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Moscoe attacks transit strategy

Report won’t stop urban sprawl, TTC boss says

By Gail Swainson
Toronto Star York Region Bureau

A Greater Toronto Services Board report that urges the expansion of public transit across the region doesn’t go far enough to curb urban sprawl or traffic gridlock, warns the head of the Toronto Transit Commission.

“Unless the 905 tailpipe-huggers on this board come to grips with the fact they have been the architects of urban sprawl, they are doomed to be forever shrouded in clouds of smog,” Councillor Howard Moscoe, chair of the TTC, said in an interview.

The report, which was released in January and approved by the board Friday, calls for a greater emphasis on public transit instead of new roads as a way to move people across Greater Toronto.

It points out that low-density housing in much of the GTA has caused an “overwhelming” reliance on automobile travel, which has led to growing traffic congestion. And it warns that unless the federal and provincial governments start investing immediately in GTA public transit, the area’s economic health “will be seriously undermined.”

But Moscoe said the report intentionally downplays the direct link between clogged roads and the low-density subdivisions typically found in the 905 area-code regions. “The report turns a blind eye to the fact the 905 regions encourage urban sprawl, which leads to gridlock,” he said.

Called Removing Roadblocks, the board’s report - opposed only by Brampton Mayor Peter Robertson - urges protection of transit corridors and an expansion of bus and rail routes in the 905 regions. The report also says:

  • GTSB chair Alan Tonks, the GO board of directors and Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman should meet immediately with Premier Mike Harris and federal Transport Minister David Collenette to talk about more funding for public transit.
  • The GTSB should host a meeting of possible public- and private-sector partners to look at rail service to the airport.
  • Lanes restricted to high-occupancy vehicles should be created on the 400 series of highways.
  • New development fees to pay for more GO Transit services should be studied.
  • Ontario’s transportation ministry should be asked to begin environmental studies into the northern extension of Highway 27.
  • The report also suggests expanding GO Transit bus and rail services, including more trains to Burlington, Newmarket and Georgetown.

The board also endorsed a $1.8 billion, 10-year capital expenditure plan for GO Transit. The plan assumes the federal and provincial governments will each pay one-third of the cost, with the municipalities paying the remainder.




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