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May 29

Yonge North Subway Extension Reaches Milestone, but Challenges Remain

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

The Yonge North Subway Extension (YNSE), from Finch Station in Toronto to Richmond Hill Centre in York Region, is one of Ontario’s four priority subway projects. Transport Action Ontario has long supported this project, in conjunction with a relief line for the Yonge Subway, as ridership on the extension is expected to easily meet subway thresholds.

The project recently reached a milestone with the signing of the “Ontario-York Region Transit Partnership Preliminary Agreement”, which outlines the responsibilities of each level of government. However, the project still faces significant challenges, which include:

  • Federal funding. The project is looking for 40% federal commitment, but currently there is nearly zero. The funding instrument that the feds have been using is their PTIF-2 program, which allocates money to municipalities based on current population and current transit ridership, not growth potential. Toronto is using their $4.9B allocation on other projects in the City. York Region has received $200M from PTIF-2, which will be directed to YNSE, but is obviously insufficient.
  • Municipal funding. The Province is looking for a capital commitment from York Region of about 15%, or $1.1B. Much of this will come from Development Charges, but the Region will need new revenue tools, e.g. land transfer tax like Toronto has. This requirement for municipal funds is different than the Ontario-Toronto transit agreement inked last fall, where the municipal contribution on the 4 subway projects within Toronto was agreed to be zero.
  • Capital cost escalation. The capital costs are rumoured to have increased dramatically, from the $5.6B cited in the agreement to over $9 B. There is talk about reducing the number of stations and perhaps changing the alignment.
  • Operating and maintenance costs. The agreement also specifies that York will have a responsibility to share in the operating and maintenance cost subsidy. This is new for York and is in contrast to the Spadina subway extension to Vaughan, where Toronto picks up 100% of operating and maintenance costs.

An updated Initial Business Case is slated to be presented to the Metrolinx Board soon, perhaps in June. It should be an interesting discussion, particularly about capital cost reduction ideas!

May 25

Key Actions to Re-engineer Canadian Passenger Transportation for the Future

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News

Transport Action Ontario has written a second letter to the federal Ministers of Infrastructure, Environment and Transport indicating key actions to re-engineer Canadian passenger transportation for the future. Important ideas discussed were

-Replacing short haul flights with passenger rail

-Making Pearson Airport an intercity rail hub

-Subsidizing long-distance intercity bus operations

The full letter can be viewed here.

Mar 20

Hamilton LRT Project Update

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

Our earlier posting of December 18, 2019 expressed our disappointment with cancellation of this LRT project. Since then, we have continued to be active on this file. On December 31, 2019, we wrote the Auditor General of Ontario expressing our concerns with the rationale and process of cancellation. We had a productive meeting with the Auditor General in February, and are hopefully that they will act on our concerns. Our letter is attached.

As part of the cancellation announcement, the Province stated it was still committed to a investment of $1 billion towards future transit and transportation in Hamilton. A Task Force was set up in January to recommend how this funding is to be used. According to media reports, the Task Force reported back to Minister Mulroney on March 16, but the report will not be made public at this time. Stay tuned!

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