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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.