The Ministry of the Environment will have a few Hamilton citizen Light Rail Transit objections to mull over between now and early August. The Bay Observer has learned that Environmental lawyer John Tidball, of the Toronto firm Miller Thomson, in addition to filing a submission to the Ministry on behalf of a group of LRT opponents; has thrown the ball back into council’s court by asking them to voluntarily allow a re-examination of alternatives to LRT, like Bus Rapid Transit.

Under the current Environmental rules, transit projects are allowed a fast-track through the environmental assessment process. Transit projects typically use the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), which is essentially a self-directed examination where the proponent decides what the environmental impacts are and then tells the ministry how those impacts will be mitigated. One environmental expert described TPAP as a “non-Environmental assessment disguised as one.”

In a letter to council Tidball urges “ that the City undertake a full and complete environmental assessment of the LRT Project, rather than proceed (with) an incomplete and truncated self-assessment process that exempts transit projects from some of the most important elements of the EAA(Environmental Assessment Act).“ Council has the power under the rules to allow a study that, among other things, could look at BRT as a possible option. Concludes the letter, “Our clients believe that a real EA of the LRT Project would produce a fundamentally different assessment, especially in relation to social, economic and cultural matters.  They believe that such an assessment may well persuade Council that the disadvantages of the LRT Project to the environment far outweigh the advantages, and that another alternative is preferred.”

In his letter to the Ministry Tidball tackled some specifics of the current LRT plan, taking particular aim at the fact the B-Line will not connect directly to GO. Connectivity to regional rail has been frequently cited by Metrolinx as a critical goal of Rapid Transit. Tidball notes, “In order to make the connection from the LRT to the GO Train, transit users will have to walk outdoors along Hughson Street, which will increase their travel time by approximately 15 minutes and expose them to inclement weather.  It seems unlikely that (the pedestrian link) will do anything to encourage GO Transit riders to use the LRT to connect to the train.”

A second submission on behalf of a group of LRT opponents alleges early manipulation of the public consultation process and fudging of numbers; resulting in the early rejection of Bus Rapid Transit as an option. The submission describes a behind-the -scenes campaign by LRT supporters in the community, some members of council and city staff  that emerged in late 2007 and early 2008 that essentially pushed BRT off the table before most people, including most members of council were paying attention. The submission notes that on the strength of the comments provided at two public meetings in May 2008, by 151 people, mostly LRT advocates, staff declared “overwhelming public support” for LRT and successfully persuaded council by June 2008 to abandon further consideration of BRT without any technical or economic analysis. The submission alleges that subsequent public consultations were geared towards bolstering the LRT-only message by appealing to an audience likely to favour LRT and, hence, by 2009 the LRT narrative was set in stone. A later poll of 1600 respondents yielded a huge majority in favour of LRT, but of the respondents, only 25% were regular transit users—a fact omitted in a staff report to council but later revealed by a consultant tasked to review the city’s consultation process. The submission suggests the special LRT office that had been established during this period appeared to have a direct reporting relationship to Eisenberger. It describes a 2010 memo from the staff of the LRT office to Eisenberger in which senior city department heads and the city manager are not copied as is the normal practice. The memo advised that Metrolinx has done its own study and determined that BRT has a better return on investment than LRT but hopefully suggests LRT can be made to look better if factors like projected economic uplift are considered. Underlying the suggestion that not all members of council were fully in the loop, the staff memo to Eisenberger expresses concern that “we have been working on rapid transit with a number of parameters that have not yet been vetted through Council.” For its part, the citizen submission to the Ministry last month suggests that in fact, the Metrolinx report contained some errors in methodology and that without the errors, actually LRT would have fared much worse in the cost-benefit comparison. The submission concludes by pointing out that a BRT system coupled with the proposed BLAST bus network would leave between $400  and $500 Million available for the government to pursue other transit projects in the GTAH, including its number one goal of electrifying GO.

In addition to the two presentations, a number of LRT opponents are signing a letter being circulated by Stephen Parazader of Dundas, an Engineer who made a plea for a Rapid Transit system; “A bus service with frequent stops is vital and necessary in a City to get people closer to businesses, and other places but the proposed LRT in Hamilton would eliminate all buses on the route including more than 20 existing bus stops… quiet, pollution-free all-electric battery-operated buses would be better than the proposed LRT for Hamilton which could be provided at a tiny fraction of the huge cost of LRT and without the huge disruption etc. created by LRT, not only during construction but forever after.”

The Minister of Environment now has 35 days to decide whether to order further studies or allow the project to proceed. The current Minister Glen Murray, however, was an outspoken LRT champion when Minister of Transportation. In addition, Murray, who once indicated his interest in becoming Hamilton’s mayor, has history with Eisenberger and Terry Cooke, an LRT advocate. Cooke was chairman of the Canadian Urban Institute in 2010 when Glen Murray was CEO of that organization, and later after Murray left CUI to run for the legislature; the job of CEO went to Eisenberger following his defeat in the 2010 municipal election.

Providing a Fresh Perspective for Burlington and Hamilton.

48 Comments to: Pushing back against LRT

  1. jim graham

    July 12th, 2017

    Yay!

    Reply
    • Glen Carroll

      July 12th, 2017

      Booo!!

      Reply
  2. ali sarcosa

    July 12th, 2017

    Are these people idiots? No offense but it’s been made clear it’s either LRT or nothing for another decade plus. The Ontario government offered funding for LRT, not for us to pick and choose. If we dont take it we go back to the end of the line, whether there will be money by that time comes is even another question.

    Reply
    • July 18th, 2017

      The Ontario Government offered to fund rapid transit. The Environmental Assessment process requires that the public is involved in the decision making. The public was made to believe the funding was for LRT only and alternative options were not considered. A Memorandum received by the Mayor on February 1st, 2010 stated that “the BRT was the top performing system” for Hamilton. It also indicated that “the results had not yet been released publicly” . On February 19 when the BCA was released publicly the report no longer referred to the BRT as the top performing system. The speed of the LRT was exaggerated in order to show higher Transportation User Benefits. But those benefits do not exist and cannot be attained. That will result in wasting taxpayers money. Including Hamiltonians who will have to come up with millions of dollars each year to operate a system that is not needed. Why don’t you google “At $1.9 billion over 30 years”.

