Enjoy our chat with LRT Project Director Paul Johnson, on the topic of the possible Bay Street stop.
When asked specifically about lessons learned and things to watch out for, one of the pieces of advice is quoted below:
"Probably the biggest lesson I've learned, is as we build extensions to the line, be careful of how many stations you put in. The number of stations and the travel times...so, it's a combination of how often do you stop and how important the stations are. We basically have a very long line and to get from one end to the other takes you a long time. So, be careful about the number of stations you put in. I think you need to find a balance between what's there today, what can you imagine can be there in the future, what are great bus connections, ...but everybody wants a station and you need to be frugal with those as you look at that extension. Make sure you're smart about when you're putting those in. Because it's really about high capacity transit. It's not a bus. There's a tool for every kind of transit.
In light of this, and assuming LRT proceeds, and in the context of a contemplated Bay street stop, can you list for us the most compelling reasons why Bay street should get a stop. Can you also list the top risks of doing so.
The request for a Bay Street stop came from the business community. Please see the letter from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, agenda item 8.1 at the link below.
The LRT project team was directed by Council to report back on the feasibility of adding a stop at Bay Street; we did not complete a benefits case analysis and did not make a formal recommendation.
Having said that, there is a potential for economic uplift and the stop would connect to key destinations like First Ontario Centre, Standard Life building, David Braley Health Sciences Centre, City Hall, etc. The goal of connecting riders with key destinations is in keeping with the City’s vision for Rapid Transit.
Adding a stop would increase the project budget and the impact on property. Those are the two key risks in my mind. The estimated cost of construction is $2.6M and at the moment we do not have an estimate on the property acquisition costs.
What do you say to those who are worried about scope creep and cost containment, relative to the Bay street proposed stop?
We certainly understand those concerns. If Council were to approve the Bay Street stop it would still be subject to Metrolinx approval and would be contingent on the project budget. Overall, however, it does not pose any significant challenges to completing this project in the timeframe we have committed to.
If the Bay St. stop goes forward, what is the estimated expropriation costs?
We do not have a cost estimate at this time but an additional stop at Bay Street would require partial property acquisition from four properties totalling approximately 0.13 acres, as well as full acquisition of one additional property (approximately 0.24 acres).
What criteria is being used to make stop selections? For example,why Bay over McNab? Why Mary over Bay to this point?
The majority of the LRT stops have been planned since the 2011 Environmental Assessment process which included significant public consultation. The only changes are as follows and are based on community and stakeholder input:
The Gage Park/Delta stop was initially removed by the project team but was added back in after we received significant community feedback during our Public consultation in September 2016.
Moved two stops to bookend the International Village (stops at Mary and Wellington)
Staff was directed by the LRT Subcommittee to review the feasibility of adding another stop at Bay Street.
Stops are strategically located along the route for access by walking, cycling and north-south bus routes. They also are designed to help connect riders to key destinations.
It is important to note that most urban LRT systems incorporate closer stop spacing in the downtown area. Currently our spacing in the downtown area averages just over 600m between stops. The addition of a Bay St. stop would lower our stop spacing to an average of 450m in the downtown area which is consistent with urban LRT systems. Outside of the downtown area our stop spacing averages around 880m which is again consistent with urban LRT systems outside of the downtown area.
Thanks Paul for engaging with Hamiltonians on The Hamiltonian.