;;

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The 1 Billion $ Dazzle?

Mayor Fred Eisenberger
Enjoy this Q/A with Mayor Fred Eisenberger:


With the 1 Billion dollar influx of committed cash from the province for LRT, the allure of the money to construct a new public transit system in the form of LRT is understandably attractive. However, some may wonder whether Hamilton has been “dazzled” by the money, to the extent that certain necessary conversations have not been adequately pursued.

For example, is there a concern that the future driven implementation of LRT may result in a system that becomes largely outdated, before it is active? More specifically, have there been adequate conversations about technology trends as they apply to the future alternatives people will have such as self driving cars, electric cars and “car to go” systems for example? In essence, is there a danger that the 1 Billion dollar investment is leading down an entrenched path that is somewhat blind to future trends and innovations in transportation, possibly creating a burden to the taxpayers of Hamilton and frustrating the pursuit of better transportation technologies? 

Mayor Eisenberger responded: 

It was determined that LRT was the preferred technology for the B-line corridor for many reasons including the fact it would move high volumes of people in a rapid, reliable and safe way. LRT will also operate along a corridor with a higher density of population and jobs.

Self-driving vehicles, although an exciting prospect, would not serve the same functions as an LRT along the B-line corridor because these vehicles continue to be single occupant vehicles with dispersed origins and destinations.

Implementing LRT does not preclude the City from exploring other transportation innovations as a complement to our overall transit and transportation plans.

55 comments:

  1. Term Limits NowMarch 29, 2017

    After yesterday's meeting, I think the tide had turned and Mayor Fred should be focused on how to back out of this. This 1 Billion for LRT only may be real in a limited sense. There are a lot of votes in Hamilton and a good leader would start positioning us with the Premier so that we can fund a better alternative.

    TLN

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, nothing as efficient as having everyone travelling alone in self-driving cars. That should reduce congestion. Or at least disposable income.

    The thing about this "but technology" argument is that it applies to all areas of spending at all times. Why spend money upgrading hospitals today when better more efficient technology is bound to arrive in the next 10 or 20 years? Why put computers in grade school classrooms when the obsolescence cycle guarantees that software and hardware will be radically different by the time that kids hit high school, and again by the time they graduate? Why spend tens of millions annually on shave and pave when we have the technology to build longer-lasting roads? Why spend any money on existing roads when the technology is 2000 years old?

    As the Mayor notes, it's possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. And FWIW, autonomous LRT has already been around for 50 years.

    Sigma Cub

    ReplyDelete
  3. The difference is that LRT is an option and not a necessity in the face of numerous other options. Upgrading hospital may save lives now. I can wait to buy a ticket on BRT.
    Sorce

    ReplyDelete
  4. anyone who hitches LRT and the money with the opportunity to refresh infrastructure and improve it, is hitching their car to the wrong train.

    STT Nix

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. except 80% of the funds allocated for this project are for infrastructure refreshments. Make the required upgrades in Ward 1-4, cancel the train, and split the remainder between HSR, Darts,and safe cycling infrastructure.Everyone wins except the politico's

      francis buxton.

      Delete
    2. No 80% slated to move services that otherwise won't require spending

      Delete
    3. Yes."...up to 80% of the total capital budget will be spent on digging up and replacing City owned infrastructure like asphalt, water and sewer pipes, and cables. Actual tracks, platforms, and LRT cars represent a minority of the cost"
      Paul Johnson, the Hamilton Spectator,3/28/17

      francis buxton

      Delete
    4. I agree with you on that point Frances.

      Delete
    5. Digging up new road and not replacing anything.

      Delete
  5. Let's spend $1B rebuilding roads and replacing sewers. That has been proven to have no impact on traffic.

    Rimshot

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1. We don't have a traffic congestion problem. But hey, why bring the facts into it?

      2. I read the otyher day that a politician actually said that he doesn't give much thought to online posts. Really? How ridiculous.

      Mark

      Delete
    2. Not even replacing sewers just digging up brand new road pavement

      Delete
  6. it was determined-by me and a minority of Council members-that LRT was the preferred technology to move shrinking ridership in a slow, expensive, outdated manner. This is a busy route for motorists and commerce, many will be affected, and for a good long time.
    Dispersed origins and destinations are unnecessary. With this, you get to go....here, or there...and a couple in between. Get it? How you get there, what you do once here.....who really cares?
    Killing LRT, does not preclude this City from revisiting it's transit and transport plans, admitting mistakes and recommitting to serving the majority of Hamiltonian's.
    Just not on my watch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No policy directive emerging from council chambers, on transit or any other file, is determined by a voting minority.