      Reply
  3. jim graham

    July 13th, 2017

    Peewee McGreal will be apoplectic, eat this orangemike

    Reply
  4. Brian blackburn

    July 13th, 2017

    Time to stop this lrt maddness

    Reply
  5. Ian Sim

    July 16th, 2017

    C.J. on transit.this exercise was to promote the plan for the L.R.T.even after this program was over.it eas the job of C.J. to promote to business along the route to buy into this project.The other real concern I have talked about is metrolinx itself.one cannot ignore the scandals and city council should at least consider who they are dealing with.selfserving .Its not hard to see that this should be a real concern with council.If ignored we will have other tim hortons field law suit down the road.

    Reply
  6. Demi

    July 17th, 2017

    “Tidball notes, “In order to make the connection from the LRT to the GO Train, transit users will have to walk outdoors along Hughson Street, which will increase their travel time by approximately 15 minutes and expose them to inclement weather.”

    Tidball determines that pedestrians move at 1.4 km/h and are able to cover a 350 m distance in a quarter-hour?

    Hope he’s getting paid in Sansabelts.

    Reply
    • July 18th, 2017

      The plan was to connect directly to the Go Train Station. It was not done because it would add an extra 4 minutes to the LRT travel time, that would result in a loss of $314 million in Travel Time Savings. 25 stops were reduced to 17. The LRT cannot save passengers sufficient travel time to warrant the huge expense. With Torontonians living in Hamilton and working in Toronto, the direct connection to UNDERUTILIZED Go Stations should have been given more consideration.

      Reply
  7. Demi

    July 17th, 2017

    “the proposed LRT in Hamilton would eliminate all buses on the route including more than 20 existing bus stops”

    Amalgamating King and Main B-Line stops into a single line doesn’t eliminate stops; it relocates them.

    Incidentally, if you live 4km from Flamboro Downs, in all likelihood, you pay none of your property taxes toward municipal transit. Every notice that it’s those who don’t use transit and don’t pay for transit are the ones most engaged in squashing investments in transit?

    Still, Hamilton is always free to buy electric buses rather than diesel or hybrid ones. They just cost twice as much. But once you dismantle area rating for transit, the sky’s the limit!

    Reply
    • July 18th, 2017

      Buses will continue to run along Main and King Streets. They have not been amalgamated. LRT stops are too far apart and many will continue to take the bus.

      Reply
    • July 18th, 2017

      The city had an obligation to study both BRT and LRT options. In fact, on the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment Process posted on the City of Hamilton website, Phase 2 is to identify alternative solutions and phase 3 is to examine them. The Benefits Case Analysis stated that”the Rapid Transit Feasibility Study (RTFS) was to compare BRT and LRT technologies and discuss what BRT and LRT could potentially look like. The primary purpose of the study was to provide council, staff, and the PUBLIC with the initial view of the opportunities that rapid transit can present, and with the constraints that need to be addressed in making a decision to pursue EITHER an LRT or BRT rapid transit option”. PG 17. WHEN WAS THIS DONE????

      Reply
  8. Demi

    July 17th, 2017

    “Council has the power under the rules to allow a study that, among other things, could look at BRT as a possible option.”

    So cars don’t have to give up two lanes to a $1B train system. They can lose them to a $250M bus system.

    https://youtu.be/UaXAd0FKkhY?t=3m45s

    Reply
    • July 18th, 2017

      It’s not a bus system. It is BUS RAPID TRANSIT. A designated lane with signal priority, just as fast, less costly, more convenient, etc..
      Allows for 3 lanes of traffic on Main and King Streets, a bike lane and is a truly pedestrian friendly.

      Reply
  9. Demi

    July 17th, 2017

    “The submission concludes by pointing out that a BRT system coupled with the proposed BLAST bus network would leave between $400 and $500 Million available for the government to pursue other transit projects in the GTAH, including its number one goal of electrifying GO.”

    The province’s favoured acronym is GTHA. The Southern Ontario Gateway Council uses GTAH. The SOGC also admits that “Our bias is towards goods movement.”

    https://www.thespec.com/news-story/2164491-residents-raise-alarm-over-mini-mid-pen-highway-proposal/

    http://sirepub.halton.ca/councildocs/pm/14/Jul%2011%202012%20REGULAR%20MEETING%20OF%20REGIONAL%20COUNCIL%20Other%20Business%20%20Presentation%20and%20Submission%20from%20%20%20John%20Best%20S%20Ont%20Gateway%20Council%20ppt%20152965.pdf

    Reply
  10. jim graham

    July 18th, 2017

    BRT would provide enhanced service over LRT, would not require years of disruptive construction, and saves approximately 750 million. It was the preferred choice of Metrolinx. But Fred, and shrill shill’s like Demi want LRT, so there you have it.

    Reply
    • Demi

      July 18th, 2017

      You’re not terribly familiar with the City’s rapid transit public consultations, the Metrolinx King-Main BCA, or the reality of BRT systems tendered under Metrolinx.

      Claim 1 (“BRT would provide enhanced service over LRT”) is entirely dependent upon operating headway. At the headways considered by Metrolinx in its 2010 BCA, BRT would require four times the service levels that currently exist. If you assume that this minimum service level is baked into the contract, then operating BRT would at least require a 400% expansion of the capital and operating budget of the 10 Express route, a large enough contingent of rolling stock that most if not all of the HSR’s fleet replacement resources would need to be be dedicated to that single route, as buses age out in 10 year cycles. That means locking in a long-term transit levy that council would be powerless to remove.

