million will help upgrade service on many routes, including Hamilton-Toronto
Fazari The Hamilton Spectator
commuters should see more frequent GO trains and a new Via Rail station
built in the city.
government pledged yesterday to spend $435 million to help upgrade GO
train service across southern Ontario and expand York region's transit
Minister David Collenette also said that money will be announced in
the next few months for Via Rail, and a new Via station will be built
the first time in GO's 37-year history that the federal government has
agreed to contribute to the transit system. The goal of the expansion
is to get more commuters off roads and onto public transit, easing congestion
on highways in the Greater Toronto Area and the Golden Horseshoe and
helping the environment.
commitment from Ottawa came with a catch. The province hasn't yet signed
on for a matching amount. And the municipalities involved will also
be expected to contribute to the $1.2-billion cost of the projects.
government has ponied up. Here is our money," said Hamilton West Liberal
MP Stan Keyes, who was at the announcement in Ottawa late yesterday
that the province will have something to say about this as soon as the
budget, if possible."
government delivers its financial statement this afternoon.
that Ottawa has been negotiating with the province over the past few
weeks to secure matching funding for the transit plan. Ontario hadn't
committed yet, so the federal government decided to go it alone and
make its support public.
announcement came as a surprise even to GO Transit officials. Earlier
this week news of the funding was leaked to the media. But GO Transit
was expecting the official word would come at a joint federal-provincial
pleasant surprise," said Gordon Chong, chair of the GO board. "It gets
the ball rolling."
the province has indicated it, too, will provide its share. But he doesn't
know when that will happen. And GO was out of the loop about which projects
would receive cash until after the announcement was made and government
press releases were issued.
to still figure out what it all means," Chong said. "It'll clearly improve
the quality of the service, the frequency of the service."
being funded stretch from Toronto to Cambridge, Barrie and Peterborough.
Some of the upgrades would clear the way for a rail link between Toronto's
Union Station and Pearson Airport. And GO would begin train service
to Barrie and introduce bus-to-rail service in Peterborough, Niagara
Falls, Cambridge, Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo.
there'd be a third track added from Port Credit to Oakville and from
roughly the Burlington GO station to the Aldershot station. That would
ease congestion on the busy Lakeshore train route, which clears the
way for more frequent service. This includes the Hamilton-Toronto route
-- right now those trains run only during morning and evening rush hours.
so much pent-up demand out there," said GO's managing director Gary
McNeil. "Every time we put a train out in the rush hours, it fills up."
said projects could take up to three years to complete. Environmental
assessments need to be done before construction work on new tracks begins.