Hamilton transit a hot button issue at City Hall again

Another marathon session at Hamilton City Hall today, as the city’s new transit chief presented the department’s vision for the next ten years.The plan calls for more buses, more funding and more money from transit users.The proposal calls for 300 million dollars in transit improvements including 81 more busses, a new 200 million dollar maintenance and storage garage, and enhancements to service.The plan calls for the city to approach Metrolinx to cover the 300 hundred million dollar bill, a suggestion that irked Mayor Fred Eisenberger.In a testy exchange the Mayor said the request would muddy the waters and hurt the city’s chances for LRT funding. Not so says the city’s new transit chief.“I don’t think so. I think it’s putting a higher demand in terms of ask of the province. At the end of the day the city, regardless of what it does in higher order transit, has to address the current demand that there is in the city right now for service.”“So it’s hard to suggest we invest in a billion dollar project prior to fixing some of the basic issues that face the hsr and our transit riders today.”Other proposals in the report that raised eyebrows were fare increases and a change in area rating. That’s the formula the city uses to determine how much tax residents pay based on public services available. A suggestion rural councillors adamantly oppose.“We don’t have any city water, city sewers or bus service there now. It’s totally rural.”“It’s not fair and we’re not going down that road.”Transit staff have been asked by councillors to get back to them in three weeks with an updated report addressing their concerns.

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