GTA politicians are impatient to start designing, building and opening new transit lines. Riders are more than ready, too, but it’s our job to make sure improvements to the GTA’s lagging transport grid are done right, and that there is sufficient funding to pay for it all.
Thankfully, this newfound momentum toward construction is accompanied by an unprecedented degree of public consultation.
If you don’t want to complain about a poorly conceived transit project when it’s too late, then get ready to do a little homework and speak up.
As soon as next week, public information meetings will begin for a major express bus route across Mississauga and for Toronto’s “Transit City” light rail network — the first to be discussed is a line on Sheppard Avenue, followed soon by Finch and Eglinton avenues. Many decisions about these projects have already been made, but you would be surprised how a design can improve when members of the public ask good questions.
Even as these plans get moving, there is at last a chance to talk about the next evolution of greater Toronto’s entire transportation network. Metrolinx, the board of the GTA planning agency, is pressing for action (after all, most are politicians eager to impress voters in the next election) but not before going through the most extensive public input process this megalopolis has ever seen.
It’s not that politics won’t heavily influence the final Regional Transportation Plan — which Metrolinx expects to present later this year — but many more eyes will be on the decision makers when they finally approve a construction and funding strategy.
The window for early input is closing soon, so sign up at metrolinx.com. If you prefer to see something more concrete before commenting — such as specific lines in your area — that opportunity will open fairly quickly over the next few months, both online and at open houses slated for Hamilton, Oakville, Brampton, Newmarket, Toronto and Whitby.
For people who want more than traditional public meetings, visit metronauts.ca to discover a series of “unconferences” sanctioned by Metrolinx. Based on last year’s inspiring “Transit Camp,” the first scheduled Metronauts event takes place this Saturday in downtown Toronto, with more planned for the wider GTA. Participants do not have to live in 416 or even be transit riders to attend these events — in fact, organizers are hoping for the widest slice of opinions possible. I plan to be there, and I’m told a few spots remain if you register at metronauts.ca.
Some additional movement toward greater public input: GO Transit is readying its proposed Customer Service Advisory Committee, and Oakville commuter Pat Eales says she intends to take part. She presented a massive petition to GO last month and will ensure her fellow customers know when and how they can apply for this committee.