Small step towards HSR run LRT in Hamilton
City councillors voted 9 to 4 in favour of a request to to “keep transit public”. The motion from councillor Matthew Green requests that Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) operate and maintain the $1 billion Light Rail Transit system.
Members of council, like Ward 12’s Lloyd Ferguson, have reservations. He says the city just doesn’t have the resources.
“We don’t know how to maintain track,” Ferguson told the general issues committee on Wednesday. “We don’t have any of the supervisors or those who know how to maintain an LRT Train. That’s whole different expertise than running a bus.”
Mayor Fred Eisenberger has similar concerns as it relates to the cost of maintenance.
“There’s costs that we’re going to be assuming here that I don’t feel are rational or necessary.”
The vote will go to council on Aug. 18. However, even if approved at the municipal level, the province and Metrolinx would also have to sign off on allowing Hamilton to operate and maintain its own LRT system.
Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 2077 hosted a “Keep Transit Public” rally at City Hall prior to Wednesday’s vote.
Eric Tuck, President of ATU 107 says it can be a slippery slope when you start outsourcing work to private contractors.
“That’s our main concern. We’ve seen how that works in the U.S. and across Europe.”
The “Keep Transit Public” campaign was launched in mid-June. A petition has collected over 5,000 signatures in support of an HSR-run LRT.
Hamilton had already received a letter from Environment Minister Chris Ballard, giving the city the green light to move forward with its light rail transit project based on an updated environmental assessment.
The letter signs off on changes that have been made to an earlier design, most notably extending the LRT all the way to Eastgate Square.
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