Anybody looking at the city can see that the biggest impediment to a well organized transit system is the escarpment. That goes doubly for public transit. The HSR doubles, triples, and quadruples route coverage because it sends multiple buses up the hill and along the same roads to service the different routes, and then has them converge again downtown in an orgy of fossil-fuel powered inefficiency.
Reference now the map provided which shows a redrawn LRT that uses the Claremont Access. The recent lane closures show that there is room for building on that access. There is also room for lines up and down Wellington and Victoria respectively to the CNR tracks where, assuming we have people who can make a deal with the railway company to utilize the right-of-way, the LRT can then run directly to the James St. GO Station’s platforms.
At the mountain brow southbound cars can take the West 5th bypass allowing room for the LRT to run on Upper James. Southbound traffic can rejoin at Fennell where the road widens. From there on up to the airport I suggest that there is more than enough room for the rails with much less disruption to traffic. One can imagine a service/maintenance depot right next to the HSR garage as well. An alternate route for a looped end in the downtown, that passes by the James St. GO Station as well as the Hunter St. GO Station on the way back towards the mountain access, is highlighted in blue.
Why is city council/Metrolinx hell-bent on building an East-West route for LRT? The B-Line supporters say it is about higher density “infilling” development. They say the increase in the tax base will bail us out of our infrastructure debt. There is no reason to believe that similar development won’t happen along a North-South route. Again, why the B-Line? Is it because the original planned proposal was for various versions of an East-West configuration exclusively? It is a mistake, and to handcuff yourselves to a project that causes permanent traffic chaos downtown is not just stupid, it is criminally so.
When we are offered a pile of cash to build something, don’t build just anything. That is a formula for a “white elephant”, or perhaps in this case a provincial “bull” in a downtown Hamilton “china shop”. With respect to the province, you have no guarantee that there will be any future funding for the rest of the BLAST* network transit plan. Beyond this initial line, whatever letter you assign it, you’re just dreaming. So build the most appropriate, best LRT, not an excuse to replace infrastructure that isn’t even broken. You might even find that it makes its own sense to build it regardless of whether or not the province retracts its funding offer.
The logical solution, the logical place to spend your dollars is on a North-South line from the GO Station to the airport, keep the mountain buses on the hill to feed the LRT, save fuel and the environment at the same time. That’s an LRT plan that actually has logical end points, crosses every East-West artery, and will allow access for the whole city (upper and lower) to use the LRT. That’s a system that will work, and people will use it.
* For those who have not heard, BLAST is a kind of acronym that people working with or for Metrolinx came up with to describe a fantastic plan to link two or more LRT routes and other bus routes each assigned a letter to form a higher-level transit network and a clever word.
You can look it up on the internet by searching “blast Hamilton” and there you can also find a description of Metrolinx as well.