Category Archives for "Urban Transit"

May 04

Ontario’s Budget 2022 – Transportation Highlights

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

The Ford government introduced its 2022 Budget on April 28.  As the Ontario legislature was dissolved one week later due to the upcoming provincial election, the budget was not debated or passed.  However, it does represent the election platform of the Ford government, and presumably will be re-introduced if the Progressive Conservatives win the election.

In the transportation area, the Budget has few surprises and largely represents a restatement of previous commitments.  Key items include:

  • Highways, highways, highways.  Although more funds are to be expended to public transit, it is clear that this government’s top priority is highways.  A total of $25.1B over 10 years is slated for “planning and/or construction of highway expansion and rehabilitation projects” across the province, including the construction of new Highway 413, new Bradford Bypass and widening of numerous other highways across Ontario.  No cost breakdown is given for these projects.   (Independent experts have estimated a construction cost of $8 – 10B for Highway 413).
  • Other driver benefits.  These include removal of tolls on Highways 412 and 418, removal of license fees, 5.7c/l reduction in gas tax from July – December, 2022, and changes in auto insurance rules to give consumers more choice and reduce fraud.
  • $61B to public transit over 10 years.  The cited projects are well known and have been costed out.  The key committed projects are GO Expansion (see posting on this website January 13, 2022 for details) and the 4 GTA subway projects (Ontario Line, Yonge North, Scarborough and Eglinton West).  All these projects are moving forward.
  • GO Milton improvements not funded.  Despite a federal commitment of up to $500M (50%), the Budget was silent on provincial matching funding to convert this busy line to all-day two-way service.
  • Transit Oriented Communities (TOC).  Agreements have been signed to build TOCs at 7 stations on the Ontario Line and the Yonge North Subway Extension to provide new funding sources for the province for construction.
  • New GTA Projects.  Continued planning on Sheppard East subway extension and on Eglinton Crosstown West extension to Pearson Airport.
  • Discussion of three extension projects for GO Transit:
    • Bowmanville
    • London, where the province is “proceeding with planning work and investment for track improvements to support implementation of faster and more frequent service” (no details).
    • Niagara, where the province “continues to work with rail partners” (no details).
  • Northeastern Passenger Rail.  $75M to support corridor, fleet and station upgrades for service between Toronto and Timmins, with a rail connection to Cochrane.  Although this is a good start, we note that this is insufficient to cover the full capital cost of $150M – $230M, as cited in the Updated Initial Business Case.
  • Shortline railways absent. There was no discussion in the Budget on preserving shortline railways, such as the Barrie-Collingwood or Orangeville-Brampton lines.
  • Coach Refurbishing.  $280M for funding to refurbish 150 GO Transit bi-level coaches in Thunder Bay and North Bay. 
  • References to the GGH Transportation Plan with 100+ actions and to the Northern Task Force that will “inform the government of the most important local needs”.

As readers know, Transport Action Ontario is deeply involved in most of these projects and will continue to closely monitor, support or oppose them, regardless of who wins the upcoming election.

Apr 26

Transport Action Ontario – Annual General Meeting April, 2022 – Summary of Public Portion

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

Transport Action Ontario’s (TAO) annual general meeting, held April 23, 2022, included a portion open to the public. This featured a guest presentation by Elizabeth May M.P., former leader of the Green Party of Canada. This was followed by a brief report by Peter Miasek, President, summarizing the organization’s advocacy efforts over the past year.

Ms. May discussed the importance of ground transportation (intercity rail and bus) to Canada, her Private Members Bill C-236 (“VIA Rail Canada Act”), VIA’s High Frequency Rail proposal and her efforts t for, a multi-party rail caucus in Parliament.

Mr. Miasek’s presentation summarized advocacy activities in the following areas:

  • Northern and Eastern Ontario Rail
  • Southwestern Ontario Passenger Rail and Intercommunity Bus
  • Greater Golden Horseshoe Public Transportation
  • Highway 413
  • Eastern Ontario Transit and Rail
  • High Frequency Rail
  • Other Federal Interfaces including VIA Rail

A copy of the presentation can be viewed below.

Mar 23

Briefing Note on CUTRIC Conference

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

Board member Ken Westcar attended the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium (CUTRIC) conference in November, 2021. His notes were circulated to the Transport Action Ontario board, but are of broad interest, so we felt that members and the general public should have access to them.

Prominent speakers included three Ministers of Transportation and various provincial, municipal and industry specialists. Ken’s briefing note can be viewed below:

Jan 24

Untendered Extension of Presto fare card contract

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

Transport Action Ontario has written Ontario’s Auditor General (AG) expressing our concern about the recent Metrolinx untendered contact extension to Accenture for Presto card support. It is remarkable that this contract dates back to 2006 and has been extended several times without tender. The AG has repeatedly pointed out the dangerous dependence of Metrolinx on Accenture. Metrolinx has apparently accepted these concerns and was moving to reduce reliance on Accenture.

It is therefore hugely disappointing that Metrolinx has again extended the contract to 2025. We urged the AG to again scrutinize this matter.

Our letter to the AG can be viewed below.

GO Train at Bloor station. Photo by Sally Hewson.
Jan 13

GO Rail Expansion in the GTHA – the Path Forward

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

In November, 2021, Metrolinx released an important update on their $27B + GO Expansion Program, announcing that two proponents had submitted proposals in response to a tender request.  The successful proponent is to be announced in 2022.  This Program is vital to the future of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), but has received relatively little publicity and public scrutiny versus the more notorious subway projects. 

The attached article summarizes the status of the Program and identifies some best practices, largely listed in a Toronto Region Board of Trade report of March, 2022,  that hopefully will be incorporated in the Program or in future expansion projects. 

The article can be viewed below:

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