Bus re­places LRT spur line

Prov­ince con­firms rapid bus line be­tween har­bour and air­port to dis­place James Street rail spur

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN

ON­TARIO’S RAD­I­CALLY RE­VAMPED rapid tran­sit plan for Hamil­ton now in­cludes LRT through the lower city and rapid bus ser­vice from the har­bour to the air­port.

But it does not yet in­clude a full fund­ing guar­an­tee — or even a price tag.

Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Steven Del Duca an­nounced Thurs­day that a new 16-kilo­me­tre bus rapid tran­sit (BRT) line on the A-line will re­place a planned two-kilo­me­tre rail spur on James Street promised in 2015 as part of a larger $1-bil­lion LRT project.

The change means the main 11-kilo­me­tre light

rail tran­sit line planned be­tween McMaster Univer­sity and the Queen­ston traf­fic cir­cle will now go ahead sep­a­rately from the still un­planned rapid bus ser­vice, which is ex­pected to largely fol­low James Street and Up­per James Street.

Del Duca said the prov­ince and Metrolinx switched gears be­cause of feed­back gath­ered dur­ing pub­lic meet­ings on LRT. “This com­mu­nity … ex­pressed a de­sire for en­hanced rapid tran­sit con­nec­tions be­tween the lower city and the Moun­tain,” he said at a Hunter Street GO Cen­tre press con­fer­ence that at­tracted a small crowd of LRT sup­port­ers — and a few sign-wield­ing de­trac­tors.

It’s not cer­tain what the planned rapid bus ser­vice will cost — or even what it will look like, with sep­a­rated lanes or buses trav­el­ling in traf­fic both pos­si­ble.

Cut­ting the A-line rail spur out of the $1-bil­lion LRT bud­get should save around $125 mil­lion, which could help pay for rapid bus ser­vice, said Metrolinx com­mu­nity re­la­tions direc­tor Jamie Robin­son.

But he added if the even­tual cost of bus ser­vice ex­ceeds the money left over in the LRT bud­get, “var­i­ous lev­els of govern­ment” will have to dis­cuss mak­ing up the short­fall.

Hamil­ton Mayor Fred Eisenberger praised the project as a bet­ter fit for the city and added he was “hope­ful” the LRT bud­get would cover both projects.

Trans­porta­tion Min­is­ter Steven Del Duca an­nounces a 16-kilo­me­tre bus rapid tran­sit line dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at the Hunter Street GO Sta­tion Thurs­day.

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