Category Archives for "Urban Transit"

Apr 07

Cost-Effective Surface Subway for Scarborough – “Smart Spur”

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

As many readers will know, transit planning in Toronto took a turn in March with the Province releasing two letters on its priority transit expansion projects.  This included revising the one-stop Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) to three stops.  Clearly this change in direction will require study, causing impacts to schedule and cost.

 

Transport Action Ontario has long expressed concerns about the SSE.  We have long advocated that the Province study “Smart Spur”, a new electrified GO line branching east from the existing GO Stouffville corridor, as a cost-effective alternative with many advantages.

 

As studies on the SSE are apparently being reopened, we took the opportunity to remind the Province of the Smart Spur alternative.  Our open letter of April 3, 2019 can be viewed here:    TAO-SmartSpur2019-04

Feb 07

Building upon the Community Transportation Grant Funding

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

Transport Action Ontario warmly welcomes the Ontario government’s release of $30 million in Community Transportation Grant funding on Friday, January 25th 2019. The investment represents the first tangible step toward restoring inter-community bus services in Ontario since earlier cuts by numerous Ontario bus providers.

This funding, which follows on from $3 million in pilot project funding provided to 22 communities by the previous government, will provide restored and new services that will make a significant difference to the lives of citizens in many smaller communities that have been without any public bus services for six years or longer.

Transport Action Ontario has sent a letter to Minister of Transportation Jeff Yurek congratulating him on this announcement and identifying several other issues with intercommunity buses that need resolution.  Our letter can be viewed here:    TAO-MTOCommTransport2019-02

Jan 29

Full Transparency and Public Consultation Needed on Subway Upload

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

Transport Action Ontario has sent an open letter to Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek and Toronto Mayor John Tory calling for full transparency and public consultation on the proposed subway upload.  We believe the concept is worthy of study, as the status quo is not acceptable.  However, there are many important aspects of the upload that need to be dealt with fairly and efficiently.

Our letter can be viewed here:  TAO-SubwayUpload 2019-01

Nov 21

Ontario’s 2018 Fall Economic Statement – Mixed Signals on Transportation

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

On November 15, Ontario released its 2018 Fall Economic Statement (FES). It is a large document covering all aspects of the Province’s operations. It is likely the most significant statement on the government’s intentions until the provincial budget comes out in Spring, 2019.

To date, the government has implemented various tax and fee cuts, including cancelling cap and trade, putting in a hiring freeze, changing labour laws, and cancelling some projects and programs, including 4 new universities, 758 renewable energy contracts, and the Environmental Commissioner office. There is a lot of public worry about additional future cuts as the government struggles to balance its books.

The statements on transportation in the FES are a mixed bag as summarized below:

• In contrast to their election platform promise to reinstate the Northlander train, the FES emphasizes northern highway improvements, and only promises to “review other initiatives to meet Northerners’ transportation needs, including passenger rail and bus services”.

• Similarly, in contrast to their promise to deliver all transit and transportation projects currently funded, the FES simply indicates that “the government looks forward to completing its review of all capital projects and intends to share details in the coming months”.

• The campaign plan to upload responsibility for existing and new subway lines from Toronto is maintained in the FES. See previous posting on this topic on the TAO website for more details. We have now heard that the advisory report on this uploading will be coming to the government by the end of this month.

• The campaign promise to actively explore High Speed Rail in Southwestern Ontario has been replaced with a plan to analyze a range of “options to either upgrade existing rail corridors, create new ones or utilize other forms of transportation.” This appears to be a welcome step-back from the previous government’s single-minded pursuit of High Speed Rail only. TAO has long advocated for a review of rail alternatives such as High Performance Rail involving incremental improvements to train speed and frequency on all existing corridors. But of course, the “other forms of transportation” statement bears watching.

• As expected, the province is reviving the Environmental Assessment for the GTA-W highway corridor. TAO participated in the previous EA process, emphasizing that existing infrastructure (rail, provincial highways, regional roads) need expansion to full capacity prior to a new expressway being built.

• A new item in the FES is a planned review of the enabling legislation for Metrolinx to “enhance the agency’s focus on regional transit delivery and service excellence”. Whether this leads to some sort of broader scope for Metrolinx, such as one regional transit agency like “Superlinx”, remains to be seen.

• The province is continuing work on the Greater Golden Horseshoe transportation plan, to which TAO and other non-government organizations have previously inputted.

• The FES is silent on the campaign promise to add $5B in new subway funding to build various lines in the GTHA. It is also silent on other topics that TAO has urged action on, including living up to the previous government promises of higher gas tax revenue to municipalities and provincial contributions to transit fare integration in Greater Toronto, as well as assistance to municipalities to implement low-income fares/passes.

 

In summary, with this new government, there are many planned or potential major changes to Ontario’s transportation landscape. TAO intends to closely monitor all of these and provide input to ensure that sustainability gets its fair due.

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