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Province Rolls Out Greater Toronto Transit Authority



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CARLOS OSORIO/TORONTO STAR

TTC and Mississauga buses share space at Islington station.

The Toronto Star is reporting that the Province of Ontario will be rolling out a Greater Toronto Transit Authority to knit together the dozens of transit agencies throughout the Golden Horseshoe into a “seamless” system. The move fulfills a Liberal campaign promise from the 2003 election.

It is unclear how much clout the GTTA will have (if indeed those are its initials). The Star provides a glowing outlook, saying: “this could eventually mean faster and smarter decisions on new buses, streetcars and trains, express right-of-ways, and paying through a “smart card” to cross municipal boundaries,” but it suggests that most of its focus will be on advising the province on various rapid transit initiatives around the city of Toronto, including the 403 Busway and transforming York’s VIVA into an LRT network.

Steve Munro suggests that now is the time to think big, and he provides some sensible suggestions about how best to do that. My own concern is that the focus of the GTTA is primarily in the 905 area of the Golden Horseshoe. Will politics result in the needs of 416 commuters being short-changed? And what of the cost of bringing 905 residents up to a 416 level of transit service? Will there be a fare-by-distance scheme to pay for it all? Remember, when the TTC was forced to drop its two-zone fare system, allowing people to ride from Finch and McCowan all the way downtown for the same prize as travelling from Union Station to the Exhibition, its need for subsidies dramatically increased, as did fares. On the other hand, it makes little sense for Mississauga Transit buses to go screaming past TTC riders on Burnhamthorpe Road, while the TTC spends its limited funds on providing its own bus.

It will be interesting to see how this story develops in the coming days. Much will be revealed tomorrow when the Liberals unveil their budget.

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