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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Episode 9 of "As Hamilton Twists and Turns"

In this episode of As Hamilton Twists and Turns, "the one with the extra $200 million", we find Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead releasing a web site  in support of his conclusion that LRT in Hamilton requires an additional injection of 200 million over 10 years, if it is to have a chance of succeeding. The implication being, that an alternative model may need to be considered.

Whitehead's conclusions, which include some references to the work of Dr. Chris Higgins, causes Higgins to react, taking to twitter and releasing a critique, which apparently was initially meant for Howard Rabb, who assisted Clr. Whitehead.  Some deemed Higgins' tweet to be timely, commending him for his assertions around Whitehead's references in his materials, while others alleged that Higgins' tweet was in poor form. Higgins himself expressed frustration at his reports not being fully read or understood by some. 

In the mix, Ryan McGreal, a known LRT advocate issues a media release claiming that it's full stream ahead for LRT in Hamilton after the provincial conservative leadership pledged that it would honour the 1 Billion dollar investment, should they take power. 

Meanwhile Mayor Eisenberger took issue with Clr. Whitehead's work, claiming the Clr. was asking questions he already knew the answers to, or otherwise knew that  answers would be forthcoming, and was mis-apprehending the complexity of the issue. The Mayor ignored Member of Parliament Bob Bratina's comments via The Hamiltonian, that the province would be better off expediting construction of a Stoney Creek GO station and implement all-day service.

The mayor cited having received 1202 letters/calls/emails supportive of LRT, while receiving 55 in opposition. However, with approximately 366,000 eligible voters registered in the last municipal election, the quantum cited may serve as an inkling.

Has Clr. Whitehead hit a nerve or two, or is the Mayor's assertions in this regard correct? Will Whitehead back down or is the Clr. just getting started?  What do some of the other councillors who are not firmly in the LRT corner, think of Whitehead's work? Will the Mayor continue to ignore advice from M.P. Bratina ? Is LRT poised to transform our city and bring it into modernity, or will it be a white elephant that will plague us and future generations. 

All this and more as As Hamilton Twists and Turns continues....

Fade out with images of Whitehead with his arms crossed, looking confidently into the camera, Eisenberger at a podium making a point with gusto, Bob Bratina on The Hamiltonian reading the discourse with smirk on his face, and Clr. Donna Skelly reading a report with a troubled look on hers. 

30 comments:

  1. Cost to upgrade rail network to enable all-day GO Train service for Hamilton: $2 billion.

    Cost to construct West Harbour GO Station: $58 million.
    GO Transit’s forecast daily ridership for West Harbour GO Station (2031): 450

    Cost to construct and extend service to Centennial GO Station: $150 million
    GO Transit’s projected daily ridership for Centennial GO Station (2031): 150

    $208 million capital investment to serve a daily GO Train ridership of 600 commuters = $346,667 per passenger.

    http://www.hamiltonnews.com/news/hamilton-on-the-go/
    http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/projectevaluation/studies/GO_Transit_Rail_Parking_and_Station_Access_Plan_EN.pdf

    ReplyDelete
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    1. $150M capital investment to serve a daily Centennial GO Train ridership of 150 commuters = $1M per passenger

      Average lifetime earnings for Canadians (2007): $661,000

      http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11f0027m/2010062/t030-eng.htm

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    2. $150M capital investment to serve a daily Centennial GO Train ridership of 150 commuters = $1M per passenger @ $25 to Union Station and back for 260 weekdays a year = capital investment recouped after 154 years.

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  2. Keep pressing Terry. Squeeze the truth out.

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  3. "[Whitehead’s] conclusion that LRT in Hamilton requires an additional injection of 200 million over 10 years, if it is to have a chance of succeeding"

    Hamilton Spectator:

    "Coun. Terry Whitehead also supported renewed emphasis on building the greater transit network… Technically, the city already has a 10-year strategy designed to create express bus service along parts of the BLAST routes — but it depends on an unfunded plan to build a $200-million new garage. 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/

    So substantial capital costs are unavoidable whether you favour LRT, BRT, investment in city-wide conventional bus service or a combination of the three.

    The only way the City will avoid the $200M-ish price tag is if they don't add any more buses to the network, and just enhance service by taking buses off low-performing cash-bleeding routes and adding them to high-performing revenue generating routes.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The City is supposed to spend an additional $50M in service expenditures solely in order to meet the objectives laid out in David Dixon’s 10-year strategy — and that’s just the portion that he considered “funded” (in other words, he was banking in the tax levies), adding a mere 45 buses over 10 years. Which would still require the construction of a new storage & maintenance facility. By squashing said facility, council eliminates the political headache of tax levies but also ensures that municipal transit remains on the same plateau it has been for the last 20 years.

