Category Archives for "Intercity Rail and Bus"

Jul 18

Greyhound Canada Downsizing – Urgent Need for Integrated Multi-modal Transportation Strategy

By TAO-admin | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario , Press Releases and Open Letters

On July 9, 2018, Greyhound Canada announced it was downsizing its bus operations and would be abandoning all but one of its bus routes west of Sudbury, effective October 31, 2018.  In Ontario, this will affect over 50 communities in Northern Ontario. In Western Canada, about 20 routes affecting hundreds of communities all across the region will be affected.

Our “parent” organization, Transport Action Canada, has written an urgent letter to Federal Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, requesting federal leadership in developing and implementing an integrated multi-modal transportation strategy that serves all Canadians.

The letter to Minister Garneau can be viewed here:  TAC Greyhound Call-to-Action

Jul 03

Open Letter to Premier Ford and Minister Yakabuski

By TAO-admin | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario , Press Releases and Open Letters , Urban Transit

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 TAO-admin | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario , Urban Transit

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.

 

In conclusion, there is plenty to keep TAO  busy in upcoming years!  We will continue to closely monitor developments in these and other transportation areas of interest.

May 24

Need for Assistance to Short Line Railways

By TAO-admin | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern 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.

May 22

Rally for Rail in Northern Ontario

By TAO-admin | Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Northern Ontario

Our affiliate organization, Northern and Eastern Ontario Rail Network (NEORN) is holding a series of 10 “RALLY FOR RAIL” events across Northern Ontario between May 23 and May 31.  All community members are invited to attend and learn how passenger rail service to their community will happen and how their vote in the upcoming June election could make this a reality. The government needs to reflect the will of the people in northeastern Ontario!

Details on the 10 rallies can be found here:   NEORN-RallyMay2018

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