Jul 28

Brampton studying Urban Boulevard to replace Highway 413

By Transport Action Ontario | Highways and Bridges , Latest News , Southwestern Ontario

The GTA-West corridor (Highway 413) is a proposed new expressway between Vaughan and Milton. It is currently in the final stages of an Environmental Assessment. Transport Action has been involved with this project since 2009. See our last posting Nov. 12, 2019.

In July, 2020, Brampton Planning and Development Committee unanimously approved a recommendation by city staff to study an urban boulevard in lieu of an expressway in the Heritage Heights area of the City. Transport Action Ontario made a deputation supporting the staff recommendation. It can be viewed below:

Jul 28

Progress Towards a Public Transportation Network in SW Ontario

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

The steady startup of community bus services in Southwestern Ontario, funded by the Province under Community Transportation Grants (CTG) is continuing. See our previous post on Rural Transit Renaissance (January 2020) for background. Several of these groups have now taken an important next step, by working together and coordinating their efforts under the banner of Southwest Community Transit Association (SCT), facilitated by the South Central Ontario Region Economic Development Corporation (SCOR EDC).

Transport Action Ontario has written Minister Mulroney congratulating her on the CTG program and its positive fallout. We also urged her to continue to work on other Actions in the province’s draft plan Connecting the Southwest, released in January, 2020 (see our posting January 17, 2020).

Our letter can be viewed below:

Jul 01

All Aboard St. Marys joins Transport Action

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

All Board St. Marys (AASM), a non-government organization based in St. Marys, Ontario, informed their members on June 25, 2020 that they intend to merge with Transport Action Ontario. This group has been a strong and vocal advocate for improvement of passenger rail service on the North Main Line between Kitchener and London.

All Aboard St Marys has been very successful in raising awareness of passenger rail with MPs, MPPs and the general public. Use of the train in St. Marys is up 75% over the past decade, and both a wheelchair lift and electric vehicle charger have been installed at the community-managed train station.

AASM has also been instrumental in getting resolutions supporting VIA Rail passed by many Ontario cities and towns, and gathering support from 78 MPs, MPPs, and Senators.

We welcome members of All Aboard St. Marys to the Transport Action family.

May 29

Yonge North Subway Extension Reaches Milestone, but Challenges Remain

By Transport Action Ontario | Latest News , Urban Transit

The Yonge North Subway Extension (YNSE), from Finch Station in Toronto to Richmond Hill Centre in York Region, is one of Ontario’s four priority subway projects. Transport Action Ontario has long supported this project, in conjunction with a relief line for the Yonge Subway, as ridership on the extension is expected to easily meet subway thresholds.

The project recently reached a milestone with the signing of the “Ontario-York Region Transit Partnership Preliminary Agreement”, which outlines the responsibilities of each level of government. However, the project still faces significant challenges, which include:

  • Federal funding. The project is looking for 40% federal commitment, but currently there is nearly zero. The funding instrument that the feds have been using is their PTIF-2 program, which allocates money to municipalities based on current population and current transit ridership, not growth potential. Toronto is using their $4.9B allocation on other projects in the City. York Region has received $200M from PTIF-2, which will be directed to YNSE, but is obviously insufficient.
  • Municipal funding. The Province is looking for a capital commitment from York Region of about 15%, or $1.1B. Much of this will come from Development Charges, but the Region will need new revenue tools, e.g. land transfer tax like Toronto has. This requirement for municipal funds is different than the Ontario-Toronto transit agreement inked last fall, where the municipal contribution on the 4 subway projects within Toronto was agreed to be zero.
  • Capital cost escalation. The capital costs are rumoured to have increased dramatically, from the $5.6B cited in the agreement to over $9 B. There is talk about reducing the number of stations and perhaps changing the alignment.
  • Operating and maintenance costs. The agreement also specifies that York will have a responsibility to share in the operating and maintenance cost subsidy. This is new for York and is in contrast to the Spadina subway extension to Vaughan, where Toronto picks up 100% of operating and maintenance costs.

An updated Initial Business Case is slated to be presented to the Metrolinx Board soon, perhaps in June. It should be an interesting discussion, particularly about capital cost reduction ideas!

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