Rymal residents no longer stranded on neglected bus route

The 44 Rymal route runs from Eastgate Square to the Ancaster Business Park, but until now, hasn't had weekend service. That will change in September.
A commuter waits for an HSR bus next to a frozen shelter on King Street in Hamilton. The city will see $1.2 million in transit improvements this fall on the 43 Stone Church, 44 Rymal and A-Line routes. ((John Rieti/CBC)

Alicia Gallant has spent many years trudging down the narrow, snowy shoulders of Rymal Road because she had no other choice.

Now, she’s hoping that’s over.

City councillors voted on Thursday to make $1,190,000 worth of improvements to transit, including long-awaited weekend service on Hamilton Street Railway route 4 along Rymal/Garner Road. The line runs from Eastgate Square to the Ancaster Business Park.

Some community members wanted the change so badly that they started a group, Garnering Support, to ask for evening and weekend service.

Route 44 Rymal

​Before: No weekend service, base service of every 60 minutes on weekdays

After: Weekend service every 30 minutes (60 minutes in the evening), base service of every 30 minutes on weekdays

Cost: $900,000

Route 43 Stone Church

Before: Service every 60 minutes on Sundays, and no Sunday evening service

After: Sunday service every 30 minutes, and every 60 minutes on Sunday evenings

Route 20 A-Line

Before: A route that stopped downtown

After: A route that continues to the waterfront

The Rymal /Garner route runs through some of the Mountain’s most populated areas, but until now, it hasn’t had weekend service. With these changes, weekend buses will now run every 30 minutes during base and peak periods, and once an hour on evenings.

Ancaster residents will pay heaviest for this change — $14 per household for the 44 Rymal improvements, followed by Glanbrook residents at $8 and Stoney Creek residents at $7.

But for residents such as Gallant, who is a journalism student at Mohawk College, the improvements can’t come soon enough.

“It’s a long time coming, I feel,” she said. “It would be wonderful if they put that in when I was in high school.”

Gallant, who lives steps from the 44 Rymal route, attended high school at St. Jean Brebeuf. The buses came so rarely then that she would have gotten to school really early or really late, so she walked the narrow gravel shoulder along Rymal Road every day.

When snow banks encroached on the shoulder, she said, “it was a little bit dangerous. Unfortunately I had no alternative.”

Justin Eisinga, a Redeemer University College student, headed up the Garner-ing Support effort. Thursday’s changes made him “really happy.”

“We started this campaign because we knew that the proposal was coming forward,” he said. “To see city council supporting all of the enhancements is an incredible affirmation.”

“What we were really asking for was evening sand weekends and that’s what went through.”

The changes, which will take effect in September, impact Route 43 Stone Church too. It will add Sunday evening service along the route, and instead of the bus coming once an hour on Sundays, it will now come every 30 minutes.

That change costs $200,000 and Stoney Creek and Hamilton residents will pay $1 per household for it.

The city is also spending $90,000 to extend the Route 20 A-Line through the lower city. Instead of ending downtown, the line will extend to the waterfront and service the new James North GO station.

Residents in the old Hamilton boundaries will pay $1 per household for it.

The Rymal improvements in particular are overdue, said Coun. Tom Jackson of Ward 6. And the Mountain population just keeps on growing.

“This has been requested and needed,” he said. “People have somehow made adjustments and struggled until now, but this is worth the dollars.”

Council will ratify the decision on March 26.


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