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Monday, July 25, 2016

On LRT- The 1 Billion, Two Hundred Million Dollar Question

Sitting across the table from me, Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead sifts through a myriad of reports and data sources, related to LRT.

The Councillor  goes to great lengths to demonstrate why LRT as envisioned conceptually, fails the acid test once the data and all else is considered.

Whitehead's case is well researched.

Armed with binders worth of reports, and having gone  through the tedious excersise of cross referencing materials, following the numbers and shaking out the information, the councillor struggles with trying to make the current direction make sense.

"It's important we get this right." Whitehead says. "We're only going to get one kick at something like this, and we need to make sure it's right."

Methodically, the councillor takes me through a checklist of pre-conditions for LRT to succeed in Hamilton.  His list includes things like: 
  • need of destination to destination spine,
  • need for park and ride provisions
  • LRT as a response to a congestion problem- (which the councillor submits that Hamilton does not have)
  • need to incorporate burst lines as feeders 
  • need to increase ridership during peak hours to 2000, rather than the 1100 which the councilor submits begs riders off of lines that will continue to exist, thus seemingly making the 1100 number seem inflated or otherwise unreliable. Moreover, the councilor submits that even if we were to accept the 1100 number, it will still not be enough to make LRT self sustaining.
  • need to land assemble around the stations- which Hamilton is not doing. 
  • need for growing population and job centres around the stations

all of which the councillor has found problematic and barriers to success.

The councillor goes on to discuss the King street vs. Main street option and comes up empty when trying to find a compelling reason for King over Main. The Councillor talks about how there are significantly less heritage buildings to contend with in a Main street implementation verse a King, and how building a bridge as part of the King street option (at a cost of 30 million) would be unnecessary over a Main street approach. He also points out that King street is 500 meters longer, which drives out a cost of 30 million. He submits that King Street is plagued with a pinch point at the International Village with inadequate width to avoid traffic obstructions. 

Whitehead knows some are trying to label him an obstructionist. He points to his responsibility to excersize due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers of Hamilton; especially in light of anticipated ongoing costs.   He knows that a 1 Billion dollar offering weighs heavily on the discussion. So, the Councillor continues to look for a way to make it work, so that it makes sense for Hamiltonians.

But his efforts take him to a summary conclusion: two hundred million additional dollars over the next 10 years will have to be injected in order to address the pre-conditions that he has found necessary for LRT to have a chance of success. Much of the two hundred million, if not all, must be used to address the list of criteria referenced above. And this begs a further question as to whether LRT is, in fact, the best way to proceed. 

The councillor has definitely laboured over this matter and can't be accused of not doing his homework.  He has gone as far as creating a detailed webpage in which he shares his conclusions and sources. It can be found by clicking here. 

The Hamiltonian encourages our readers to read the webpage in its entirety and draw your own conclusions as to the councillor's research and arguments.

In the interim, Clr. Whitehead's arguments suggest that to get it right, LRT is really a 1 Billion, 2 hundred thousand dollar expenditure, if Hamilton is to increase its chances of making LRT work. And with that, the question is raised as to whether there will be a appetite to throw more money at the issue, or whether it is best to revisit the whole mode and design.

Teresa DiFalco
Publisher, The Hamiltonian

Thanks to Clr. Whitehead for engaging with Hamiltonians via The Hamiltonian.

Note: The Hamiltonian will not post any comments that are disrespectful or otherwise unprofessional against the Councillor or others. Please debate the issues respectfully. 

43 comments:

  1. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

    Good on Whitehead for unraveling this. It's about time someone took the blanket off this puppy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

    I think the 1 billion is a bad idea, let alone throwing another 200 K at it. Time to go back to the drawing board and come up with something that makes sense. Mayor, let it go!

    ReplyDelete
  3. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

    "Whitehead's case is well researched" how do you know that? oh right, hes "Armed with binders worth of reports"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Terry is probably right - TODAY. His logic is the same that didn't reserve room on Centennial that would have obviated the need for the Red Hill Creek Parkway; the same thinking that saw past councils give up the right of ways and nodes that could have allowed a subway; the same thinking that postponed needed infrastructure repairs - you know, pay me now or pay me a lot more later.

    One thing is sure. If we don't go with LRT, we will not need it. Downtown will decay, greenfield pressure will increase, our population and commercial infrastructure won't grow.

