Here we are, beginning one of the largest transport expansions anywhere in the world — and I’m worried.
Despite billions of dollars going into subway, light rail and GO train projects, I fear road and transit congestion will be out of control by the time they come on line. Do I worry too much?
First case: Look at rail service between Toronto and Brampton. Metrolinx, the regional transit authority, is being closely scrutinized over plans to upgrade this major train line as well as build a spur to Pearson airport. Whether trains on this corridor end up using diesel or electric power, little extra commuting capacity is due prior to 2015.
It’s much the same for other big GTA projects — there’s a gap of four to six years before we ride them. For example, the soonest LRT service can begin on Sheppard Avenue East is 2013.
Metrolinx official John Howe says some “Quick Win” projects will be ready sooner, including major upgrades on the Barrie and Stouffville GO lines, plus 12-car trains on the Lakeshore corridor.
Metrolinx CEO Rob Prichard says steady “intensification” of GO Transit capacity will continue. “Those big transformational steps are … farther out in the horizon,” adding, “In the near term our emphasis is going to be on customer service, on-time service (and) reliability of service.”
As for commuter impatience, Prichard says, “My consistent reading is, right now people support the agenda of increased services but they don’t have unrealistic expectations of how quickly it will come.”