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Hamilton council backs motion to asking Metrolinx to let HSR to operate LRT

Hamilton's billion-dollar proposed LRT is expected to feature 17 stops across 14 km.
Hamilton's billion-dollar proposed LRT is expected to feature 17 stops across 14 km. City of Hamilton

Hamilton City Council has voted 10-2  in favour of backing the HSR as the organization to operate and maintain the LRT.

Following the passing of the motion at council on Friday, city staff will ask Metrolinx make the Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) the default operations and maintenance provider for the proposed light-rail transit system, rather than putting those jobs out for competitive bidding by private companies.

Councillors Robert Pasuta and Aidan Johnson were the only dissenting votes.

Even though it’s been approved at the municipal level, the province and Metrolinx would also have to sign off on the plan.

READ MORE: Council’s LRT motion could cost taxpayers millions

Ward 3 Coun. Matthew Green’s motion to “Keep Transit Public” passed 9-4 at council’s General Issues Committee meeting last week following months of campaigning from the transit union.

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Amalgamated Transit Unit Local 107 members have been out in the public gathering signatures since mid-June for a petition in support of the move.

There are now over 6,000 signatures, many still on paper and in the process of being added to the online petition.

Wednesday night, Local 107 members projected a giant 40-foot video on the side of Hamilton City Hall.

READ MORE: Small step towards HSR run LRT in Hamilton

Members of council, like Ward 12’s Lloyd Ferguson, had reservations about the HSR proposal. 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 said he had 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 transit union has pointed out that privatization in Ontario in the past has generated a long list of memorable failures.

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