City-Wide Transportation Master Plan

About the study

The City is undertaking a review of the city-wide Transportation Master Plan to guide the future of transportation programs and investment to accommodate future growth for 2031 and beyond.

The TMP review will be a Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (as amended, 2011) process involving three consultation phases between March and December 2015.

The review will provide many opportunities for citizens to get engaged and provide feedback about the following topics:

  • Rural, urban and suburban transportation issues
  • Population or economic growth effects on transportation
  • Walking, cycling, transit, goods movement and commuter traffic
  • Public health, age-friendly and neighbourhood development
  • Complete streets, two-way conversions and infrastructure investment

Public Information Centre #4
Held April 26, 2016
Presented an update on the highlights and findings of the ongoing work for the review and update of the city-wide Transportation Master Plan.

Public Information Centre #3
Held December 2 - 9, 2015
Presenting highlights and findings of ongoing work, getting your feedback on the direction of the study and sharing what we have already heard.

Public Information Centre #2
Held June 9 -16, 2015
Presented the current transportation trends and engaged the public to review transportation opportunities, complete/liveable streets and the 1 and 2 way street designs.

Public Information Centre #1
Held March 23-26, 2015
Presented the current transportation trends and engaged the public to confirm the vision and identify the opportunities and constraints within the transportation system.

There are several aspects to implement:

Transportation Master Plan (2007)

Hamilton’s Transportation Master Plan was created to develop policies and strategies for the transportation network over the next 30 years. This network includes roads, transit, cycling, walking facilities, and the City’s connections to rail, marine and aviation facilities.

The purpose of the Transportation Master Plan is to:

  • Offer a choice of integrated travel modes, emphasizing active transportation (walking and cycling), public transit and carpooling.
  • Encourage a more compact urban form, land use intensification and transit-supportive node and corridor development
  • Maintain and improve the efficiency of trips related to the movement of goods and servicing of employment areas.


The Transportation Master Plan was completed as part of the Growth Related Integrated Development Strategy (GRIDS), along with the Water/Wastewater and Stormwater Master Plans. Exhibit ES.1 illustrates the interrelationship between these initiatives. 

The overall purpose of the Transportation Master Plan is to develop policies and strategies for the transportation network over the next 30 years. This network includes roads, transit, cycling, walking facilities, and the City’s connections to rail, marine and aviation facilities. Results of the Transportation Master Plan will be used to develop new transportation and land use policies for the City’s Official Plan and the Development Charges By-law Review. It will also serve as a support document for the City’s capital budgeting.

The Transportation Master Plan has been developed in three major phases or stages. The first stage consisted of the calibration of the existing transportation model to reflect current transportation conditions in Hamilton. The second stage focused on the development of the underlying policies of the Transportation Master Plan, consisting of policies in 23 major subject areas. The third stage was the preparation of the master plan itself, which was developed in an iterative manner in conjunction with the land use scenarios, developed through the broader GRIDS study.

The final recommendations for the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) reflect the Council endorsed “Nodes and Corridors” option as the preferred growth scenario for the City as approved by Council on May 24, 2006. This growth concept is based on directing growth to an interconnected system of nodes (central foci of community activity) and corridors (mixed use, transit friendly linkages).

Recommendations in the Transportation Master Plan are intended to move the City towards the achievement of the objectives of Vision 2020 and are reflective of the 9 Strategic Directions to guide development decisions that were identified as part of the GRIDS process, including Direction #6 - Expand transportation options that encourage travel by foot, bike and transit and enhance efficient inter-regional transportation connections.

Problem Statement

Between 2001 and 2031, Hamilton’s population will increase by 162,000 people (32%). During the same period, 105,000 new jobs are expected to be created. If current travel characteristics remain the same, there will be 180,000 additional auto driver trips per day that will need to be accommodated by the road network. This translates into 1.2 million additional kilometres driven by Hamilton residents each day and a consumption of 40 million litres of fuel per year. Left unchecked, significant congestion on most Escarpment crossings will result in increased delays to auto drivers, transit riders and commercial vehicles. Accordingly, key objectives of the Transportation Master Plan include reducing dependence on single-occupant vehicles and promoting improved options for walking, cycling and transit, while maintaining and improving the efficiency of trips related to the movement of goods and servicing of employment areas.

A Vision for Transportation in Hamilton

In Stage 2 of the TMP development, a set of guiding principles was established focusing on 7 key objectives:

  • Offer safe and convenient access for individuals to meet their daily needs
  • Offer a choice of integrated travel modes, emphasizing active transportation (walking and cycling), public transit and carpooling
  • Enhance the liveability of neighbourhoods and rural areas
  • Encourage a more compact urban form, land use intensification and transit-supportive node and corridor development
  • Protect the environment by minimizing impacts on air, water, land and natural resources
  • Support local businesses and the community’s economic development
  • Operate efficiently and be affordable to the City and its citizens

These guiding principles and objectives were consistently referenced throughout the development of the Master Plan elements.

Over the course of the plan preparation, many individuals and stakeholders helped to formulate an overall Vision for the Plan. This Vision is anchored by the City’s Vision for Sustainability – Vision 2020.

Plan Elements

In the initial stages of the Master Plan development, several broad strategies were examined in terms of their potential to address the City’s transportation needs while respecting the principles of GRIDS and VISION 2020. These included the Status Quo Option (or Do Nothing), implementing ‘Committed Projects’ Only, Modest Transit Expansion, Aggressive Transit Expansion, Travel Demand Management (TDM), Roadway Capacity Optimization and Roadway Capacity Expansion. Although no single approach will address all transportation needs, the preferred overall strategy is to rely on transit andtravel demand management, in combination with road capacity optimization to solve transportation problems, before looking to road expansion (including Escarpment crossings).

