Category Archives for "Ontario"

Jul 03

Open Letter to Premier Ford and Minister Yakabuski

By clair | Ontario , Uncategorized

Transport Action Ontario would like to congratulation Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Transportation John Yakabuski and the rest of the Ontario PC team on their recent election victory. We were pleased to see the strong emphasis on public transportation in the “Plan for the People”. We have sent an open letter to the Premier and Minister with comments on the public transportation aspects of the platform.

The letter can be viewed here: TAO-LettertoFord 2018-07-03

Jun 13

Analysis of Ontario PC Party Transportation Platform

By clair | Ontario

The election of Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives will likely change the advocacy terrain for Transport Action Ontario (TAO). The PCs made numerous transportation-related promises in their “Plan for the People” platform, although details were often lacking. The five key promises (in bold italics), along with TAO’s preliminary analysis, are given below.

1. Deliver 2-way all-day GO service, GO expansions and regional transit projects in Ottawa, Hamilton, Mississauga/Brampton, Kitchener-Waterloo and London. This appears to be good news, indicating the current slate of funded projects will be delivered, including GO Regional Express Rail and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Bus Rapid Transit projects.

2. Upload responsibility for existing and new subway lines from the City of Toronto ($160M/yr for existing), while guaranteeing the City keeps all revenue. . Although this promise does put more money in Toronto’s pocket, the yearly major capital maintenance costs of the existing subway network greatly exceed $160M/yr.

3. Add $5B in new subway funding to the $9B already available to build Sheppard Loop, Scarborough Extension, Relief Line and Yonge Extension, while building future Crosstown extensions underground. While the extra $5B is welcome, this appears to assume that the $9B recently committed by the feds and province is entirely directed at subways. Three of these subway ideas (Sheppard, Scarborough, Crosstown Extension) are very dubious and would not be supported by evidence. Furthermore the quantum of money is insufficient to build these projects. This promise displays the very unhealthy “subways, subways, subways” mentality that has caused so much damage in the past. There are many important LRT projects in Toronto, including Waterfront and Eglinton East that need funding.

4. Actively explore high speed rail (HSR) and study highway projects (various highway projects mentioned, including completing the environmental assessment (EA) for the GTA-W corridor). This appears to continue the Liberal plan to conduct an EA on HSR. Our biggest concern is that the planned EA had narrow scope and would not look at an HPR alternative. A clarification was received from Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford on the day before the election that the EA will explore all alternatives. While welcome, we need to ensure this really happens.

5. Bring back passenger rail service to the North ($45M per year). This is good news as it likely relates to restoring the Northlander service. We need to ensure this really happens and is only Step 1 of a northern rail passenger service!

There are other important issues that the PC platform was silent on, including provincial contribution to transit fare integration in Greater Toronto, and whether Metrolinx should receive broader authority and scope.

Of course, the biggest question is where the money will come from. The PCs are proposing a whole array of tax cuts, including middle class income tax cut, business tax cut, gas tax cut and eliminating the carbon tax. The latter two cuts have a double whammy – some of the funds are currently earmarked for transit, and secondly, higher gas and carbon taxes nudge human behaviour towards sustainable transportation modes, such as rail, which is good for the planet.

Jun 12

NEORN Media Release on Passenger Rail Summit

By clair | Ontario

Our affiliate, the Northeastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) issued the following media release on June 11, 2018 MEDIA RELEASE JUNE 11, 2018

PASSENGER RAIL SUMMIT VIDEOS AVAILABLE ONLINE –
. . . . . . . SOON PASSENGER TRAINS ON TRACK?

More than 120 individuals from all walks of life attended the recent Northeastern Ontario Passenger Rail Summit in Sault Ste. Marie sponsored by NEORN (Northeastern Ontario Rail Network), CAPT (Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains) and CPMRT (Committee Promoting Muskoka Rail Travel). The Summit was, from all media indications, declared a huge success. The Summit was held to inform the public of the importance of rail passenger services and introduce the ‘Loop’ concept, that being all the short line railways in the northeast, ONR (Ontario Northland Railway), ACR (Algoma Central Railway div. Canadian National), OVR (Ottawa Valley Railway), HCR (Huron Central Railway) and CNR (Canadian National Railway from North Bay to Toronto) which today form a continuous rail network moving freight. This same rail infrastructure could be utilized to enhance tourism and provide needed passenger services for all communities and First Nations along these lines.

