Category Archives for "Latest News"

Oct 25

Transport Action Ontario AGM and Public Presentation – October 24, 2020 – UPDATED

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

Updated: a video recording of the entire meeting is now available:

View on our Youtube Channel

Transport Action Ontario’s (TAO) annual general meeting, postponed from its usual spring date due to the pandemic, will be held on Saturday, October 24, 2020, starting at 1:00 pm Eastern.  As is our usual practice, we will also have a presentation open to the public. Both events will be virtual, and free to join from your computer or phone. Here are the details:

Public Presentation (1:00 pm)

We are pleased to announce that our guest lecturer will be Stephen Wickens, transit researcher and journalist with a four-decade career at four Toronto-based daily newspapers. Steve will summarize his recent report for the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) entitled “Station to Station: Why Subway-building Costs have Soared in the Toronto Region”. This thoughtful report has been well received and hopefully will inform government decisions about at-grade versus below-grade rapid transit projects.

Annual General Meeting (2:00pm)

The AGM will review 2019-2020 performance by the organization and elect the executive and board of directors for the upcoming year. TAO members in good standing will receive an electronic invite and can vote at the virtual meeting, or give a proxy to another member.  Send proxy information to ontario@transportaction.ca.

TAO is always looking for new members to join our board of directors. If you have a passion for public transportation and want to make a difference, contact us at ontario@transportaction.ca.

Oct 16

Submission to Ontario Fall 2020 Budget Consultation

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

The Ontario government is asking for public input into the Fall, 2020 Budget, to be released in early November. Transport Action Ontario has made the following submission, focusing on public transportation.

Northern Ontario

  • Provide funding to implement the Ontario Northland + Metrolinx study on passenger train and bus renewal in Northern Ontario
  • Work with the federal government to save the Huron Central Railway (HCR), ideally under Ontario Northland management

Southwestern Ontario

  • Provide funding to initiate firm steps to implement some of the Action in the recently released draft transportation master plan.  Particularly important are concrete steps on Actions 6 to 8, which deal with improving passenger rail on existing rail corridors owned by freight rail companies.  Work needs to be initiated with the freight rail companies and with VIA Rail. This would include lengthening freight sidings to effectively provide passenger rail priority.

Other Rail

  • Work with the federal government to assist Ontario’s short line railways by providing financial assistance as per our position paper of September 14, 2020. In addition to the HCR above, the Barrie-Collingwood-Railway is currently under threat of closure.

Urban and Rural Transit

  • Continue to work with the Federal Government on emergency funding for transit to bridge revenue loss from Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Increase the gas tax share directed to transit.  This had been promised by the Ford government during the election campaign, but was not kept.
  • Initiate a study to permit Ontario municipalities to use new revenue tools, such as a piece of the provincial sales tax, a land-transfer tax, or authority for road tolls, to fund critical infrastructure such as public transit or roads.
  • Develop a program to subsidize transit fare integration in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Areas in order to reduce two-fare walls between agencies like TTC-GO and TTC-York Region Transit.
  • Expand the highly-successful Community Transportation Grant Program and improve regional coordination/planning/oversight and shared service models. 

General

  • Include environmental and climate change considerations when reviewing transportation modal options.  Any provincial transportation proposals are then more likely to meet with broader public approval.
  • Expand the HOT lane program on Ontario expressways.
Sep 17

Preserving Canada’s Rail Infrastructure and Providing Short Line Railway Assistance

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

Transport Action Ontario has sent two recent letters to the Federal Government on Canada’s rail infrastructure.

The first letter (September 8, 2020) discussed an urgent national strategy to preserve rail infrastructure, including financial assistance and a national rail-banking scheme.

The second letter (September 14, 2020) discussed badly-needed financial assistance for short line railways

Both letters can be viewed here.

Aug 24

Update on Hamilton LRT Project

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

Events continue to unfold in the Hamilton LRT saga, including the recent release of a report from 2019 by Turner and Townsend (T&T) that does not appear to confirm the cost numbers used by the Province in December to cancel the project.

On August 24, 2020, Transport Action Ontario again wrote the Auditor General of Ontario asking for a review of this file. We received word that an audit of the Hamilton LRT project, including the T&T report, will be tabled in December, 2020.

Our August 24 note can be viewed below:

As you may recall, Transport Action Ontario sent a letter to your office
December 31, 2019 outlining our concerns with the cancellation of the
Hamilton LRT project by the Province in mid-December. We subsequently
met with your staff on February 3, 2020 to discuss the concerns in more
detail.

Events have continued to unfold on this file.

We were heartened that, in March, a provincially-appointed task force
recommended that the $1B provincial commitment indeed be spent on
higher-order transit-either LRT or BRT. The Province still has not
responded to this recommendation.

On August 6, the Hamilton Spectator reported it had obtained, pursuant
to a Freedom of Information Act request, the secret report by Turner and
Townsend that was used by the Province as the basis for project
cancellation. Although heavily redacted, the summary is visible and does
not support the cost values claimed by the Province. Specifically, the
province had cited $5.5B in provincial and municipal costs, while Turner
and Townsend cite capital costs of $2.3B (including contingency and
escalation) and $1.3B operations, maintenance and lifecycle costs (30
years). The figures in the report are much lower than claimed by the
Province.

The Hamilton LRT is a vital project for that city. It is clear that
there is a serious problem with project cost estimating and with
government announcements. We urge your office to review this file,
request the source and corroboration of the $5.5B figure stated by the
Transport Minister, and make recommendations that will restore
transparency and good business judgement to this project.

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