Transit Toronto is sponsored by TransSee.ca bus tracker and next vehicle arrivals. TransSee features include vehicle tracking by route or fleet number, schedule adherence, off route vehicles and more advanced features. Works on all mobile devices and on any browser.
Supports Toronto area agencies TTC, GO trains, MiWay, YRT, HSR and GRT, as well as NY MTA, LA metro, SF MUNI, Boston MBTA, and (new) Barrie.

Private sector could help expand GO Transit: Tories

Need to relieve gridlock on Ontario roads, Minister says

James Wallace
National Post

The Ontario government will consider privatizing GO Transit, the TTC and 16 regional transit authorities to relieve traffic gridlock, Chris Hodgson, the provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said yesterday.

“We’d look at all opportunities right now to solve gridlock,” Mr. Hodgson said. “I’m serious about looking for ideas. If they come from the private sector, great.”

Part of the solution could involve a massive expansion of GO Transit service, Mr. Hodgson told the National Post.

The provincial government gave municipalities responsibility for GO and local transit in 1998.

But the province has quietly spent millions during the past few years to help municipalities buy abandoned rail lines to Barrie, Orangeville, Peterborough and other cities.

“I think you’re going to have to expand GO,” Mr. Hodgson said.

The private sector could play a role in expanding GO service and regional transit across the GTA.

“I’m not ruling anything out,” he said.

While the government has not received proposals from the private sector, Mr. Hodgson said he is open to everything from outright privatization to partnerships on the construction, operation and maintenance of transit systems.

“I wouldn’t just look at traditional thinking on this,” he said. “We maybe have to think outside of the box.”

A recent study by the Greater Toronto Services Board said gridlock is costing the Ontario economy an estimated $2-billion annually and has increased the time commuters spend driving to work and home by more than 50% over the past three years.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has called on the province to create a provincial transportation authority that would plan and co-ordinate all roads and transit infrastructure in the province.

Government and private sector appointees would sit on the authority. The chamber recommends the private sector be involved in the construction, financing and possibly operation of public roads and transit.

Mr. Hodgson said the proposal has merit and has been mentioning it in speeches.

The private sector is already involved in public transportation, for example through private bus firms, he said.

“It’s not revolutionary,” he said. “But it is something we have to look for creative solutions on.”

Those solutions will likely involve partnerships among the province, local municipalities, the federal government and the private sector, he said.

Other governments, including Britain, have attempted to privatize rail service with less than dazzling results. Mr. Hodgson said the government will review other experiences but predicted public transit will be profoundly changed in Ontario.

“I think that’s pretty safe to say,” he said. “Clearly I think we have to show leadership.”

Brian Ashton, chairman of the TTC, rejected Mr. Hodgson’s statements and said privatizing public transit will lead to fare hikes and service cuts.

“There’s no question we run so efficiently it’s sort of an Ally McBeal budget,” Mr. Ashton said, referring to the emaciated television star.

“If the private sector were to come in, it has to get a profit and a return on its investment,” he said.




dividerinside