40-km corridor would use BRT, HOV and bus infrastructure
Mac ChristieFlamborough ReviewMonday, October 19, 2020
A City of Hamilton staff report shows that Metrolinx is investigating the business case for a bus rapid transit (BRT) route on Dundas Street from Waterdown to the Kipling subway station in Toronto.
The report, which was provided as information to council on Oct. 8, shows that Metrolinx is evaluating options for a BRT corridor along a 40-kilometre section of Dundas Street stretching from the Kipling station to Hamilton Street in Waterdown.
Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge said the potential BRT is “great news” for Waterdown, adding talks with Metrolinx have been ongoing for several years, since the GO Transit bus maintenance facility was announced on Coreslab Drive.
“There were numerous discussions around the need for a GO bus connection to Waterdown and although there were meetings with staff, it never went anywhere,” she said. “I am over-the-top pleased that finally it looks like Waterdown residents and the businesses in the Waterdown business parks will finally see the plan come together.”
Partridge said there are numerous residents who work along the Dundas Street corridor.
“There’s a huge geography of land and employers between the QEW and Dundas Street and then north of Dundas.”
According to the report, six per cent of all employment in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA) and eight per cent of the region’s total population will be living on the corridor by 2041.
As well, the report said, “the existing transit network does not allow for efficient movement across the corridor as there is no integrated transit service provided along the full length of the corridor.”
Partridge said while some have suggested a Dundas Street BRT would simply double the current Lakeshore West GO Train route, she said that’s not the case, as the GO Train terminates in downtown Toronto and doesn’t access the more northern routes.
“From my perspective, it’s twofold,” she said. “It means that people who work in Etobicoke, Toronto, Oakville and north Burlington, they’ll now have transportation.
“Rather than having to drive, they’ll be able to take the BRT if it comes through — which I’m hoping it will — and then tie into other transit options as they go further east.”
In terms of demand, the report notes five per cent of the trips in the corridor are from the Hamilton segment, while 20 per cent originate in Toronto, 46 per cent from Mississauga, 16 per cent from Oakville and 14 per cent from Burlington.
Partridge said there a large number of residents in Waterdown who work outside of the community — particularly in the east end of Waterdown.
She added the BRT would also provide additional access to a huge employee base for the business parks at Clappison Corners.
“I’m very excited about that because we have been trying to find solutions on how to get employers up to Stryker, Liburdi, and other businesses that are up there.”
The study has identified three service options that could serve the corridor using BRT infrastructure in Toronto and Mississauga and HOV/bus lands in Oakville and Burlington. The options include through running service, segmented service or overlapping service which combines the first two options.
Metrolinx has concluded that overlapping service is the preferred option, “due to a comprehensive network of BRT services that connect the Dundas Corridor to the Western GTHA.”
The business case from Metrolinx recommended dedicated bus lanes between the Kipling Station and through Mississauga, while through Halton they suggested using future curb lanes for buses along Dundas Street.
Metrolinx is not recommending dedicated BRT infrastructure through Waterdown, primarily due to the lower travel demand. In addition, the segment of the Dundas Street corridor in Hamilton between Waterdown Road to Hamilton Street is constrained with only one lane per direction.
In terms of timelines, Partridge said she is hopeful the BRT is something that can move forward in the “next couple of years,” adding Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly is now aware of the proposal.
“Residents have been asking for it,” she said of the BRT, adding Metrolinx staff have been working with City of Hamilton staff who are putting together a new transportation master plan for Waterdown. “Ultimately, what city staff want is that it comes through (Waterdown) and ties into the facility on Coreslab.”
Partridge noted the Waterdown section of the proposed BRT line is “a very small portion.”
“You’ve got 40 kilometres and it’s a very small stretch of maybe two kilometres, three kilometres that goes from the Burlington border to — we’re hoping — the GO facility on Coreslab.”
However, she admitted the challenge would be getting the GO buses through the downtown Waterdown core, due to the pinch points between Hamilton and Mill streets.
“We can’t expand it to four lanes, so we are dealing with the two lanes,” she said of Dundas Street. “There just isn’t the real estate and space to be able to do that.
“However, having said that, the bypass will be finished by 2022, so that is going to take a significant amount of traffic that travels from the downtown east … so you are going to have some traffic diverted through the corridor.”
While the proposed BRT route would provide connections to Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga and Toronto, residents have in the past asked for better transit connectivity to Hamilton — something the BRT proposal does not address.
Partridge said connectivity to downtown Hamilton is essential. Currently, the trip from Waterdown to downtown Hamilton takes between 1.5 and 2 hours and requires riders to take the bus to Aldershot and switch to a Burlington bus to get downtown.
She said staff has assured her that connectivity to downtown Hamilton has to happen, but she said they are not waiting for the BRT project to make that happen.
Partridge said that connection could be done through HSR, but she has also been discussing on-demand transit with the city’s traffic engineering department as an alternative to dedicated bus routes.
“We need to review the on-demand option for Waterdown, as well,” she said. “That is showing some promise in other small communities that are similar to Waterdown.”
Niagara Region is currently conducting a ridesharing pilot project in West Niagara, launched in August, which uses smartphone technology and a fleet of dedicated vehicles to provide trips within the service boundaries with no fixed schedules or routes.
The pilot project lets riders request trips in real time from their location to a pre-set destination for a flat fee in the communities of Grimsby, Pelham, Lincoln, Wainfleet and West Lincoln.
Partridge said she thinks the Niagara pilot is “brilliant,” suggesting an on-demand option could be explored in Waterdown, as well as Binbrook, the Mountain and parts of Stoney Creek.
“It’s time for Hamilton to move onto some more higher technology and more efficient and effective transit options, as opposed to just the bus, and of course the LRT,” she said. “I think the bus rapid transit deserves some good analysis and review and hopefully we’ll be able to move that forward, along with some other types of transit that can better serve the smaller communities.”