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#CripTheVote: Responses from mayoral candidate Henry Geissler, on Transportation

1. Welcome, and thanks for joining us. Please introduce yourself!


Hello DJNO! My name is Henry Geissler and I am not a career politician. I actually consider that to be an asset, although it has hurt me in that the Spectator ignores my message, and that is a pity. My campaign is centred on the LRT question. It would anger me whenever I thought of the harm City Council and Metrolinx planned, especially when there was such potential for good. I was not hearing what was clear to me, that the LRT be used to connect the two higher orders of transportation with the benefits that would be derived therefrom. Last year I presented to City Council my alternative, and that went nowhere, so this year I vie for the “big chair”.



2. The planned LRT line for Hamilton has become a prominent issue in this election.


How do you anticipate this project would impact access to transit for disabled people living throughout the city?


The B-Line will cause delays on every other route in every direction. The volume of traffic that King Street carries now will be redirected onto other streets and cause a knock-on effect, slowing traffic all over the city. Yes, recall that when the QEW has traffic blockages, and the overflow spills into the city, people divert to the upper city to avoid the traffic congestion in the lower city, so the mountain traffic will also be affected by the effective closing of King Street. There are some who still don’t know that the plan for building the B-Line LRT involves turning King Street into a two-way street with a single lane eastbound and a single lane westbound, other than downtown where there will only be the single lane of traffic eastbound; that’s it.



3. Opponents of the LRT project have proposed redirecting this funding to improve Hamilton's existing infrastructure.


If elected, how do you plan to address needed upgrades to the city's infrastructure?


A rail link from the GO Train station to the city’s airport is certainly an upgrade to the city’s infrastructure. Building an inclined rail LRT is an environmentally superior upgrade to the current polluting and wasteful way public transit scales the escarpment.


Simply cancelling the East-West B-Line LRT preserves the tree cover which I consider to be a city asset, if not infrastructure. Perhaps you haven’t heard that the current City Council/Metrolinx plan requires the clear cutting of the trees lining King Street.

Specifically, the North-South LRT route that I propose would address the crumbling buttresses on the Claremont access as well as the condition of the roads especially along Upper James around Mohawk.



4. In your opinion, what are the most significant aspects of Hamilton's infrastructure that need to be improved in order to increase the city's accessibility for disabled residents?


If by disabled you mean people in wheelchairs and scooters, then it is a more general concern with wheeled vehicles that are not cars and trucks. I’m talking about proper, what we might call “bike lanes”, definitely not narrow two-way lanes on one-way streets. I’m not sure who the city is consulting with over the bike lanes, but I’d like them fired. If we go back to one-way streets, we’ll almost double the traffic capacity. That will allow a significant portion of the road dedicated to other wheeled traffic.



5. Monday's #CripTheVote chat focused on gentrification and access to affordable housing.


What role do you think public transit might play in changing the impact of gentrification?


It seems that the big money developments are following the LRT route. I think it would be better run North-South, the way I envisage. There is more room for the extra traffic that will be inevitable with higher density development along Victoria, Wellington and Upper James.



6. Hamilton's area rating system charges city residents different tax rates, depending on the level of transit service in their ward. Disabled adults in Canada are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as non-disabled adults. They also frequently rely on public transportation to be able to participate in their communities and access needed services.

How might the area rating system impact disabled residents differently than it does non-disabled residents? If elected, do you have any plans to change the implementation of this system?


You’ll have to enlighten me as to how the rating system would impact disabled and non-disabled residents differently, but I do have plans, if elected, to change the implementation of area rating. I think it is no different than any other city services. The farther out from the city centre your infrastructure is, the longer the route, or the pipe, or the wire, or the street needs to be. I think taxes ought to be based on, or at least reflect the physical distance one resides from the city centre. Ultimately this is to reduce sprawl.



7. Disabled people who rely on specialized transit services, such as Hamilton's DARTS, often report that the services are unreliable, offer limited availability outside of normal business hours, and must be booked so far in advance as to be inaccessible.


If elected, do you have any plans to improve the availability of specialized transit services?


Yes. My mother-in-law needs it, and I think I want her to be happy.



8. Accessibility of transit services depends not only on routes and vehicles, but on transit operators, and their awareness of and sensitivity to disabled people.


If elected, how would you work to ensure Hamilton's transit operators are adequately trained to support the needs of disabled riders?

Unfortunately I’ve heard of disabled folks who actually fear certain drivers. That’s really disappointing to me. I’m not convinced that it is a training issue per se. I have a feeling that the drivers at the HSR are generally discouraged. I honestly think that if they felt better about themselves and their jobs, that they would be more open to the needs of all of their riders. If somebody has a particular need, I would hope that they would feel comfortable asking it of their driver. If that’s not happening then there is a problem.



9. What role, if any, do you envision for disabled people in planning an inclusive and accessible for transportation in Hamilton?


If elected, how would you work to bring this about?


I think the disabled should be very involved in planning inclusive and accessible transportation in Hamilton. They know what is required. I am open to suggestions as to how best to implement that kind of involvement.

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