With a growing population and increased urbanization Hamilton’s traffic congestion is a current problem as the city becomes further developed. Hamilton has proven time and time again that it is an investment-ready, medium-sized city that is already growing and attracting new people every year (Why Light Rail Transit Matters, 2011), but in order to keep its excellent quality of life, there are key issues that need to be resolved or at least reduced. The proposed solution is to implement a Lightweight Rail Transit, also known as the LRT, a system of electric powered rail cars riding alongside vehicles at street level, that will lead to health, economic, and environmental benefits (Light Rain Transit in Hamilton, 2012). This alternative mode of transportation will allow commuters to travel quickly in comfort to key locations around the city while keeping their cars at home. At the current air quality index reaching levels as high as 38, 32+ being no longer good, (Air Quality Ontario, 2013) air pollution is becoming an issue in Hamilton. With a large number of vehicles off the road, air pollution can be greatly reduced helping the environment and the population’s health. Traffic congestion will also decrease, and while simply adding new roads may be another competing suggestion to reduce traffic, the LRT will cost 40% less (Why Light Rail Transit Matters, 2011). Additionally a large amount of jobs will be created with the manufacturing and maintenance of the LRT system giving the economy a well-needed boost (LRT Works, 2013). With predicted values of 9100 daily passengers in the first year, reaching 18000 in 2025 (Hamilton Light Rail, 2011), the LRT’s success will be a great addition to the city of Hamilton. This system can be easily put into operation by implementing already existing roadways and changing a few things that come directly in the way of the LRT. In the end, the LRT is an economically beneficial idea that has positive health and environmental implications that can be put into operation with relative ease in the near future .
This section of the proposal outlines the projected route along with a summarized justification explaining why this route was chosen among all alternative routes. Further reasoning for the location of the stops will be discussed later in the report. Hamilton’s population is very diverse, considered one of the most diverse cities in Canada (Hamilton at a Glance, 2013), and there is a large range of people who have different travel needs; it is difficult to plan a route that is beneficial to the entire population but this proposed route comes up as the most practical and efficient among all other proposed routes. The proposed LRT route will loop in and around Hamilton, traveling North from Hamilton Airport, down the escarpment via underground tunnel, to Hamilton Harbour, and back around traveling South from the Harbour, up the escarpment using the same tunnel and back to the Airport.The overall route connects two prime locations in Hamilton, the Airport and the Harbour; these places are key features in the city and will attract the most attention. The North route is slightly more complicated then the South route, it utilizes five different streets as the South route only uses one. After tunnelling down the escarpment, the train travels down Claremont Access into Victoria, then a sharp turn into King entering Hamilton’s downtown area. The route carefully intersects the downtown region at minimal points as the high amount of people and automobiles may cause issues with the LRT train. Continuing down the route, one left turn will bring the train to Ferguson and another will allow it to travel down Wilson. A final right turn places the unit back at Victoria where it travels to the Harbour. The North route winding around downtown Hamilton will allow commuters to get to their jobs in time, which is a necessity as a considerable portion of Hamilton’s population work within the core of the city. This route also invites tourists to travel downtown and enjoy what the city has to offer, these new shoppers will be another addition to the growing economy. Once leaving the Harbour it’s time for the LRT route to return back. The South route allows for quick and easy travel to the Airport which is important for passengers who need to reach their flight in time. It consists of a single street, the train simply travels down Bay Street quickly and efficiently without any change in direction and then back up the escarpment. There are many prime locations along this route that will make great stops for commuters to get on and off, later in this report three of the best suggested stops and one rejected one will be discussed.
One notable disadvantage to this route is the direction of travel when going South on Bay Street. Bay is a one way street that only allows vehicles to travel the opposite direction of the planned path of the LRT train. Rather than changing a single lane dedicated to the LRT tracks that will oppose the direction of traffic, it is a better option to simply change the direction of the entire street. Implementing such a change will be difficult, but the benefits of using Bay street in the reverse direction for the LRT outweigh the benefits of using any other path to travel back to the Airport for the sole purpose of keeping Bay street the way it is.
Regardless of all other route options, this provides the most benefits while still being the most efficient with the least disadvantages. Many ideas were placed on the drawing board, but this route will do a much better job ensuring the increasing quality of life in Hamilton and providing its services to the population.
In the end the LRT is a great solution to the current traffic congestion problem in Hamilton. In addition to reducing congestion, it will benefit the economy, environment and the populations health by considerable amounts. Keeping more cars off the road will reduce air pollution benefiting the environment, traffic conditions, as well as the citizens’ health. The creation and maintenance of the LRT will add new jobs to the job market slightly boosting the economy. There are many benefits among the ones outlined in this report, but the main objective behind this entire project is to maintain the high standard of living that Hamilton has been supporting for its population; to simply add a new and effective method to travel from one area to another with speed and comfort without the use of a personal vehicle. The proposed route connecting two prime locations of Hamilton together, the Harbour and Airport, while traveling through and around the downtown area will be the defining factor that will ensure many commuters daily. Large amounts of data and research show through conceptual reasoning and projected statistics show that the LRT will be a success if implemented.