As we have reported earlier, it is likely Hamilton City Council will end up having to make the final decision on whether of vote for LRT and start looking for the additional money needed to complete the project or whether to spend the $1 Billion on a Bus Rapid Transit network—both A and B Lines– plus the BLAST network which will reach into most of the city.
If our scenario is correct we can brace ourselves for another bout of furious lobbying and if that doesn’t work—threats– to councillors similar to what we saw in 2017 when there was the last crucial vote on the project.
Councillors should be fully aware of all the facts around this project and be prepared to ask and answer some fairly basic questions.
- Are you prepared to have the city absorb at least $1 Billion in debt—taking Hamilton’s debt level from roughly $800 Million to approximately $2 Billion, because make no mistake—if additional money is brought to the table—be it from the Infrastructure bank or some other source; it will be in the form of debt—and it will sit on the city’s books—nowhere else. By the way, even at a nominal interest rate of say, half a percent the debt servicing would be $5 Million a year.
- For those who say LRT is no so much a transit project as it is an economic development project; who’s to say that bus rapid transit wouldn’t create economic uplift along its route as it has in York Region and Brampton? Don’t listen to anybody telling you this has been studied because there has been no in-depth study done.
- The Ford Government says the operating and maintenance agreement will cost Hamilton more than $30 Million a year. The LIUNA estimate is $24 Million. Are either of these numbers acceptable to you as a councillor?
We could go on and on, but picture two scenarios:
Scenario 1. WE find the money somehow and build the 14 KM LRT. It essentially displaces our existing, fairly effective east-west bus network in the lower city. The shiny trains run on fixed rail. There are 14 stations—passengers board without climbing steps. The system serves 5 of the city’s 15 wards. 5% million a year for debt servicing and $24-$30 Million in operating and maintenance.
Scenario 2. We build 20 kilometres of bus rapid transit. The articulated buses, many running on clean battery power, operate in their own transitway. We now have two spines of rapid transit—one serving the lower city, the other connecting downtown to Rymal Road. Radiating off the A and B line is the BLAST network connecting all parts of the city and eliminating the need to pass through the downtown for most bus routes. 15 wards served instead of 5.
Take your pick. Call your councillor and let them know what you think. Their contact information is here.