      Councillor Brad Clark's September 2011 motion requesting an LRT funding commitment from the province was supported by 12 members of council, 8 of whom still hold their seats.

      LRT was later put forward as council's preferred choice and the B-Line the preferred route in February 2013's Rapid Ready report, which was submitted to the province after being endorsed by 15 councillors (Councillor Clark was absent), 10 of whom still hold their seats.

      https://raisethehammer.org/article/2976/how_councillors_have_voted_on_light_rail_transit

      Noted

      Delete
    2. "LRT REVERSAL NEEDS TWO-THIRDS COUNCIL SUPPORT: CITY'S LEGAL OPINION"
      Hamilton Spectator 9/30/16.

      Delete
    3. Its not a reversal. This is new plan and no operating agreement at any rate

      Delete
    4. LRT was later put forward as council's preferred choice and the B-Line the preferred route in February 2013's Rapid Ready report, which was submitted to the province after being endorsed by 15 councillors (Councillor Clark was absent), 10 of whom still hold their seats.

      Page 7 of Rapid Ready described the City's preferred options:

      "The phasing analysis demonstrates that the best
      initial investment in the B-Line is for the full line
      (McMaster University to Eastgate Square) followed by
      McMaster University to Queenston Traffic Circle as
      the second best initial investment option."

      http://www2.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/1EF0629C-3003-4FC2-A286-8ECACE07BB0E/0/RR1_Rapid_Ready_Report.pdf

      Noted

      Delete
    5. Nice spin the next best option is not what was approved

      Delete
    6. Point is, Council negotiated this outcome.

      You'll recall that in February 2010, three years before Rapid Ready was approved by Council and submitted to the province for funding consideration, Metrolinx published its King-Main Benefits Case Analysis, in which they identified and evaluated three possible rapid transit scenarios: Option 1, Full BRT; Option 2, Full LRT; and Option 3, Phased LRT. Council understood that these were the options under consideration, and they indicated their preferences. Metrolinx/MTO determined that Option 3 was the appropriate solution, and coincidentally that was one of the scenarios that Hamilton favoured as well.

      As in all things, had we made different choices at the outset the result might have been different.

      Noted

      Delete
  7. Wait till people start getting expropriated for this insane idea. Then the crap will hit the fan. By the way, cost of expropriation doubled to 80 million. Nice.
    John Boy Walton

    ReplyDelete
  8. The Municipality That Cried Wolf.

    Rimshot

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The wolf will soon be at the door, moving you off your land.

      John Boy Walton

      Delete
  9. I am always amazed at the LRT lobby and how they remind us of the history of the votes and how council has continuously supported LRT. Well, if that's true, how do you explain the sudden second thoughts. Something about the idea must be crazy for them to be shuddering
    Sorce

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. "Sure thing honey, when your rich uncle dies, we'll take that trip to Fiji"
      Any vote taken before 5/26/15 was conditional and hypothetical. It was likely quite easy to further a concept premised on complete capital funding which was widely considered a long shot...at best.
      But she called our bluff, and in my mind that is when this started. Officially.
      Since Ol' Uncle Ernie hung on a little longer than I planned (and perhaps because I have been negligent in my responsibilities concerning general maintenance) the driveway is in tatter's, the roof blew away last week, and the furnace is starting to sound like a demon. Fiji still looks attractive, but not very practical.
      Hamilton is much different today than it was just a decade ago. Much has changed in this plan...the route...the costs...many important questions remain unanswered.
      Sober second thought is reasonable and responsible. Looks like Ms.Partridge has made her position clear and intends to encourage others to do the same.

      Delete
  10. Dazzled is a great word to describe this. I hope all our council take a step back and ask the mayor to approach the province, decline the offer and indicate we will come back with a more appropriate plan for Hamilton.

    I will continue watching from the sidelines and am enjoying the discussion here.It is much more civil than other places.

    Mrs. Carol A - i hope i did that right. i don't like putting my full name.

    ReplyDelete
  11. It's too bad we're afraid to become the Ambitious City we were once known for.

    Lots of speculation going on downtown due to LRT - hence increased expropriation value.

    Nobody is going to get the money from the province to fix our broken infrastructure if LRT doesn't come.

    There's no silver bullet here. Downtown infrastructure has been ignored for generations and it's coming home to roost now. We're growing, and we don't know how to do it. We're scared to do it.

    It's interesting to see how anti-LRT this group is, but doesn't ever seem to produce anything other than "I don't like it". The group at RTH that presents facts, details and examples is pro-LRT.

