A staff report to Council says the operating and maintenance cost of the LRT will be the $20 Million per year quoted by Metrolinx officials earlier this month, unless the city is prepared to reduce conventional bus service elsewhere in the city. The staff report said the annual operating and maintenance cost could go a low as $6.4 Million, but to get there it would be necessary to cut 103,000 hours of bus service that are now being provided, and that number would also depend on overall transit ridership rising by 8 percent as a result of LRT. The O&M cost would rise to $10.4 Million if there was no growth in transit usage. Under this scenario 29 buses would be removed from the system, mainly from the familiar lines that share the Main-King Corridor-the King Bus, the existing B-Line Bus, Delaware Bus, Stoney Creek buses, and the University bus.
Reducing the conventional bus service to offset LRT costs would run counter to the City’s 10-year transit strategy, now in year four, that saw thousands of hours of additional service added to the network in order to encourage more transit usage. The staff report accepted the Metrolinx estimate of O&M costs of $20 Million as the base line and then applied bus reduction scenarios to whittle the number down.
Another scenario that supposed only removing the existing B-Line buses, resulted in a $12.5 Million O&M cost if ridership increased by eight percent, and $16.5 Million at a zero-ridership growth rate. Absent from the estimates was any discussion of a decrease in overall ridership that might occur if riders resisted transferring from bus to LRT and back to bus again on some of the longer east-west journeys, coupled with less frequent service connecting to LRT.
Net Operating Costs for Hamilton LRT Scenario 8% ridership growth No Ridership growth Buses removed From system Service Hours Removed Remove buses from several east-west lines $6.4 Million $10.4 Million 29 103,000 B Line buses only removed $12.5 Million $16.5 Million 13 33,000