Feds and province give Hamilton $370M for 7 transit projects as part of BLAST network

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Published July 19, 2021 at 2:43 pm

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The City of Hamilton received more than $370 million from both the federal and provincials governments Monday (July 19).

The funding will go towards seven projects to help improve public transportation in Hamilton.

Among the projects funded is the construction of a new 60,000 square metre public transit maintenance and storage facility that will include a 30-bus maintenance area, storage for 200 conventional-size buses, approximately 4,000 square metres of administration space, and a four-level parking structure.

“Once completed, the new facility will improve the capacity of public transit infrastructure in the City and improve the quality and safety of the existing and future transit system,” reads the official announcement from the Government of Canada.

In addition, the government touted “improvements to Hamilton’s bus transit network and upgrades to the City’s 16 km-long A-Line rapid transit corridor will result in a faster and more reliable public transit experience.”

The upgrades involve the construction of five new queue jump lines and 17 km of new sidewalks along 12 different segments of rapid transit roadway, the implementation of transit signal priority measures at various intersections, and improvements to approximately 19 transit stops along the corridor.

These projects will contribute to the City of Hamilton’s network of BLAST corridors designed to connect residents from the lower city, to the mountain, to the waterfront and the airport.

“Hamilton is an ambitious and growing city, and accessible public transit is crucial to our future,” said Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour and Member of Parliament for Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas.

“Today’s announcement, which includes funding to support Hamilton’s bus network, is yet another important step forward towards creating a clean, modern public transit system that will connect communities across our city. I’m proud to be part of a government that recognizes the potential of our city and continues to make investments that will improve the lives of Hamiltonians.”

The Government of Canada is investing over $201.8 million in these projects through the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS) of the Investing in Canada infrastructure program. The Government of Ontario is providing more than $168.2 million, and the City of Hamilton is contributing over $148.8 million to these projects.

“This funding, along with the federal government’s previously announced support for Hamilton’s LRT project, together represent an historic, generational investment in transit in Hamilton,” said Fred Eisenberger, Mayor of Hamilton.

“This will allow us to expand transit like never before, making it faster, more affordable, more reliable and more convenient. This in turn will attract more riders than ever before, which in turn makes roads less congested and is good for the environment. The federal government is a wonderful partner in Hamilton’s transit aspirations and I thank Minister McKenna and Prime Minister Trudeau for making all this possible. The Ontario government is also a wonderful partner and I thank Minister Caroline Mulroney and Premier Doug Ford for their strong support for public transit.”

Last month, Hamilton City Council directed staff to prepare a memorandum of understanding between the parties involved in the city’s LRT project.

Councillors voted nine to six in favour of a motion contained in a committee report that directs City staff “to meet with Metrolinx, the Ministry of Transportation and other governmental entities, as required, to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Hamilton Light Rail Transit project.”

Once signed, it means the City will accept a federal and provincial government combined offer of $3.4 billion to build the 14-kilometre line from Eastgate Square to McMaster University and will assume the day-to-day operational costs of running the system.

A recent report from City staff pegged net costs for operating and maintaining the system between $6.4 million and $16.5 million per year — a fee that Hamilton’s taxpayers will be on the hook for.

The report looked at two key variables — ridership growth and how many crosstown bus routes would be retired because they will be replaced by the LRT — and offered two scenarios to offset costs for councillors to consider.

Councillors ultimately voted to support the first scenario which will remove 29 buses from the B-Line Express route and cut the operating hours of the King and Delaware bus routes by one-third.

Under this scenario, if ridership grows by eight per cent, the system would cost an estimated $6.4 million to run annually but without that growth, it would cost $10.4 million.

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