Saturday March 7, 2015

Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday March 7, 2015

HSR bus cash vs. Hamilton LRT

Welcome to the bus battle.

Council will consider its first major HSR budget boost in years this morning along with a controversial new rapid transit request from the province.

The political showdown will be over a $302 million request to the province for dozens of new buses and a garage outlined as part of a 10-year transit plan. That request would have to come on top of the existing $811 million request for LRT.

Light rail advocates fear another request would muddy the water and give a cash-strapped province the chance to put off LRT funding indefinitely.

At the same time, new transit director Dave Dixon is asking for a $6 million HSR boost – including 50 new drivers and 25 new buses – over the next two years.

He said the money is critical for council to address “immediate needs” like overcrowded buses and poor service on existing routes.

But council is also struggling with a 2015 operating budget that appears on target for a 4.4 per cent average tax increase.

Finance head Mike Zegarac will start the morning with an update on whether that financial picture has improved. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)

Hamilton, Council, HSR, bus, LRT, budget, transit, Metrolinx