Council should insist on a light rail transit system run and maintained by the city’s own transit service, says a contentious new motion headed to a vote as early as Monday.
Hamilton’s planned $1-billion LRT will be funded by the province and owned by Metrolinx, which has said it wants a private consortium to design, build, operate and maintain the proposed light rail transit line from McMaster University to Eastgate Square.
But Coun. Matthew Green publicly circulated a notice of motion today that asks councillors to vote on ensuring the city’s eventual operating agreement with Metrolinx “ensures the HSR is operator and maintainer of the new LRT system.”
“Public transit is a public service and Metrolinx’s current process only provides for bids in a privatized system,” said Green in a release. “With this motion I’m looking to include options that our public system stays public for everyone.”
Some project supporters have expressed concerns that late changes to the LRT game plan would delay the contentious project.
Metrolinx has already issued a request for qualifications from interested private bidders and plans to seek formal requests for proposals as early as this summer. The agency has said it wants private LRT operators for provincially funded lines in cities with no prior experience running rapid transit.
Green’s motion comes after the HSR union launched a campaign to prevent the “privatization” of local transit. Local union head Eric Tuck has also previously warned the collective agreement effectively prevents outside operators from running on HSR routes.
Provincial NDP leader and Hamilton MPP Andrea Horwath has also publicly called for the HSR to run the line.
Coun. Tom Jackson asked for the city to negotiate a role for the HSR with Metrolinx months before council signed off on the project environmental study.