Category Archives for "Press Releases and Open Letters"

Jan 03

2017 New Year’s letter from the president

By TAO-admin | Latest News , Press Releases and Open Letters , Uncategorized


Welcome to the New Year of 2017. May it be happy and prosperous for you!

Our path forward Transport Action Ontario has a full agenda for 2017. In the fall of 2016, TAO decided to focus its advocacy on intercity rail and connectivity, the integration of public transport into a network of services that includes intercity rail, regional bus and rail services, and local transit. We will oppose the bad and the ugly, support the good, and call for and champion initiatives that take Ontario closer to a sustainable public transportation system. We highly value local public transit, but will rely on and work with other groups already doing transit advocacy. Metrolinx will remain as a focus as a provider of regional intercity transit.

Ontario is facing a large public transportation deficit. Most of the province is without intercity or even local public transportation. While the Province has invested in transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and in Ottawa, the rest of the province is stuck with auto-dependency. There is a heavy price to auto-dependency which disadvantages students and seniors and people with low incomes generally. Auto-dependency is a drag on local economic development hampering labour mobility and spurring depopulation. While the Province recognizes that it must work to help reverse climate change, it has not recognized that a key way to do that is to provide public transport alternatives to the whole of Ontario.

Southwestern Ontario Cuts to VIA Rail service in 2012 hit Southwestern Ontario particularly hard. TAO, along with several other local groups, looked at how an integrated network of rail and bus services could be brought to this part of Ontario. The Network Southwest plan, written by Greg Gormick and released in 2015, proposes a provincially supported bus network integrated with an upgraded and expanded rail network. Frequent train service using bi-level passenger cars following the model of state-supported Amtrak services in California and elsewhere in the U.S. is highlighted. Another report in 2016, also written by Gormick, explores the concept of High Performance Rail in detail.

The objectives of these two reports still apply. Southwestern Ontario desperately needs integrated public transportation. In 2017 TAO will give special attention to the North Main Line, the rail line between Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, Stratford, St. Marys and London. VIA Rail is providing very poor and extremely unreliable train service on this route. The Province has mandated Metrolinx to offer commuter rail service from Kitchener into Toronto, but Metrolinx’s commuter trains make many stops and are slow. Moreover, the transportation demand along the North Main Line doesn’t end at Kitchener. It extends west to Stratford and London. It is time for frequent all-day two-way express rail service the full length of the Innovation (Knowledge) Corridor Toronto-Kitchener-London. TAO will be advocating high performance rail for this corridor with a delivery agency to be worked out through agreements between the feds, the province, and the municipalities being served.

Northern Ontario The cancellation of the Northlander between Toronto, North Bay and Cochran in 2012, the infrequency and unreliability of VIA’s Canadian across northwestern Ontario, declining intercity bus service, and the recent suspension of the Sault-Hearst train underscore the substantial decline in public transportation options for northern Ontario. In 2017, TAO will continue to work closely with the Northeastern Ontario Rail Network based in North Bay, and the Coalition for Algoma Passenger Trains based in the Sault to bring back and enhance rail/bus and transit services for Ontario’s north.

Eastern Ontario VIA Rail has proposed building a new exclusive passenger railway from Toronto to Smith Falls through Peterborough and Havelock as part of its High Frequency Rail plan. VIA is proposing frequent rail service between Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal on this route using non-stop trains. TAO is opposed to this plan as costly and unnecessary. VIA has already paid close to half a billion dollars for added track on CN’s Lakeshore route Toronto-Kingston-Brockville-Montreal to help reduce conflicts between passenger and freight trains on this route. Perhaps in anticipation of blow back from cities such as Belleville and Kingston, VIA recently proposed adding almost hourly train service to the Lakeshore route in addition to the new dedicated track proposal. TAO’s position is to support frequent high performance passenger rail along the Lakeshore route by investing scarce capital funds on continuing to upgrade the Lakeshore line with the aim of having both frequent express trains Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal connecting with stopping trains serving cities in eastern Ontario.

Ongoing projects As part of the Move the GTHA collaborative, TAO will continue to push for new dedicated revenue sources for transporation investment. If implemented properly, these can provide funding needed for public transport improvements all across Ontario. There continues to be a need for federal legislation definiing the rights and obligations of passenger rail in Canada, especially if operating on track owned by the freight railways. We have been inputting into a Private Members Bill on this topic to be introduced in 2017.

