Category Archives for "Latest News"

Jan 26

Submission to Ontario 2024 Budget Consultation

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

The Ontario government is conducting public consultations leading up to its 2024 Budget, expected in March, 2024. Transport Action Ontario has made a written submission on public transportation needs, with eight recommendations:

  • Make Community Transportation Grants permanent
  • Use a partnership approach on regional passenger rail outside the Greater Golden Horseshoe
  • Work with CN to upgrade track for new “Northlander” train
  • Support shortline rail with track maintenance tax credit
  • Introduce provincial banking of discontinued rail corridors, i.e. “rail bank”
  • Do a deep dive into capital costs and procurement model for rapid transit in Ontario
  • Cancel Highway 413
  • Scope new revenue tools for municipal government, and on congestion/road pricing

Our submission can be viewed below.

Hurontario LRT construction at Port Credit, showing push-box construction under the railway tracks and the excavation for the LRT station.
Jan 12

Capital Cost Escalation for Canadian Rail Transit Projects

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

Cost escalation for rail transit projects in Canada is a growing concern. In a ground-breaking report in 2020, transit researcher Stephen Wickens tabulated the unit cost of completed and under-construction projects in Toronto and found a seven-fold increase since 2005, after accounting for inflation. Wickens presented this research at our Transport Action Ontario (TAO) Annual General Meeting on October 24, 2020 – see details and recording.

Wickens’ work has been picked up an amplified by others, who have raised similar alarms. In December, 2003, TAO raised this issue with Taylor Bachrach, MP and Transportation critic for the federal NDP. We agreed to send him a briefing note that can hopefully be used to initiate an investigation by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN).

The briefing note can be viewed below.

Nov 11

Improvements and Challenges for GTHA Public Transit

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

Transport Action Ontario recently presented a summary update of GTHA public transit improvements and challenges to a Toronto-based seniors group. It presents a useful snapshot of the current status of this vital public service, including:

  • Massive anticipated population increase drives need for more transit
  • Over $100 Billion of rapid transit capital investment since 2010, but more needed
  • Smaller projects underway to improve transit, including priority bus features, fare integration and on-request transit
  • Long-awaited improvements to VIA Rail coming
  • Challenges include operational funding, reliability and escalating cost of construction
  • Summary of pending public advocacy areas

The update can be viewed below.

Nov 07

New Report on using Highway 407 for Trucking

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Latest News

A new report has been released entitled The Freight Escape: How to Get Trucks Off the 401 Without Blowing a Hole in the Greenbelt. 

This report was commissioned by Environmental Defence with input from Transport Action Ontario and you can access this report here.

The report finds that subsidizing the toll on the 407 ETR is cheaper, easier, and better for the trucking industry than building the proposed Highway 413. It also shows that moving trucks from Highway 401 to the 407 will alleviate congestion for all road users and reduce journey times for truck drivers. This would also make building the proposed Highway 413 unnecessary, save taxpayers at least $6 billion (based on 2018 estimates), and conserve valuable natural spaces including 2000 acres of farmland and 400 acres of Greenbelt.

The Freight Escape report finds that moving trucks to the 407 will: 

  • Move 12,000 to 21,000 trucks a day off Highway 401, reducing daily traffic for passenger vehicles 
  • Cost $6 billion less than constructing the proposed Highway 413. Subsidizing the 407 trucking toll is estimated to cost $4 billion, which would be paid over a 30 year period. The Ontario government has not revealed a cost estimate for building Highway 413, but estimates cited in the media are as high as $10 billion 
  • Reduce cost and journey time for truck drivers: using Highway 407 will improve journey times for truckers by approximately 80 minutes, which would be less than half the length of time than the equivalent trip on Highway 401 
  • Conserve local natural spaces and local food production – including 2000 acres of farmland and 400 acres of Greenbelt land that would be paved by Highway 413.
Jul 02

Federal Study of Southwestern Ontario Passenger Rail Enhancement – second update

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

As described in our first post (September 30, 2022), a federal study on passenger rail enhancements in southwestern Ontario is underway. In November, it was announced that CPCS Transcom, in association with WSP, will act as external advisors, with a report due by end 2023.

Following months of little public activity, three important events occurred in the last week of June, 2023:

(a) Minister Alghabra held the long-promised ministerial roundtable with stakeholders. Although attendance was limited to mayors and wardens, Transport Action Ontario prepared a briefing package that was circulated to these attendees ahead of time, giving our take on benefits of rail, concern areas and what municipalities need to ask for. The package is attached below.

(b) Following the roundtable, Minister Alghabra and new VIA President Mario Peloquin announced the return of Trains 82/83 in Fall, 2023, assuming track access agreements can be negotiated with CN and Metrolinx. We have previously learned that negotiations between CN and CIA on track access in general have not been going well. Therefore we welcome the Minister’s commitment that “we will support VIA in whatever they need to make sure that it happens”.

(c) Transport Action representatives also met with CPCS on June 29. We had earlier submitted a briefing note to CPCS covering our material previously sent to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. These included rail infrastructure recommendations and developing London as a hub for high frequency rail in southwestern Ontario. The briefing package is attached below. We learned that the scope of work for CPCS is consistent with previous plans, namely:

  • Focus on Burlington to London, Windsor and Sarnia (ie Kitchener line not included)
  • Study increased service on existing CN infrastructure, with existing station locations
  • Develop 3 service scenarios, with the best being hourly London-Toronto. This is consistent with our recommendations.

Improved passenger rail is vital to southwestern Ontario. Transport Action will continue to be very involved with both this federal study and the Ontario study.