Hamilton learns what it will cost to run LRT, on eve of likely vote

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Published June 15, 2021 at 7:08 pm

The ballpark figure for how much it will cost the City of Hamilton to operate a light-rail transit (LRT) network might have been on the high side.

After a marathon general issues committee meeting two weeks ago, the city deferred a vote to make a commitment to LRT to its next meeting — which takes place on Wednesday (June 16). At that time, Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, suggested that it cost Hamilton $20 million annually to operate the system. However, a city report requested by councillors to estimate operational and maintenance costs says it is somewhat lower.

According to the report, the net operating cost would be between $6.4 million to $16.5 million. City staff used costing from a 2013 rapid transit feasibility study, with adjustments for inflation. The report looked at two key variables — ridership growth and how many crosstown bus routes are retired because they will be replaced by the LRT.

City of Hamilton figures for annual operating costs of the proposed LRT.

The Hamilton Transit Alliance is also calling for LRT to be run by Hamilton Street Railway, the city’s bus service.

On Wednesday morning, the committee is expected to vote on Mayor Fred Eisenberger’s motion that is intended to get the ball rolling on LRT. The mayor’s motion calls for city staff to begin negotiating a memorandum of understanding with Metrolinx and other provincial agencies about building the LRT.

The federal and provincial governments have offered to foot the $3.4-billion cost of building a 14.4-km LRT line. It would stretch from Eastgate Square in Stoney Creek to McMaster University in west Hamilton

The meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday and can be streamed on the city’s YouTube channel.

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