Transit Report – February 2013

Below is a summary of the report that was presented to the General Issues Committee, and was passed, on Monday. Included below are strictly the proposed improvements to the Hamilton Street Railway bus service and do not include the LRT components of the report.


  • Launching the A-Line bus service, which is a precursor to rapid transit in the Airport to Waterfront Corridor
  • one of the first transit systems in the country with a 100% Low Floor Bus fleet
  • Bike racks on all buses since 2007
  • Adding over 24,000 transit service hours to the regular transit system
  • Completion of the MacNab Street Transit Terminal
  • Implementing a travel training pilot for DARTS
  • Expanding accessible taxi plates, with a further increase of 16 accessible taxis planned in 2013
  • Computer-aided dispatch and vehicle tracking system for DARTS in 2013
  • Expanding cycling infrastructure in primary corridors, including 10 km of new bike lanes and new bike storage facilities at Mohawk College and 20 schools (with funding from Metrolinx and MTO)
  • Working with Mohawk College to implement a student pass, which subsequently increased transit ridership to the college by 20%
  • Leveraging the Smart Commute Initiative, and working with 14 major employers to enroll over 87,000 employees to date; more than one-third of city’s employment base
  • Initiating a community based-social marketing campaign, as a pilot project to be rolled out to other communities
  • Developing and Open Streets event to promote walking and cycling as normative behaviours.



  • New platforms and amenities at downtown terminal serving B-Line and A-Line


  • New transit hub serving the A-Line corridor and mountain bus routes, with integrated development and mobility hub features


  • New platforms and amenities at downtown terminal serving B-Line and A-Line


  • New transit terminal and 72-space park and ride located at Mount Hope


  • New bus terminal at McMaster University serving GO Transit


  • Extension of Lakeshore West GO Transit rail service to James North Station scheduled for operation in Spring 2015. Station is currently in design phase.

Enhance and increase bus services, restructure the route network around rapid transit corridors

The Rapid Transit network will draw riders from all parts of the city. Accordingly, the base transit network must be enhanced to firstly, build ridership in the rapid transit corridors, and secondly, feed the rapid transit network. This includes enhancements to service coverage, service span (hours of operation), service levels, and route structure.

It is anticipated that routes will be restructured over time. Light rail transit and bus rapid transit are ultimate goals and their implementation will require regular bus service restructuring. In preparation, the objective will be to increase bus service levels in the A-Line and B-Line corridors to emulate rapid transit. Examples of possible service improvements are:

King-Main-Queenston Corridor

  • High frequency service on B-Line corridor routes:
    • ‘1 KING’ / ’10 B-LINE EXPRES’ – 5 minutes; ‘5 DELAWARE / ’51 UNIVERSITY’ – 7.5 minutes; Result will be a combined headway of 3 minutes or better in the entire B-Line corridor
  • Additional service to / from Dundas. This change will provide a reasonable level of service to the King Street and the Governors Road areas during all time periods and will help to avoid crush loads between Dundas, McMaster and Downtown Hamilton
  • Service Enlacement to the future Centennial GO Station, subject to the development of a park and ride and transit terminal facility at this location.
  • In the medium term, ‘51 UNIVERSITY’ will be extended to the Mohawk College Multi-Modal Transit Hub to provide a direct connection from McMaster University to Mohawk College

    James-Upper James Corridor

    • Service span and service level improvements to ’20 A-LINE EXPRESS’ along with restructuring to provide a high level of service in the James/Upper James corridor from the airport to the waterfront. Headways will be improved to 10 minutes.
    • Extension of year-round ’20 A-LINE EXPRESS’ service to Hamilton’s waterfront (Pier 8) via Guise Street, also improving service to the future site of James North GO Station.

    Other Service Improvements

    • Expanded service coverage in growth areas, where permitted by the street network
    • Expanded span of transit service for Ancaster, Stoney Creek and Dundas to provide service throughout the day, seven days a week
    • Service enhancements in Waterdown to avoid circuitous routing and improve connections to Aldershot GO, along with service span and service level adjustments
    • In the longer term, implementing a new service between Waterdown and Downtown Hamilton.
    • Extension of ’21 UPPER KENILWORTH’ to Heritage Greene via Mud Street and Pritchard Road
    • In the long term, establish an express bus service link to provide fast east/west service between peripheral nodes on the escarpment.

    Fleet and Facility Requirements

    • An additional 100 buses over the longer term will be required to execute the improved service levels. As a result, a new transit garage will be required to accommodate the additional fleet. This would be located in the lower city, and ideally located close to the future LRT maintenance facility so that administrative functions could be co-located. It is also proposed that the University Plaza terminal be closed and a new terminal be established at a linkable west end location. By 2015, the new multi-modal hub at Mohawk College is expected to be complete, enabling further restructuring of A-Line corridor routes.

