Hamilton City Manager Janette Smith says Hamilton will continue to need the construction of “higher order transit” in the near future as the city grows; even if there is a decrease in public transit ridership in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19.
Smith’s comments came in response to a series of questions from Hamilton Chamber of Commerce CEO Kevin Loomis during a video conference interview on May 11. Smith is asked about the Task Force at 31:30.
Smith was one of five members of the province Hamilton Transportation Task Force which was hastily created by Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative Government after they unexpectedly cancelled Hamilton’s B-Line Light Rail Transit project in December.
The Task Force, which met over a period of two months, was tasked with making recommendations of where to spend $1-billion the province says it is committing to transportation in Hamilton. [It remains murky what that commitment actually entails]
“The Task Force’s preference is for an intra-city higher-order transit project that addresses the City of Hamilton’s transportation needs such as current and future demand and congestion.”
The Task Force did not firmly commit to any project providing an overview of possibilities which were already known and have been long debated in Hamilton.
The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is leading the largest coalition of business and community groups in Hamilton’s history pushing for a resumption of the tender for the B-Line LRT project. Mayor Fred Eisenberger is speaking about finding federal funding for the project, the federal government is stating that it is reviewing the Hamilton B-Line LRT for funding; however, the funding model for transit infrastructure prior to COVID has been a cost sharing arrangement with municipal financial contribution.
Smith says LRT is one of the projects the City is putting forth to the federal government for any stimulus projects that provincial or federal government launch as part of COVID recovery initiatives.
The City has other public transit capital requests already submitted including requests for funds to build a new Hamilton Street Railway bus garage and more buses.
“COVID doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be investing in something like LRT”, said Smith.
Smith states there are questions about how COVID will impact Hamilton’s population growth projections. “Will it slow down?”, Smith said, answering her own question with “I still think more people will come. Hamilton is a desirable place to live”.
“We may not have huge congestion right now, but we will has more and more people come”, says Smith. “To move people around more effectively, we need transit”.
Production Details v. 1.0.1 First published: May 19, 2020 Last edited: May 19, 2020 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version v. 1.0.1 change to front page excerpt to due to multiple contraction words in original version.
how about the city fix our road conditions nobody ever talks about that !!
if you don’t mind get in your car drive on Beach road Barton Street strathern and parts of Burlington Street.
I hope you have an expensive car… I’m being sarcastic but nevertheless..
Thanks for the comment.
Hamilton’s infrastructure deficit is a terrible problem. Many of our roadways are overbuilt for demand, reflecting a time when Hamilton was an industrial powerhouse.
We have to address our roads for sure, both by getting better quality work when they are repaved, but also by decreasing the amount of roadway we are maintaining in places.
In terms of higher order transit, it is much more cost-efficient, especially overtime than roadways. A healthy city has both good roads where needed, and great transit in higher density areas.
Hamilton needs to do both, and we need to do better now.
I would suggest to maximize the connection from the airport/downtown to the neighboring cities, such as Burlington, Oakville and St. Catherine by increased train service according to the needs during the day. Alternatively, if the volume does not justify running trains during the day, regular shuttle bus service, say every 30 minutes, would encourage people to use public transport instead of driving. Within the downtown area, the city can study the experience of LRT vehicles overseas, without fixed overhead line infrastructures and rail installation. With the advance in battery capability, a fully charged light rail vehicle can travel a 60 km route without any charging station in between the terminus. This should mean reduced capital investment.
Thank you for joining the discussion, these are good points, and I hope to add a bit to them in response.
We need better transit connections across the Greater Toronto Area.
Much of this is chicken/egg.
One of the challenges is that we don’t have many areas of concentrated destinations which support high frequency transit.
Anything longer than 15 minute frequency is not convenient enough; as you have to plan your trips around transit times.
I enjoyed taking transportation engineering this past year at UofT exactly because of how challenging determining how to achieve good transportation is.
The overseas automated buses, (LRT involves rails, rails provide significant operational costs services and improved reliability) looked good in controlled environments of testing. However, once put into real-world trials, they’ve suffered breakdowns, collisions, and other challenges which will take time to address.
Battery technology will need to advance significantly to be able to replace overhead lines. Batteries take up space, and to be able to operate a train on battery for sixteen hours is not possible with any foreseeable battery technology due to space and weight constraints. (As batteries take up more space, available seating for passengers decreases. Increasing the height of a LRT vehicle means a larger tunnel and increased height for maintenance facilities). Charging or switching batteries increases operating costs, if trains need to be temporarily out of service for battery charging / switching, then the number of transit units needed to operate the line increases, thus an increase to capital costs.
I remember when I first opened the engineering textbook and looked at all the (seemingly ridiculous) complex formulas – I thought, heck I take transit all the time and I don’t need an engineering degree to figure out how to schedule buses, and calculate run times. Once I started to learn the formulas and their purposes, I began to realize this all is way much more complex than it appears.
Perhaps investing in electric technology(instead of gas busses). Providing the large amount of provincial money hasn’t been wasted on LRT(the b-line runs fine) electric vehicles produce far less(if any)carbon emissions and the money saved on gas could be put to the electricity expense. And maybe save money for transit in the long run
The City is looking into electric buses. The technology is not yet at the stage where electric buses are cost-effective. Hybrids have worked okay in Hamilton, but at a higher operating expense than the natural gas bus fleet. Hamilton Street Railway buses can be on the road for up to 20 hours in a day.
As for saving money in the long-run, LRT offers the lowest operating cost; it does carry a higher capital cost to build.
LRT works best where there is high demand, pre-COVID projections showed that demand exists. (One can reasonably question what is next for public transit, as we can question what is next for everything).
As for the B-Line running fine, there are serious issues of delay, capacity, and the resulting unreliability problems from those issues.
Higher order transit is needed to meet demand, significantly decrease delays, and to improve capacity to prevent bypassing of passengers.