As summarized in our posting of April 28, 2019, Ontario Northland has been tasked by the provincial government to complete a plan to restore passenger rail service to Northeastern Ontario. Our hard-working affiliate group, the Northeastern Ontario Rail Network, together with the Committee Promoting Muskoka Rail Travel and with the District of Muskoka, have initiated an on-line public survey to gauge citizen interest.
For more information, see the article in “My Muskoka Now” at this link:
With an upcoming federal election in October, Transport Action Ontario has reviewed federal funding support for transit capital maintenance and expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). No matter how the numbers are displayed, the current federal commitment is very low versus a target of 33% or more.
The federal government must up its game! And the provincial and federal governments need to cooperate to deliver the funds!
Transport Action Ontario has long supported the GO Expansion project (formerly Regional Express Rail). In fact, our 2013 report “Regional Rapid Rail” was an important precursor to the provincial project announced in 2014. As readers recall, GO Expansion proposes 15-minute all-day two-way service on core parts of 5 GO train corridors. The province has committed $13.5B for capital construction.
The province has now taken a major step towards procurement of this massive project. The procurement of this project has proceeded in 3 stages:
A number of specific track, station and grade separation projects went to market in 2017/2018. Some of these, such as work on the Stouffville corridor, are under construction. Others are still in the tender process, or may be woven into the “On-Corridor” package described below.
A second procurement package was released in early 2018 to construct 12 new stations, including 6 for Toronto’s Smart Track. However, in November, the province withdrew the tender and announced it would pursue a new Transit Oriented Development approach that would have the private sector fund station construction in exchange for development rights. Since then, two new stations (Mimico and Woodbine) have been announced under this approach.
The third tender package is called “GO Rail Expansion On-Corridor Works”. Interestingly, it uses outcome based specifications where the winner is required to meet key performance specs such as x trains per day between points A and B, trip times, on-time performance, etc. It is up to the proponent to figure out how to achieve this most cost-effectively – whether to electrify or not, construct new track or not, use other innovations. As with all large transit contracts in Ontario, it is a Public Private Partnership (P3), where the winning bidder is responsible for Design-Build-Partial Finance- 30 years of Operation- 30 years of Maintenance. Media estimates of contract value is $18B ($9B capital + $9B op/main). On May 30, the province announced the 4 qualifying teams and issued a Request for Proposals (RFP).
Another interesting aspect of this “On-Corridor” tender is that
the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB)
will finance up to $2B of the contract, only its second transit deal in
The release of the RFP and the CIB financing for the
“On-Corridor” project are good news, as
they signify solid government commitment to this massive and vitally important
Good transit that everyone can use builds strong and inclusive communities, and connects people with inter-city rail and bus services, but only a few cities in Canada can claim to offer an adequate service. Smaller cities, suburbs, and rural communities are almost universally underserved, and many municipalities are starting to ask whether new technology and new service models can close this gap.
In the last two years, there have been many on-demand dynamic transit pilot projects in North America, including at least four in Ontario:
Milton – one year pilot moving passengers to from GO station
Innisfil – subsidizing Uber in lieu of conventional transit
Aurora – ongoing pilot from home to/from GO station during peak periods
Belleville – late night on-demand service to/from any bus stop in the City
Many dynamic transit pilot projects across North America have been dogged by high costs and low passenger numbers. Belleville has avoided this, serving 300% more passengers each night in just six months, and improving cost recovery dramatically.
Therefore, we invited Jeremy Eves from Pantonium, the Toronto
software company behind this success, to speak at our Ontario AGM on May 4th, to
share with us how they did it, and how this could be replicated by other
You can watch the whole presentation online, and share it with your municipal leaders:
Service providers mentioned in the presentation include:
Note: This is the first time we’ve done a YouTube video. With the help of volunteers to do the recording and editing, we’re hoping to use this to bring more of the meetings we hold to all our members across the country. Can you help us with recording or editing? Let us know.
Ontario Northland has been in the news a lot recently – for good reasons which are welcome news to Transport Action Ontario!
As reported by CTV News on April 16, 2019, the corporation has been asked to come up with a plan to restore passenger rail service to Northern Ontario. The plan will highlight what the service needs to look like, the funding requirements and the implementation timeline. The plan is expected to be released in November.
Could passenger service in northern Ontario be back on the rails? In the recent budget from the Ford government, no money was allocated for Ontario Northland to renew passenger rail service, but it was mentioned briefly, and now CTV News has learned the company is in talks with Ontario’s finance minister, Vic Fedeli, about the issue. …
ONTC President Corina Moore provided more details of the passenger rail study, as well as details of the successful Ontario Northland bus service expansion in 2018, in an interview with the North Bay Nugget on April 26, 2019.
Corina Moore is both “proud” and “grateful” Ontario Northland will be involved in creating a solution for passenger rail in northeastern Ontario, citing the agency’s role as “transportation experts” as the reason. …