Accordingly, the Master Plan places a high emphasis on significantly improving transit services, providing options for cycling and walking and optimizing existing road capacity before considering major expansions. Also central to the plan is the need to improve transportation access to existing and future employment lands in order to support existing businesses and attract new ones.

Key elements of the plan are detailed in this report and include:

  • Establishment of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network consisting of three primary spines and other interconnecting routes: A Lower City east-west corridor between McMaster University and Eastgate Square; a Central North-South Corridor on James Street and Upper James via Mohawk College; and, a Mountain East-West Corridor on the LINC or parallel facility. The staged implementation of BRT could begin with updating and enhancing the existing BLine, located on the lower City east-west corridor)
  • Establishing other priority transit routes between major nodes.
  • Construction of 120 km of new on-street bike lanes and over 140 km of new multi-use paths.
  • A series of road improvements to reduce localized congestion and improve access to employment lands and new communities.
  • Suggestions to expand the commuter rail and regional bus system to integrate with land use intensification policy objectives.
  • A potential incline railway near Wentworth Street, which can serve to reduce the barrier effect of the Escarpment for cyclists and pedestrians while potentially becoming a major tourist attraction for the City.
  • Continued improvement of the road system to address existing capacity issues and to ensure access for existing and new employment areas.

Financial Impacts

Appendix A provides a detailed listing of the estimated capital costs and timing of specific road and cycling infrastructure improvements identified in the Transportation Master Plan. 

The table below provides an estimate of the order-of-magnitude annual capital investments by mode to implement the Transportation Master Plan. Further details on the costs by each mode are provided in Section 7 and 8. It should be recognized that these figures represent desirable targets and, when combined, are significantly greater than the current capital spending.

The majority of transit capital costs are related to fleet replacement and expansion, which are not location specific. Other transit capital costs include terminal upgrades and fare collection equipment. The initial phases of the Bus Rapid Transit system could be implemented without major infrastructure investments (i.e. separate bus lanes). Additional design studies will be required to& determine the cost and feasibility of more aggressive Bus Rapid Transit treatments on a corridor specific basis. It is expected that funding assistance will be required from senior levels of government to fully achieve the Vision for Bus Rapid Transit. The Provincial Gas Tax (currently $12 million) is an example of such funding.

Roads improvement and projects identified in the TMP are estimated to require approximately $418 million overthe next 25 years. Thus the total investment into the City’s roadway network would increase by an average of $16.7 million per year. The majority of these costs would be growth related and hence covered by development charges. In addition, significant investment in roads is required to address a backlog of maintenance and rehabilitation, which will place additional demands on the roads budget. It is estimated that capital investment should be at least $60 million annually to maintain a sustainable funding level for road improvements and road rehabilitation.

Allocation of costs by project and year, and the development of long term funding strategy, will be developed as part of the City’s on-going budgeting process.

Summary of Average Annual Capital Costs
  Current Trends 
($) millions
Projected Requirements
($) millions
Active Transportation 0.5 3
Transit 12 20
Roads* 42 60-100

*Total road costs including reconstruction, widenings, traffic operations, rehabilitation and structures

In addition to capital costs, increases in operating costs are required, particularly for transit. To achieve the goals and targets for the transit system, it is projected that transit operating costs will need to approximately double. Increases are required for both the conventional transit system as well as the Accessible Transit System. As the population ages, considerable demands will be placed on the Accessible Transit System.

Implementation and Monitoring

The process for implementing the TMP and its recommended actions requires continuous effort on the part of City staff, key stakeholders and the public. The adoption of the TMP is the first step in the overall implementation process. Following this, policies and recommendations on infrastructure will be carried through to annual programming exercises including the annual budgeting process wherein investment priorities and timings are established. The planning and design phase for future infrastructure begins once priorities are set, and follows the Municipal Class EA process. Physical implementation occurs with construction, and continues into the operation and maintenance of the facilities. Monitoring is undertaken to gauge the effectiveness of the policies, programs and infrastructure improvements in achieving the TMP goals and objectives. Shifts in underlying assumptions or achievement of objectives signal the need for a review of the basic policy direction, and the process starts again.

A regular review of the TMP is proposed every five years, ideally in conjunction with updates to the Official Plan.

Short Term Actions

The City of Hamilton is already moving on the recommendations of the Transportation Master Plan.

Sample actions planned for 2007/2008 include:

  • Replacing aging buses on the BLine express route with new environmentally friendly hybrid buses and extending hours of operation;
  • Initiating a study to review truck routes;
  • Increasing transit service within the West Hamilton Innovation District
  • Working with the goods movement industry through the recently established Southern Ontario Gateway Council;
  • Constructing new bike facilities on York Boulevard, Hunter Street and other routes and embarking on an update to Shifting Gears, the City’s cycling plan;
  • Continuing to implement streetscape improvements; and,
  • Expanding the number of employers signing on to the Smart Commute Initiative.

These short-term actions are considered essential for ensuring that the TMP becomes a living document to which the general public can relate.

Chapter 1 - Introduction (PDF, 468 KB)
Chapter 2 - Strategic Objectives and Key Policies (PDF, 36 KB)
Chapter 3 - Description of Existing Environment (PDF, 253 KB)
Chapter 4 - Existing Transportation System Performance (PDF, 1.6 MB)
Chapter 5 - Future Transportation System Performance (PDF, 230 KB)
Chapter 6 - Analysis of Alternatives (PDF, 192 KB)
Chapter 7 - Plan Elements (PDF, 2.4 MB)
Chapter 8 - Implementation and Monitoring (PDF, 303 KB)

Appendix A - Infrastructure Summary Tables (PDF, 70 KB)

Contact us

Steve Molloy
Phone: 905-546-2424 ext.2975