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Metrolinx releases "investment strategy" to fund transit

At its meeting Monday, May 27, the Metrolinx Board of Directors adopted its report to the Province of Ontario and municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton recommending an “investment strategy” to support “over 400 kilometres of new and enhanced transit, along with improvements to roads and highways”.

In introducing the investment strategy report, Robert Pritchard, chair of the Metrolinx board told members, “Congestion is getting worse every day. It’s having an increasingly negative impact on both our quality of life and our region’s economy. The $16 billion of new transit being built today will deliver real results for commuters, but we cannot stand still. We need to continue to invest in The Big Move and get the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) moving again.”

Metrolinx says this investment strategy supports a set of transit and transportation projects that comprise the “Next Wave” of “The Big Move”, the regional transportation plan. It says the Next Wave will transform the region and includes

  • building new light rapid transit lines in Mississauga, Brampton and Hamilton;
  • building new bus rapid transit lines in Halton, Peel, Toronto and Durham;
  • expanding Toronto’s subways by building the “Relief Line” and extending the Yonge line into York Region;
  • enhancing GO Transit, including:
  1. Introducing two-way all-day service along the Barrie line to East Gwillimbury
  2. Introducing two-way all-day service along the Kitchener line to Mount Pleasant
  3. Electrifying the Kitchener corridor and the Union Pearson Express
  4. Electrifying of the Lakeshore lines and introducing express rail service.
  5. Extending the Lakeshore West line to Confederation
  6. Extending the Lakeshore East line to Bowmanville
  7. Introducing two-way all-day service along the Milton line to Meadowvale
  8. Introducing two-way all-day service along the Richmond Hill line to Richmond Hill
  9. Introducing two-way all-day service along the Stouffville line — first to Unionville and then to Mount Joy.

  • improving municipal transit projects, roads, highways and active transportation options.

Metrolinx is recommending several “investment tools” that, it says, it’s basing on the principles of dedicating funding, fairness, equity and accountability. Through “The Big Conversation” and other venues, it says that “broad and deep consultation throughout the region” have informed its decision to choose these particular methods to fund transit.

It’s recommending, among other meaures:

  • increasing the harmonized sales tax (HST) by one percentage point;
  • introducing a regional fuel and gasoline tax of five cents per litre (only motorists in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area would pay this tax, adding it to other federal and provincial fuel taxes they pay);
  • imposing a levy on businesses with parking;
  • amending development charges;
  • introducing high-occupancy toll (or “HOT”) lanes;
  • requiring commuters to pay for parking at transit stations;

Metrolinx is recommending that it place any funds it receives through these tools into a transportation trust fund so that residents can be certain that it delivers The Big Move projects and to provide accountability and transparency to taxpayers.

Ontario legislation requires Metrolinx to report to Ontario’s Minister of Transportation and the heads of municipal councils by June 1, 2013 about its investment strategy to support The Big Move.

You can learn more about the investment strategy here.