Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin says LRT may be in “next wave” of transit funding

News Mar 20, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 In the best of all possible worlds, Hamilton would get the estimated $1.1 billion transit funding to build a light-rail transit system, while also improving its existing bus service over the next 10 years, according to Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin.

With the provincial government eyeing a $12.5 billion deficit, and other municipalities anticipating needed transit funding from Metrolinx, Hamilton may have to push its LRT dreams to the future, says McMeekin.

“Ideally, keep (the LRT funding request) in the next wave so that we have some assurances as a community we can respond to the specifics (and) not lose the vision of the LRT,” said McMeekin in an interview.

“I will be advocating we move forward as best we can with the recent ($302 million) request and that we not lose the vision of the LRT. There are communities lining up that are more ready to move thanHamiltonis.”

McMeekin applauded council’s recent approval requesting the province to provide transit funding to improve its bus service. The funding is essential to implement the city’s 10-year strategy that would construct a new bus facility, hike fares starting this September, and add buses to already existing transit routes. McMeekin said that money will go a long ways towards boosting Hamilton’s ridership numbers, which have been trending downwards, according to city Transit director David Dixon.

A majority of Hamilton politicians, said McMeekin, want to increase the (declining) ridership statistics “to meet the needs of the broader Hamilton community. Boosting ridership, said McMeekin would make it easier to implement LRT “whenever that happens.

“Hamilton city council finally seems to have taken some bold and decisive action around building their transit concerns around a strategy,” said McMeekin.

Metrolinx has about $15 billion funding available to GTHA municipalities that will be announced, probably when the Ontario budget is presented, said McMeekin. He couldn’t say when that announcement will occur.

“Can we afford it?” says McMeekin, when asked about the province’s limited finances. “Some would say can we afford not to do it?” he said.

The veteran cabinet minister, who refused to comment on Mayor Fred Eisenberger’s interpretation of his conversation he had with Premier Kathleen Wynne last January characterizing it as a “private discussion,” said despite the mayor’s opposition to the $302 million, the majority of councillors supported the direction to improve bus transit.

“They made a supplemented request (to the province) and it was very much in the context of serving the broader community and establishing a little bit better evidence-based ridership information,” said McMeekin.

McMeekin did say the LRT and bus service systems shouldn’t be in competition, but are rather complimentary to each other.

“I’ve said I don’t think it’s an either/or, it ought not to be an either/or,” he said. “We ought to be focused on both.”

McMeekin said already has been advocatingHamilton’s interest to the transportation minister and premier about the need for an integrated transit system.

“I’ve said to the transportation minister I think we need to be doing both,” he said.

McMeekin did compliment the mayor on helping to create a citizens’ transit panel, a key plank in his election campaign platform from last year. But he suggested it should have happened years ago.

“Maybe it could have avoided some of the challenges we now face,” he said.

McMeekin says he is in agreement with Mayor Eisenberger to improve the city’s transit system.

“We have a shared sense of purpose, working together, the mayor and I, to try to facilitate the best possible arrangement for the city,” he said.

Meanwhile, McMeekin will be hosting March 24 a gathering of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area big city mayors at Queen’s Park. He said they will be discussing issues such as transit, housing, and job creation, vital issues every community is facing. In attendance will be Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“We want to provide an opportunity to further identify the priorities (of the GTHA communities). I’m hoping our mayor comes,” said McMeekin.

Eisenberger is not expected to appear at the meeting. In his place will be deputy mayor, and Ward 2 councillor, Jason Farr, and the mayor’s chief of staff Drina Omazic.

 

 

 

 

Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin says LRT may be in “next wave” of transit funding

News Mar 20, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 In the best of all possible worlds, Hamilton would get the estimated $1.1 billion transit funding to build a light-rail transit system, while also improving its existing bus service over the next 10 years, according to Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin.

With the provincial government eyeing a $12.5 billion deficit, and other municipalities anticipating needed transit funding from Metrolinx, Hamilton may have to push its LRT dreams to the future, says McMeekin.

“Ideally, keep (the LRT funding request) in the next wave so that we have some assurances as a community we can respond to the specifics (and) not lose the vision of the LRT,” said McMeekin in an interview.

“I will be advocating we move forward as best we can with the recent ($302 million) request and that we not lose the vision of the LRT. There are communities lining up that are more ready to move thanHamiltonis.”

McMeekin applauded council’s recent approval requesting the province to provide transit funding to improve its bus service. The funding is essential to implement the city’s 10-year strategy that would construct a new bus facility, hike fares starting this September, and add buses to already existing transit routes. McMeekin said that money will go a long ways towards boosting Hamilton’s ridership numbers, which have been trending downwards, according to city Transit director David Dixon.

A majority of Hamilton politicians, said McMeekin, want to increase the (declining) ridership statistics “to meet the needs of the broader Hamilton community. Boosting ridership, said McMeekin would make it easier to implement LRT “whenever that happens.

“Hamilton city council finally seems to have taken some bold and decisive action around building their transit concerns around a strategy,” said McMeekin.

Metrolinx has about $15 billion funding available to GTHA municipalities that will be announced, probably when the Ontario budget is presented, said McMeekin. He couldn’t say when that announcement will occur.

“Can we afford it?” says McMeekin, when asked about the province’s limited finances. “Some would say can we afford not to do it?” he said.

