Category Archives for "Urban Transit"

Jun 25

State of Transit Investment in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA)

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

 

 

Transport Action Ontario is a core member of the Move the GTHA (MTGTHA) collaborative, a diverse group of organizations from health, labour, business, policy, environmental and citizen advocacy working together to build awareness, engagement and education in support of investment in the GTHA’s transportation system.

 

The collaborative intends to release a report in July on the state of transit investment in the GTHA.  The report was previewed at a meeting on local and regional transit investment organized by Environment Hamilton.  The Hamilton Spectator published a good summary of the meeting, as pasted below:

 

ARTICLE FROM HAMILTON SPECTATOR, JUNE 23, 2016

Funding Hamilton transportation operations will be pricey

By Joel OpHardt

Hamilton will have to worry about more than just project funding for the LRT. Maintenance and operation are costly too.

Peter Miasek, president of Transport Action Canada, highlighted key features of a report from the group Move the GTHA on the province’s Big Move transit plan.

The Big Move is a provincial transport plan that calls for the construction of a roughly 1,300-kilometre rapid transit network by 2033. Rapid transit would include public transit options such as bus rapid transit, light rail transit, heavy rail and subways.

“Municipalities are already struggling to pick up the year-to-year operational costs” for transit, Miasek told a crowd of about 40 people at the West Harbour Hub Thursday evening.

While transportation projects get funding from all three levels of government, municipalities are often forced to foot the bill themselves when it comes to maintenance and operation, said Miasek.

At current expansion rates, Move the GTHA estimates operation costs of the rapid transit network would cost municipalities $1.6 billion per year by 2022. By 2032 that number would balloon to $3.8 billion per year.

By 2042, municipalities will need to source $78 billion cumulatively to foot the bill.

“We’re going to need a revenue source that starts small but grows rapidly,” he said. “The sad news is no governments have made commitments.”

To add to the concern, Don McLean of Environment Hamilton pointed to Hamilton’s unique property tax policy that employs a varied transit levy according to location. Because communities like Ancaster and Stoney Creek pay about a third of what central Hamilton pays, the city doesn’t have the money to spend on effective city-wide transit investments.

As it stands, the news on the project funding is much better. Between the province, the federal government and municipalities, about $38.2 billion of the necessary $69 billion to complete the rapid transit network has been sourced.

That level of funding would supply the GTHA with about five more years of construction before the funding would need to be revamped.

Despite the operational cost conundrum, Miasek doesn’t shy of away from supporting rapid transit. The business case is there, he said. Congestion cost the GTHA $6 billion in 2013 and will cost it $15 billion per year by 2033, “simply from wasted time.”

If the Big Move succeeds, the number of people living within two kilometres of rapid transit in the GTHA would double to about 80 per cent.

But “everything starts and stops with money,” says Miasek.

The newly introduced HOT lanes would be a good starting point for funding, said Miasek, but “heavy hitter tools” like increasing HST and the gas tax would be necessary.

Miasek says case studies in the U.S. states and local polling show that the public will support new revenue tools if they’re transparent, if they cover all sectors, and if they’re used to fund projects with solid business cases.

Move the GTHA’s report on The Big Move will be published in July.

Jun 23

Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan – Transport Action Ontario comments

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

 

Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) was released in June, 2016.   TAO has been actively involved, both through the Move the GTHA collaborative and as an individual organization.

 

TAO supports much of the CCAP.  However, we have identified two significant concern areas related to transportation:

  • No consideration was given for increased role of freight intermodal in carbon emission reduction
  • No consideration was given to enhance public transportation outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

 

Letters have been written to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on both topics, and can be viewed below:

TAO-CCAP-intermodal2016-06-21

TAO-CCAP-PublicTransp2016-06-23

 

TAO will continue to track the CCAP closely.

 

 

Jun 01

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

By Transport Action Ontario | 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

 

 

 

May 29

Proposed New Ontario Land Use Policies in Greater Golden Horseshoe are Significant

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Intercity Rail and Bus , Latest News , Urban Transit

 

 In 2015, the Province of Ontario initiated a coordinated review of four key land use plans, including the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) and the Greenbelt Plan.   In December, the Crombie Advisory Panel released its recommendations on how to amend and improve these Plans.  The November/December issue of Ontario Report discussed the Crombie Report in more detail.

 

In early May, the Province released its proposed changes to these four plans.  While changes are proposed in many areas, the ones of greatest interest to sustainable transportation advocates are:

  • Increasing the intensification target in the Growth Plan to a minimum of 60% of all new residential development to occur in the existing defined built up area, versus 40% today.
  • Increasing designated greenfield area density targets (ie new developments outside the built up area) to a minimum of 80 residents + jobs per hectare, versus 50 today.
  • Requiring municipalities to plan for density targets of 150 – 200 residents + jobs per hectare within 500 m around existing and planned major transit stations.  This is a new requirement not found in the previous Growth Plan.  The definition of “major transit station” is that it covers all subway, LRT, BRT and GO RER stations.
  • Requiring identification of transit priority corridors in Official Plans where municipalities would focus transit-related development
  • Supporting the development of community hubs by encouraging public services to be located near strategic growth areas, accessible by active transportation and public transit.
  • Improving transit to employment areas.
  • Protecting infrastructure corridors for goods movement.
  • Requiring mapping of major and potential rapid transit lines and good movement corridors.

 

 

There are major implications to these proposals.  For example, York Region, a rapidly growing edge municipality, has been working on an update to its Official Plan to 2041.  Different Region-wide intensification scenarios have been analyzed by staff planners.  Staff is  clearly pro-intensification and acknowledge the lower capital and operating costs from higher intensification.  However, they have misgivings about intensification targets beyond 50%, as it would force virtually all new home construction to be apartments or condos.  They believe a significant fraction of new-home buyers still want single family detached homes, and hence believe that > 50% is unrealistic from a market perspective.

 

What will be the effect if the province implements these higher intensification targets, the higher designated greenfield targets and the new transit station targets?  Will the suburban regions rebel, especially as money from the province to construct rapid transit is inadequate?  Will developers step up lobbying and/or appeal to the OMB?  Will the prices for detached homes continue to skyrocket?  Will the home construction market crater?  Will the anticipated growth not materialize?

 

The combined review also contains various climate change policies, including requiring municipalities to incorporate climate change policies in their Official Plans and to develop greenhouse gas  (GHG) inventories, reduction strategies and performance measures.  The largest contributor to GHG emissions in the province is transportation.  Will these policies by enough to slow down the growth in Vehicle Kilometers Travelled?   Will the policies be a factor in the upcoming decision whether to restart the Environmental Assessment for the GTA-West expressway (Highway 413)?  Should more be done in the outer ring of the GGH by encouraging interurban passenger rail and bus?  Should the province become more active in supporting intermodal goods movement?

 

In conclusion, just as the original 2006 plans changed the face of land use planning in the GGH, the proposed 2016 changes also appear to be very significant, although many questions remain.  Public consultation is planned by the Province until September 30, 2016. 

 

 

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