Wednesday, Jun. 25 2014 – Globe & Mail article by Michael Warren
(R. Michael Warren is a former corporate director, Ontario deputy minister, TTC chief general manager and Canada Post CEO)
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s majority finally allows her to lead an “adult conversation” about transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Her upcoming budget is an opportunity to refine her transit investment choices and the way they are financed and championed.
The Liberal’s election platform assigned $15-billion for its 10-year GTHA transit plan. It will likely cost twice that much.
On its own, the promised electrification of all GO train lines – allowing two-way-all-day, 15 minute regional express service – will eat up most of the $15-billion. Added to that are promised GO expansions to Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph.
Then there is mention of building rapid transit lines in Hamilton, Mississauga, and Brampton; Bus rapid transit for Durham; and Toronto priorities, including an East Bayfront LRT, a TTC Downtown Relief line, a Yonge North Subway expansion to York region and bus rapid transit on Dundas Street.
All these projects can’t be priorities. This list of election “priority projects” has to be costed and scaled back to fit the fiscal realities facing the Wynne government. The budget should identify the most promising investments using sound transit planning criteria.