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    2. If the City hopes to reach the Transportation Master Plan’s target of 80-100 rides per capita, the HSR should be adding 15 buses into service annually. The $50M expansion plan described in the Ten Year Transit Strategy doesn’t even get the HSR a third of the way there. Council’s transit spend should be three times the size. Realistically, then, even without rapid transit, the City should be spending $10M annually over & above Dixon’s plan, or $150M in a ten-year tranche. So the City would spend all of its its $10M in annual provincial gas tax revenues and add $5M of its $25M annual federal gas tax revenues, up from the $2M it currently spends on transit. Up it to it $8M annually and you’re at $200M after 10 years. Throw in the $50M in tax levies proposed by David Dixon's 10-year plan and you're at $200M.

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    3. CORRECTION: Throw in the $50M in tax levies proposed by David Dixon's 10-year plan and you're at $250M.

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  4. "the one with the extra $200,000.00"

    I believe that's pronounced "200 thousand dollars"

    - Dr. Evil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hamiltonian AdminAugust 05, 2016

      Thanks. Corrected.

      Delete
  5. Dr.Higgins will survive regardless of how this unfolds. Fred is getting used to failure and will likely be able to roll with the punches.

    My concern is for those who have framed this in an "LRT or nothing" context, investing their own reputations on very narrow, extremely limited, personal ideology. How do they overcome such epic disappointment?

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    1. It has never been "nothing." Just long odds of anything.

      "What the Province has clarified is that if Hamilton City Council changes its mind about the LRT plan, the $1 billion earmarked for it will be released back into the Metrolinx capital funding pool for rapid transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and the money will be applied to the next priority projects that are ready and waiting for funding.

      Of course, Hamilton would be welcome to start developing a new plan and funding request to submit to the Province, but that process takes years.

      Before submitting anything, we would first have to do all the things a City has to do before it is ready to submit a plan for funding. We would have to complete background studies, conduct a feasibility studies, embark on new rounds of public consultation, prepare a class environmental assessment and complete 30 percent engineering design and detailed design work before we had anything to submit for consideration.

      No city gets to make up a transit plan on the back of a napkin and expect a funding commitment - especially a city that is capricious enough to spend eight years developing a rapid transit plan only to panic and discard it at the last minute, after it was already approved.

      It would be years before we were ready to submit another plan - and the best we could hope for would be a Province that is wary about committing to anything that Council said it wanted. An entirely possible and worse scenario is that the City would be approaching a new Ontario government that is no longer very interested in funding rapid transit projects."

      https://raisethehammer.org/article/3003/clarifying_what_lrt_or_nothing_means

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    2. Better taking a chance and submitting a new business case that actually makes sense, than setting ourselves up for this debacle. Sorry Mr. Eisenberg, but you lost my vote on this issue.

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    3. By some accounts, the City spent $9M on the requisite B-Line studies, $3M of which came from Metrolinx and the remainder from municipal coffers. Let's assume that we want to study the remaining 4 lines of the BLAST network. We don't have the benefit of Metrolinx funding, so we could be looking at $35M-40M and several years invested in building a business case for rapid transit investment city-wide. And at the end of that process, the province could still judge that the current option is the strongest business base of Hamilton’s five municipal transit corridors corridors the only one worthy of massive infrastructure investment.

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  6. I love reading all these numbers, links and arguments. it seems some people live their lives in hopes of LRT. I wonder about people like that.

    All these facts, figures, numbers , links, reports etc etc. have to be understood within a frame. Speak to people who work for the city of Hamilton. Find out what they think about the culture.

    Oh yes, i forgot that a survey was done. And the survey said:

    25.7 per cent of city employees feel they've been pressured to compromise their ethics and values
    50 per cent of employees feel they can report misconduct without fear of retaliation
    almost 60 per cent are unsure or disagree that their code of conduct concerns are handled properly

    So, be very careful what reports or studies you accept. When operating within this kind of context, be very careful
    Sorce

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    Replies
    1. especially the terry whitehead report.

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    2. I love reading snarky, self-assured comments that allege to care about fiscal responsibility that reject as untrustworthy and invalid any factual context that doesn't square with their gut feelings and subjective bias, while demonstrating a basic ignorance about the parameters of things like funding eligibility or official process.

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    3. It's important to be a critical consumer of facts, reports, analysis, etc. But it's also important to acknowledge one's own subjective bias.

