Comment 111199

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted April 29, 2015 at 12:07:57

Chris,

Thanks very much for producing such a detailed, data driven analysis of what has happened to Hamilton's LRT planning and presenting us with some options for future success.

Thanks especially for re-analyzing the passenger figures which show that, despite Dixon's unverifialble claims, even the 20% lower 2009 passenger figures show Hamilton's B-line LRT would have excellent per km performance compared with other systems. And, as I point out below, even the current passenger figures are certainly underestimates and the woefully inadequate capacity means there is huge unmet demand, even before densification adds new residents and jobs along the line.

I'd just like to add a bit more background.

First, until the City's Rapid Transit Office was effectively shut down in mid 2011, they were already beginning detailed planning for A-line LRT. The preferred to goal was to build B-line LRT along the full route, and begin building the A-line BRT shortly afterwards (or even overlapping in construction). This was consistent with the 2007 promise and would have achieved some of the network and city-uniting goals you wanted. Council and most of the public have forgotten that B-line LRT AND A-line BRT was the plan!

Secondly, I agree that lack of data is a real problem. HSR measures passengers very infrequently, and when they do they rely on people with clickers. If all users (especially student and senior pass users) were required to tap a presto card the data would be essentially real time and very accurate. During the bus-lane debate we heard that ridership has grown 20% on the Main/King corridor in the last 5 years. This is the only part of the system to show significant growth and will soon account for half the passengers in the entire HSR network. And the growth would likely have been much higher if there was sufficient capacity (buses are jam packed during rush hour).

Thirdly, staff did do an associated land use study to prepare for densification within 400m each side of the B-line. I participated in design charette on densification around King and Dundurn that showed the huge potential for increasing density and economic activity. Similar design visioning was carried out for other nodes.

Finally, the single most important thing for the city to do is reform the Rapid Transit office so there are staff actually working on the project. Clearly, there is much to be done and we've experienced a vacuum since late 2011. No public consultations have taken place, no one responds to FUD in the media and there is no one to liaise effectively with the province and metrolinx.

Recent funding announcements for LRT and GO have shown that many of the excuses given by Council and some staff for doing nothing on the LRT file were false.

Other municipalities did get full funding of capital costs for even more expensive projects, they did not have to choose between GO improvements and LRT (Hamilton is getting neither for the foreseeable future) and strong political leadership and support for LRT did work better than the wait patiently, and grumble from time to time approach of Hamilton's Council.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-04-29 12:13:45

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