      Claim 2, that BRT “would not require years of disruptive construction”, is demonstrably false. In York Region, the 5km Davis Drive BRT corridor took almost 4 years to construct. It is expected that the 9km Yonge St. portion of the York Viva busway will take 4 years to construct. Full road reconstruction, construction of transit stations, etc. A 14km crosstown surface rapid transit route will cause roughly equal amounts of construction and disruption, regardless of mode preferred. This is Metrolinx’s working assumption in the King-Main BCA: “The construction period is assumed to be the same for all three options”.

      Claim 3, that BRT “saves approximately $750 million,” is speculative costing (e.g. the 9km Yonge St. BRT described above will cost $260 million to construct) but it also assumes that the MOA would operate along similar lines (i.e. that the province would pay 100% of capital costs), which might not turn out to be true. It’s certainly the case that the operating costs of BRT are significantly higher than those of LRT, and are borne entirely by local taxpayers. So “savings” are relative.

      Claim 4, that BRT “was the preferred choice of Metrolinx,” is false. Metrolinx draws no definitive conclusion in the King-Main BCA or any BCA. That’s not what they’re for. (“This type of standardized project analysis is not meant to be a replacement tool for decision-making, but rather a point of reference for decision-makers, providing an informed view of the project and possible alternatives.”) The Metrolinx King-Main BCA does note that all rapid transit modes return better than break-even ROI, but that LRT offers greater economic development impact, a dramatically better environmental effect (five to six times the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions), and superior transportation user benefits. Metrolinx, verbatim: “Overall, the results indicate that an investment in LRT in Hamilton will generate significant benefits and support the City’s broader objectives to revitalize, redevelop and reshape its most significant east-west corridor. While the lowest cost option, Option 1 [BRT], produces the highest benefit-cost ratio of 1.4, both LRT options generated benefit-cost ratios that are greater than 1.0. The highest cost option, Option 2 [LRT], also produced the greatest benefits in all accounts, all of which make an important contribution towards achieving the objectives and goals of both the City and the Province.”

      If you have a critical assessment or constructive solution based on facts rather than fantasy and fiction, please offer them up in the interests of improving transit in Hamilton. I haven’t seen anything like that from you yet, but I’ve never believed that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.

      Reply
      • jim graham

        July 19th, 2017

        You are not terribly familiar with reality, period. The entire Metrolinx King-Main benefit case analysis is predicated on current conditions which do not exist…..and never will.
        Right?
        The entire premise is based on both King and Main already being converted to 2 way traffic. We all know that has not happened (well most of us) And it never will. And this ‘fantasy scenario” of yours is the only way you could manage to slow buses down enough so that LRT would be travelling at the same speed.
        LRT is slower than a bus.
        Claim 1, “if you assume, based on the BCA” I do not assume, the BCA is worthless.
        Claim2 , give them a lane, problem solved.
        Claim 3, $1B investment……minus $250M=??????
        Claim 4 , again you are forced to rely upon a badly flawed document to draw your conclusions. BRT produces the highest cost/benefit ratio of any solution considered. And that is what we want. Value.
        So sober up Demi, quit trying to defend your position with nonsense and misinformation and get on board.
        Talk again soon
        xo

        Reply
        • Demi

          July 19th, 2017

          So “the BCA is worthless” and “badly flawed” but also your only proof for claims of BRT’s superior ROI and cost/benefit ratio vs. all other modes of transit. Okay, then.

          Re: “the entire premise is based on both King and Main already being converted to 2 way traffic”

          False. The 2010 King-Main BCA considers the “potential… reconfiguring of King and Main Street into two-way arterials” (possible conversions identified by the City in studies and discussions dating back to amalgamation) but it considers the status quo as well.

          Page 6:

          “Finally, the results of the comparative analysis presented in this report are based on the assumption that the current one-way street system through the downtown core is converted to a two-way traffic system where both Main Street and King Street are converted to two-way streets. In the absence of this conversion, the incremental benefits generated by the introduction of a rapid transit system are greater than those presented in this report, reflecting the different trip characteristics under each scenario. The one-way system typically supports longer cross town trips rather than the shorter trips encouraged by the two-way streets. As a consequence, the travel time savings resulting from the introduction of rapid transit under a two-way street scenario are less significant than under a one-way scenario as individual trip patterns already reflect the shorter trip distances.”

          Again: “In the absence of this conversion, the incremental benefits generated by the introduction of a rapid transit system are greater than those presented in this report.”

          It’s encouraging that you no longer regard the concept of a crosstown transit-only lane as a “long-dead horse” but it remains to be said that signage and stencils are not rapid transit. The province has indicated that it already provides funding for conventional bus service through provincial gas tax revenues. There is no ROI on road paint, so there’s no reason for the province to fund such a proposal, especially in light of council’s bus lane shenanigans. $1B commitment minus $1B = $1B in savings.

          It is a little perplexing to see you insist elsewhere that Hamilton’s LRT is a failure because its implementation is less than world-class, while here you’re eager to accept a bus-based scenario that lacks any ambition whatsoever, solely because it will challenge the status quo as little as possible. If platinum-grade implementation is your goal, why not at least meet the BRT standards of our GTHA peers in Mississauga and York Region?

          Luckily, the cost of a crosstown bus lane is negligible enough that council doesn’t have to wait for Metrolinx funding to dedicate 28km of crosstown street to buses. The 2km pilot only cost $300K, so $4 million should get them started… and they can do so in the next budget cycle, just in time for the 2018 election.

          Reply
          • jim graham

            July 19th, 2017

            “finally the results of the comparative analysis presented in this report are based on the assumption that the current one way street system through the downtown core is converted to two way traffic system where both Main and King are converted to two way streets”
            The results are based on conditions which do not exist.
            And never will.
            Yet you use it as your go to reference manual.
            Check out http://www.thoughtco. bus vs. light rail. Lots of proof. It would be a bad day for all concerned if we were forced to rely upon Demi for factual information.
            Provide a citation for anytime/anywhere I have referenced LRT as “a failure” (pssst…..it isn’t built yet) Flawed? Check. Wasteful? Check. Premised upon hypothetical bad guesses? Check.

