Mar 16

Public-Private Partnerships in Canada’s Rail Infrastructure

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus



Canada’s rail system has recently been beset with crises ranging from an inability to move a bumper crop of grain, to derailments, to drastic cuts in passenger rail.  What is common to all of these issues is a lack of capital investment in Canada’s rail infrastructure.


There has been increasing discussion on the need for Canada to follow the lead of the USA and engage in public-private partnerships, involving the railways, the federal government and provincial governments,  to develop a fully functional rail system.


Greg Gormick, noted transportation writer and colleague of Transport Action Ontario, has started a discussion in this area, with more to follow.  His op-ed, published by the Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal on March 16, 2014 can be viewed here:  NDR ThunderBayOpEd 2014-03-16



Mar 12

2013 Newsletters “Ontario Report” Available for Public Viewing

By Transport Action Ontario | Ontario Report


The November-December, 2013 Ontario Report is now available for public viewing:

Transport Action Ontario Report 2013NovDec


The September-October, 2013 Ontario Report is now available for viewing:

Transport Action Ontario Report 2013Sept-Oct


The July – August, 2013 Ontario Report is now available for public viewing here.

The May – June, 2013 Ontario Report is now available for public viewing here.

The April – May, 2013  Ontario Report is now available for public viewing here

The January – February, 2013 Ontario Report is now available for public viewing here.



Mar 11

Pembina Institute Issues Analysis of GTHA Transit Investment and Expansion Plans from Ontario’s Major Political Parties

By Transport Action Ontario | Urban Transit




As readers know, Transport Action Ontario is part of the “Move the GTHA” collaborative of non-government organizations that is working towards improving public and political acceptance of new revenue tools for transportation.  The collaborative also includes Pembina Institute.


Pembina has just released an interim analysis of GTHA transit investment and expansion plans from Ontario’s major political parties:  Liberal Party, New Democratic Party and Progressive Conservative Party.   Four guiding principles were used as the criteria for the analysis:

  • Rapid transit for the whole region
  • New dollars for new transit
  • Creating a dedicated fund for transit and transportation
  • Fast-tracking transit improvements

Evaluations of the parties’ current positions on each of these four topics were presented, and a score was assigned:  “On track for transit”, “Some forward movement”, and “Stuck in traffic”.


The Pembina report can be read here

Mar 07

VIA Rail Canada Act introduced by Olivia Chow, M.P.

By Transport Action Ontario | Intercity Rail and Bus


On March 3, 2014, NDP MP Olivia Chow introduced Bill C-577, an Act respecting VIA Rail Canada.  This private member’s bill is comprehensive.  It requires the maintenance of VIA’s route system prior to the 2012 cuts, it gives VIA trains scheduling and operational preference over freight services, adds resolution protocols if disputes between VIA and other railways, requires public consultation, and more.  It is an encouraging first step to meeting a pressing need for a national passenger rail act in Canada.

The act can be viewed here</>


Olivia Chow had reached out to Transport Action Ontario (TAO) last fall and asked us to comment on earlier drafts of this Bill.  We engaged our colleague Greg Gormick, independent consultant, for this work.   Greg is extremely knowledgeable in this area and we felt he would have valuable comments.   Greg produced two memos, one for each draft of the bill, in November and December, 2013, which were forwarded to Olivia Chow and her staff.

There are several points that Greg raised that did not make it into the final draft and they should be out for discussion.  Therefore, in the interest of assembling a complete file, Transport Action Ontario is including those two memos in this post.  They can be viewed here:


TAO-NDP VIA Rail Canada Act Draft2 Review 131212

TAO-NDP VIA Rail Canada Act Draft1 Review 131129


There was one item in Greg’s December memo that raised some controversy within TAO.  This was with regards to the relocation of VIA’s headquarters out of Montreal.  We wish to clarify that this opinion was based on a statement in the cited government report, and does not reflect the position of TAO.   TAO has no position on where the headquarters of VIA should or should not be located.

Transport Action Ontario is very supportive of this Bill.  We have long been concerned that VIA Rail merely exists as a Standing Order in Council and requires legislated rights, obligations, objectives and budgets similar to Amtrak in the USA.  However, we are aware that other attempts to legislate on behalf of VIA Rail have been unsuccessful.
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