Auditor-General Bonnie Lysyk has confirmed that Bus Rapid Transit did not receive adequate consideration by Metrolinx in a number of its Big Move projects including the Hamilton rapid transit project. The auditor general report says that Metrolinx significantly under-estimated the passenger capacity of Bus Rapid Transit, deciding that hourly ridership as low as 2,700 passengers per hour would make it necessary to move to LRT. But as Lysyk writes, “We noted, however, that BRT systems implemented in other cities (for example, Ottawa, Canada; Istanbul, Turkey; New Jersey, United States; and Bogota, Colombia) handle 7,300 to 40,000 passengers per hour. At that time Hamilton was only averaging 1100 passengers per hour on its busy east-west corridor– far below even its lowest threshold for LRT– but apparently Metrolinx bought into the idea that the lure of trains would result in a nearly 250 per cent increase in ridership.

The report says that in 2014 Metrolinx undertook further studies comparing the relative benefits of Bus Rapid Transit and LRT for three projects—two in Peel region and Hamilton. Says Lysyk’s report: “We found that, despite the fact that the draft analyses clearly showed the need to further review whether it is appropriate to proceed with the LRT option for three of the four projects,(Hamilton being one of them) Metrolinx took no action to address the results of its analysis. It indicated that it discussed these results with the Ministry of Transportation in meetings, but it was not able to provide details of what was shared or discussed at these meetings.” Specifically with regard to Hamilton the report says Metrolinx’s 2014 re-evaluation “concluded that BRT is the highest performing investment option under a medium land-use-intensification scenario.” As a result, “Metrolinx recommended in late 2014 that an intermediate business case, considering the changing context and alternative options, be completed before an investment decision (about BRT or LRT) was made. However, Metrolinx did not do any further analysis before the Province committed to funding the LRT in May 2015.”

The report concludes: “The results of these analyses were discussed internally with the then CEO (Bruce McCuaig)  in late 2014. However, Metrolinx did not act on its findings to then critically assess whether it was planning and building the transit projects that would best serve the region.” The Bay Observer has contacted Metrolinx to determine if anyone at the political level was aware of these findings.

John Best had enjoyed a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

2 Comments to: Metrolinx ignored suggestions Bus Rapid Transit was best for Hamilton: Auditor General

  1. Mars

    December 6th, 2018

    A relevant detail glossed over by many critical of B-Line rapid transit is that the Metrolinx business case analysis also makes assumptions about BRT implementation, and those assumptions are at odds with the imaginative “just add more buses” scenario advanced by some.

    “Bus Rapid Transit (BRT): Similar to light rail transit operating predominantly in protected rights-of way, separate from other traffic, but using advanced bus technology. Also includes buses operating in mixed traffic on controlled-access expressways that employ congestion management such as tolls, thereby allowing the buses to maintain high average speeds. The capacity of BRT is typically 2,000 to 10,000 passengers per hour, peak direction. Average speed: 15 to 40 km/h depending on station spacing, with higher speeds possible on grade-separated rights-of-way on controlled access highways. Example: Vancouver 98B Line (Richmond section), Ottawa Transitway system.”

    “Controlled-Access Expressway: A high-speed, high-capacity highway with at least four lanes and grade-separated with access to the facility limited to ramps and interchanges. A controlled-access expressway has a typical speed limit of 60 to 100 km/h with daily traffic greater than 20,000 vehicles.”


    As defined by Metrolinx, then, BRT could operate in mixed traffic on the RHVP and LAP, but when operating on city streets, it would operate in protected rights-of way, separate from other traffic, but using advanced bus technology. Two lanes of traffic therefore would be dedicated to each and every BRT route, whether operating on King/Main/Queenston (B-Line) or James/Upper James (A-Line) or Centennial Parkway/Rymal Road (S-Line) or Kenilworth/Upper Ottawa/Mohawk (T-Line).

  2. Mars

    December 6th, 2018

    Premier Ford is not named in the AG’s report, but he may be disinclined to force the issue of political interference in evidence-driven transit policy. Consider the 2010-2014 period:

    “[Rob Ford] killed Transit City on his very first day in office, upending a plan that was negotiated, approved, funded and under construction. He took it on himself to cook up a new one with the provincial government that would have wasted nearly $2-billion by burying a light-rail line designed for surface travel. He promised to build a vastly expensive Sheppard subway without any real idea of how to pay for it.”

    The Ford brothers are diving into the Scarborough byelection in a bid to derail the Liberals’ self-proclaimed “subway champion” Mitzie Hunter.

    Councillor Doug Ford came out Monday calling it “disgusting” that the Liberals are trumpeting their Scarborough-Guildwood candidate as a “subway champion” on new revamped lawn signs now popping up in the riding.

    “She’s the subway champ? That’s just disingenuous with the people. She was nowhere to be found for the last two and a half years fighting for subways,” Ford told the Toronto Sun.

    “She’s contradicting herself. She was on CivicAction wanting to raise taxes on the people of Scarborough, she was all pro-LRT, she was handpicked to be on that special committee about transportation … and it was all about LRTs. Where did she just all of a sudden have a change of heart? That is so disingenuous.”…

    Hunter’s “subway champion” signs started to roll out after city council voted to push for a subway extension rather than the Scarborough LRT and the provincial Liberals agreed to shift $1.4 billion from the LRT project towards the subway.


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