            While anonymous advocates continue to writhe, opposition continues to mount.
            See you in the funny papers.

          • Demi

            July 19th, 2017

            Metrolinx BRT precedents in the GTHA:

            • York Region’s 34km of segregated BRT busways becan construction in 2009 and are slated to be complete in 2020. The province contributed $1.4 billion and York Region is footing 16% of the total capital cost.

            • Construction on Mississauga’s 18km transitway began in Nov 2010 and is scheduled to be completed Fall 2017. $328 million of the project’s cost was borne by the City of Mississauga.

            If full BRT had been proposed by council and was funded by the province, I would be totally on board. If council was ready to go it alone or pay a sizeable share of capital costs toward enhancing the HSR’s trunk line, I would applaud the bold change in culture at City Hall. A system that dedicated 28 lane kilometers of road to BRT is a significant upgrade from the current reality. But that was not proposed for Metrolinx funding by council. Nor was it funded by the province. Nor has any BRT system been 100% funded by the province. Nor is a bus lane segregated by nothing more than diamond stencils the equivalent of BRT.

            Your assumptions are based on conditions which do not exist.

          • jim graham

            July 20th, 2017

            so the Queen of citations is unable to support her unfounded and scurrilous accusations.
            Rather than referencing a BCA predicated on fantasy, why don’t we prepare a BCA based on conditions as they actually exist-you know reality-and as they will present during actual implementation?
            Something real.
            Looks like our friend Mr. Tidball is going to give that a try.
            Bravo

          • Demi

            July 20th, 2017

            Reality: A Toronto lawyer getting paid handsomely by a Hamilton clothier doesn’t much care how quixotic or meaningless his assignment is, as long as his paycheques keep clearing.

            I don’t really know how one goes about preparing a BCA based upon future conditions without predictive modelling. If you want to speak definitively about conditions as they will present during actual implementation, you will want to withhold judgment for 7 more years so that you can generate the most accurate and informed analysis of the year 2024.

            There is nothing to stop the City from investing in more buses, and converting its 250-bus fleet from diesel and CNG and hybrid to 100% electric. Those buses are twice as expensive as the HSR’s conventional rolling stock but obviously hold appeal to many people, so in the interests of city-wide peace, council should just bite the bullet and restart the Ten Year Local Transit Strategy under an all-electric mandate. Double the tax levies and dismantle area rating and start to green the HSR. If you want BLAST bus lanes and a bus barn and more buses, that’s entirely doable. The provincial and federal gas tax revenues are there to support council’s policy choices.

            BRT is another matter entirely. In low-density, low ridership areas, it offers compelling benefits. In a high-density corridor such as Wards 1-5, it is twice as expensive to operate as LRT on a per-passenger/per-service kilometer basis, with significantly higher operating expense from fuel costs and additional vehicles to meet demand. The GTHA precedent suggests a BRT system would require capital buy-in from the municipality of anywhere from 15% to 30% (if the province opted to fund it at all, and there is no guarantee that it would). BRT would come with a requirement for an open bid process on the O&M contract, per provincial government procurement policies. BRT would require equivalent road widening and reconstruction, and expropriation (more so, as vehicles are not travelling on fixed tracks), would have the same number of stops and station nodes as LRT and would require the same road segregation and land dedication as LRT. It would also have limited benefit in terms of land use shaping, land value uplift, development potential and intensification, with corresponding drag on the municipal tax base.

          • jim graham

            July 21st, 2017

            “I don’t really know how one goes about preparing a BCA based upon future conditions without predictive modeling”
            Correct, you do not.
            Yet you persist, predicting what you believe is required, in order to support your myopic and fantasy fueled vision.
            Try preparing a BCA based upon existing conditions. See what incremental benefits-if any-“rapid transit” (that would include BRT!) has on existing conditions, which would include declining ridership.

            I waited just over 30 minutes yesterday for the Mohawk to take me up the Kenilworth Access.
            What will a $1B investment in transit do to improve service?
            Nada. Nothing. Zip.
            40 minutes.
            Your vision is impaired.

          • Demi

            July 21st, 2017

            Metrolinx King-Main BCA, page 6: “In the absence of this conversion, the incremental benefits generated by the introduction of a rapid transit system are greater than those presented in this report, reflecting the different trip characteristics under each scenario.”

            The 2010 King-Main BCA considers the “potential… reconfiguring of King and Main Street into two-way arterials” (possible conversions identified by the City in studies and discussions dating back to amalgamation) but it considers the status quo as well. SDG considered the alternative (i.e. existing conditions) and determined that “the incremental benefits generated by the introduction of a rapid transit system are greater than those presented in this report.”

            “I waited just over 30 minutes yesterday for the Mohawk to take me up the Kenilworth Access.”

            HSR Service Standards dictate as much: Service responds to demand. If the HSR had larger a operational budget (i.e. higher household contribution) then it might not have its service so leashed to boardings. Operational funding for transit is not the responsibility of senior government. It falls to the municipality. And the City has loaded it onto fare-payers. Once you’re at sardine load for an extended period of time and pass-bys become a recurring problem, more buses may be added.

            “existing conditions, which would include declining ridership”

            Maybe on the 41 Mohawk, which has traditionally been one of the least used mountain routes (and which has service levels to reflect as much). But a five-year sample of HSR ridership as a whole would tell a different story. HSR ridership currently is higher system-wide than it was in 2009, the most recent data year available to the King-Main BCA (published February 2010). System-wide HSR ridership was higher in 2009 than it was when Liberals formed government in 2003. And despite the City’s disinvestment in service along the trunk line, a recent multi-year sample indicates that ridership on the B-Line corridor has been growing four times faster than the HSR’s system-wide average.

            Appendix D to Report PW11079g (King Street Transit Only Lane Pilot Project): “The most recent ridership counts suggest that transit ridership along the corridor through the downtown has grown by approximately 20% over 5 years, 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.”

