Will the bus lanes on King St continue

A year-long pilot project dedicating one lane to city buses could be coming to an end in Hamilton. On Wednesday a committee will vote on the fate of the King Street bus lanes.The pilot project was launched last October to mixed reviews from commuters to city councillors.So, have the commuters and councillors warmed up to the change after one year?In the TV sitcom world, pilot projects either hit pay dirt or just dirt. In the case of the bus-only lanes on King Street — according to most people we spoke to tonight — it’s the latter.Last October, buses received their very own lane along King Street, from Mary to Dundurn Street – and riders were instantly on board.“I love them. I think it’s more organized and makes the city look cleaner. The bus has been on time and on route and stuff, everything’s been fine with it.”However, what buses gained on space, other motorists lost on commute times.“The traffic is so jammed up. Especially coming off the side streets and stuff like that. It just makes it really challenging to get to work because I work on a side street that’s around the bus lanes so that makes it challenging.”For councillor Terry Whitehead, he didn’t have to wait the full year to realize that the $300-thousand pilot project wasn’t meant to be: “Pretty clear after the first several months from the number of complaints from both merchants and drivers that this was going to be a failed program.”Councillor Whitehead feels that Hamilton’s unique geography was one reason why the bus-lanes haven’t worked: “We are not Europe, we are not California, Hamilton has a unique geography with the escarpment with five access. You can’t bleed out traffic like you can in a regular way like in those other cities.”Motorists in Hamilton aren’t the only people looking for these bus lanes to get the boot.Roland Debeh, Rolly Rockets BBQ: “Our lunch business is non-existent, like literally almost non-existentRoland says the addition of the bus lanes switched the street parking on King from the north to the south side without proper signage. He says this is the main culprit for his decrease in business: “When you’re driving down at 50-60km/h you can’t be squinting for a sign — you need an immediate visual.”Though councillor Whitehead thinks the project was a flop, the feels the next one related to busing needs to be well thought out: “We’re optimizing not only the service, we’re mitigating traffic jams and we’re certainly not impacting the businesses we’re trying to assist.”It’s expected that city council will be presented with cold, hard statistics about the bus-only lanes. But after speaking with people today, it looks like their mind is made up.

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