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GO to improve Milton service

Expansion likely to add 1.2 million trips yearly is due in 3 years as new rules cut usual red tape

Jun 26, 2008 04:30 AM
Tess Kalinowski
transportation reporter

It will be three years before the Milton GO line sees all-day, two-way service. Ditto on an east-end service expansion from Oshawa to Bowmanville.

But the improvements are a giant step forward for the Milton line, which carried about 6.3 million people last year, said MPP Bob Delaney (Mississauga-Streetsville), who rides the service from the Streetsville station to Queen’s Park.

The line “had two tracks way back when these railway carriages were made of hand-rubbed wood and pulled by steam-run locomotives,” he told reporters at a trackside news conference at his home station yesterday.

The expansion that is likely to add 1.2 million trips annually can’t come soon enough for commuters, but at least the GO projects won’t be held up by red tape, thanks to a shortened six-month environmental assessment process for new transit projects, said municipal and provincial politicians.

Touting the new rules as long overdue, Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said residents are fed up with waiting for better transit.

“It’s time we shortened the procedure, cut out the red tape and got on with the job. People want the job to happen. They want the service to be improved,” she said yesterday.

“Every day that we are behind in getting on with the projects, the gridlock is increasing.”

Proving her point, Ontario Transportation Minister Jim Bradley arrived late to the news conference, delayed in Highway 401 traffic.

“Prior to this six-month EA process it could take many years for these projects to begin,” Bradley pointed out, stressing that the new rules will still allow time for ample public consultation - a 120-day period on environmental impacts, a month-long public and agency comment period, with a 35-day deadline for response from the environment minister on requests for projects to be reviewed.

The GO improvements are among 52 projects covered by the province’s $11.5 billion MoveOntario 2020 plan. The federal government still has not committed to paying an extra $6 billion share of that plan.

The transit projects are expected to generate 800 million new trips a year and reduce car trips in the region by about 300 million, according to Queen’s Park.

But Bradley said increased service will also boost ridership and result in more fare revenues.

Even with 89 per cent of its operations covered by fares, GO Transit requires a provincial subsidy of about $44 million annually.