Rising to the challenge: Gondolas belong in Hamilton
(Written by Joseph Sneep) Gondolas, a form of cable-propelled transit perhaps more usually associated with ski resorts, are not a practical addition to every city’s public transportation arsenal. In Hamilton, however, they are an ideal solution to that particular obstacle to urban mobility with which our city has always had to contend: the escarpment.
Last August, at a forum hosted at the Art Gallery of Hamilton called People First City Building: Focus on Sustainable Mobility, this idea received plenty of attention, and with good reason. Since then, interest seems to have waned.
However, with the beginning of the mayoral race in January, public transit will once again become a hot topic in municipal election debates, so I now want to present the case for gondolas as a valuable component worth integrating into any proposed future developments in Hamilton’s transit infrastructure. Whether our considerations be economic, environmental or even cultural, gondolas belong in Hamilton.
Michael McDaniel from Frog (an international innovation and design firm), the man behind a proposal for installing a system of gondolas in Austin, Texas, has calculated construction costs of gondola lines to be around $3 million to $12 million US per mile; this versus $36 million for light rail lines, and $400 million for subways
Considering Hamilton’s escarpment is about 100 metres tall at the three proposed light rail lines going up the escarpment (i.e., the A, S, and T lines of Hamilton’s LRT plan), the math reveals an estimated savings of at least $4.9 million. That alone should get everyone in the city thinking more seriously about cable propelled transit.
A gondola line travels at about 16 km/h, and can move between 6,000 and 8,000 people per hour per direction. According to projected 2031 ridership numbers from Hamilton’s LRT plan, this is more than enough capacity for lots of growth, which means gondola lines will not require any major expensive overhauls to accommodate future increase in usage: they would be a one-time cost.
And, unlike buses and trains, gondolas do not require an operator for every vehicle in service: the city would basically only have to pay one operator per gondola line running. Considering how many people a gondola line can move in a day, that’s great bang for our buck.
Gondolas would also significantly reduce day-to-day maintenance costs of Hamilton’s public transit system. Trains and buses were originally designed for use in flat environments where most of their work would be horizontal transportation, and that’s where they remain most effective. So it’s easy to see how the presence of the escarpment implies costly increases in the upkeep of these conventional forms of transportation: hauling all those passengers up and down so many times every day means that engine and braking systems of any light rail train or conventional city bus will fatigue much faster than those of vehicles travelling in flatter cities.
(Continued: Hamilton Spectator)
Freelance writer Joseph Sneep is working on a collection of short stories inspired by his upbringing in Hamilton. He prides himself more on this urban apprenticeship than his recently acquired MA in philosophy.
What’s fair play in an election campaign?
The efforts of purported online hackers to “expose” a Ward 3 candidate as a Freemason just jumped to the top of a list of questionable campaign tactics in Hamilton.
It’s getting to be a long list.
Alleged mass destruction of Marie Robbins signs in Stoney Creek. An anonymous letter disputing how long Sandy Shaw has lived in Ward 1. A suspected “whisper campaign” about the health of mayoral candidate Brad Clark.
Clark, in turn, was accused of mudslinging after claiming candidate Fred Eisenberger misled the public by withholding rapid transit memos when he was last mayor. Clark then faced criticism when it was revealed he got the memos from outgoing Mayor Bob Bratina, not via a Freedom of Information request, as suggested by his campaign.
The difference between hardball tactics and dirty politics is often in the eye of the beholder, said political pundit Gerry Nicholls, known for creative attack ads during his time with the conservative National Citizens Coalition.
“Attack ads, brawling tactics … it’s kind of par for the course in elections,” said Nicholls, who fondly recalls skewering federal politicians using “farm animals and billboards.”
“Politics really is a blood sport. If you’re not ready for the rough stuff, maybe you’re not ready to run for office.”
Still, Nicholls said every candidate has to respect basic rules, such as libel law. “You don’t call someone a liar … You may hint at it, you may imply it,” he said. Also, do your research. A factually incorrect attack ad “can really come back and bite you.”
Clark rejects the characterization of his campaign as negative. He argued Thursday the vast majority of his announcements have been positive and added it’s fair to criticize the track record of opponents.
“There’s a difference between comparing performance and quite literally name calling,” said Clark in response to a Spectator question at a news conference on improving council relations.
The Stoney Creek councillor has indeed endured some notable barbs from mayoral competitors like Brian McHattie, who has called him “Machiavellian.”
Clark also recently held a news conference to address what he felt was a “whisper campaign” about his rheumatoid arthritis, which he said is in remission and has never interfered with his duties as councillor.
Shaw was irritated to learn about the anonymous pokes at her residency. The rookie candidate said she briefly lived outside the ward for family reasons but is back and has had a home in Ward 1 for 32 years. She describing the letter in field hockey terms: “like a crack at your ankles on a breakaway.”
Ward 3 candidate Matthew Green is the latest victim — or, possibly, beneficiary — of a political attack. A YouTube video ostensibly posted by the online collective of hackers Anonymous warns viewers the rookie candidate is a Freemason who moved his business to Ward 3 to “control” the neighbourhood.
Some online comments noted the video does a good job reminding viewers of Green’s activism and media plaudits for being a “young professional to watch.”
Green said he appreciates the shoutout, if not the “poor production values” and “tinfoil hat stuff.” He declined to say who he thinks is behind the video — but added it isn’t him.
“I don’t know, this election seems to have really brought out the kookiness in some people,” said the candidate, who described himself being “two-for-two” in unwanted election news after being accused of defamation following a heated exchange with a school board trustee.
“Maybe you haven’t arrived until someone makes an Anonymous video about you?” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Brad Clark appeared before the Hamilton Spectator Editorial Board this afternoon, Thursday October 9, 2014. He is a candidate running for Mayor in the upcoming municipal election later this month.