Ward 2 Hamilton City Councillor Jason Farr says Metrolinx should resume full bus service on its Route 16 QEW Express route.
Farr is moving a motion at Hamilton City Council’s Public Works Committee next week to have Council formally call on Metrolinx to resume full service on the route, which was suspended (with the exception of one very late night trip from Hamilton to Toronto Union Station) due to COVID.
Hamilton City Council significantly cut back local transit service offered by the Hamilton Street Railway, and continues to offer drastically reduced HSR service at modified summer service levels. The provincial and federal government have provided Hamilton City Council with $17,211,723 in Phase I funding. Council has no plans to reverse service reductions on the HSR.
Presently, GO Transit is offering four trains out of Hamilton during the weekday morning peak period, and four train trips to Hamilton from Toronto Union Station.
During the remainder of the day, and on weekends, Metrolinx’s runs a hourly bus service from the Hunter Street GO Station to Aldershot GO to connect with the Lakeshore West train.
In his motion, Farr claims that the bus link is problematic for persons with mobility difficulties. Farr writes “accessibility is a troubling issue for passengers that can only be accommodated on the much smaller footprint lower-level of the bus (the more spacious upper level is inaccessible to many passengers who are disabled, elderly or wanting to keep a close eye on luggage that can only be stored on the lower level)”
Metrolinx uses the same double-decker buses for the QEW bus service.
Farr states Metrolinx should provide a full resumption at the “at the service level observed prior to April 8, 2020”.
He has made no statements to resume HSR service at the levels prior to Council’s cuts in March.
Production Details v. 1.0.0 First published: October 14, 2020 Last edited: October 14, 2020 Author: Joey Coleman Edit Record v. 1.0.0 original version
I’d love to see the express buses restored some day, but not now. Increased travel between two Covid-19 hotspots is not a good idea.
I hope Farr isn’t responding to pressure from alt-right groups or anti-maskers wanting to move more freely. His comments about the double decker buses don’t make sense. He obviously hasn’t much knowledge or insight into accessibility.
I’ve navigated public transit on crutches and with a leg brace, and find the double decker buses far more accessible than the single deckers. The doors are close to street level, and there is a retractable ramp for wheelchairs. The lower level is reconfigurable. To allow social distancing, the seats have been moved farther apart, and plexiglass dividers have been installed between seats on many buses.
The single decker buses have three steps at the entrance. Wheelchair users have to enter via a retractable lift that rarely works. Seats are closer together and there are no plexiglass dividers. Because of Covid-19 restrictions, the first three rows are blocked off with bars and chains. These used to be the “accessible” seats for disabled passengers, but now they’re a hazard for visually impaired riders.
Even if Farr is sincere in his concern, this is not the time to restore the express buses. Maybe he’s just being realistic and starting the process early, knowing how slowly governments move.