Thursday, the 2016 Ontario budget was released with a few special tidbits for transit in the GTHA.
The Ontario government is investing $13.5 billion into Regional Express Rail (RER), “which will quadruple the number of weekly trips from about 1,500 to nearly 6,000 trips.” This funding will be used for environmental assessments on region-wide GO electrification, additional track on the Kitchener GO corridor, more track on the Stouffville and Barrie corridor, and Union Station signal system upgrades.
SmartTrack was listed under the subheading of “projects requiring new partner funding”, with an added note within the budget that said “The province and Metrolinx would be working closely with the city of Toronto to provide input into, and ensure coordination between, the City’s SmartTrack plan and how it fits with the implementation of Regional Express Rail.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory, who spearheaded SmartTrack during his mayoral campaign, released a statement late Thursday on the Ontario Budget, saying that he welcomes the province’s ongoing commitment to SmartTrack.
“As the budget notes, the City is working closely with our provincial partners on a variety of transit initiatives that will create a greatly expanded network to serve Toronto residents, including the Relief Line and our proposal for better transit service across Scarborough,” he said.
The 2016 budget estimates the GO Transit network will increase by 50 per cent by 2020.
The Relief Line was included in a long list of plans the province is supporting, but not investing any funds in just yet. The Yonge North Subway Extension, Dundas Street RT, Durham-Scarborough RT, and the Brampton Queen St. RT are also included in the list.
Within Toronto, there are three major transit projects underway that are being supported by the province:
Ontario has also reiterated their commitment to tolls. High-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes will be implemented on a section of the Queen Elizabeth Way between Trafalgar Road in Oakville and Guelph Line in Burlington as a trial in the summer of 2016. The information collected will be used to support long-term planning for future HOT lanes — a suggested use would be dedicated electric tolling on Highway 427.
The Transit Alliance commends the provincial government for thinking of the future — implementing tolls as a source of revenue, investing in RER, and keeping important projects like the relief line on the radar.
Send this to a friend