Friday, June 15, 2007

McGuinty's welcome (and conveniently timed) transit plan

We don't know where the money's coming from yet (but that Health Tax is definitely staying now since the Libs haven't the stones to hike fuel taxes) but some of the McGuinty $17.5 billion, 902km plan (on the Premier's website, not Transportation!) is not just welcome but stunning
  • the new routes of Crosstown GO, Bolton GO, and Havelock GO
  • the extensions to Lakeshore East, Richmond Hill and Stouffville
  • Transit City suddenly has a pulse
  • Electrification of Lakeshore opens the door to future electric VIA Rail or electric local rail in the 416
Other bits I'm less enthused by - 
  • most important - no sign of a ministerial signature yet on the Simplified Transit Environmental Assessment
  • another subway to York Region - which presumably Toronto will pay any losses for, again.
  • the seeming resurrection of SNC-Lavalin's divisive Blue 22, but hopefully the EA will demand it be a GO train with a Weston stop.
  • Sheppard East LRT (merely preserves the Don Mills mode change and probably the Sheppard bus too) and the lack of a connection on Sheppard West to Downsview.
  • no sign of any commitment to the Georgetown-Guelph-Kitchener-London line which is dire need of improvement.  
  • I really hope Havelock GO isn't a set-up for Pickering Airport.
It was convenient that this plan fell nicely on a day when a Liberal cabinet minister and a backbencher announced their intentions not to seek re-election, both in Hamilton, home of the McGuinty hockey offer and now two rapid transit lines.

There are some caveats - some projects are re-announcements (par for the course) and the GTTA has to approve it.  The mention of the feds makes me nervously hope either the rumoured national transit strategy is in the offing or that it is going ahead with or without them as otherwise god knows when we'll see this stuff.  

As for the provincial election, let's hope Sorbara does a better job of "booking" the money than Goodale did with the Kelowna Accord.

Steve Munro is also studying the plan - it might be worth keeping an eye on this page.
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