The Hamilton Task force mandated to advise Transportation Minister Mulroney on the best way of spending the $1Billion in provincial funding initially earmarked for LRT has released its report. The report recommends that the $1 Billion in either LRT or Bus Rapid Transit, but urges the government to do further detailed research to determine the best option. The report does not favor one option over the other, stating, “the Task Force recommends that the Province and Metrolinx consider both of these projects equally and undertake further analysis concurrently to determine which project is the best fit for Hamilton’s transportation needs.” Following is a list of the task force recommendations:
Summary of preliminary recommendations
The Task Force’s general recommendation is to invest the $1 billion in higher-order transit, because these projects are expected to bring substantial benefits to the residents and businesses of the City of Hamilton.
The Task Force’s initial preference is for an intra-city higher-order transit project that addresses the City of Hamilton’s transportation needs such as current and future demand and congestion. This could either be an LRT on the B-Line or BRTs on the B- and A-Lines (with additional complementary priority bus projects as part of the BLAST network). The LRT option on the B-Line could include the original project scope (if additional capital funding is identified), or a truncated version of the original project as a first phase provided the benefits meet or exceed the benefits of the original project and exceed the benefits of projects on the preliminary list of recommendations. The Task Force recommends that the Province and Metrolinx consider both of these projects equally and undertake further analysis concurrently to determine which project is the best fit for Hamilton’s transportation needs.
The Task Force recommends that contract award or project construction (for significant early work infrastructure at a minimum) begins within two years of the submission of this report, or March 16, 2022, in order to provide substantial benefits to the City of Hamilton in a timely manner. In order to meet this two-year timeline, the Task Force recommends the Province proceed with work to address the challenges for all three projects simultaneously as well as explore potential tools for accelerating delivery of its chosen transportation project(s) in Hamilton, in consultation with the City.
If, after further analysis, intra-city higher-order transit projects are not feasible, then the Task Force further recommends inter-city higher-order transit in the form of 15-minute two-way all-day GO rail service to Hamilton GO Centre station.
The Province should also confirm a contract can be awarded, or work can begin (for significant early work infrastructure at a minimum) within two years on the delivery of two-way, all-day 15-minute service to Hamilton GO Centre Station.
The Province should engage other levels of government to identify all potential capital funding contributions for a potential LRT project.
The Province should explore opportunities to reduce the cost of the potential LRT project including alternative delivery models and alternative financing structures and sources (e.g., Canada Infrastructure Bank).
If there is insufficient funding for the original LRT project scope, MTO should work with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario to explore options to construct a segment of the LRT as a first phase. MTO should ensure the Phase 1 project can support a potential future LRT expansion. In the event that future phases do not materialize the shorter potential LRT route must illustrate greater transit benefits to the citizens of Hamilton when compared to the BRT/Commuter GO rail projects also recommended for investment by this Task Force.
As a BRT option would be developed within the limitations of the King-Main St. corridor (B-line BRT) and Upper James St. corridor (A-line BRT), an initial priority of any work should focus on determining the technical feasibility of having fully separated bus lanes with platform-level boarding. The Task Force is not convinced any form of transit that runs in mixed traffic will deliver appropriate benefits to the people and businesses of Hamilton.
The Province should confirm if the BRT projects can be implemented within the next two years and identify the possibility of project phasing to begin early works (e.g., leveraging the planning work completed for the LRT along the B-line; leveraging lessons learnt from the implementation of other BRTs like the viva BRT).
Undertake a business case for the BRTs and priority bus options to get refined benefits and costs estimates. This business case should also explore the benefits of e-buses and potential extensions (east and west extensions of the B-line BRT to Fifty Road-Queen Elizabeth Way and University Plaza, respectively; extension of A-line BRT from Rymal Road to Hamilton International Airport).
The Province should refine cost estimates for 15-minute, two-way, all-day GO service to Hamilton GO Centre Station, given wide range of current estimates.
The Task Force recommends the Province explore the potential benefits and impacts of 15-minute, two-way, all-day GO service to Hamilton GO Centre Station, including economic development uplift and effect on current transportation network. The Province should explore these potential benefits to determine if this project delivers substantial benefits over currently planned service increases to West Harbour GO Station.
The Province should conduct further analysis for each of the recommended higher-order transit projects to understand the potential benefits for goods movement.
For whichever transportation project(s) the Province chooses to deliver, the Province should work with the City to identify and fund complementary active transportation and local infrastructure projects that would improve the connectivity of the City’s transportation network.
The Task Force would like to conclude this report by reiterating the importance of the task it was given. The people of Hamilton deserve a high-quality transportation network and $1 billion would go a long way towards supporting that outcome.
Even though the Task Force was appointed by and reports to the Minister of Transportation, the Task Force is first and foremost working for the citizens of Hamilton. As fellow citizens, the members of the Task Force want to see the City of Hamilton grow and thrive. The Task Force want to see Downtown Hamilton continue to grow as the economic and cultural heart of the City and want to see improved transportation connections between all parts of the city for all modes of transportation. The Task Force want to see substantial benefits for the residents and economy of Hamilton and believe the recommendations will assist by helping to solve Hamilton’s transportation needs, improving access and inter- and intra-city connectivity of the transportation network, addressing current and future demand and congestion and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Task Force has provided some recommendations for how the $1 billion could best fit Hamilton’s transportation needs. However, more work needs to be done. This report provides direction that is expected to help lay out the pathways the Province should explore to ensure the $1 billion allocated to Hamilton is used in the best way possible. To achieve this vision, the Task Force asks the Province and the City of Hamilton to work together on the higher-order transit as
The full report is available here: https://www.news.ontario.ca/mto/en/2020/04/government-releases-hamilton-transportation-task-force-report.html