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In the Wake of the Cancelled LRT, Task Force Recommends Rapid Transit in Hamilton

On April 9, 2020, a special task force commissioned by the Province of Ontario issued a report on the proposed course for public transit development in Hamilton. The report recommended that the City spend the $1 billion in capital funding it has been assigned to construct rapid transit in the form of either Light Rail Transit (LRT) or Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). This recommendation comes in the wake of the province’s recent cancellation of the original Hamilton LRT project, due to projected cost overruns.

 Higher-order LRT/BRT transit benefits from its own dedicated right-of-way within a municipality’s road network and provides advantages such as frequent service, large transit capacity and reduced environmental impacts. The report did not indicate its preference regarding the LRT or BRT options, and deferred further review to Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario.  However, many regard the report’s findings as having the potential to revive the original King-Main LRT as a viable option to meet the City’s transportation needs.

 Rapid transit would not only increase connections to major institutions and transit hubs in Hamilton but also stimulate investment and development opportunities along major corridors. If chosen, the LRT option would enjoy certain advantages over BRT routes, as an LRT is more likely to meet long-term demands and better promote the use of public transit. However, the report cautioned that the province will need to explore additional capital funding sources if the LRT is the option selected, as well as consider the viability of cost-mitigation strategies such as implementing a truncated version of the original project.

 The eventual choice to be made for the next stage of transit infrastructure in Hamilton will have far-reaching implications for the city, especially for its economy in the post-pandemic era. Once the project is underway, acquisition and expropriation of the required lands from residents and businesses will likely be a top priority for the project in its early stages.

 For a complete version of the task force’s report, please visit the following link:

https://www.ontario.ca/page/hamilton-transportation-task-force-report

 

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