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$50B transit plan would improve GO, TTC

Passengers Boarding Streetcar

Riders board a streetcar at Bathurst and Queen Sts. July 7, 2008. A new plan from Metrolinx promises to ensure that 75 per cent of residents will be living within two kilometres of a transit line 25 years from now

Sep 23, 2008 01:28 PM
Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter

A $50 billion plan to build new rail, busways, streetcars and cycling amenities will double the number of Toronto-area transit trips in 25 years.

The plan, released today by Metrolinx, includes no re- commendations for road tolls or other taxes to pay for the transit improvements that are being called the most ambitions of our life time.

The experience of the other cities shows it is best to offer transportation alternatives before asking people to pay new fees, Metrolix chair Rob MacIsaac said.

Most of the proposals for improvement to GO Transit, TTC, and regional services were contained within Ontario Government MoveOntario2020 plan announced last year. But the regional connections have been refined, he said.

When implemented in 25 years, 75 per cent of Toronto area residents would live within two kilometres of a dedicated transit line.

There are about 100 projects in the plan. The key aspects include:

  1. A network of fast, frequent regional transit with Toronto’s Transit City light rail lines extending to the 905-region suburbs and an electrified GO system featuring 15-minute, two-way service along the critical Lakeshore corridor in 25 years.

  2. An integrated cycling and walking network with more than 7,000 kilometres of dedicated cycling lanes.

  3. An information system that will allow travellers to plan a trip anywhere in the region online or by phone.

  4. A regional transit fare system, mostly based on a smart card that is expected to work on nine out of 10 Toronto-area transit systems by 2012. The unknown factor is the TTC, which has been hesitant to commit given the $300 million it’s estimated to cost that system.

  5. A network of connected mobility hubs that will be more than simply train stations, according to MacIsaac. The bigger versions will be destinations in of themselves and they will all provide a way to connect various modes of transportation from heavy rail to biking.

  6. A fixed rail link to Pearson Airport from Union Station and transit to the airport from every direction.

  7. A comprehensive strategy for goods movement in the region, something that is part of the Metrolinx mandate. But MacIsaac said the private sector has asked Metrolinx to wait on specifics so it can be consulted.

  8. A strategy to provide long-term, stable funding for transit throughout the region, which could consider include road tolls or other taxes.

Although the plan doesn’t specify timelines for all its key projects, it proposes the priorities as:

  • The subway extension to York Region.

  • A new rapid transit line along Eglinton that would connect to the planned renovations of the Scarborough Rapid Transit system and Pearson Airport.

  • Rapid transit along Hurontario St. in Mississauga that would connect Port Credit and the Mississauga City Centre to Brampton. The mode of transit hasn’t been specified in the plan but light rail is being considered.

  • A new north-south corridor to put rapid transit along Yonge Street from Highway 7 to Newmarket in York Region.

  • Four east-west corridors around the region, including Finch and Sheppard rapid transit in Toronto; exapnded Viva on Highway 7 that connects with Brampton.

  • Rapid transit on Dundas Street through Peel and Oakville, linking to the Kipling subway station, along with the Highway 403 busway in Mississauga linked to the airport and Oakville.

  • rapid transit in Hamilton.

  • express GO service on the Lakeshore line.

  • two-way all day GO service to Milton, Richmond Hill, Markham and Etobicoke and service to Bowmanville.

  • 400 series highway expansions.

  • $500 million for 7,500 kilometres of biking and walking facilities.

  • An integrated regional fare system, including a smart card.

  • And an online trip planner that would offer routes across the entire region.