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GTA transit authority favoured by GO chair

Feb. 25, 2005

A broad public forum on transit was quickly narrowed after talk of the possible creation of a Toronto Transit Authority. A two-hour panel discussion at the 19th annual Renaissance Conference Saturday at the Scarborough civic centre gave the public a chance to address concerns about transit in Toronto and the GTA.

The proposed authority would put all areas of transit under one umbrella organization, giving transit more political pull instead of leaving the onus on the government.

“I know the provincial government is thinking again about a new transportation authority,” said Gordon Chong, the chair of GO Transit and a former North York city councillor. “I would encourage them to move ahead with that.”

Chong sat on the panel along with Scarborough Centre MPP Brad Duguid, Ward 36 Councillor Brian Ashton and Doug Switzer, representing the Ontario Trucking Association.

According to Chong, the concept of a Transit Authority has been in political limbo for too long. “We’ve been in political gridlock and unable to move forward for a long time now.”

Duguid, representing the Ontario Liberals, said that his government is not about to renege on its promise to create a Transit Authority.

After the conference, Duguid admitted the province is looking at various transit authority design options, as well as who would fund the system, how it would be represented and what authority it would have.

“Those are the issues that we are still consulting with and are trying to determine how best to precede,” he said. “It’s not a question of whether it will be created, it’s a question of how.”


Chong said a successful transit board would not have to be completely free of political input. His idea consists of nine provincial representatives and six municipal members. Of these, six would be from the 416 area while the remaining three would be 905 regions.

“It addresses the issue of not having any political representation at all,” Chong said.

Duguid said he would consider Chong’s advice saying that he respects the experience of the GO Transit representative.

“When (Chong) puts forward a model it’s something I think we should take a close look at.”

Other ideas discussed included a multi-track system of GO, methods to get large trucks on the road during non-peak periods, and separating streetcars from traffic.

But, according Switzer, all the ideas discussed faced the same problem.

“Ultimately it comes down to funding, we need more money.”