Councillors want to end bus-only lane now
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday, December 13, 2014
Councillors want to give motorists and merchants an optional bus lane for Christmas.
The city created a three-kilometre dedicated transit lane on King Street more than a year ago to test-drive rapid transit along the busy corridor.
The contentious experiment, slated to end in October, has been prolonged because council won’t get a chance to see detailed results until January — and lane markings can’t be removed until the snow disappears.
But several politicians are ready to effectively kill the unpopular bus-only lane now by ending enforcement against drivers who ignore the vehicle ban.
“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say it appeared to be a colossal failure from the outset,” said Coun. Chad Collins, who urged colleagues Monday to give unhappy King Street merchants an “early Christmas present.”
Collins said he’ll introduce a motion Wednesday at general issues committee to make the bus-only lane “nonenforceable” until council makes a final pronouncement on the experiment in January.
Council would have to formally sign off on the idea next week, but city staff appeared resigned to the possibility.
Public works head Gerry Davis said transportation planners would work with the councillor to explore methods to “safely” allow car traffic back into a lane that will still be marked as bus-only. That could include covering overhead signs and asking police to refrain from enforcing the rules.
Joseph Chatelain, general manager at Papagayo Restaurant, said he’ll cheer any move toward ending the project, particularly if it helps salvage the holiday season.
“I’d like it gone completely, but we’ll take whatever help we can get,” said Chatelain, who ideally would like parking to return along the right-hand lane in front of the long-standing restaurant. “It’s hurt us from Day 1. Our takeout service has gone down to nothing.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)