After five years as head of HSR, Debbie Dalle Vedove has announced her retirement. The Transit Director posted her notice on Friday, which read in part, “In an industry that has traditionally not seen women flourish, I am proud to have broken barriers and excelled while building a culture of fairness and accountability.”
Director Dall Vedove came into the post after the abrupt departure of David Dixon, who outraged LRT supporters on council by introducing a ten-year transit plan that essentially excluded LRT in favour of expansion of conventional transit and a focus on rolling our the BLAST network that would have extended service to under-served parts of the city. In his report Dixon pointed out that ridership levels in Hamilton barely justified Bus Rapid Transit, much less LRT. Despite Dixon’s departure, council nonetheless approved his transit strategy.
In a recent budget appearance before the General Issues Committee, Dall Vedove outlined a plan that would have seen significant service enhancements; recommending that the fifth year of the HSR ten year strategic plan be implemented after being paused for a year. The $4.2 Million plan would see the purchase of 13 additional buses, hiring 35 full time positions. These additions would provide 46,000 additional service hours. The plan also included implementing on-demand service to Waterdown.
LRT a “no-go” zone
As was the case prior to Dalle Vedove’s arrival in Hamilton, the LRT issue was kept on a separate path from the day-to-day operations of HSR. Indeed it was a sort of ,”no-go” zone for HSR management as the Dixon experience proved. When the LRT concept was first floated in 2010, an office was established to promote the project that pretty much excluded HSR management from the team. As a result the ten-year transit strategy developed by Dixon and continued by Dalle Vedove made no reference to LRT or its potential impact on the ten year strategy.
At her budget presentation last month, Dalle Vedove was asked by Clr. Tom Jackson if she was making any plans for the possible implementation of Bus Rapid Transit should LRT not become a reality; and perhaps anticipating yesterday’s announcement, her reply was only that HSR would continue to provide the best service possible for Hamiltonians. Shortly after that meeting the Ford Government announced that it would petition the Federal Government for funds to constructed a truncated LRT line.