    There is no reason to believe that The Service Economy will not continue to be the new backbone of Hamilton's economic future, We are already a centre of excellence in health-care and education. If we want those sectors to grow we need to make transportation an integral part of our plans for growth.

    We don't have gridlock now (very often), but if we are to prosper we need to add commercial assessment. That just won't happen unless there is growth in the core.

    Sometimes slogans are correct. "Failing to plan is planning to fail."

    No LRT means less growth in the core of Hamilton.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "centre of excellence in health-care"? According to who? Compared to what? "The same thinking that postponed needed infrastructure repairs" he said while advocating exactly that, compounding the issue, while failing to address it. Growth in the core is occurring now, commercial assessments on the increase, without help from light rail. That will change once construction starts, heaven help those on the route, because they wont be getting any assistance from advocates.

      Delete
    2. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

      "That will change once construction starts, heaven help those on the route, because they wont be getting any assistance from advocates" sure they will. many of the advocates live on the lrt corridor. many work on the corridor many shop and spend money on the corridor. and so will tens of thousands of new residents that will move into refurbished or rebuilt r modernized or brand new housing along the corridor. development that wouldnt happen without the lrt, or development that MIGHT have happened without lrt, but would have taken thirty years IF it did happen without the natural economic boost of lrt. the fast tracked time shifted economic benefits EVERYONE except a dwindling few accepts will happen with lrt.

      Delete
    3. AnonymousJuly 26, 2016

      Do you really think we are a centre of excellence. Last i heard out wait times for some critical treatments were terrible.

      Delete
  5. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

    Council has routinely short-changed the HSR for the last 20-plus years. Remove rapid transit from the picture — in order to simply meet the aims of the Transportation Master Plan, the City should be increasing its HSR spend by tens of millions a year.

    HSR Director Don Hull, 2010:

    Transit director Don Hull hopes to start using federal gas tax funds to end overcrowding that is frequently leaving people behind at bus stops.

    Hamilton is only one of two large cities which do not use federal gas tax monies for transit. Hull is calling for a shift of $3 million of these funds – out of the city’s $32 million annual allocation – to increase service on some HSR routes and take an initial step towards meeting the approved objectives of the city’s master transportation plan – but a council decision last week means no changes are likely before late 2011.

    Hull notes new spending on the HSR over the last decade has been “marginal” and what has taken place has come entirely from senior levels of government. He told councillors last week that Hamilton really needs to add $80 million a year to the HSR budget to achieve the ridership levels of cities like Ottawa and meet the goals of council’s approved ridership goals.

    http://hamiltoncatch.org/view_article.php?id=811

    ReplyDelete
  6. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

    A proposal to fix problems with HSR service is on hold until next year. Transit director Don Hull hopes to start using federal gas tax funds to end overcrowding that is frequently leaving people behind at bus stops.

    Hamilton is only one of two large cities which do not use federal gas tax monies for transit. Hull is calling for a shift of $3 million of these funds – out of the city’s $32 million annual allocation – to increase service on some HSR routes and take an initial step towards meeting the approved objectives of the city’s master transportation plan – but a council decision last week means no changes are likely before late 2011.

    Hull notes new spending on the HSR over the last decade has been “marginal” and what has taken place has come entirely from senior levels of government. He told councillors last week that Hamilton really needs to add $80 million a year to the HSR budget to achieve the ridership levels of cities like Ottawa and meet the goals of council’s approved ridership goals.

    “$30 million is just what it would take over the next five years to keep moving towards the Transportation Master Plan,” he explained. “The $3 million that we’re asking for in alternative to the $30 million is simply what we feel we need in the very short term to prevent the public satisfaction with this program from deteriorating.”

    Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson suggested the $3 million was Hull’s “real pie in the sky wish list”, but the transit director strongly defended the financial need to bolster existing HSR routes and get back to earlier service levels that have gone downhill in the face of growing pressures.

    “We carry hundreds of thousands of frail, elderly and disabled on the conventional transit system every year. Those people take a lot more time to board and alight safely,” Hull responded. “I stand firmly behind that we need this $3 million just to sustain our permanent position in the community with respect to the current satisfaction level of the transit program.”

