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Metrolinx study provided a new Bus Rapid Transit vision for Hamilton

Metrolinx study provided a new Bus Rapid Transit vision for Hamilton

The Hamilton Rapid Transit Benefits report that was released Tuesday along with the announcement that the Province was going to ask Ottawa for financial support for LRT; has come up with a unique vision for Bus Rapid Transit in Hamilton. The new vision would offer connections that were not envisioned in previous studies. In the wake of the 2019 cancellation of Hamilton LRT, the Valeri task force was established to look at transit options for Hamilton. The task force offered two options—whatever LRT the city could get for the $1 Billion funding available – or, implementation of Bus Rapid Transit. Enhanced GO was offered as a third option only if LRT and BRT could not work. These recommendations were sent to Metrolinx for evaluation, and the result was published yesterday, although the report was actually completed last November.

One of the three options that was outlined in the report was a network consisting of both the B Line and A Line.

B Line Bus Rapid Transit would run on King and Main Streets

Key elements of the  New vision for the B Line would see:

•             The route running from University Plaza Terminal to McMaster University in Mixed traffic

•             From McMaster University to Dundurn Street the BRT would still be in mixed traffic but would have with transit signal priority.

•             Then as the route continues eastward through downtown The BRT would run on dedicated lanes from Dundurn Street to Gage Park: The biggest change would be that instead of having the BRT running in both directions along King Street there would be dedicated curbside lanes on King St (westbound) and Main St (eastbound). This would greatly reduce the traffic disruption on King Street through downtown Hamilton by splitting the congestion between two major arteries.

•             From Gage Park to Ottawa Street the BRT would run in dedicated curbside lanes on both sides of the street

•             From Ottawa Street to Eastgate Square: Mixed traffic with transit signal priority at all signalized intersections and queue jump lanes at Kenora Avenue, Nash Road, and Woodman Drive.

•             The proposal also provided for direct connection to the  Confederation GO station from Eastgate in Mixed traffic—something that would have required a transfer with LRT.

In summary, the B Line BRT would consist of:

•             19 total stops

o             10 on segments with dedicated BRT lanes

o             7 on segments with transit signal priority

o             2 on segments with no priority

•             Total length of enhanced transit infrastructure: 14.0 km

o             Curbside dedicated BRT lanes: 6.2 km

o             Mixed traffic with transit signal priority at intersections: 7.8 km, including queue jump lanes at three intersections.

In addition the proposal would see enhancements to the current A Line bus service.

A Line would have a Limeridge connection

•             The A line would run Guise Street to bottom of James Mountain Road in mixed traffic

•             James Mountain Road: would now become a Transit-only roadway

•             From the top of James Mountain Road to Mohawk College the A line would be in Mixed traffic

•             From Mohawk College the BRT would go east to Upper James and along to  Rymal Road in mixed traffic but with transit signal priority at all signalized intersections and queue jump lanes at Mohawk Road, Stone Church Road and Rymal Road

•             From Rymal Road to Hamilton Airport the BRT would run in Mixed traffic

•             At Upper James and Aldridge Street, neat the LINC there would be an express shuttle that would connect with Limeridge Mall along the Linc (1 exit)

In summary, the enhancements would consist of

•             Total length of enhanced transit infrastructure: 5.2 km

o             Transit-Only Roadway: 0.7 km

o             Mixed traffic with transit signal priority at intersections: 4.5 km, including queue jump lanes at three intersections.

This configuration would have full connectivity to the BLAST network.

BRT provided better connection to jobs and served much larger population

The study evaluated the three options against a number of criteria, including how many jobs were accessible by the various transit options. The report concluded, “Evaluating this objective, it is very clear the LRT option performs poorly. Option 1 LRT McMaster to Dundurn has less accessibility to Hamilton jobs by transit than the Business-as-usual (BAU) option. It additionally only provides access to one of Hamilton’s business parks or business improvement areas, the West Hamilton Innovation District. The BRT options … increase the number of jobs accessible by transit, and provide access to all the employment growth areas along their respective corridors. Among the key employment areas served by the BRT options are Downtown Hamilton, International Village, West Hamilton Innovation District, and East Hamilton Industrial Area among others. For Option 3 B-Line BRT + A-Line Transit Priority, improved access through transit priority is also provided to the Airport Employment Growth District.”

Keeping in mind that the Metrolinx study is matching a McMaster to Dundurn LRT against the BRT options, while what is being proposed after yesterday’s announcement is a line extending to Gage Park which would capture all the downtown jobs but still only serve one of the city’s employment districts.

Then the analysts took a look at how many residents and jobs will be directly served by the investment.

“This criterion demonstrates the much higher coverage that can be achieved from a BRT investment compared to an LRT investment of the same budget. “

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