Where does Hamilton stand on its pursuit of light rail transit? It depends on who you believe.
The mayor, along with senior city staff, says everything is normal and the universe is unfolding as it should. This in spite of the fact that city manager Chris Murray sent a letter to councillors Friday announcing he is directing city staff to do only the work required under the terms of the $3-million funding agreement from the province which is being used to study LRT. That means LRT staff resources are reduced to one from six or seven.
One interpretation of this development is that the city is just reacting to the $3 million being nearly depleted, and redeploying resources pending further direction. This is the interpretation city staff stands behind, and to be fair, there are some credible sources, Metrolinx board member Richard Koroscil being one, who share that view.
Another, less charitable view, is that Murray’s directive signals what the mayor has been hinting at in recent weeks — Hamilton is turning away from the LRT vision, at least in the medium term, possibly indefinitely. Instead, the mayor and senior staff want to focus entirely on securing all-day GO train service to the city. (That suggests this is an either/or scenario, which it is not. Metrolinx reporting on transit planning for Hamilton has always supported both improved GO service and LRT, although obviously LRT will take longer to research, plan for and fund.)