    Supporting Initiatives

    • Improving connections to outer communities, including service span improvements for Glanbrook TransCab and a new service to Binbrook.
    • Definition of a Frequent Transit Network, which would serve to highlight important routes connecting the various nodes in the City. Tentatively, referred to as “Go-To corridors”, these routes would operate at consistent headways and for consistent duration and would be readily understood by the public. A pilot of a Go-To Corridor is proposed.

    King Street Bus-Only Lanes Pilot Project
    In order to begin to introduce transit priority in Hamilton, staff have evaluated 21 route segments of the B-Line & A-Line for appropriateness to pilot a transit only lane. Criteria was established for comparison of route segments, including average travel speeds, schedule adherence, existing and projected intersection level of service and number of HSR trips. King Street from Mary Street to Queen Street was determined to be best location for a trial pilot project for bus-only lanes. The design includes a one year pilot project with the following components:

    • Utilization of one westbound travel lane for all day dedicated transit only purposes.
    • Beginning at Mary Street, the second lane from the northerly curb would be dedicated, allowing for parking, loading, bus stops and right turns in the northerly curb lane. No new right turn restrictions are necessary.
    • Short term on street parking in the southerly lane from James Street to Bay Street (e.g. in front of the Ellen Fairclough building) and in the northerly lane in front of the Sheraton Hotel would not be impacted.
    • At Bay Street, the dedicated transit lane transitions to the northerly curb lane. This does require removal of the parking and loading in this lane. However, the plan includes the relocation of parking and loading to the
    • southerly curb lane, with no to minimal net loss in parking. Loading provision on the south side may be an inconvenience to businesses on the north side of the street; however solutions can be investigated with the business community (e.g. loading along side streets).
    • Two through general purpose lanes throughout the alignment.

    Next steps, following approval of this report, are to refine the design, investigate signal priority at James, develop a communications plan, develop a monitoring plan, implementation in summer 2013 and reporting back to Council with results. This project would be fully funded from Metrolinx Quick Wins.

    James-Upper James Corridor

    Improving transit operations in the James-Upper James corridor is a priority to provide a high quality north-south transit spine, connecting the waterfront, downtown, upper city, and the airport. The corridor also connects to the Mohawk-Upper James mobility hub and the future James North GO Station. Actions in this corridor include:

    • Implementing transit priority measures on Upper James at Mohawk Road, Stone Church Road, and Rymal Road through the development of queue-jump lanes and transit signal priority
    • Conducting an Upper James transit corridor study to establish the need for other priority measures to enhance A-Line service. Implement recommendations from this study in the medium and long term
    • Improve transit operations on James Street North, either through intersection treatments or through selective removal of on-street parking to eliminate bottlenecks
    • Improve transit operations on James Street South by removing on-street parking
    • In the longer term, provide transit signal priority on James Street North and South. Potential locations include St. Josephs Drive, Hunter Street, York Street, and Barton Street. Coordinate with a city-wide transit signal priority program (see supporting initiatives)
    • Conduct feasibility study for the long-term conversion of James Mountain Road to a two-way, bus-only roadway.

    Supporting Initiatives

    • Initiate a City-wide Transit Signal Priority Program to improve transit operations throughout the city, starting with a study on identifying locations where transit priority would benefit transit operations most, establishing guidelines and framework for implementation
    • Establish need and develop transit-only accesses at major transit terminals, including Eastgate Square and Limeridge Mall to improve operations and reduce delay.

    Creating a high quality traveller experience on transit is important to increase the awareness, visibility, and attractiveness of transit. In addition, integrating all modes in the marketing and positioning of travel choices is highly important to build support for, and to encourage the choice of transit, walking, cycling, and other TDM measures to accommodate travel demand.

    Marketing and Branding

    • Develop an integrated branding strategy for mobility in Hamilton, which will include a new brand and identity for Hamilton Street Railway
    • Implement a marketing strategy to position transit and integrated mobility as attractive and competitive travel choices

    Customer Service and Information

    • Implement service information displays at MacNab Street Transit Terminal, as approved in 2012 and funded by Quick Wins.
    • Implement real-time transit service information program with open data feed and displays at transit terminals, major transit nodes, and busy stops

    Bus Stops and Passenger Amenities

    • Complete design and implementation of enhanced A-Line and B-Line bus stops and shelters, including expansion to all A-Line and B-Line stops in the medium term.
    • Complete PRESTO implementation on both conventional and specialized transit, expand availability of PRESTO customer service at major transit terminals.