The veteran cabinet minister, who refused to comment on Mayor Fred Eisenberger’s interpretation of his conversation he had with Premier Kathleen Wynne last January characterizing it as a “private discussion,” said despite the mayor’s opposition to the $302 million, the majority of councillors supported the direction to improve bus transit.

“They made a supplemented request (to the province) and it was very much in the context of serving the broader community and establishing a little bit better evidence-based ridership information,” said McMeekin.

McMeekin did say the LRT and bus service systems shouldn’t be in competition, but are rather complimentary to each other.

“I’ve said I don’t think it’s an either/or, it ought not to be an either/or,” he said. “We ought to be focused on both.”

McMeekin said already has been advocatingHamilton’s interest to the transportation minister and premier about the need for an integrated transit system.

“I’ve said to the transportation minister I think we need to be doing both,” he said.

McMeekin did compliment the mayor on helping to create a citizens’ transit panel, a key plank in his election campaign platform from last year. But he suggested it should have happened years ago.

“Maybe it could have avoided some of the challenges we now face,” he said.

McMeekin says he is in agreement with Mayor Eisenberger to improve the city’s transit system.

“We have a shared sense of purpose, working together, the mayor and I, to try to facilitate the best possible arrangement for the city,” he said.

Meanwhile, McMeekin will be hosting March 24 a gathering of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area big city mayors at Queen’s Park. He said they will be discussing issues such as transit, housing, and job creation, vital issues every community is facing. In attendance will be Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“We want to provide an opportunity to further identify the priorities (of the GTHA communities). I’m hoping our mayor comes,” said McMeekin.

Eisenberger is not expected to appear at the meeting. In his place will be deputy mayor, and Ward 2 councillor, Jason Farr, and the mayor’s chief of staff Drina Omazic.

 

 

 

 

Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin says LRT may be in “next wave” of transit funding

News Mar 20, 2015 Hamilton Mountain News

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 In the best of all possible worlds, Hamilton would get the estimated $1.1 billion transit funding to build a light-rail transit system, while also improving its existing bus service over the next 10 years, according to Liberal cabinet minister Ted McMeekin.

With the provincial government eyeing a $12.5 billion deficit, and other municipalities anticipating needed transit funding from Metrolinx, Hamilton may have to push its LRT dreams to the future, says McMeekin.

“Ideally, keep (the LRT funding request) in the next wave so that we have some assurances as a community we can respond to the specifics (and) not lose the vision of the LRT,” said McMeekin in an interview.

“I will be advocating we move forward as best we can with the recent ($302 million) request and that we not lose the vision of the LRT. There are communities lining up that are more ready to move thanHamiltonis.”

McMeekin applauded council’s recent approval requesting the province to provide transit funding to improve its bus service. The funding is essential to implement the city’s 10-year strategy that would construct a new bus facility, hike fares starting this September, and add buses to already existing transit routes. McMeekin said that money will go a long ways towards boosting Hamilton’s ridership numbers, which have been trending downwards, according to city Transit director David Dixon.

A majority of Hamilton politicians, said McMeekin, want to increase the (declining) ridership statistics “to meet the needs of the broader Hamilton community. Boosting ridership, said McMeekin would make it easier to implement LRT “whenever that happens.

“Hamilton city council finally seems to have taken some bold and decisive action around building their transit concerns around a strategy,” said McMeekin.

Metrolinx has about $15 billion funding available to GTHA municipalities that will be announced, probably when the Ontario budget is presented, said McMeekin. He couldn’t say when that announcement will occur.

“Can we afford it?” says McMeekin, when asked about the province’s limited finances. “Some would say can we afford not to do it?” he said.

The veteran cabinet minister, who refused to comment on Mayor Fred Eisenberger’s interpretation of his conversation he had with Premier Kathleen Wynne last January characterizing it as a “private discussion,” said despite the mayor’s opposition to the $302 million, the majority of councillors supported the direction to improve bus transit.

“They made a supplemented request (to the province) and it was very much in the context of serving the broader community and establishing a little bit better evidence-based ridership information,” said McMeekin.

McMeekin did say the LRT and bus service systems shouldn’t be in competition, but are rather complimentary to each other.

“I’ve said I don’t think it’s an either/or, it ought not to be an either/or,” he said. “We ought to be focused on both.”

McMeekin said already has been advocatingHamilton’s interest to the transportation minister and premier about the need for an integrated transit system.

“I’ve said to the transportation minister I think we need to be doing both,” he said.

McMeekin did compliment the mayor on helping to create a citizens’ transit panel, a key plank in his election campaign platform from last year. But he suggested it should have happened years ago.

“Maybe it could have avoided some of the challenges we now face,” he said.

McMeekin says he is in agreement with Mayor Eisenberger to improve the city’s transit system.

“We have a shared sense of purpose, working together, the mayor and I, to try to facilitate the best possible arrangement for the city,” he said.

Meanwhile, McMeekin will be hosting March 24 a gathering of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area big city mayors at Queen’s Park. He said they will be discussing issues such as transit, housing, and job creation, vital issues every community is facing. In attendance will be Premier Kathleen Wynne.

“We want to provide an opportunity to further identify the priorities (of the GTHA communities). I’m hoping our mayor comes,” said McMeekin.

Eisenberger is not expected to appear at the meeting. In his place will be deputy mayor, and Ward 2 councillor, Jason Farr, and the mayor’s chief of staff Drina Omazic.