A lot of people are counting on the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority to bring the region’s transit network into the 21st century — and soon.
Tomorrow, the GTTA is holding its first meeting since the provincial Liberal government announced an unexpected and unprecedented proposal to bring faster transit to many car-choked areas in 416 and 905.
Despite a major controversy exploding over the last week about cuts to the TTC operating budget, the ruling Grits are intent on implementing their MoveOntario 2020 plan for bus, light rail, subway and GO train expansion.
However, Queen’s Park has said it won’t address immediate funding shortfalls at the TTC.
Yesterday, provincial Finance Minister Greg Sorbara said, “It’s important for us to make sure the MoveOntario 2020 project gets built over the 12 years and that’s why … we have said we are going to assume the one-third burden that normally falls on municipalities.”
He is “pretty confident” that will give city and regional councils the financial room to actually operate the new services.
What would happen to this wide-ranging plan if the Liberals don’t win the October election? The provincial NDP and Conservatives have neither endorsed nor rejected MoveOntario. Both parties instead cast aspersions on the Liberal record for keeping campaign pledges, but have not introduced any detailed list of alternative projects.
A statement from New Democrat leader Howard Hampton’s office says, “We will be making more specific announcements about our plans for improving transit in the coming weeks.”
For their part, the Tories have focused on the way money flows into the entire transport network.
Asked if the GTTA would undergo radical change under a PC government, a spokesperson for Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said yesterday, “That is not contemplated.”
However, there was criticism of the way the new regional agency — which is made up of municipal leaders — was caught off guard by the provincial plan.
The spokesperson said, “Mr. Tory’s the kind of guy that, if he asks serious people to do serious work to bring answers to help solve problems — as (Premier Dalton) McGuinty had asked the GTTA to do — he doesn’t then undercut them and come forward with a solution that does not even respect the work that they have done and take their input.”
Tomorrow’s GTTA meeting will be one of the first chances for the public to learn about the current transport planning projects from Durham to Hamilton — altogether, in one place. Proceedings begin at 12:30 p.m. in room 308 of Metro Hall on 55 John St. at King, two blocks from St. Andrew subway station.
See more at www.gtta.com.