    Welp, see y'all at Westcliffe Mall!

    ~Mountain Man

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. where do you see a link between speculation and expropriation? I see a direct link between poor planning and increased expropriation cost.

      Delete
    2. Let's see, Jim:
      - Price of property is low, as growth in core is stagnant
      - LRT announced, city reaffirms support 50+ times
      - Investors move in to buy property
      - Some invest in the property as speculators
      - More interest means higher prices
      - Increase in valuation of properties based on sale prices of similar properties or their proximity
      - Thus, the price doubles on expropriation

      Was it that hard?

      ~Mountain Man

      Delete
    3. the number of properties being expropriated has nearly doubled from original count, you find that a coincidence?
      easy (but imaginative!)

      Delete
    4. few have done more to solidify opposition than Mr. McGreal. The hypocrisy and sanctimony on the site are accurate reflections of the vision. The hatchet job on Whitehead, Skelly and now Partridge may play well to the disenfranchised, but they alienate everyday Hamiltonian's. We could not have killed this without him.
      Perhaps a statue?

      francis buxton

      Delete
    5. "project manager Paul Johnson also confirmed during Tuesdays meeting a significant increase to 86 (from the original forecast of 40) in the number of properties that will have to be expropriated and demolished prior to LRT construction"
      Global News-Hamilton 3/28/17
      Soft actually, although probably not widely disseminated at RTH.

      Delete
    6. Francis:

      I was against LRT initially. I thought to myself, "why do we need this fancy streetcar when we don't even have good bus service?"

      Then, I got informed. I read as much as I could on the topic, and contacted my councillor to get as much as I could. I read anything I could get my hands on, and found that the pros far outweigh the cons. Yes, there are serious concerns going in, such as operating costs, the "what if" if the city keeps underfunding HSR, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and kicking the can down the road that will seal LRT's fate still are something I can swallow. We need real change and I want to be the change I want to see.

      Oh, and for those who say, like the councillor has to me, how does LRT impact me directly, living in ward 8? Easy. My wife works at McMaster and relies on transit to get to work. Both the BRT on the A-Line and LRT on the B-Line will get her to work in a timely and safe manner. Too often she is late getting home due to fly-bys of full buses, or is crammed in like a sardine.

      This is chess, not checkers. Think several generations ahead. If we don't invest now, we can kiss any provincial funding for any capital project in the future goodbye.

      @Jim: Why the fixation on the doubling of what amounts to a 6.25 to 12.5% of the overall budget? We still don't know what actual costs will be, and who is on the hook for the expropriation costs?

      ~Mountain Man

      Delete
    7. my "fixation" was inspired by your comment, which now appears to be resolved as baseless and without merit. Yes, many important, as yet unresolved questions.
      Hopefully your information gathering continues,given your shifting sensibilities, perhaps the tide will turn yet again.
      King me.

      Delete
    8. Jim,

      Sure, the number of properties has increased. So has the configuration of the route, this is clear. Still not sure why you are wringing your hands over something that is a small part of the project? Were you this upset over the expropriation of properties when Jackson Square was built? The Linc? RHVP?

      ~Mountain Man

      Delete
    9. the increase you reference equates to c.$50M. hardly a figure to dismiss as trivial, at least not to my sensibilities. It screams poor planning, and does absolutely nothing to instill confidence, unless of course your mind is already made up. The funding from the Province has already been capped, and this development diminishes the total funds available for constuction significantly before we have even identified an interested bidder.
      I am not concerned about expropriation per se, however the incompetence demonstrated (expro's have doubled, contaminated sited have tripled) in the results of 10 years of planning on this project should concern anyone interested in the project.

      Delete
    10. Sadly, your mind's made up, don't try to sway it with facts. This is in the planning phase, are you aware of how these project work? Do you need to review the price breakouts again to see the contingency funds specifically put away for these items? Seriously, you are running on emotion and emotion alone. I still haven't seen your response on the expropriation of many more buildings for the creation of Jackson Square, the loss of greenspace with the RHVP or Linc. Crocodile tears for the few buildings being lost?

      ~Mountain Man

      Delete
    11. yes, I do need to see those contingency breakouts you reference...kindly direct me to their whereabouts.

      Delete
  12. RTH is intellectually dishonest mr mountain anonymous man afraid to identify yourself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have identified myself, Allan. You hide behind aliases on Twitter, why can't I here?

      Anyway, back on topic. Proof of your claim or it's false.

      ~Mountain Man

      Delete
    2. Hamiltonian AdminApril 01, 2017

      Gentlemen- Please stick to the issues being discussed.

