The federal government says it will inject more than $200 million into Hamilton’s public transit system, including the A-line rapid transit corridor.
The funding is in addition to the $1.7 billion Ottawa has committed for light-rail transit in Hamilton in the Ontario city, Catherine McKenna, minister of Infrastructure and communities, said Monday.
The latest funding will be used for seven other projects, including the rapid transit corridor from the waterfront to the airport, she said. It will also go toward new buses, and constructing bike paths and sidewalks.
“Of course we need LRT here in Hamilton, but we also need better transit across the board,” McKenna said.
She was joined at the announcement by Filomena Tassi, minister of labour and MP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, Stan Cho, associate minister of transportation; and Mayor Fred Eisenberger.
“This is about the BLAST network,” McKenna said. “That’s a hugely ambitious transit plan that the city came up with. We support local decision-making.
“We need to connect Hamiltonians from the lower city to the mountain, from the waterfront to the airport. We need good transit across the board — that is exactly what we are investing in.”
Transit funding making ‘real difference’
McKenna said her government has supported Hamilton with more than $300 million for 60 projects across Hamilton.
She described the funds as “a transformational investment in public transit.”
“Hamilton is a growing city and these investments that the federal government is making are making a real difference in the lives of Hamiltonians.”
Tassi said strategic investments in public transit are critical to building communities where residents can access essential services.
“Today’s projects will further transform Hamilton’s transit system, and offer more convenience and sustainable options for its users and residents.”
Cho noted the provincial government’s $168.2-million investment for seven Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) projects will help Hamilton maintain and improve public transit options, which will go a long way in supporting growth, creating local jobs and helping provide residents with reliable and convenient transit.
‘Full steam ahead’
Meanwhile, Eisenberger said the development of the city’s 10-year transit strategy had been delayed for a couple of years because of funding, but with Monday’s announcement, it can now advance.
“Now we have our … municipal, federal and provincial funding in place, and we can go full steam ahead in developing a much improved, a much expanded, wonderful transit system that every community and every city absolutely needs.”
Maureen Cosyn Heath, Hamilton’s director of transit, said the money will support the re-envisioning of how transit is delivered, and support a system redesign based on customer needs now and customer needs for years into the future.
Ian Borsuk represents Environment Hamilton, which is part of the Hamilton Transit Alliance.
He said Monday’s funding announcement is “a promising step forward for our BLAST network,” and should serve as a good reminder to many in Hamilton that the B-Line LRT is intended to just be one of five rapid transit lines, with the A-Line serving as a vital north-south connection to eventually intersect with the B-Line.
“It’s also very positive that we are receiving funding to purchase new buses and replace old ones,” Borsuk wrote in an email to CBC News.
“It should be noted that the ongoing need for provincial and federal dollars to go to public transit operations remains, and that the Hamilton Transit Alliance along with our friends and allies across Canada through the Keep Transit Moving coalition will continue to push for this.”