    Ferguson noted the proposed priority service changes were all in the former city of Hamilton, but the federal gas taxes are currently being used for projects across the entire city.

    “I didn’t see anything in the route enhancements in the suburban municipalities,” he noted. “It’s kind of a neat way to move $3 million from capital in the air, and then replenish the capital by going out to all municipalities, and yet the suburban municipalities aren’t benefitting at all.”

    Waterdown councillor Margaret McCarthy suggested more transit is needed in her ward, and Dave Mitchell pointed to rising demands in Binbrook. Hull replied that those requests are among “three or four hundred items on the list” that HSR would like to address if it had more funds.

    “We simply cut the list off at $3 million. There’s $30 million worth of requested enhancements behind the scenes here.”


    http://hamiltoncatch.org/view_article.php?id=811

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

      Six years ago: "Hamilton really needs to add $80 million a year to the HSR budget to achieve the ridership levels of cities like Ottawa and meet the goals of council’s approved ridership goals."

      City-wide, HSR ridership in 2011 was 21.88M.
      City-wide, HSR ridership in 2015 was 21.86M.

      Since the HSR Director's warning in August 2010, what motions has Clr Whitehead introduced (or seconded, or supported) to increase municipal investment in the HSR so that the council can achieve its stated ridership ambitions (ie. 80-100 rides per capita by 2025)?

      Delete
    2. AnonymousJuly 26, 2016

      So we are agreed, Investment in trasnit has been crappy. That accounts for why the ridership is dismal...which also means that we are not ready for LRT.

      Delete
    3. AnonymousJuly 26, 2016

      no we dont agree. transit investment has been crappy. so there is a huge latent demand for an existing service to be delivered to a already large customer base. a customer base that is growing rapidly and will grow ever more rapidly each year. a customer base which is deserving of upgrades and wil only get them with lrt. ridership along the king corridor is already sufficient to put hamilton into successful lrt ridership territory. this is backed up in dr higgins report.

      Delete
    4. AnonymousJuly 30, 2016

      David Dixon, 2015: "Transit Ridership - The most recent ridership counts for the Main-King-Queenston corridor suggest that transit ridership along the corridor has grown by approximately 20% over five years (2009 to 2014), or an average of about 4% per year. Ridership in the Main-King-Queenston corridor accounts for approximately 42% of the system wide ridership. Between 2009 and 2013 transit ridership across the HSR system grew by 4% (from 20,930,770 to 21,817,842), an average of approximately 1% per year. Based on the data, the Main-King-Queenston corridor carries a significant proportion of transit ridership in the City and ridership in this corridor is growing at a faster rate than the overall system. There is evidence that, from a transit ridership perspective, greater investment in this corridor is warranted."

      http://hamilton.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/jbslt0oqdhdkuzabunvldcib/5676707302016095051973.PDF

      Ridership is strongest on the B-Line corridor, and it ist growing at four times the city-wide average even under sub-optimal conditions. If ridership is dismal, it is dismal on feeder routes, as has historically been the case. Which is why the insistence that these same routes are naturals for conversion to rapid transit is not regarded as a particularly credible position.

      Delete
    5. AnonymousJuly 30, 2016

      Public Works Report PW11079g
      Table 1 - Transportation Master Plan Targets (2001 reality/2011 reality/2011 target/2021-2031 target)

      Share of daily trips made by single occupant
      drivers: 68% / 67% / 58% / 52%

      Share of daily trips made by using municipal transit:
      5% / 7% / 9% / 12%

      Annual transit rides per capita: 40 / 45.1 / 60 / 80-100

      http://hamilton.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/jbslt0oqdhdkuzabunvldcib/5676707302016095051973.PDF

      It is abundantly clear that council has been derelict in implementation of official plans, and that municipal investment in the HSR will need to double in order for the City to achieve its stated vision for the city's transportation system.

      Delete
  7. Hamiltonian AdminJuly 25, 2016

    Note: Two comments were removed from this thread. These comments sought to link to opinions allegedly belonging to others. There is no verification that that is the case, nor is permission in place to use the opinion- if it is true.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

      If you're interested in substantiating a claim like "well researched," you might want to reach out to one of the key sources of Clr Whitehead's report:

      http://mitl.mcmaster.ca/team/dr-christopher-higgins
      http://www.science.mcmaster.ca/geo/people/postdoc/higgins.html
      https://twitter.com/higgicd/status/757555140136165376

      Delete
    2. Hamiltonian AdminJuly 25, 2016

      Thanks for your suggestion. We have done so in the past and currently.

