Even before the provincial Liberal government announced its extensive plan for transit across the GTA and Hamilton last week, the City of Toronto was already getting started on the new light rail network called Transit City. All that was needed, as usual, was money.
With the pledge from Premier Dalton McGuinty to fund Toronto’s proposed routes, there’s now a momentum that may be difficult to stop — no matter which party wins the October election.
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And, suddenly, it’s not just Toronto expecting new streetcars. The MoveOntario 2020 plan also explicitly names two major corridors in Peel Region — Hurontario and Dundas — as candidates for “Light Rail Transit.” Several more projects from Hamilton to Durham Region are promised “rapid transit lines,” which could mean bus lanes or light rail along streets, hydro rights-of-way or existing rail lines.
Before the Liberals sprung MoveOntario on unsuspecting GTA commuters, transit advocate David Fisher had been calling for a dense grid of light rail through the region. He considers the new scheme “a huge step forward” and says the proposed LRT lines are “a must” for Mississauga, adding more routes will be needed there, as well as in Toronto.
The Greater Toronto Transportation Authority will have the task of determining which corridors have the riders to justify bus or rail service. There are still many questions to be answered as the magnitude of the upcoming work sinks in, including what kind of steel-wheeled vehicles we want to ride starting in a few years. The just-opened website — www.gtta.com— states the agency will “help municipalities by co-ordinating how (new transit assets like vehicles) are purchased.”
The TTC has already started by asking the public about its preferred designs for 21st-century trams. The website mynewstreetcar.ca has an inspiring set of images of vehicles from around the world, plus a catchy video to get your imagination rolling. Since streetcars last for decades — much longer than buses — it’s important to at least have a say in what they look like.
There are other important features to be discussed, including: How will a single vehicle type work on the TTC’s existing network, as well as the new Transit City routes? When can we test prototypes? Which company makes the best design, and will we require the trams be built in Canada?
Now it seems residents outside 416 had better get into the discussion, since what Toronto chooses could set the standard for purchases elsewhere.
To find out about transit consultations across the GTA, such as next week’s TTC public displays on the new streetcar, a good bet istransit.toronto.on.ca.