a result of increased economic activity resulting from building the LRT?

I doubt that this is the case, but lets assume that you are correct.

The government should then be willing to guarantee lower tax rates for the people of Hamilton, to offset the risk that the taxpayers are taking on. This will ensure that the politicians feel pressure that comes with investing other people's money.

If the LRT can generate real economic expansion, then lower tax rates will more than be offset with higher assessment values.

Another caveat is that once up and running, the LRT should be self funding and all operating costs should be covered by ridership / advertising.


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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 29, 2008 at 23:45:48

Ryan, do you think it helps Hamilton in the long run to rely on other jurisdictions to pay for our LRT?

I understand that we also pay provincial and federal income taxes, and therefore are justified in receiving funding, but I'm pretty sure we will be receiving more than we pay in taxes.

My point is that Hamilton would benefit greatly if we could learn to rely on ourselves more.

In life it's always the things that challenge us that make us stronger and the same would be true for Hamilton's economy.

Do you not see the positive aspects in becoming more self reliant?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 30, 2008 at 10:22:11

Hi Geoff,

I don't mean to be a bore, highwater, but in order for a street to be wide enough for LRT, would it need to have more than two lanes?

I'm not a traffic engineer, and I'm sure turning radii, etc. factor into these kinds of things, but it seems to me that removing a lane of traffic on a two lane, two-way street effectively turns it into a one-way street, so there's traffic flow to consider which would be that much more challenging in an older residential area. Bear in mind also that all the loading docks for the hospital are on Forsyth. Changing Forsyth to one-way would again bring tractor trailers onto narrow residential side streets, and past an elementary school. Been there.

It would be interesting to see what transpired if LRT actually lured a large amount of private investment to that corner of town. I was walking there myself earlier today - There's not a lot of undeveloped space, so I gather that a lot of very ugly buildings would be coming down. . .

I was not part of the Secondary Plan process, but I attended the public information meeting after the plan was complete. You're right. The hope is that the houses and single story commercial on Main will be torn down and replaced by taller buildings featuring street-level retail. The zoning is in place to make this happen, but the city representatives were under no illusions about the economic challenges at the time, but this was a couple of years ago before LRT was on the radar. LRT is exactly the sort of catalyst that could make this vision a reality, so I would be very disappointed to see it re-routed off Main even for a short distance.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted September 30, 2008 at 14:54:11

Ryan, life is about balance and all good things must be paid for, whether that refers to an individual, or a collection of individuals.

If you compare Canada's improving balance sheet with the Canadian dollar, you will see that as our equity has risen, so has our purchasing power.

Contrast this to the USA, where increased debt has been followed by decreased strength in their currency.

The same positive situation can be seen in both Russia and Brazil, where governments have made it their goal to run strong operating surpluses. In both cases, their GDP in (US dollar terms) has risen dramatically.

When Hamilton receives money from other cities in Ontario and Canada, it's the individuals of Hamilton who benefit from this money, not some separate entity known as "Hamilton".

Therefore, it is individuals who become more reliant on other individuals from outside of Hamilton to pay for what they consume.

If you could explain more fully the problems you see with this analogy, I would appreciate it.

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By Melville (anonymous) | Posted September 30, 2008 at 16:35:13

Its nice and all for the reasons above, but I've stopped my bus passes and just decided to bring the car and park in zone 6 - at least there's a shuttle there.

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