      Delete
    3. facts and truth are important? You are unique in this respect compared to others who regularly cover the conversation. Probably going to inhibit some though....

      Delete
    4. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

      "facts and truth are important?" dr higgins says about councillor whiteheads report and his use of dr higgins paper, and i quote "...the 'evidence' looks to be cherry-picked for maximum effect rather than to present a balanced analysis (much to my disappointment, this applies to the very small snippets of my work used throughout)." have you read the other comments dr higgins made about councilor whiteheads report? they arent kind.

      Delete
    5. yes I did, and found them subjective and petty. I can appreciate why you admire Dr.Higgins, he appears to make an effective role model for the movement.

      Delete
    6. AnonymousJuly 26, 2016

      but did you get the part where dr higgins says councilor whitehead isnt using dr higgins data or conclusions properly? that cant be subjective cause dr higgins wrote the thesis councillor whitehead used. or misused according to the author, dr higgins.

      Delete
    7. wrong again, it can be subjective, and in my opinion, it is. Higgins is expressing his feelings, his opinion, no more.

      Delete
    8. AnonymousJuly 27, 2016

      doctor higgins said "(much to my disappointment, this applies to the very small snippets of my work used throughout)." not subjective. fact.

      Delete
    9. your difficulty differentiating between fact and opinion is already well established, but thank-you for providing everyone with frequent reminders.

      Delete
    10. lets make it clear: you think you know what doctor higgins is saying in his thesis than doctor higgins? ok.

      Delete
    11. let's be clear, you are the only one to quote Higgins, and only you believe his opinions are facts.

      Delete
  8. I urge the mayor of Hamilton to take a step back and look at the facts. This should not be a matter of putting a political stamp on an idea. LRT is not the short, medium or longer term solution for Hamilton. You need something much more flexible. So far, Whitehead is making some very good arguments.

    Had Prof. Higgins replied to TH's questions yet? That would be interesting.
    Sorce

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

      yes. he has. you will not like hsi response.

      Delete
    2. no he has not, but don't let that get in the way of your crusade. Where do you get your intel?

      Delete
    3. Hamiltonian AdminJuly 26, 2016

      Dr. Higgins indicated that he will be in a position to respond to the questions we posed to him, in September. We will follow up with him then.

      Delete
  9. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

    "King Street and Bay Street during the morning rush hour:
    • 3 general purpose lanes - a volume of approximately 1,190 vehicles
    • 1 Transit-Only-Lane - approximately 1,104 passengers

    1 lane dedicated to transit can be as effective in moving people as 2-3 general vehicle lanes."

    http://hamilton.siretechnologies.com/sirepub/cache/2/tigrdnwtexzrghs4xjsn2apj/5677507252016015634528.PDF

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hamilton is not ready for LRT. It works for other cities because it is implemented to service the entire city. From what I understand, LRT will only service the downtown core. Speaking about the downtown core - what is up with that? I have heard now for decades that we are revamping the downtown core, yet everytime I am lured into it, it only looks worse. At least Whitehead had the guts to lay the issues on the line and give us all something to think about. I cringe to think if this goes through what it will do to our city, taxes and our access accross the city. I agree with some of the earlier comments about revisiting increasing our bus services. Some ares since amalgamation still have no bus services. To me this is a huge issue, and continues to divide our city. How the heck are people from our once smaller towns supose to feel apart of Hamilton when we don't even service them. I personally don't believe our current administration (Mayor and Councillors) have what it takes to bring our city to where it needs to be. With that being said, I would support Clr Whitehead in the mix of a brand new administration for his willingness to engage and be transparent with the ratepayers. I look forward to reading as many reports as I can find on this issue. Donna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

      "From what I understand, LRT will only service the downtown core.." thats a pretty big ack of understanding. the lrt starts at queenston, goes to mac. hundreds of thousands of people live within the proposed service line. not the entire city, but population wise and area wise, a HUGE piece of it.