            The innumerate will cling to the belief that ridership declines are experienced uniformly, city-wide, but the reality is that ridership varies by route, and this corridor has always had and continues to have the strongest ridership numbers in the city. That’s why it can support so many interlined transit routes. No other area on the HSR system map is so banded with bus lines.

          • jim graham

            July 21st, 2017

            with your “most recent data” already years old, it’s relevance too must be questioned. Riders see what is coming and have already begun to find alternate modes. User’s realize that this investment is a downgrade to existing service and are exasperated. Discretionary users continue to stay away in droves.
            Page 6 ‘s reference to”rapid transit” of course includes buses and does not endorse light rail as any sort of preferred mode.
            10 years you have been at this? And this is the best you can imagine?

          • Demi

            July 21st, 2017

            How on earth can anyone study statistics other than the most recent available to them? Do you imagine that the province only studied 2009 ridership numbers , or that Metrolinx availed itself of 2010-2014 numbers before making its funding decision in May 2015?

            If you want to assemble a 2017 business case for LRT or BRT, wrote your councillor and urge them to commit the funds. The price tag was about $10m last time around, and it will take years to launch another funding bid. By which time you’ll want another $10m because years have elapsed.

            Then again, this probably suits you fine, because your aversion to public transit funding in any shape or form is transparent. You’re not looking for solutions, just any excuse to oppose constructive change.

            “Riders see what is coming and have already begun to find alternate modes. Discretionary users continue to stay away in droves.”

            Thanks for the evidence-free assertion. In fact, the ridership numbers are at the upper end of what had been predicted by the HSR’s own formula regarding fare increases. Example: The price of seniors’ passes has increased by around 40% over the last two years, while service “enhancements” were deferred until the last six months of that two-year period. Ridership declines could have been far worse, but were not. On top

            “Page 6 ‘s reference to”rapid transit” of course includes buses and does not endorse light rail as any sort of preferred mode.”

            Well, duh. Neither does the BCA endorse any specific mode (re-read the preceding posts regarding the purpose and function of a BCA). If you’ll forgive the spoiler, since you’ve evidently never read it: The BCA considers three options. Option 1 is Full BRT. Option 2 is Full LRT. Option 3 is Phased LRT.

            If you would like to read the BCA you can find it here: http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/projectevaluation/benefitscases/Benefits_Case-Hamilton.pdf

          • Demi

            July 21st, 2017

            Re:“Riders see what is coming and have already begun to find alternate modes. Discretionary users continue to stay away in droves.”

            *On top of which, consider that the HSR unilaterally instituted a two-card system for McMaster U-Pass ridership (students whose student cards alone previously served as bus passed) then charged them exorbitant amounts for replacement cards (i.e. What used to cost $30 for replacing a stolen pass now costs $100 the first time around, and $150 each subsequent replacement.). On top of this, the HSR launched an unprecedented enforcement initiative wherein neon-vested security goons worked in tandem with drivers to deny access to any student with even questionable ID, confiscating their ID.

            https://www.thespec.com/news-story/6786308-hsr-confiscating-student-bus-passes/

            This would be service that these undergrads have just voted to pay a premium for — bankrolling expanded 51 University service along with shifting from 8- to 12-month UPass coverage. This would be service enhancement that the HSR (during the 2017 municipal budget cycle) suggested rolling back because it was too popular with riders, and could be cut in order to realize cost efficiencies. This is the kind of downgrade to existing service that exasperates users.

          • jim graham

            July 22nd, 2017

            Exactly the sort of “downgrade” that will not be addressed with a billion dollar investment.
            Lets keep them exasperated, all thanks to Demi the shrill shill, incapable of looking past that which is shoved down her throat.
            How on earth can anyone base a BCA on conditions which do not exist and then proclaim in their absence, every metric considered magically improves? How do you spew such drivel with a straight face? Anonymously of course.
            LRT is change which will require construction. Lots of construction. To maintain existing service levels. Maybe.
            And I find the idea-any anyone who promotes it-offensive.

          • Demi

            July 24th, 2017

            Regarding my statement that “It’s encouraging that you no longer regard the concept of a crosstown transit-only lane as a ‘long-dead horse'”:

            Mayor Proposes Adjustment to Bus Lane Pilot Project

            “Thanks for clearing that up Fred. It will be amusing watching you alienate yourself while trying to resurrect this long dead horse.” – Jim Graham, Dec 12 2014

            http://web.archive.org/web/20160702141944/http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2014/12/media-release-mayor-proposes-adjustment.html#comment-form

            I did not place quotes around “failure” because I was not quoting you. I’m gratified that you will not be prejudging LRT.

            $1B infrastructure investment has a higher dollar value than a $250 million infrastructure investment, yes. “Far more valuable” is a bit fuzzy but as I understand it, a $1B infrastructure investment has a value four times that of a $250 million infrastructure investment. (It also lasts longer: Buses would need to be replaced 10 years after being added, and the City would be holding the bag on that.)

            FWIW, your model of “BRT” is not BRT so much as bus service, and would not be eligible for rapid transit funding as such. That was made clear by the Minister of Transportation.

            BRT requires road reconstruction in order to support transit intensification and streamline the functioning of the line. That has been the reality of every Metrolinx BRT system undertaken to date, and that is what the Metrolinx consultants assume in the King-Main BCA. Note that Metrolinx’s consultants did not consider the ROI on expanded bus service in mixed traffic which is your preferred solution. Even then, 28 km of crosstown bus lanes, would be a disruptive force, dedicating 25% of the lane capacity of Main and King to express buses.

            I’m still not sure why you continue to hold the BCA up to stand as a proof point when you regard it as a useless document. Either you value what it has to say or you don’t. Again, however, you are the one characterizing scenarios considered by Metrolinx as “better”/“worse”. As I’ve pointed out, that’s not the role of these planning documents.

            The Metrolinx BCA determined that all rapid transit options under consideration represented better than even ROI, with greater benefits projected to accrue if two-way street conversion did not take place. This is presumably because the two-way conversion is projected to serve the interests of drivers who are able to take direct routes to their destinations rather than going past and circling back on a one-way grid system. If cars are seen as more convenient, transit’s appeal is reduced.