      Thanks for your cooperation.

      Delete
    3. There are 200,000 mountain men Which one are you

      Delete
    4. Demographically unsound observation.

      Noted

      Delete
  13. For what it's worth, I think the discussion here in The Hamiltonian is the most honest and balanced coverage of this issue so far. I've read many articles pro and against LRT and I've even seen McGreal being featured here. I don't know how many readers you have but I can tell you that what is being written here is creating a lot of talk out at the hall

    The Inside Man

    ReplyDelete
  14. Any leader can take a position and try to drive it through. It takes a really good leader to know when to press forward and when to retreat- even completely.

    @ Mr. Eisenberger. There is no shame in backing down. In fact, you will gain a lot of credibility by admitting that this is not right for Hamilton.
    Sorce


    Sorce

    ReplyDelete
  15. WEST HARBOUR RESIDENTApril 02, 2017

    His arrogance won't allow him to take another position. Like the stadium, it's all about 'him' and never about the community. He makes it sound as if it is, but it isn't. He wants to be remembered for doing something outstanding for the community and he's being swayed, as per usual, by special interest groups. Why doesn't someone speak to those in Kitchener about their LRT mess? Talk to the store owners. Talk to the residents. The impact has been huge and all for....what, precisely?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Research Report Concludes That Select Property Owners Will Receive a 10 - 20% Increase in Their Property Values

      http://www.reincanada.com/aboutus/media-news/press-releases/hamiltons-transportation-transformatio

      D'Accord

      Delete
  16. The Hamiltonian AdminApril 03, 2017

    Reminder: http://www.thehamiltonian.net/p/i-f-your-post-has-not-appeared-chances.html

    ReplyDelete
  17. Computer algorithms can ensure that self-driving cars obey the rules of the road — making them turn, stop, slow down when a light turns yellow and resume when a light turns to green from red. But this technology can’t control the behavior of other drivers. Autonomous vehicles will have to deal with drivers who speed, pass even when there’s a double yellow line and drive the wrong way on a one-way street.…

    Snow, rain, fog and other types of weather make driving difficult for humans, and it’s no different for driverless cars, which stay in their lanes by using cameras that track lines on the pavement. But they can’t do that if the road has a coating of snow. Falling snow or rain can also make it difficult for laser sensors to identify obstacles. A large puddle caused by heavy rain may look like blacktop to an autonomous car’s sensors.…

    Google’s bubble-shaped self-driving cars rely heavily on highly detailed three-dimensional maps — far more detailed than those in Google Maps — that communicate the location of intersections, stop signs, on-ramps and buildings with the cars’ computer systems. Self-driving cars combine these maps with readings from their sensors to find their way around. Very few roads have been mapped to this degree. Moreover, maps can become out of date as road conditions change…

    Self-driving cars use radar, lasers and high-definition cameras to scan roads for obstacles, and the images they generate are assessed by high-powered processors to identify pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. But potholes are tough. They lie below the road surface, not above it. A dark patch in the road ahead could be a pothole. Or an oil spot. Or a puddle. Or even a filled-in pothole. I recently took a ride in a test vehicle with automated driving technology. It slowed unexpectedly at one point, momentarily confused by a dark area on the road ahead (it was a shadow caused by an overpass).

    In the midst of busy traffic, a ball bounces into the road, pursued by two running children. If a self-driving car’s only options are to hit the children or veer right and strike a telephone pole, potentially injuring or killing the car’s occupants, what does it do? Should its computer give priority to the pedestrians or the passengers? Engineers are confronting questions like these as they build self-driving technology. When a crash is inevitable and a human is at the wheel, the result is a spontaneous reaction — a decision the driver has to make in a split second. But in a car controlled by algorithms, it is a choice predetermined by a programmer.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/06/automobiles/autonomous-cars-problems.html

    Noted

    ReplyDelete
  18. There was a municipality in Ontario whose mayor enlisted Uber to address their transit needs. Now that's forward thinking. Not installing rails that are going to be outdated before the first passenger gets on.

    Samual from Gage

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uber may be appropriate for last-mile economies of scale (as a replacement for TransCab service in places like Glanbrook, where enhanced bus service is not supported by councillors) but not as a substitute for a high-volume trunk line. A 60-foot bus can hold 100-110 passengers at any given point. Moving those bodies into cars would only be more efficient in the sense that a bunch of single-passenger vehicles would have a second passenger. Otherwise, the end result is taking a vehicle that occupies 60 feet of lane and replacing it with 100 to 110 vehicles, which would only be a space savings if the vehicles in question were Uber Segways. Uber Segways that would carry a passenger across the city and back if need be within a 90- to 120-minute window for the cost of a cup of coffee. Or, in the case of special ridership programs, the cost of the cup the coffee comes in.

