Local Toronto News: GO Transit gets $1b boost

GO Transit gets $1B boost


Federal politicians, no doubt part of a pre-election campaign, dropped by local transit authorities yesterday and signed multi-partner, multi-year promises that guarantee $1 billion to GO Transit and $150 million to York Region.

The funding, for expansion programs, will change the face of public transit.

"This is a transfer of dollars; this is like money in the bank," said Human Resources Minister Joe Volpe, the federal cabinet minister responsible for Ontario, who made both announcements.

By 2010, GO Transit will be able to:

Run all day, half-hourly service along its east and west Lakeshore lines, thanks to money to add 36 kilometres of rail.

Run trains all day, without worry of freight train interference, with rail and bridge improvements on Georgetown, Milton, Bradford and Stouffville lines.

Extend its reach with new rail service to Barrie as well as bus service to Peterborough, Cambridge, Niagara Falls, Guelph, Kitchener and Waterloo.

"Anywhere we can add another track to improve our service is great for GO," said GO chairman Gordon Chong. "This morning, we had a CN freight train pull ahead of GO and VIA trains and it caused significant delay and caused a cancellation. GO is not the master of its own house. CN and CP own the rail, own the tracks and whenever they choose to run freight, they can run freight. We're second-class citizens in that sense."

By 2005, York will be able to:

Run custom-built buses along Yonge St. and Highway 7, partly in their own rights of way.

Connect with TTC subway stations at Downsview and Don Mills, relieving the overcrowding of the Yonge St. line.

"We're ready to go," said York Region chairman Bill Fisch. "There are 104 intersections being worked on as we speak. We're not wasting any time."

York Region has ordered 22 18-metre buses and 55 12-metre buses from Van Hool of Belgium.

Intersections will allow buses to go first, new terminals will be passenger friendly and the region will use electronic fare cards instead of tokens or tickets.

"We're going to make driving a car in York Region a choice, not a necessity," said Fisch.

Some have been critical of York Region's entrance into rapid transit, saying it takes scarce public money away from GO and the TTC, both of which move many more commuters and have urgent need of capital improvements.

"In my mind, it's not either/or, it's both," said Ontario Transportation Minister Harinder Takhar.

"The regions are growing, so we need to start building public transit otherwise we will never get around to building public transit. So this is a great start."

Ottawa and Queen's Park are each contributing $385 million to GO with $235 million to come from the municipalities that GO services. Ottawa, Queen's Park and York Region are each contributing $50 million to the region's QuickStart rapid transit program.

Last month, Ottawa, Queen's Park and Toronto agreed to a $1.05 billion three-way funding agreement for the TTC.

None of the transit authorities got everything they wanted. The money announced last month for the TTC is barely enough to keep it going from year to year, and it certainly isn't enough to begin subway expansion.

But the agreement was hailed as a step forward because the money is guaranteed for five years.

GO Transit didn't get any money for its much-hailed idea to build bus-only highways across Greater Toronto.

And York Region is still looking for $1.5 billion more to build bus-only roads and ultimately convert to light rail transit.

"It's never everything you want, but it's significant progress," said GO Transit chairman Gordon Chong.

GO's work is in the environmental assessment process, with construction expected to begin in 2005.

The 12 projects that have funding could be complete by 2008, according to a best-case scenario presented at GO's last board meeting.

But managing director Gary McNeil expects the work to take longer.

"We know we're not going to be able to do all the work on all of the projects at the same time; there's just not enough manpower for it literally," said McNeil.
I'm very pleased to see local infrastructure and transit services are getting a boost. Along with GO, York Region is getting $150million towards it's planned rapid transit network.

This is good for me, as I travel north every now and then for various reasons.

I promote public transit services, it's just impossible (and unsafe) these days to travel within and outside of this city.

Anyways, good good news for everyone in the GTA.

A similar funding announcement was made in March pledging $1-billion over five years for the Toronto Transit Commission, with the cost shared by provincial, federal and municipal governments.

The TTC is getting also a boost. They desperately need it! Let's not get into the Shepperd subway line, it's been done with and nothing can be done to go back in time and change that.

Subway tunnels are falling apart, there's already been an accident because of that. The system is just falling apart.

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