          • jim graham

            July 25th, 2017

            Thank-you, your apology is accepted.
            For the record, I admire your passion, and respect your intellect. I would never advocate for your injury, ever. I too, regret my words were the cause of your upset., and will try to choose my words more carefully.
            Sincerely.

          • jim graham

            July 26th, 2017

            the BCA never considers an option where buses are forced to travel right behind light rail in order to pick up the slack.
            Not as an”Option” nor as an alternative. Yet this is the resource Demi and advocates rely upon for “informed view of the project”
            And buses following right behind light rail is what we are about to embark upon.
            Interesting how a convoluted hybrid-never modeled, or even officially considered-is fully funded, yet any variance to bus solution would force the re-submission for funding which would delay the project for years.
            Hypocrisy? Double standard?

        • Demi

          July 22nd, 2017

          In a rush of optimism I had imagined that you could advance an coherent and mature argument without resorting to misoygynist caricatures, but apparently I give you too much credit. I find the idea that you would be violently dismissive of a rational argument solely because of gender to be more than problematic. I find the idea and the person promoting it to be offensive.

          Again: Operational funding for transit comes from the City. Senior government funds capital. If fiscal responsibility took a holiday and you were able to spontaneously green-light B-Line BRT without years of consultation, study, engineering, and design, the province would be able to spend $750 million elsewhere in the GTHA, Hamilton would see a $250 million capital investment, five years of construction, the dedication of 28 lane kilometers of King & Main to rapid transit, and the HSR would be legally bound to meet exponentially higher operational funding for that single route.

          I fail to understand why you have so much difficulty processing this elementary point, but since you are fixated on buses, perhaps it will help to think of it this way. Imagine that you have 120 passengers to move along a given route. A 35 foot bus at full rated capacity can accommodate 65 passengers. A 40 foot bus at full rated capacity can accommodate 83 passengers. A 60 foot articulated bus at full rated capacity can accommodate 123 passengers. A bus driver’s salary is not pro-rated to the length of their vehicle. Neither are O&M costs.

          A “solution” that has a tight operating expense-to-capacity ratio has limited potential to realize operational efficiencies. Most of the cost of the HSR is in salaries. If your preferred solution for squeezing value out of the B-Line is to quadruple the number of buses on that route (as would be the case under a BRT scenario), you’ve got your work cut out for you, because you’ve just increased the operational expense of that line 400%. LRT has a per-person operating cost half that of BRT because LRT vehicles are significantly larger than buses and can move more passengers.

          And the municipality would likely still have to kick in its share of capital funding (as is the case for Metrolinx’s BRT systems, and which would be a factor in why the province realizes a higher ROI on BRT — they’re not paying full freight).

          Reply
          • jim graham

            July 23rd, 2017

            because you are so fixated on LRT, and a strident student of the BCA, perhaps you could demonstrate where the BCA concludes running buses right behind light rail is the preferred solution.
            I read it, yet could not find that part.
            And while at it, maybe you could give this a go….according to you (and the BCA) conversion of Main and King to 2 way is like a “worst case scenario” for determining light rails performance. Yet “worst case” is exactly what you (and the BCA) seem to prefer. Why would you want what is worst for all?
            Is there something wrong with you?
            When you come up with something rational or coherent it will be received better than this foolishness.
            Until then, optimism rules.

          • jim graham

            July 23rd, 2017

            Demi likes to open with insult and unsubstantiated slander, then get’s her boxers in a bunch when people respond in kind.
            When goose meets gander, some anonymous subversives get testy.
            Expect no mercy.

          • Demi

            July 23rd, 2017

            You misunderstand what the BCA is and is not, and this fundamental misapprehension undermines the points that you are attempting to make.

            You also relish quoting things that were never said. The “worst case scenario” reflect a judgment that you alone are making — I would invite anyone reading to search this page for the phrase and you’ll find that it originated from Mr. Graham’s keyboard.

            There is no “best case” or “worst case” scenario entertained in the Metrolinx BCA, merely “two-way street scenario” and “one-way street scenario”. Metrolinx makes no judgment call on which they prefer. Neither do I. Nor would I presume that my subjective opinion on street directionals reflected what is best/worst for all. You’re possibly more comfortable doing so.

            Amusing to see you pretend that you are the fount of reason and I am incoherent.

          • Demi

            July 23rd, 2017

            What is the slander? Reread your opening:

            “Lets keep them exasperated, all thanks to Demi the shrill shill, incapable of looking past that which is shoved down her throat.”

            You don’t think that reads a little like a troll’s rape fantasy?

          • jim graham

            July 24th, 2017

            poor, naive Demi, now fantasizing about me fantasizing. You stand alone with your delusions.
            Claiming I have made statements which I have not “long dead horse” “failure” etc etc. is false and misleading. The definition of unsupported slander. And when it illicit s a strong response, you turn into a victim.
            No real surprise.

            Demi would like us all to believe that LRT is far more valuable than BRT.
            $750M vs $250M would seem to confirm her view.
            But then she tries to sell the notion that an option that cost’s 1/3 of the other comes with “equal amounts of construction and disruption, regardless of mode preferred”
            “The construction period is assumed to be the same for all three options”
            Assumed?Why that is almost magical.
            Any reasonable explanation for how that is possible? (of course not)

            Finally, “in the absence of this conversion, …the incremental benefits are greater that those presented in this report”
            Benefits are greater with one way? Yet the BCA is based on the assumption that the conversion to 2 way has already occurred (which is obvious fantasy)
            If 1 way is better than 2, yet the BCA mindlessly assumes 2 way, then I am prepared to conclude “2 way LRT” is the “worst” of the options considered. Further I am prepared to defer to your expertise in this matter and am confident you can demonstrate that one of the other options is even “worse”
            Give it a go.

