By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton councillors have boosted the city’s transit system by expanding service along the mountain and into upper Stoney Creek at a cost of over $1.1 million.
“Darn it all, the mountain community needs enhanced service,” said Mountain councillor Tom Jackson. “Now is the time.”
Politicians agreed at their March 20 budget committee meeting to spend $900,000 to provide weekend service along Rymal Road, which will operate along the mountain and into the Ancaster Business Park. Currently there is no Saturday or Sunday service. With the enhanced service, buses will operate on weekends, including the evenings.
The service is expected to help Redeemer University students, who have been lobbying councillors to approve the enhanced service.
“I’ve received complaints from people who are unable to get to the Turner Park library (because) there is no bus service,” said Mountain councillor Scott Duvall. “They can’t go to Upper James and shop (because) of the service. It’s better (service) than what we have. I wish it was better.”
Added Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead: “I’m really happy. Bus service is a need.”
In addition, another $200,000 will be spent to provide evening Sunday service along Stone Church Road. Currently, buses run an hour on Saturday and Sunday in the afternoon. The new service will run a half hour on Saturday and Sunday, and into the evening.
“This is the best we can do at the present,” said Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark. “This is a significant increase in bus service in Stoney Creek. This is what (residents) have been asking. The majority of my ward would understand and support it.”
Clark has said employees at the local mall have been searching for ways to get home after work because of the lack of evening service within the area.
Don Hull, manager of transit service, said another bus service will be introduced in the upper Stoney Creek’s Pritchard Road area that was approved in the 2011-2014 transit enhancements. Hull said road infrastructure in the area needs to be improved before the service can begin. He expects the service to begin later this year.
In addition, councillors approved $90,000 to provide a new bus service from the downtown to the waterfront, which will also service the James North Go Station.
The total cost for the enhancement includes $1,190,000 for operating costs, and another $814,000 in capital dollars which will be funded through the city’s transit reserve fund.
The new service is scheduled to begin this September.
“This is a strong statement that is going to the right place,” said Ward 1 councillor Brian McHattie.