Premier Kathleen Wynne reiterated her government’s commitment to spend roughly $29 Billion on transit in Ontario over the next 10 years but told an audience at the Royal York Hotel that they would have to wait until the budget is released in May for more details. The Premier did promise to dedicate portions of the HST on fuel, as well as 7 and a half cents of the gas tax to transportation, but would not say how those funds would be replaced.
In her remarks the Premier avoided any mention of transit plans for Hamilton. A release from the Premier’s office later only referred to “rapid transit” for Hamilton, which could include LRT or BRT. Sources close to the situation told the Bay Observer that the Premier’s office and Transport Minister Glen Murray are both well aware that Hamilton Liberal candidates Javid Mirza and Ivan Lucsik have downplayed LRT in their platforms calling instead for implementation of the city’s Rapid Ready plan which would increase bus ridership first before considering LRT.
The event drew considerable social media attention in Hamilton, prompting mayoralty hopeful Fred Eisenberger to Tweet: “great announcement today Re: funding for transit. Specifically what does it mean for transit funding in Hamilton ?” Tweeter Spencer Graham wrote “It is not much too much to ask that the prov & city contribute to LRT. (Hamilton) is tired of this bickering.” To which Minister Murray tweeted: “We are and will continue to but (Hamilton) has to engage in a dialogue and have a plan.” Candidate Brad Clark chimed in, “as I predicted we went from 100% prov funded LRT to let’s talk on a partnership on BRT.” Sources at Hamilton City Hall expressed frustration that Murray continues to suggest Hamilton lacks a transit plan since council has unanimously endorsed Rapid Ready. To read Rapid Ready, click here.