Noted speakers from the rail industry, First Nations, Senior and Disability groups, Politicians, Student, Teacher and Environment Associations and various transportation specialists extolled the virtues of rail passenger services. The videotapes of these presentations can be now be viewed at www.neorn.ca. Something as important as the social and economic reasons why the return of passenger rail in northeastern Ontario is needed can now be viewed by everyone – including those who could not attend the Sault Ste. Marie Summit due to the distanced to travel.

As a follow-up to the Sault Ste. Marie gathering for those who couldn’t attend, CAPT, NEORN and CPMRT have conducted RALLY FOR RAIL Town Hall meetings throughout the northeast in communities along the highway 11 corridor from the Muskoka region to Cochrane, along Highway 17E including Blind River and Sudbury and north of Sault Ste. Marie including Wawa, Dubreuilville, Hearst and Searchmont. At one small community there were 114 people present – underscoring the desire to hear about the possibility of passenger trains returning to the north. These pre-election public meetings were to help participants make informed decisions in the provincial election.
Our new government made promises during the campaign to restore passenger train service in northeastern Ontario. NEORN and its sister committees intend to make sure they come good on these promises with constant reminders, meetings and town hall gatherings. Passenger trains are efficient, effective, accessible, affordable, safe, reliable and environmentally responsible transportation all year round. The provincial government must act promptly now to address these needs of the northeast, NOW, FOR THE PEOPLE!

For Information and to view videos of the rail summit, visit NEORN at: www.neorn.ca.

‘MOVE PEOPLE, NOT JUST FREIGHT ON EXISTING TRACKS’

May 24

Need for Assistance to Short Line Railways

By clair | Ontario

On May 23, 2018, our affiliate, Transport Action Canada, sent the following letter to Federal Transport Minister Garneau concerning the need for supportive funding for short line railway operators in Canada, such as the Huron Central Railway.

Dear Minister Garneau,

Transport Action Canada (TAC) strongly supports the call by the Railway Association of Canada (see below) for a coordinated federal-provincial funding mechanism for the shortline railway operators in Canada. The urgent need for such a fund, as exists in the US for their shortline railways, is exemplified by the recent announcement that the Huron Central Railway will cease operations at the end of 2018.

The Huron Central Railway is a key component in efforts by our sister organization in Northeastern Ontario, NEORN, to help create a rail Loop through Sault Ste. Marie to revive passenger rail service as well as to preserve freight service for several local industries.

Sincerely yours,

Bruce Budd, President
Transport Action Canada
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Comments by the Railway Association of Canada

The recent Canada Transportation Act Review report recognized the importance of Canada’s shortline rail sector and recommended the creation of a federal-provincial program to support capital shortline infrastructure investments through contributions, grants, or low-cost, long-term financing.

“Despite similar studies and reports recognizing the lack of public funding for local and regional railways – or shortlines – governments have not created programs to help these companies capitalize on growth opportunities and meet evolving rail safety regulatory requirements,” said RAC Acting President Gérald Gauthier. “This type of program might have prevented the discontinuance of Huron Central Railway. Closure of this railway – and potentially other shortlines – puts safety at risk, increases congestion on public roads and harms the environment.”

Canada’s 50-plus shortlines provide vital first-mile/last-mile service to customers not served directly by Class 1 railways. By safely and efficiently moving traffic to and from the main lines, where CN and CP handle the long-haul transportation, they help shippers connect to the global marketplace.

Shortlines compete directly with the subsidized trucking sector, which has access to publicly funded infrastructure. For years, and most recently in its pre-federal budget 2018 submission and 2017 Ontario pre-budget submission, RAC has advocated for governments to level the playing field for infrastructure benefits. Investments in shortline infrastructure would help to maintain vital rail service to remote communities, improve safety and limit transportation-related emissions. This infographic highlights the environmental benefits of shipping by rail, the challenges that local and regional railways face, and how government funding would help to ensure that shortlines can support Canada’s sustainable growth.