Hamilton mayoralty candidate Bob Bratina told a news conference Thursday that the Hamilton Street Railway and ATU members must operate the LRT. “Council has approved the LRT. The federal and provincial governments have agreed to fund the capital costs, Hamilton will be responsible for the operating and maintenance costs which will be in the tens of millions of dollars. The only way to manage these costs is to operate the LRT ourselves. A private sector company should not be profiting off our public transit,” Bratina told reporters. He also called for a complete review of the operations of Hamilton’s HSR, pointing out that ridership had dropped significantly during COVID and there is a need to make sure the current HSR 10-year plan takes the new reality into account.
He said the transit needs to be better promoted and public needs to see their leaders using transit. “I have a Presto Card in my pocket. I am the Transit Mayor. I think it is important that the mayor be seen using transit. You have to lead by example,” he said.
Reporters questioned the candidate about his well-known opposition to LRT. “Everybody knows where I stood on the LRT,” Bratina replied, “but I am a realist, Council has voted to move forward.” He pointed out that LRT would have passed even under a strong mayor system, since only four members of council voted against LRT. “I had the same problem with the stadium in that (Ivor Wynne) location, it should have been in Confederation Park. But we got it built and I am happy to says that there was not one residential tax dollar that went into the construction of Tim Horton Field.”
Bratina said the well-publicized problems with the Ottawa LRT were partly the result of the Mayor and council wanting an early ribbon-cutting and not being forthcoming with information. He said as mayor he will insure than residents know what is going on with LRT even if the news is bad.