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GO Transit moves on new bus system

Aims to fast-track $1B project
Board seeks provincial funds


An energized GO Transit board of directors, visibly agitated at the emergence of a potential rival, promised yesterday to forge ahead with a bus-based rapid-transit system.

The board approved its bus rapid transit study and even promised to try to get the 100-kilometre highway system fully implemented in five years instead of the forecast 10 — a day after a private consortium called SmartRide LRT unveiled its plan for a light-rail transit system.

“I believe we should be moving ahead,” GO chair Gordon Chong told the board during its meeting in Toronto.

Chong dismissed the private group’s proposal, saying light-rail transit has been considered and dismissed repeatedly in Greater Toronto for 30 years.

“The analysis was done between subway, bus rapid transit and light rail. The numbers were researched,” he said. “(LRT) is 2 1/2 times more expensive. It’s less flexible. It’s not the appropriate technology in a widely dispersed area like the 905.”

GO wants the province to help pay for its $1 billion busway, which would transport commuters through the GTA along bus-only highways. Most would be built alongside existing highways, such as the 407, or along dedicated lanes.

At its peak, the new GO service would move 200,000 commuters a day.

While GO moves more than half of daily commuters to downtown Toronto, there’s an increasing number who live in one part of the 905 regions and work in another and don’t need or use Union Station.

GO argues its plan would cut smog and gridlock, and capitalize on an untapped market.

“We are determined in Mississauga to tie into the GO train,” said Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, who sits on the GO board. “Parts of this plan can start right away.”

It would cost $170 million to kick-start the service, meaning creating a “spine” connecting Oakville and Pickering.

The buses would connect with various municipal transit systems, including the Toronto Transit Commission. The service would expand over time, with more dedicated routes.

GO needs assurances of financing from the province before the project can start.

SmartRide LRT is also looking for provincial financing for its $2.5 billion proposal.