      Noted

      Delete
    2. Funny that I mentioned Glanbrook. The case Samual is referring to is that of Innisfil, Ontario, which has the approximate population (2016: 37K) and land area (263 sq km) of Ward 11 (2011: 37K, 278 sq km), with no bus service to speak of because the community is below any sort of transit-supportive density. The novel solution? Cabs. Or rather, Ubers. Ubers where the municipality foots two-thirds of the fare.

      The Toronto Star reports:

      Innisfil’s council, which serves a community of about 36,000, south of Barrie, approved a partnership with Uber last month in which the ride-sharing service will offer discounted trips to certain destinations in the town.

      Mayor Gord Wauchope hailed the agreement as an innovative way to provide transit to Innisfil, which he noted is spread across an area nearly the size of Mississauga.

      “Council was really being pressured to bring transit to the town of Innisfil,” Wauchope said.

      “You can’t have taxpayers pay for a transit system which they cannot use. And this was a transit system that people can get from anywhere in the town of Innisfil, and use it for a reasonable price.”

      The town conducted a transit feasibility study in 2015 and found that a fixed-route bus service would cost about $270,000 for one bus per year. Council decided that was too steep a price for the limited service a single bus could provide.

      The town will instead provide $100,000 this year for the partnership, and a further $125,000 in 2018. The service will officially launch on May 1.

      Residents will pay base fees for trips to key locations in Innisfil, and the town will pay Uber the balance.

      For example, Innisfil residents will pay $3 per person for any trip to or from the Innisfil Recreational Complex and Town Hall area, and the town will cover the remainder of the fare, from $6 to $9.

      https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/04/03/innisfil-taps-uber-to-fill-public-transit-void.html

      Noted

      Delete
    3. "you can't have taxpayers pay for a transit system which they cannot use" Except south of the MacDonald Cartier line, where the Sheriff keeps shooting his horse.

      mike orangefield

      Delete
  19. The "Do Nothing Scenario", aka "The Made In Hamilton Solution"

    Rimshot

    ReplyDelete
  20. Enough GamesApril 10, 2017

    If the Ontario government and the city were honest about this, they would admit that the 1 Billion dollar has been set aside for Hamilton to solve its transit woes. That's the underlying goal that noone is prepared to admit to.

    So, instead, they play this cheesy game that it can only be used for LRT and if you don't use it for that, it suddenly gets given to another municipality.
    At the Ontario government- stop treating us like children.

    At Our city government- do the right thing and stop playing this silly game. Your job is to fight for Hamilton. Tell them we decided against LRT because it is a costly solution that is too disruptive, and that we have decided to improve our busses so that everyone in the city can benefit.

    Enough Games

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get the frustration on this, but if the province has $15B to spend transforming transit across the GTHA, it's understandable that they would want to ensure that they're getting bang for the buck. Any government, any party would be pilloried by its opposition for chequebook governance if it just went around in an election year cutting blank cheques.

      The City of Hamilton assembled a business case for investment in B-Line LRT. So if it wants to put forward a Plan B, it needs to have that Plan B studied in similar detail. That's entirely doable, and the transit advocates from the suburbs are probably already bringing forward a motion to fund those studies. We've already got a good feel for the B-Line. There are only another 30 or so HSR routes to make cases for.

      One caveat: Moving Ontario Forward funding is interwoven with the Alternative Financing and Procurement model, wherein third parties are contracted the design, building, financing, operations and maintenance of transit lines. One outcome of applying this to the whole HSR might be that the HSR is effectively privatized, contracted out for a period of 30 or 40 years to a third-party consortium.

      In the event that all of this goes south and we emerge empty-handed, the City can still start working toward the BLAST network by implementing transit-only lanes on all of those five routes. Optimize the value of the transit we already have.

      Noted

      Delete

Your comments are welcome. Please abide by the blog's policy on posting. 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. This blog also reserves the right to exclude comments that are off topic or are otherwise unprofessional. This blog does not assume any liability whatsoever for comments posted. People posting comments or providing information on interviews, do so at their own risk.


Comments posted on this blog, may be used as excerpts in whole or in part, in other media sources .
This blog believes in freedom of speech and operates in the context of a democratic society, which many have fought and died for.

Views expressed by commentators or in articles that appear here, cannot be assumed to be espoused by The Hamiltonian staff or its publisher.