      Delete
    2. AnonymousJuly 25, 2016

      so who is going to pay for empty buses to binbrook or mount hope? does donna understand residents of glanbrook stoney creek and ancaster have rejected improved hsr in the last two years alone? do you know some west mountain residents are campaigning to have the hsr routes and stops REMOVED from their area cause they dont use them and dont ,ike the people that do? you should google transit issues in hamilton before you start campaigning for bus service flamborough doesnt want.

      Delete
  11. My advice to Clr. Whitehead is to stay the course and be persistent and demanding in having the right conversations. Get answers to critical questions, even if it causes political embarrassment for some councillors who have already made up their minds, blindly it seems. Keep going Clr. Whitehead. Don't back down until we get clear answers and choose the best option for Hamilton; even if it is not LRT
    Sorce

    ReplyDelete
  12. AnonymousJuly 26, 2016

    Flashback to December 2010.

    "our Light Rail Project… has been studied and discussed for many years. It is a project which has significant Federal and Provincial support, the largest infrastructure investment this Region has seen from senior levels of Government.

    The choices you make will have a lasting impact. A decision to proceed will curb urban sprawl, increase urban intensification, lessen automobile congestion, reduce road construction costs and preserve neighbourhoods, encourage investment both in development and jobs, both short term and long term, enhance the quality of life in our communities, and keep us on the leading edge of innovation.

    A failure to move forward will doom us to pressure for increased urban sprawl, to the need to attempt to build a larger and more costly road system than we would need (if indeed it were even possible), to become a community that would look more like the GTA with its gridlock, to less intensification, to end up being a community less attractive to investment and job creation, and to be seen as a community which failed to manage it growth and lost the economic vitality and the quality of life which we all seek to preserve.

    Yes, this will be a transformational Council, one way or the other. I have every confidence that you will be the Council whose legacy will be recorded as the one that, in the tradition of this Region, chose the path to move us ahead, that had a vision of what the future needed, and that left our children and grandchildren the community they deserve."

    – Ken Seiling, Chair of Waterloo Region

    ReplyDelete
  13. AnonymousJuly 26, 2016

    Excellent imagination. lol

    ReplyDelete
  14. AnonymousJuly 26, 2016

    Councillor Whitehead now wants *more* B-Line LRT. Hope that clarifies things for everyone.

    https://twitter.com/JoeyColeman/status/758019911687999489

    https://twitter.com/JoeyColeman/status/758022510835273728

    ReplyDelete
  15. AnonymousJuly 26, 2016

    wow. so even patrick brown and the provincial tories say they would build an lrt in hamilton. to see the look on the faces at the flamborough c of c.

    ReplyDelete
  16. AnonymousJuly 30, 2016

    "need for park and ride provisions"

    Yes, you often hear people say that the reason they don't take the HSR is because they can't park their car near a bus stop. Respectfully, somewhat overblown. Especially if your contention is that there is no congestion, which presumably means that it's as easy for someone to drive to a destination on the line than park across town and take transit there and back.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "The city will need to build a new home for buses soon, even if it doesn't cost the originally estimated $200 million, said HSR operations head Murray Hill."

    http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6792715-hamilton-council-still-seeks-to-make-transit-a-blast-for-residents/

    I'm sure that the report takes this reality into account, yes?

    ReplyDelete
  18. January 2015
    “What would it take for public transit staff to say no to bus lanes? Would it be short of a nuclear bomb going off?" – Terry Whitehead

    July 2016
    “A Hamilton Mountain councillor has released a 58-page report Monday that he says boosts his case for bus rapid transit (BRT) over light rail transit (LRT).… Whitehead, who represents Ward 8, says he'd rather see A and B line BRT — a system that like LRT, also includes dedicated transit lanes, but doesn't involve rails.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/terry-whitehead-lrt-1.3693863

    ReplyDelete
  19. Clr Whitehead's behaviour at council meetings, disdain for process (and Roberts Rules) and cavalier wasting of staff time in service of his ego polishing continues to sink morale at City Hall. Today's display was a quease-inducing parade of self-regard and pantomime diligence, wasting staff's time when he wasn't simply belittling them. And Clrs Skelly (who killed public mics at 5 minutes, let her ward neighbour filibuster for 90+ minutes, gleefully discarding the 5 minute comment cycle) and Partridge (like Whitehead, snippy/snarky with staff) were similarly unmeritorious.

    Hansard

    ReplyDelete

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