We often talk about Hamilton’s renaissance and how the city is rapidly changing in unique and exciting ways. Over the past several years, it has become one of the fastest-growing regions and continues to attract a growing number of new businesses, entrepreneurs, artists, visitors and residents. A thriving culinary scene, cultural attractions, green space, exemplary heath care and educational systems is putting Hamilton on the map as an excellent destination.
How people move around our city is changing too. Investment in all forms of transportation is positioning the city well to build a comprehensive transit network. There is growing recognition that how we plan/design our community has a major impact on our health and quality of life. In growing communities like Hamilton, a strong transit network for the movement of good and people has a critical effect in creating healthier, livable and more ‘complete communities’.
Complete communities support the greater use of public transit and active transportation. This leads to improved overall health, wellbeing and prosperity for residents of all ages and abilities. Greater use and access to public transit and active transportation helps reduce traffic related injuries and improves air quality. Better air quality coupled with increased physical activity will result in the improved overall physical and mental health of our community.
Creating a robust transit system comprised of traditional and rapid transit, has been a key aspect of our growth planning strategy for over a decade. The City’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP) demonstrates the importance of this robust transit system. The TMP will guide the future of transportation planning, including investment planning, to accommodate future growth past 2031. All aspects of transport are considered, from walking and cycling facilities, to connecting rail, to marine and aviation facilities. Hamilton will continue to plan for the future, as it will remain a major contributor to the movement of goods across Southern Ontario. The planning must continue with work from the provincial and federal governments to ensure Hamilton can sustain all future commerce through one of Canadas most vibrant Trade Corridors.
The City of Hamilton is also implementing a 10-year transit strategy with a focus on service, reliability and standards for our local transit network. Local transit service will be enhanced to meet service standards.
The light rail transit (LRT) is planned to keep up with population growth, which by 2041 is expected to grow by 30% to 780,000 people. The LRT is planned to be operational by 2024. The timing has been modified to take advantage of the acquisition of buses through the federal government’s Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF). Over the last two years, Hamilton has added 25 buses to its fleet. Hamilton is committed to improving local transit for our growing community.
The LRT project will move forward in partnership with Metrolinx, providing fast and reliable transit service between Mcmaster and Eastgate Square. There are 17 stops on route with connections to the existing HSR and Go Transit services. Hamilton’s LRT will help drive economic growth, grow the tax base and bring with it many new jobs. The LRT is an investment in improved quality of life as we move Hamilton forward.
The past decade has also seen an important expansion of cycling infrastructure in Hamilton. The city now has approximately 180 kilometres of on-street signed bicycle routes and almost 200 kilometres of marked bike lanes, along roadways such as Hunter and Cannon streets. Bay Street will be added beginning later this year. Multi-use trails also provide cycling mobility with approximately 150 kilometres of major multi-use trails across the city.
SoBi Hamilton, our public bike share system has been embraced as an integral part of Hamilton’s transportation system and cultural landscape. Spanning approximately 35 square kilometres with 750 blue bikes at 115 hubs, it has over 15,000 members. It’s largely used for commuting by residents and is an excellent solution for first/last mile connectivity to transit. This year, we’re working on the ‘Everyone Rides’ pilot project, which aims to provide subsidized memberships as well as free bike education and trip-planning for low income residents. New bikes and station locations will also be arriving this summer, aimed primarily at our East End Service area.
The City is currently implementing an integrated, centrally-controlled traffic management system that will allow us to effectively manage movement and travel needs throughout the city, in real time. It will ultimately use cameras at key intersections to monitor and adjust signal timing remotely and respond to potential traffic back-ups caused by accidents or other issues. Along with real time adjustment, data will be collected to enhance traffic movement. Centrally-controlled systems have been proven to lower collision rates and congestion. Future enhancements include active pedestrian and cyclist detection to automatically count through video to determine high volume areas.
Our plan is based on all forms of transportation and will help realize our collective vision to make Hamilton the best place in Canada to raise a child and age successfully. It will help ensure our transportation needs are met in terms of a growing and aging population. Our plan will position Hamilton to attract investors, grow our economy, reduce climate change and bring about an overall better quality of life. It is important we work hard now to implement a transportation system that is sustainable, economically, environmentally and ergonomically, now and into the future.
– Chris Murray
Hamilton City Manager