All Posts by TAO-admin

About the Author

Oct 30

Power of Rail Symposium at Western University

By TAO-admin | Interurban Rail and Bus , Latest Regional News , Ontario

The Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA) and Transport Action Ontario (TAO) hosted a symposium on Oct. 12, 2016, promoting better passenger rail service for Western students and faculty. Our special guest was NDP MP Irene Mathyssen.

TAO Director Scott St. John introduced SWOTA President Terence Johnson, who discussed the need for an urgent High Performance Rail solution to address the growing infrastructure and mobility gap in Southwestern Ontario. Debunking the myth that Ontario lacks the population density to support a reasonable level of core services, Johnson drew a parallel between London, Ontario and Crianlarich, a village of 185 people in the Highlands of Scotland, which has more frequent and less expensive services to Glasgow than London does to Toronto.

 

Drawing upon examples from across the United States to illustrate the comparatively low cost and rapid implementation schedule of High Performance Rail, and the benefits of service integration between train and bus, Johnson set the stage for TAO Acting President Tony Turritin to give a more detailed description of the Network Southwest vision for restoring mobility to the region.

 

Irene Mathyssen, MP for London-Fanshawe, expressed her support for “Network Southwest” and making London a regional hub for Southwestern Ontario. She is working to draft a new version of the “VIA Rail Canada Act,” originally introduced by MP Phil Toone, that would empower VIA’s mandate in relationships with government and the freight railroads.

 

As Tony Turrittin explained, examples of High Performance Rail are close at hand.  In the United States, Amtrak operates fast and very frequent trains between New-York and Albany (227km), Chicago-Milwaukee (137km), Los Angeles-San Diego (205km), and Oakland-Sacramento (144km).  As VIA Rail has withdrawn service in Southwestern Ontario over the last two decades, cities such as Stratford, Kitchener, Guelph and Niagara Falls have put out a cry for help to the Province asking that GO trains be extended to their cities.

 

GO service is highly popular because it is mass transit: frequent, high capacity so reserved seating is not necessary, pairs of wide doors for quick boarding, reliable sechedules, and low fares — all the things that VIA Rail isn’t, Turrittin pointed out.  VIA’s schedules don’t comprise a workable network, on-time performance is very poor, seating is limited, and fares extremely high.  But VIA is an express service which GO is not in its present commuter rail form.  He proposed melding the best of what VIA is supposed to do with GO’s mass transit model.

 

Turrittin closed his presentation by calling on the Province to step into the intercity rail vacuum left by VIA Rail with the GO-train mass transit model.  This is an opportunity.  A new delivery agency is needed with the participation of the region’s municipalities.  The federal government can help by passing on its regional VIA subsidy to the new operating agency.  Some track upgrades are required.  There will be major economic and social benefits flowing from quality intercity express rail in Southwestern Ontario integrated with regional and local transit. 

Turritin’s presentation can be viewed here:  nsw-presentation-london-10122016-turrittin

 

Communications expert and TAO member Chris Ryan spoke at the end, encouraging everyone to get involved and write to their politicians.

 

The full “Network Southwest” report is available at www.swota.ca/networksouthwest/

Jul 15

Input Provided on Multimodal Transportation Strategy for Northern Ontario

By TAO-admin | Interurban Rail and Bus , Ontario

 

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) & the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development & Mines (MNDM) are currently developing a Multimodal Transportation Strategy for Northern Ontario (NOMTS). This initiative will define the improvements for the movement of people & goods over the next twenty five years, throughout the Cambrian Shield.
Our affiliate organization, the Northern and Eastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN), together with Transport Action Ontario, have  responded on behalf  of  numerous citizen groups in the province.  The submission focusses on the importance and the need for frequent and  reliable passenger trains & corresponding bus shuttle services in the region.  A  Multimodal Transportation Strategy for Northern Ontario must include passenger trains!
Northern Ontario is becoming more and more isolated. This severely inhibits new inward investment and access to the burgeoning, global tourism opportunity. Between 2011 & 2014, there have been over 674 highway closures in the Northeast region of the province. Communities have witnessed nine motor coach route reductions or service eliminations within the previous year.   Connecting Northern Ontario with the rest of the province & the country is critical.
The NEORN/TAO submission can be viewed here:  NEORN-NOMTS-Submission-FINAL
Jul 07

Ontario-Wide Consultations on Modernizing Ontario Intercity Bus Regime

By TAO-admin | Interurban Rail and Bus , Ontario

 

Intercity bus service is a key component of a connected intercity public transportation network in Ontario.  For example, our Network Southwest Integrated Passenger Rail and Bus Action Plan proposes a strong network of buses connected to a rail “spine”.  However, the reality in Ontario is very different – with declining service and reduced frequencies.   In 2015, the province initiated consultations on modernizing the intercity bus regime.  Both Transport Action Ontario and the Southwest Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA) provided commentary.  (See TAO website for our joint letter of September 24, 2015).
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation has now issued a discussion paper and a schedule for consultation during July/August.  Please read the paper and feed back any thoughts to the address provided in the paper.  We also encourage members to attend some of these meetings and provide feedback in person.
Jul 06

Intriguing Agreement between CN and the Province of Ontario

By TAO-admin | Interurban Rail and Bus , Ontario , Urban Transit

The busy CN mainline between Bramalea (Halwest) and Georgetown (Silver) has long been a bottleneck for increasing GO and VIA service to Kitchener and points further west like Stratford and London.  On June 14, Ontario announced that the province has secured an agreement-in-principle with CN that will allow GO Regional Express Rail to be built along the Kitchener GO corridor.  The agreement-in-principle also begins the planning and technical analysis to build a new freight corridor that will allow CN to shift most of its freight traffic from the section of the Kitchener corridor it owns – namely between Bramalea and Georgetown – to the new corridor.  This will free up capacity for more GO and VIA service.  The province also announced funding to help build a multimodal transportation hub in downtown Kitchener and the extension of two morning and two afternoon peak train trips that currently run between Union Station and Georgetown to also serve Kitchener, Guelph and Acton.
The Ontario-CN agreement is very interesting.  It comes on the heels of the “Missing Link” study prepared by 4 municipalities in 2015 to allow increased GO service on both the Kitchener and Milton lines.   (See Ontario Report, November-December, 2015.) This agreement appears to be different, but time will tell.
Jun 25

Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan – TAO Comments

By TAO-admin | Interurban Rail and Bus , Letters , Ontario , Urban Transit

 

Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) was released in June, 2016.   TAO has been actively involved, both through the Move the GTHA collaborative and as an individual organization.

 

TAO supports much of the CCAP.  However, we have identified two significant concern areas related to transportation:

  • No consideration was given for increased role of freight intermodal in carbon emission reduction
  • No consideration was given to enhance public transportation outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

 

Letters have been written to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on both topics, and can be viewed below:

TAO-CCAP-intermodal2016-06-21

TAO-CCAP-PublicTransp2016-06-23

1 2 3 5