          • Demi

            July 24th, 2017

            Regarding my statement that “It’s encouraging that you no longer regard the concept of a crosstown transit-only lane as a ‘long-dead horse’”:

            Mayor Proposes Adjustment to Bus Lane Pilot Project

            “Thanks for clearing that up Fred. It will be amusing watching you alienate yourself while trying to resurrect this long dead horse.” – Jim Graham, Dec 12 2014

            http://web.archive.org/web/20160702141944/http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2014/12/media-release-mayor-proposes-adjustment.html#comment-form

            I did not place quotes around “failure” because I was not quoting you. I’m gratified that you will not be prejudging LRT.

            $1B infrastructure investment has a higher dollar value than a $250 million infrastructure investment, yes. “Far more valuable” is a bit fuzzy but as I understand it, a $1B infrastructure investment has a value four times that of a $250 million infrastructure investment. (It also lasts longer: Buses would need to be replaced 10 years after being added, and the City would be holding the bag on that.)

            FWIW, your model of “BRT” is not BRT so much as bus service, and would not be eligible for rapid transit funding as such. That was made clear by the Minister of Transportation.

            BRT requires road reconstruction in order to support transit intensification and streamline the functioning of the line. That has been the reality of every Metrolinx BRT system undertaken to date, and that is what the Metrolinx consultants assume in the King-Main BCA. Note that Metrolinx’s consultants did not consider the ROI on expanded bus service in mixed traffic which is your preferred solution. Even then, 28 km of crosstown bus lanes, would be a disruptive force, dedicating 25% of the lane capacity of Main and King to express buses.

            I’m still not sure why you continue to hold the BCA up to stand as a proof point when you regard it as a useless document. Either you value what it has to say or you don’t. Again, however, you are the one characterizing scenarios considered by Metrolinx as “better”/“worse”. As I’ve pointed out, that’s not the role of these planning documents.

            The Metrolinx BCA determined that all rapid transit options under consideration represented better than even ROI, with greater benefits projected to accrue if two-way street conversion did not take place. This is presumably because the two-way conversion is projected to serve the interests of drivers who are able to take direct routes to their destinations rather than going past and circling back on a one-way grid system. If cars are seen as more convenient, transit’s appeal is reduced.

          • jim graham

            July 24th, 2017

            A bus lane experiment and LRT are not the same thing. I never claimed the concept of a crosstown transit only lane to be dead, (-who could?-)but definitely considered the bus lane experiment to be a “long dead horse” Turns out I was right, and Fred was wasting time and energy.
            DUH.
            You insist on framing just what will be funded, and what will not. We all know what has been said, and we do not accept such nonsense.
            It is you who continues to reference the BCA as somehow meaningful or relevant.
            Notwithstanding it’s value to undermine perceived benefit of light rail, the document is badly flawed, predicated on conditions which do not (and will never) exist, and as such is of little constructive value.
            Just witness your attempt to justify how a construction project valued at 1/3 of a rival option could possibly entail nearly identical timelines and disruptive activity.
            “There will be construction” Duh.
            Epic fail.
            Transit’s appeal is reduced when transit under performs. Destructing the busiest routes in the system, for years at a time, in order to install a “solution” which requires buses to be running right behind light rail in order to provide an acceptable service standard is foolish.
            Transit user’s know foolishness when they see it, and make other arrangements. As clearly evidenced by recent ridership declines -system wide.

          • Demi

            July 24th, 2017

            “You insist on framing just what will be funded, and what will not.”

            Because it is a notable distinction, and because it is known — and you have tended to assign value to what is known and provable over speculative projections. All funding requires a procedure to unlock it, and the larger the sum, the longer it typically takes to unlock. BRT would be no different. I don’t imagine that you believe it would be a politically savvy move for the province to hand over $250 million without due diligence. Nor is it clear what the terms of a BRT MOA would be, or what a BRT AFP model would look like. Or what the impact to funding relationships with senior governments would be if we jumped ship at this late stage.

            “It is you who continues to reference the BCA as somehow meaningful or relevant.”

            I refer to the BCA as it is, which is to say that it was a reference document used to inform policy decisions around investments in rapid transit infrastructure in Hamilton.

            “Yet the BCA is based on the assumption that the conversion to 2 way has already occurred (which is obvious fantasy)”

            FWIW, half of the route has been two-way for the last 60 years.

            “Notwithstanding its value to undermine perceived benefit of light rail, the document is badly flawed,”

            You are free to characterize the BCA to be flawed in its methodology, but if that’s the case, we might also assume that its valuation of BRT is compromised.

            Even so, we can draw certain conclusions from the valuation attached to BRT reflects the economic multiplier attached to an extensive construction period. Once you start messing with the inputs, your output changes. You alter the ROI if you reduce the people-years associated with the project. If your contention is that a dozen people could paint a diamond lane across the lower city in the space of a week, you’ve all but eliminated the economic impact of BRT construction (estimated by the Metrolinx BCA at 990 direct and 937 indirect person-years of employment), or around 200 people working for 5 years straight.

            Point being, the further you diverge from the service model imagined under this BCA, the less likely the associated benefits cited therein will materialize. Widening BRT headways from 2.5 minutes to 5 minutes would compromise the value of the system, as would having it operate in mixed traffic, as would foregoing associated roadwork (e.g. utility relocation, 50-year pavement, coloured/performance aggregate lanes, traffic signal priority, improved streetscaping, fare-paid stations) that allows the system to operate as smoothly as possible and reduce wear and tear on vehicles. (A single 60 foot bus filled with passengers weighs 28 tons, which can be hard on pavement.)

            http://conf.tac-atc.ca/english/annualconference/tac2011/docs/p1/balasundaram.pdf
            http://www.path.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/PRR-2008-32.pdf

            Again, my timelines regarding BRT construction cited Metrolinx BRT precedents in the GTHA because they are known project precedents, with key commonalities evident across the board from construction to financing. These can be used to anticipate what we might be up against were we to choose to construct a BRT route or network.

