BLAST Network – The Map

I like maps.

As a kid I used to sit and stare at the 1989 HSR System Map to no end, even though as a kid I rarely had much chance to ride the bus. Since then collecting bus maps been something of a hobby. Not only have I collected every published edition of the HSR system maps since then as well but I have collected bus maps from several other regions as well.

I recently wondered what the Hamilton rapid transit system map would look like if it were done like a modern rapid transit map. Picture the TTC subway map or the London Underground map.

So I made one. I’ll explain a little bit about the below map as well.


There are five proposed lines for the Hamilton Rapid Transit network, which have been given a letter designation. Two of those lines you will already recognize in the B-Line and A-Line. In fact the B-Line bus route’s name is the model for the names of the rest of the network.

The rapid transit network has been nicknamed the “BLAST” network, with each of the five letters in the word “blast” representing each one of the five transit lines.

B-Line (blue)
The B-Line express would be a true rapid-transit conversion of the existing HSR bus route ’10 B-Line Express.’ Originally launched in 1986 as the 10 BEELINE EXPRESS bus route, the route has always been an express companion route to ‘1 King’ on the east-west corridor between McMaster University and Eastgate Square. The route also originally serviced Fiesta Mall on Sundays. Station/stop locations for this map are taken directly from those on the project website.

L-Line (yellow)
This proposed transit service (yellow on the map) will provide service between downtown Hamilton and the neighbouring community of Waterdown. I have identified three possible station stops on this shorter line plus downtown Hamilton. These stops are Dundurn North, Plains Road and Waterdown. Based on the original ‘rough drawing’ of the network map this line will follow York Blvd until the border of Burlington where it will turn left onto Plains Road and then travel to Waterdown via Highway 6 North.

It should be noted that this line is in the “25 years plus” plan timeline and there has been no research done on this line by the city.

A-Line (red)
This line is based on the existing 20 A-LINE EXPRESS bus route that is currently in operation. Service for this route began in the fall of 2009, but there had been plans to run an express bus service between the downtown core and the airport for decades. This can be evidenced by the inclusion of a route ’20 Express’ on the roll signs of buses ordered over twenty years ago.

Station/stop designations chosen for this line are based on the current express bus service with the ‘local’ service removed in the downtown core. With the exception of stops at the Waterfront, the upcoming James North GO Station, the core, the Hunter GO Station and Charlton (St. Joe’s Hospital), the rest of the stops which slow the route down were removed.

The true rapid transit conversion for the A-Line is pegged as a ’15 year project.’

S-Line (purple)
This line is based on the existing 44 RYMAL bus route. Started in 2008 the route served only the area between Upper Paradise and Upper Ottawa on the south mountain but one year after it’s start it was extended. September 2009 saw the route extended to the Ancaster Business Park in the west and to Eastgate Square in the east, the basis for the the proposed new rapid transit line. Further proof that the line is gaining in ridership was the expansion of service in the fall of 2012 from a ‘peak period only’ route. The route now has all-day service on weekdays.

Station stops for this line were chosen based on major cross-streets which allow transfers to arterial ‘upper’ bus routes as well as areas of residential population clusters and retailers. There has been no work from the city on researching this line as it is in the ’25 years plus’ plan.

T-Line (green)
This line is based on the existing ’41 Mohawk’ bus route which services the central mountain from Meadowlands in Ancaster to the east end of lower Hamilton and also services LimeRidge Mall. The bus route has two western branches with one at Meadowlands with the 41A branch short-turning at Chedoke Hospital. The 41A branch would be removed for the rapid transit service. The route also alternates in lower Hamilton between Ottawa and Kenilworth, but the rapid transit service would run exclusively on Kenilworth Avenue based on the initial map on the project website.

Station stops for this line were chosen based on major cross-streets which allow transfers to arterial ‘upper’ bus routes as well as areas of residential population clusters and retailers. It should be noted that there has been no work from the city on researching this line as it is in the ’25 year project.’

Still Very Early
This map is meant only to show what the rapid transit network might look like if all of the plans that are currently on the table go forward. Mayor Bob Bratina mentioned on a radio program recently that shovels wouldn’t even go into the ground until 2016 at the earliest for the B-Line portion of LRT, should that finally see funding and approval.

With modest infrastructure upgrades including cue jump lanes, signal priority and dedicated transit lanes in congested traffic areas (such as downtown) it would be possible to create some of these transit services using the fleet of buses the city already owns. These could be used for the L, A, S and T lines.

Even if the full BLAST network is not fully approved, since four of the five lines are based on existing bus routes, these routes could be upgraded with express service as demand was needed. These infrastructure upgrades could and should be implemented for all existing routes regardless of the rapid transit initiative.
Hamilton Transit still needs to see investment to aid growth. The HSR is going in the right direction with recent service enhancements and we need to keep that momentum going.