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Editorial: What's our transit plan, premier?

So, what’s the plan now?

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty used Thursday’s budget to cut $4 billion from the $9.6 billion Transit City plan, change bus funding and tell David Miller to buzz off.

Especially over that magical quarter-billion dollars Toronto’s mayor expected to help run the beleaguered TTC next year.

Miller is furious, calling McGuinty’s reneging on much of Transit City “a disgrace.”

So what’s McGuinty’s plan to move Ontario?

Last week, at least, we had a plan. You may not have liked what Transit City had in store, but it was a way to deal with an expected 500,000 new bodies in the next 20 years, two million more in the GTA.

If you think they can all hop into their cars and get anywhere, you haven’t been driving in Toronto for the past 10 years.

Transit City lines would have operated as above-ground subways — admittedly slower, and with more stops, but with the ability to link streetcars together and run in their own lanes.

This was a way to move more people at a fraction of the cost of subways.

The Toronto Board of Trade calls gridlock our top issue. Traffic congestion costs our local economy over $3 billion annually, according to numerous studies.

The Ontario budget does nothing to solve that problem. As of this week, there is no plan.

McGuinty has tossed a grenade into Toronto’s election campaign, thrown a wrench into Pan Am Games planning (why build a pool in Scarborough without a transit link?) and put the discussion about road tolls in the GTA (launched by mayoralty candidate Sarah Thomson) into the fast lane.

At least something will be moving.

You can argue Metrolinx, the provincial body overseeing transit for the GTA and Hamilton, is the place this planning should happen.

But, since nothing was happening, Miller launched Transit City and McGuinty backed the mayor’s legacy with billions of dollars in capital promises — although nothing to operate the lines.

The province says there’s no longer enough money for transit, but the reality is there’s not enough road or transit capacity and McGuinty’s move hurts both commuters and motorists.

How does McGuinty square cuts to public transit with his portrayal of himself as “Mr. Green” on the environment? How does cutting job-creating public transit projects in Toronto make sense, while spending billions on hope, lunacy and Korean companies to manufacture wind turbines rural communities don’t want?

Talk about sticking it to the folks in your own back yard!

The overflowing Scarborough LRT is at the end of its life. These funding cuts may delay any replacement. You want traffic snarls? Put all those people on buses.

Now, the pressure’s on Metrolinx to devise a program, and some way to pay for it all, without public money. Oh, and do it quickly.

You call this a plan, premier?




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