The much anticipated staff report on Hamilton’s downtown ‘bus only lane’ pilot project was released Wednesday. And the report is turning out to be as controversial as the project itself.
The 150 page staff report found that ridership along the King Street corridor was up, although it doesn’t say by how much. Transit times have improved. And navigating busses through traffic was much easier.
On the down side, the report says traffic was more congested. Some businesses saw fewer customers. And there was a drop in parking revenue by as much as 70 percent in one area.
Still, the report favours keeping the lane open. That’s not surprising says councillor Terry Whitehead: “I’ve never believed for a moment that the individuals that have been involved in developing this report have been objective. I think they went with the mindset that this is the best thing to do and they try to justify it.”
But Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger who ran on a pro-light rail transit (LRT) election campaign, disagrees: “I’m not surprised that there’s a technical report that says that it’s working. That it has longer term benefits in terms of transit use for the future. At the same time, I think that perception is very strong. And I still worry that council will endeavour to throw the baby out with the bath water because they have a history of a tortured journey in how we got here.”
The report now goes before the general issues committee where the mayor expects it will get a rough ride. And he says unless something drastic changes, council will put the brakes on the controversial dedicated bus lane project.