An Electric Budget
Toronto, 2 May 2015: Pinch us!
From a battle begun by residents of Weston in 2005, who were and still are deeply concerned by dangerous increases in dirty diesel train exhaust, to the top-priority item announced in last month’s Ontario provincial budget, the realization of electrifying commuter rail traffic in Toronto is finally in sight. The Clean Train Coalition (CTC), which grew out of the Weston battles a decade ago, today applauds the Provincial government for committing hard dollars to the electrification project in the new budget.
“After many years of pushing our Provincial government to electrify the Georgetown, now Kitchener, Corridor, we are cautiously optimistic that we will finally see this come to fruition in the near future,” says Suri Weinberg-Linsky of Weston and the CTC. “As well, north-west Toronto needs a rapid transit line connecting it to the downtown that the new UP Express does not accomplish: one that runs frequent affordable service, stops in neighbourhoods and is well integrated with other transit routes so that the public can access the transit system network.”
The CTC also supports Toronto Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack proposal, which overlaps with the provincial Regional Express Rail (RER) electrification project as it offers an electric “surface subway” through a broad swathe of Toronto, mostly on existing rail corridors.
SmartTrack will offer fast, affordable new transit options to many poorly served areas of Toronto, while also helping to relieve congestion on the currently overcrowded TTC lines. But, an additional $5.2 billion is required to realize the current SmartTrack proposal, so that is not a done deal, yet. The CTC implores the SmartTrack senior management group to recognize the benefits of staying on the Kitchener Corridor and continuing up to the Pearson-centred employment district via Rexdale and Malton.
The CTC suggests that the Greater Toronto Airport Authority provide a contribution to connect GTAAs Corporate Headquarters on the south side of 401 to the Kitchener corridor via a high capacity link northward from the Renforth Gateway.
The diversion of routing SmartTrack west along Eglinton with a costly engineering spectacle envisioned for Mount Dennis can be averted. And, with the exciting announcement of the Finch LRT, residents in the north-west end of the GTA would finally have good options. Bringing both these lines to the “transit desert” would be a game-changer.
Lastly, Metrolinx deserves public congratulations on its announcement of the June 6 launch of UP Express in time to meet the Pan Am Games deadline. However, for now, the diesel UP Express service uses the wrong technology and employs the wrong high-priced business model. The CTC will continue fighting for an electrified UP Express, running on an electrified Kitchener line. That creates an opportunity for a Vancouver-style, multi-stop, fast electric service to the airport with affordable TTC-comparable fares which we hope will be fulfilled through the promise of SmartTrack.
The non-profit, all-volunteer Clean Train Coalition represents community groups along the Kitchener-Georgetown GO corridor, an area home to approximately 300,000 people within the city.
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