Stoney Creek Councillor Brad Clark has fired off a letter to the Ministry of Transport asking the ministry to take a closer look at an unsolicited proposal for an alternative to LRT that was offered up by Metrolinx. The technical report was commissioned in response to the findings of a citizen committee headed by Tony Valeri which was tasked with making recommendations for higher-order transit but has never been presented to Hamilton Council.
One of the Valeri Committee’s recommendations was to build as much LRT as a billion dollars would buy, which turned out to be a line running from McMaster to Dundurn. This proposal was found to be inadequate in the Metrolinx report.
Bus Rapid Transit from Dundas University Plaza to Centennial GO Station
The second recommendation was for a Bus Rapid Transit network that would serve both the upper and lower city. It called for a B line that would run from University Plaza in Dundas all the way to the proposed Confederation GO station in Stoney Creek. The BRT route would employ a mixture of dedicated BRT busways combined with dedicated lanes elsewhere, as well as traffic signal priority to increase the speed of the system. The B line would run as follows:
• University Plaza Terminal to McMaster University: Mixed traffic
• McMaster University to Dundurn Street: Mixed traffic with transit signal priority
• Dundurn Street to Gage Park: Dedicated curbside lanes on King St (westbound) and Main St (eastbound)
• Gage Park to Ottawa Street: Dedicated curbside lanes
• 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
• Eastgate Square to Confederation GO station: Mixed traffic
• 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.
B Line BRT would use both Main and King Streets through core
Importantly, this suggested configuration would make use of both Main and King Streets through the downtown area, thus reducing the bottleneck on King Street between Wellington and Mary Streets that had been of concern to local merchants.
A-Line BRT from waterfront to Airport
The A line would run from the waterfront to the Airport with a shuttle to Limeridge Mall. The James Street Mountain Road would become transit-only. Its configuration would look like this:
• Guise Street to bottom of James Mountain Road: Mixed traffic
• James Mountain Road: Transit-only roadway
• Top of James Mountain Road to Mohawk College: Mixed traffic
• Mohawk College to Rymal Road: Mixed traffic with transit signal priority at all signalized intersections and queue jump lanes at Mohawk Road, Stone Church Road and Rymal Road
• Rymal Road to Hamilton Airport: Mixed traffic
• Aldridge Street to Lime Ridge Mall: Mixed traffic (via Lincoln M Alexander Parkway)
• 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
Clark urges ministry to consider BRT option
In his letter to the Ministry Clark noted, “I would suggest however that the shortened LRT is NOT the only option available to the Government. I would suggest that the government give serious consideration to including Option 3 from the Hamilton Rapid Transit Benefit Report in the proposed regulation. Option 3 was described in this report as “a mix of BRT and transit priority on the B-Line along with transit priority for a segment of the A-Line. This option will provide improvements to service on both the B-Line and A-Line and was developed to meet the recommendation from the HTTF to improve service on the A- and B- Line. This option will explore the benefits of taking some of the funding envelope and improving service on the A-Line.”
“This innovative approach would provide a full 14k route and eliminate the vehicle congestion at King and Wellington where the road narrows to two lanes. It would place BRT and Priority Transit on both Main Street and King Street by utilizing the dedicated BRT curbside lanes. It would also provide for a BRT on the A line that would span 16k from the Hamilton waterfront, to the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, running along James Street, James Mountain Road, West 5th Street, Fennell Avenue, and Upper James Street. These two BRT and Priority Transit lines would then be supported priority bus measures on the broader BLAST network which may include electric buses while meeting the Province cap of $1billion.”
“When you contrast and compare the truncated 8k LRT line at $2.5B to the positive broader geographic impacts of providing a 14K BRT/ Priority Transit on B line and 16k BRT/ Priority Transit on the A line as well as supporting priority bus measures for the BLAST network at $1b, you can see why I am suggesting that Option 3 should be included in the proposed regulation.”
“It is my opinion that given the dramatic increase in costs, a majority of my council colleagues are becoming increasingly concerned about the political direction that LRT has taken, and their lack of involvement in recent discussions. I suspect that there is a strong appetite to explore other transit options.
Respectfully yours Brad Clark
Councillor Ward 9 – Upper Stoney Creek”
In his letter Clark made it clear he was only speaking for himself and not on behalf of Council. However, several councillors in recent statements have also expressed an interest in exploring a plan B alternative to LRT. The technical report to which Clark referred was never formally presented to Hamilton Council but was added as an attachment to a government news release announcing that they were requesting federal financial support for LRT.
The full letter from Clark and the Metrolinx report can be accessed here.