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    4. Sorce makes a good point. How can you trust anything that comes out of a marred culture. Which staff are going o go up against certain councilors who feel a certain way about LRT?

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    5. If your basic philosophy is that government cannot be trusted, you have your work cut out for you.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemen_on_the_land

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    6. I love writing snarky self assured comments about baby rappers from Mongolia (of course not) and other relevant topics in a desperate attempt to make a point. Whatever it takes.
      I post anonymously because my family issued an ultimatum-if they have to deal with any more repercussions from my advocacy they are out of here. I couldn't survive without them. So I am a responsible husband and do as I am told.
      I am a foot soldier in an undeclared war. I am often confused and regularly get lost in my own thoughts. LRT makes sense to me. I am smart.

      Delete
    7. Everyone's somebody's troll. As the fine print says:

      "This blog facilitates discussion from all sides of issues. Opposite viewpoints, spirited discussion and even pointed comments are welcome, provided they are respectful. Name calling is not allowed and any posts that violate the policy, will simply not be authorized to appear."


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    8. I don't know why you provided that link.

      I am referring to the city of Hamilton in its current state only.

      It would be best if you tried not to speak on my behalf or assume what i am thinking.
      Sorce

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  7. Term Limits NowAugust 06, 2016

    Anyone who would try to implement such a large change without first fixing that culture problem, is foolish. Really, you haver this going on and youy think you're ready to implement a change in excess of 1 Billion dollars?

    25.7 per cent of city employees feel they've been pressured to compromise their ethics and values
    50 per cent of employees feel they can report misconduct without fear of retaliation
    almost 60 per cent are unsure or disagree that their code of conduct concerns are handled properly

    Fix this first because unless you do that, nothing can be relied on. Especially when you have certain personalities on council.

    Term Limits Now

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The $1B is a capital investment being made by the province, of course.

      FWIW, the City of Hamilton's consolidated budget for 2016 was in excess of $2B. Its operating budget was more than $1.6B of that.

      In the three budgets since the above survey results came to light, council has approved nearly $6B in gross expenditures.

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  8. Forget about poverty. It's all about LRT.

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  9. I am so confused. I hate reading about LRT supporters referencing European Countries of large north American Cities. We are only 500,000. The negative LRT are just as bad.

    What is see is biased reports on both sides. I'm not believing either.

    The fact of the matter is that it is our money that of the taxpayers.

    I hate these arguments that if Hamilton turns it down it goes somewhere else.

    I get it, but feel Wynne is forcing our hand and not making sure the taxpayers of Ontario are taken care of.

    Ontario (us the taxpayer) have so much debt that climbs everyday. I really don't think our Provincial government has our best interests at heart.

    I am really worried about where we are heading. Banking everything on public transit while things like hydro continue to escalate. Heck, Wynne is selling off hydro to the private sector to raise money for public transit.

    If there are no jobs because of the cost of running a business in Ontario is unaffordable then we won't need to worry about moving people to and from their work.

    I'm worried that we are too far down the Liberal government path to recover. I think we need to take collective action to recover.

    As much as I respect people like Ryan McGreal offering their opinion I don't think it is necessary representative of the majority of Hamiltonians, with all due respect.

    We need a way to have the majority state their opinions, I guess that is where the democratic process comes in.

    My concern wrt to LRT is that we have ward councillors supporting LRT in order to leverage funding for pet projects in their wards.

    That kind of thinking is not in the best interest of the City collectively.

    That is what worries me. I really wish we could have non-biased people making decisions on what is best for the collective moving forward.

    The whole LRT issue has turned into a fiasco and unfortunately I don't trust anyone's opinion, the Mayor, Council, minority advocates like Raise the Hammer etc.

    I really believe that the pro and con sides are skewing data in their position's favour.

    I feel sorry for City staff as professionals trying to implement a divisive Council position. Staff are the experts at the end of the day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Wynne is selling off hydro to the private sector to raise money for public transit."

      The province is also selling off real estate assets and divesting itself of recession-era General Motors stock.

      But it's not just transit being funded. It's infrastructure (roads, bridges, public transit, hospitals, schools, water systems). And half of the proceeds are going to infrastructure in communities outside of the GTHA.

      https://news.ontario.ca/mof/en/2015/04/the-trillium-trust-and-moving-ontario-forward.html

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  10. "Fade out with images of Whitehead with his arms crossed, looking confidently into the camera…"

    https://www.thepublicrecord.ca/2016/08/whiteheads-schtick-fail-calls-for-pedestrian-crosswalks-at-upper-james-and-fennell-mohawk-stone-church/

    ReplyDelete

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