At his news conference in Hamilton today, Premier Doug Ford made it clear that if Hamilton is to get an LRT system the city will have to come up with a share of cash. Flanked by Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly who are at opposite ends in their views on this project, Ford was asked when Hamiltonians are going to find out the results of a study that is currently underway at Metrolinx to determine the relative merits of LRT versus Bus Rapid Transit..
Estimates for the cost of an LRT system for Hamilton have risen to between $4 and $5 Billion dollars. The Province has maintained that it will not go beyond the $1 Billion it has promised for transit in Hamilton, leaving a significant portion that would have to be made up by other levels of government. The federal government has indicated its willingness to consider contributing to LRT, as a result of heavy lobbying of Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, but the only funding formula that can trigger federal cash is one that involves the municipal level paying roughly 27 percent of the cost. This was the formula that was used to finance LRT in Ottawa and Kitchener-Waterloo. Hamilton Council in allowing the project to proceed through the past decade has repeatedly indicated its unwillingness to contribute.
The rapid transit task force headed by Tony Valeri that considered the TRT-BRT issue last winter suggested that both projects be given equal weight in the evaluation by Metrolinx. Transit experts have told the Bay Observer that Hamilton would be able to build roughly 20KM of Bus Rapid Transit within the $1 Billion provincial contribution.