Monday, June 18, 2012

Hamilton, Ont., still pondering LRT

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Much like its larger provincial big sister city Toronto, Hamilton, Ont., continues to struggle to sustain momentum for light rail transit development. City staff say data is still being gathered on the matter.

Nearly a year ago, local media reported that comments from Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina and City Manager Chris Murray seemed to cast doubt on the city's commitment to LRT. The concern arose even as Hamilton had utilized $3 million from regional transport agency Metrolinx for LRT design work.

The City Council last October countered with a resolution supporting continued investigation into LRT's feasibility.

Hamilton LRT efforts have been combined into a new office that oversees all the transportation modal development, from pedestrian design to public transit options. Don Hull heads the new office; Hull says the office is completing studies to forward to Ontario provincial officials in advance of its decision about funding Hamilton's transit options.

Hull's office also is evaluating how LRT can be advanced most cost-effectively by both the city and the province. "I think what's really helpful is that we've taken on a very clear, focused mandate for 2012, so we know exactly what's expected of us," he said.

Greater Toronto Area transit agency Metrolinx must determine whether the Hamilton LRT plan passes provincial muster. The competition for Metrolinx's attention is brisk, given the recently revived commitment to LRT made by the city of Toronto last May and by concurrent plans for LRT development serving Kitchener and Waterloo, Ont.