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Aug 16

“Are We There Yet? The state of transit investment in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area”

By TAO-admin | Ontario

The Move the GTHA collaborative, of which Transport Action Ontario is a key core member, has released its long-awaited report “Are We There Yet?  The state of transit investment in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)”.   The report  details the progress to date in funding and building The Big Move 25 year rapid transit plan, and quantifies the large capital and operating/maintenance/lifecycle rehabilitation  costs that still need to be funded.   There are over 20 signatories to the report.
We are calling for a Transit Summit by early 2017 among all stakeholders to discuss funding.  The timing is good because (1) Metrolinx has just released their discussion paper on The Big Move  (2) the federal government is planning for Phase 2 of their infrastructure investment plan,    (3) some municipalities, including Toronto and York, want to have an “adult discussion” on new revenue tools.
 The report received broad media coverage, and a positive response from Queens Park.  These will be covered in subsequent posts.
Aug 08

Panel Struck to look at Alternatives to GTA-West Expressway (Highway 413)

By TAO-admin | Ontario

 
Ontario has been conducting an Environmental Assessment on this $4B proposed new 6 lane expressway, running from Vaughan to Milton, since 2007.  Transport Action Ontario (TAO) has been participating in the public discourse.  Our position has been to emphasize that existing infrastructure (highways, rail) must be fully expanded first, and that an expressway only be considered after a broad range of other alternatives were studied.  For further details, see the TAO website.
In December, 2015, the province suddenly announced the suspension of the EA process.  The reasons cited were emerging technologies and the sharing economy, a commitment to public transit, the need for natural heritage protection (including Greenbelt) and the need to live up to climate change commitments.  We viewed this announcement as promising.  (see Ontario Report, November-December 2015, From the President, for more details).
This July, the province established a new advisory panel tasked with looking at alternatives to meeting the future transportation demand in this high-growth area.  According to the Toronto Star, the panel includes experts in the fields of urban, regional and transportation planning, environment assessment and protection and resource management.  The panel is expected to provide an update in the fall.  To be continued……..


Source: TAO

Jul 27

Transport Canada Backs Away from Commitment to Sault Ste. Marie – Hearst Passenger Train

By TAO-admin | Ontario

It has been over a year since the Algoma passenger trains stopped running.  The Algoma Passenger Train Working Group, including rail advocacy groups,  has come up with a proposal to run the service as a not for profit venture led by the Missanabie Cree First Nation with a Board of Directors representing the First Nations, municipalities and socio-economic stakeholders. The new Mask-wa Ootaban (Bear Train) will be more cost efficient while creating more employment and tax revenue.

The positive economic arguments became evident from a 2015 study undertaken by BDO Canada that conservatively estimates how the train creates direct and indirect economic activity in the range of 28 to 38 million dollars a year for the region’s severely challenged economy.  On top of that, the service supports 170-220 jobs, while generating those tax dollars that more than replaced the original yearly subsidy which was cut by the previous government thereby creating the whole problem in the first place.

After considerable community advocacy, the previous Harper government committed  to restore the subsidy for three years.  However, under the current Liberal government, Transport Canada has suddenly and without public consultation, backed away from this commitment, allegedly because the new proposal requests an on-going subsidy.  There is widespread public outrage on this decision.  The First Nation is approaching Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, to request that she work inter-ministries to garner the required funding.


Source: TAO

Jul 25

Toronto Debate on Scarborough Subway Extension is Over

By TAO-admin | Ontario

 
After years of public and political debate, Toronto Council has voted to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway in Scarborough by 1 stop (6 kilometers) at a staggering capital cost of $3.2B.  The extension is part of a proposed network in Scarborough including improved GO transit and the Eglinton East LRT line.  As readers know, Transport Action Ontario has been very active in this debate, including meetings with staff, councillors and public deputations.  Although we support the rest of the network, we have strongly opposed the SSE as too expensive and leading to capacity pressures on the balance of the subway network.
Instead of SSE, we have advocated vigorously for Scarborough Express Rail, a new  GO line branching from the existing GO Stouffville corridor, as providing subway-like service at much lower cost.  But strong political pressure lead to this alternative being dropped from detailed consideration.
Toronto remains on the hook for the $900M SSE capital funding increment over and beyond provincial and federal funding, and is responsible for all of the substantial operations, maintenance and lifecycle costs of the SSE.  The Eglinton East LRT is unfunded, and there is scepticism that it will ever be built, due to funding constraints exacerbated by the SSE decision.


Source: TAO

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