Farzeen Foda

Senior News Editor

Imagine making your usual half-hour trek to school in five minutes.

Imagine tackling this journey to school not on your own two feet, or with your bike, not even with the loyal but often tardy HSR transit bus, but with a cross-breed vehicle- a mix between a bus and a train.

Hamilton’s proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) is expected to be a rapid line of transit directly linking the City’s downtown core with the McMaster campus.

This rapid mode of transportation does not have to be a figment of the imagination, and as of Oct. 14, Hamilton City Council re-established their commitment to the project that has projected gains for McMaster students and the City of Hamilton.

Numerous groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and Metrolinx, as well as individuals heavily involved in the project, shared their insights in an effort to promote the prospect of the LRT.

A concluding vote saw almost unanimous support for the LRT.

The criticisms of the project revolve primarily around the cost to taxpayers, calling for a more careful     analysis of the plan’s benefits.

“There have been no funding promises, but it is something the City is going to pursue,” said Alicia Ali, MSU VP (Education).

She explained that the prospect of a Light Rail Transit system through Hamilton began in 2007, when the province committed $17 billion toward the funding for the facility, to be established within the GTA.

The project gained immense support at the time, giving way to many groups that began looking to the finer details and logistics of the matter, who were met with a shock this summer when the LRT was facing reconsideration.

“There was a lot of talk as to whether the city would actually pursue the LRT, or if they were going in a different direction,” said Ali.

Discussions surfaced because Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina openly stated that his focus would be the implementation of a GOTransit system running from Hamilton to Toronto.

Both the LRT and the GOTransit system would serve McMaster in different but equally important ways, noted Ali, outlining the benefits of each transit facility, however the payback will not be seen for another 15 to 20 years.

With a significant number of McMaster students commuting from various cities around the GTA, a trend that is not expected to reduce, a GOTransit system running between Hamilton and Toronto would certainly lead to substantial gains.

Meanwhile, the LRT would ease the integration of McMaster students into the city, consequently increasing the likelihood of graduate retention, and contributing to the revitalization of the City’s downtown core, a strong long-term priority for Hamilton.

To put pressure on council to follow through with their re-affirmed commitment, the MSU is in the process of launching a social media campaign to give students a say in the matter.

“When you’re standing at a bus stop and four buses pass you by, or you’ve been waiting an hour for a bus, all you have to do it is tweet that you’re waiting for the bus, and hash tag ‘#WeNeedLRT’,” said Ali.

Although the implementation of a Light Rail Transit system through Hamilton will not be seen for at least another 15 to 20 years, the project will only gain momentum with pressure on the part of the University and its students to make it a reality.

Careful evaluation has finally concluded that such a facility would benefit all parties involved and would be neatly in line with the goals of the University and the City of Hamilton.

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