            You could strike a middle ground by value engineering the system so that the only road to be reconstructed was the separated BRT ROW, but it’s unclear how much of a savings would be realized. And if you believe that Metrolinx is a swift and efficient project manager, then maybe they can bring the times down. But the fact remains that BRT is not simply a matter of more buses. BRT chiefly differs from LRT in that it employs buses rather than trains. Express bus service is express bus service, and I’m glad that you appear to support bus lanes in the interests of improving transit performance.

            The other chief difference, of course, is that BRT is not shovel-ready or funded. All Metrolinx BRT precedents involve the municipality coming to the table with between 15% and 30% of capital costs, or $38M to $75M on a $250M project. Plus the $60M that we would repay to the province for backing out of LRT at this stage. Plus the cost of assembling a business case and design work for BRT, as part of a funding bid. (Brampton’s council changed half of their LRT alignment and are now looking at a seven-year wait before they find out if their solution will be approved by the MTO and funded by the province.) Hamilton pled poor on making a capital contribution to the $1B LRT but would have a harder time begging off with regard to a considerably less expensive BRT. My working assumption has been that council would be loathe to spend $100M-$135M to pursue BRT on the B-Line by 2031 or thereabouts, but maybe they will be feeling footloose and fancy free in an election year.

          • Demi

            July 24th, 2017

            @jim graham I freely and openly concede that my claim that your description of me belonging to a demographic of “shrill shrills” as a sexist caricature was a subjective interpretation and not an objective reality. I did not intend to misrepresent your words, but was angered by what I took to be aggressive language and imagery. Responding in the moment I characterized your comments in haste and without due consideration to the possibility that they were similarly made without ill intent. I got caught up in the moment and I deeply regret it. I appreciate that we are both animated by wanting the best for our public transit system and city and both looking to ensure that planning decisions are made for sound reasons and in support of sustainable policy. it would be a shame to have our energies squandered sparring in these forums when we could be actively improving our city. I hope that you can forgive my momentary lapse in judgment. 

          • jim graham

            July 25th, 2017

            FWIW half of the route has been 2 way for 60 years?
            Which route would that be?

            “clearly the need for two-way operation is essential for the successful operation of this transit line given the findings presented.”
            This has not happened, and is not going to happen, which accordingly assures the project will not be successful, as per the document itself.

            Of the 3 options considered in the BCA, which is the one that promotes buses following right behind light rail? I can’t find that part.
            None of them?
            So we are proceeding with some sort of convoluted hybrid which has never been modeled, considered, or expended? Interesting how this would magically qualify for funding. How can one possibly know the impacts of an option which is yet to be vetted?
            And you think that is sound practice?

          • Demi

            July 25th, 2017

            “FWIW half of the route has been 2 way for 60 years?”

            Sorry, I should have been more specific. Was referring to King & Main. Main is two-way west of Paradise Road North (1.5km) and two-way east of Kensington Avenue (5.5km) – 7km of the proposed 14km rapid transit route. (King is also two-way west of Paradise and two-way east of Kensington Avenue, but not sections that overlap with the proposed B-Line rapid transit route.) I misspoke in citing that 60 year term: Main and King were two-way prior to Wilbur S. Smith & Associates’ one-way conversions of October 1956. The Spec reports that the original plan didn’t call for Main Street to be converted but rather remain a two-way road, and that the original plan recommended King only be converted from Wellington to Queen.

            https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/2249999-one-way-two-way-little-known-facts/

            So there’s ample precedent in that those streets were wholly two-way before 1956 and half of the route has always been two-way. I’m not entirely certain when that would have started, but I suspect that the dawn of the 20th century and the arrival of motor vehicles probably necessitated a more formal network of paved thoroughfares. So let’s say 100 years of two-way traffic (not especially surprising when you remember that Main Street was a highway at one point).

            “clearly the need for two-way operation is essential for the successful operation of this transit line given the findings presented.”

            I’m not convinced that that this is strictly true. I feel that you could make a case in either direction, and for a number of different reasons. As I’ve pointed out, two-way traffic may be a boon for transit appeal, depending upon the motivating factors behind why people choose to drive. At the same time, it might lead to slower traffic movements in the core, which would close the gap between rapid transit and personal vehicle, which would potentially lure more people to explore transit options. I’m not especially familiar with what the City’s take on this matter is, though I can imagine that council would be prepared to disregard/overrule staff recommendations in that regard.

  11. Tom West

    July 18th, 2017

    The writer needs to learn about the differences between “full” EAs and TPAPs. Under a “full” EA, the proponent has to look at possible alternatives to the project (including doing nothing), select one, and then assess its environmental impacts and suitable mitigation measures. In a TPAP, the proponent can skip directly to the last stage. In both a TPAP and an EA, it’s a “self-directed examination where the proponent decides what the environmental impacts are and then tells the ministry how those impacts will be mitigated”.

    Also, if riders are exposed to “inclement” weather walking 350m from the stop to the GO station, then presumably they will also be exposed to inclement weather when they walk to their starting stop…

    Reply
  12. Demi

    July 20th, 2017

    Mr. Parazader’s vision of “rapid transit” is visible to us now: He wants the status quo service, just run on a different fuel source. He doesn’t want dedicated lanes, or signal priority, or fewer bus stops to increase service speed, or the loss of curbside parking, or a larger service/storage facility. Somehow his electric buses can operate all day long and only recharge during off-peak periods at lower hydro rates, an understandable preference given that electric buses can currently need to recharge every 30 miles, or two loops between McMaster and Eastgate.

    Reply
  13. jim graham

    July 22nd, 2017

    Demi likes to highlight system deficiencies like poor service levels and strange business practices that remain completely unaffected by this investment and her vision.
    She considers this constructive.
    Quite a perspective.

    Reply
  14. jim graham

    July 22nd, 2017

    LRT.
    A $1B investment that is so radical it requires buses running right behind light rail in order to provide an acceptable standard of service.
    Years of construction, ripping apart the 2 busiest routes in the City to install rail, decimating local retailers, so that buses can continue to follow right behind trains.
    Who dreamed this up?

    Reply

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