Longer term TAO supports rail investments to upgrade international connections to the U.S. from Ontario. Both New York and Michigan are investing to implement high performance rail, in New York between Niagara Falls and New York City, and in Michigan between Detroit and Chicago. TAO supports passenger rail connections between Ontario and the U.S. at Niagara Falls and at Windsor.

Highlighted above are several big issues for TAO in 2017. Others will surely arise. We look forward to your support through membership and donations that will help us carry forward these and other activities to achieve sustainable integrated public transportation for Ontario.

Tony Turrittin, President, January 3, 2017

Nov 07

Rail advocates outraged by Garneau announcement

By admin | Latest News , Press Releases and Open Letters

Rail advocates outraged by Garneau announcement

Minister supports cheap airlines over good rail options

OTTAWA – Transport Action Canada is stunned, even outraged, by the Transportation 2030 Vision presented in Montreal by Transport Minister Marc Garneau last Thursday.

“With climate change on everyone’s mind, and transportation causing a huge percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, smart solutions are needed,” says the public transportation advocacy group’s president Bruce Budd. “And the smartest solution of all is the rail network we already have. Except for a brief passing reference to a feasibility study of high frequency rail service linking Toronto to Ottawa and Montreal, why has Minister Garneau virtually ignored VIA Rail Canada in his 2030 Vision?”

The Amtrak system, the US equivalent of VIA Rail, demonstrates that short, intermediate and long-distance trains can be heavily used, and gain significant ridership. Amtrak’s success is bringing demands across the US for increased train service of all kinds. Transport Action believes that this would happen in Canada if our passenger train network was modernized, expanded, reliable and lower-cost.

Adding new discount airlines may be helpful to some, Budd says, but short-haul air travel is a poor solution for a government committed to “real change” and reducing greenhouse gases. If Canada followed the lead of countries like France, Germany, Japan, China and the US, by making investments in passenger rail, we would get much closer to our climate change targets, he predicted. Passengers would continue to fly for most long distance trips, but use or connect to fast efficient train networks for shorter journeys.

“Canadians travel all the time. They deserve affordable, efficient and sustainable ways to get around. Why drive congested, dangerous, snowy highways and pollute our environment? Canada’s railways are not just for freight; they are the best solution for millions of travelling passengers. Investments in VIA Rail will produce benefits all across Canada: higher speeds and higher frequency for the busy corridors, reliable safe on-time options for long distance travellers, and vital links for First Nations and remote communities.”

Transport Action Canada works with its regional partners Transport Action Ontario, Transport Action Atlantic, and in Quebec and Western Canada to connect community groups, government stakeholders and businesses, and advocates for better travel options across the country. TAC has commissioned many studies, available on its website, showing how passenger rail networks can be improved quickly and affordably.

Jun 01

Transport Action Ontario urges Toronto Council to re-examine Scarborough Express Rail in lieu of Subway Extension

By TAO-admin | Latest News , Press Releases and Open Letters , Urban Transit

 

 

The following press release was sent to media in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area on June 1. 2016

– – – – – –

 

 

Media Release

 

Transport Action Ontario urges Toronto Council to re-examine Scarborough Express Rail in lieu of Subway Extension

At a public meeting in Scarborough on May 31, Toronto City staff revealed for the first time that the forecast ridership for the proposed one-stop 6 km subway extension from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Centre would be just 7,300 passengers per hour at the busiest time in the busiest direction.  This is much lower than the projected ridership of 9,800 to 11,600 for a three-stop extension presented to City Council in March, which was used by Council to justify further work on the project.

 

Transport Action Ontario has long argued that this $2.6B subway extension makes no sense.  Other transit experts agree, including Dr. Eric Miller, Director of University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute, who has developed the City’s ridership forecasting model. 

 

Instead, we urge Toronto Council to re-examine the Scarborough Express Rail (SER) concept, which provides subway-like service to Scarborough Centre using electrified GO service in a short new corridor, consistent with Smart Track/Regional Express Rail.  This option has substantially lower capital cost ($1.15B) and provides more relief to Toronto’s highly congested subway network at Bloor-Yonge.  The same funds used for the subway extension could potentially take SER to Centennial College’s Progress Campus, a neglected major education node in the current Scarborough plan, allowing more major areas to be served by transit for the same investment. 

 

Further information on Scarborough Express Rail, including Frequently Asked Questions, is available on our website:  http://ontario.transportaction.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/TAO-SER-FAQ-2016-02.pdf.

 

For further information contact:

 

 

Peter Miasek, President

(416) 526-9132

 

 

 

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