    Supporting Initiatives

    • Conduct audit of existing transit shelters and complete a rehabilitation program for deficient shelters
    • Expand provision of bus shelters across city (a separate report has been submitted on this item)
    • Maintain high standard of fleet renewal and condition to maximize recent investment in achieving one of the newest fleets in the country
    • Continued fleet conversion from a 40-foot to 60-foot articulated bus fleet to provide more capacity and seating on busy routes
    • Continued partnership with Metrolinx for regional coordination of fare products and to realize savings through group procurement
    • Program of continuous improvement for vehicles and facilities
    • Develop a fare and customer loyalty strategy to maximize opportunities afforded by PRESTO and fare integration with GO Transit and other transit agencies
    • Sustainable transportation and transit routing smart phone application
    • Advance development of park and ride at site of future Centennial GO Station to serve as a hub for GO Transit buses, HSR buses. This site would replace the existing park and ride site at Barton Street and Nash Road
    • Introduce regular Lakeshore West GO Bus service to east Hamilton at Centennial Station in advance of GO Rail service with connecting bus services to Niagara Region (in partnership with Metrolinx/GO Transit)
    • Integrate feeder route service with BURLINGTON TRANSIT 101 EXPRESS Service – explore extension of BURLINGTON TRANSIT 101 EXPRESS to James North GO Station (in partnership with Burlington Transit)
    • Identify location of transit terminal near McMaster University/west Hamilton for future integration with Burlington Transit service and interregional bus services to Brantford, Waterloo Region, and other destinations.
    • Provide active transportation connections to GO Transit stations and stops where currently deficient, such as Aldershot Station, and where new stations are planned, such as James North Station and Centennial Station

    Supporting Initiatives

    • Work with the Ministry of Transportation to develop new carpool parking lots and amenities on the Queen Elizabeth Way at Centennial Parkway (potentially integrated with Centennial GO Station) and on Highway 403 at Meadowlands
    • Explore opportunities for fare integration between HSR and GO Transit and Burlington Transit
    • Continue coordination with Metrolinx in the development of a regional traveller information portal
    • Continue partnership with Metrolinx to implement Smart Commute and engage employers on developing workplace TDM programs
    • Conduct community-based or individual social marketing programs for TDM to encourage multimodal travel choices

    Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) with over 175 buses on the road each day is one of the most visible public services in the community serving over 70,000 revenue passengers on an average weekday and just under 22 million passengers per year. Approximately 7% of the City’s population travels by transit everyday while
    an estimated 30% or more of the population make use of transit at some point during the year.

    The HSR currently operates a network of 33 bus routes with service levels ranging from 22 hours a day, seven days a week to peak hour (6-9AM, 3-6PM) Monday to Friday only. In 2008, a total of 655,088 revenue-hours of service were operated with a staff of 585 and 217 buses. Almost 21 million trips were taken on HSR services representing a utilization rate (rides per capita) of 45.1.

    Overall, HSR provides cost-efficient fixed route transit services which are well regarded by transit users.

    As with any organization, there is room for growth and improvement. In particular, in the coming years, transit is expected to take on an increasing role in accommodating the travel needs of Hamiltonians in order to meet the City’s economic, environmental, and social objectives.

    What do Stakeholders Say about HSR?

    • HSR is generally regarded as a well-run service.
    • Some perceive HSR as a social service and one that caters to students.
    • Many decisions in City are made without considering the impacts to transit.
    • HSR’s routes are difficult to understand if you are not familiar with the system.
    • Even though HSR does not have fundamental flaws, it may be time for a major renewal of service design in concert with a commitment to invest in service improvements.
    • Looking to the future, most feel that transit will play a greater role as environmental and energy concerns increase.
    • All residents benefit from transit in some way, and should pay their share.

    What is expected of HSR in the future?

    The City’s strategic priorities and Transportation Master Plan calls for transit to take on a greater role in the future while policies at the federal, provincial and local level all point towards the goal of significantly increasing the role of transit.

    Service Plan Characteristics:

    • Simplify the system by straightening route alignments, minimizing redundancies and limiting the number of route branches and exception trips supported on individual routes.
    • Improve riders’ ability to travel more directly (i.e., in a straight line) between origins and destinations and minimize onboard transit travel times.
    • Decrease average wait times for boarding and transferring riders.
    • Implement high speed Rapid Transit service in two priority high capacity corridors initially (B Line and A Line) and subsequent corridors identified in the City’s BLAST Rapid Transit Concept Plan.
    • Transition from HSR’s historically radial design favoring travel to / from Downtown Hamilton, to a high-frequency grid design supporting ubiquitous travel patterns comparable to regional auto traffic. Facilitate travel to/from six major regional activity centers rather than the single city center. Service restructuring proposals focus on relocating the terminal points of outbound local routes from disconnected bus loops on the fringe of development areas to the integrated transit hubs, straightening alignments for better onboard
    travel times, and limiting the number of branches to two per route. Service span and frequency would either improve or stay the same on virtually all routes.
    • Re-align services in anticipation of future rapid transit services in the A-Line
    and B-Line corridor.