LEWINGTON, Toronto Globe and Mail - Mar. 29, 2003
will set up a new agency to oversee spending on public transit across
south-central Ontario, Finance Minister Janet Ecker said yesterday.
is more that can and should be done to improve transit service in the
Greater Toronto Region and beyond," she said in announcing plans for
a Central Ontario Transit Authority in her economic statement released
she said, the province will put in its one-third share of a new $1.2-billion
program, unveiled earlier this week by the federal government, for the
expansion of GO Transit rail service over the next five years. Local
municipalities are on the hook for the final one-third of the cost.
transit-related initiative, she announced the government's backing for
a new bus rapid-transit system, proposed by GO Transit, for commuters
travelling across the top of Toronto from Halton to Durham regions.
next two years, the province will put up $67-million of the $200-million
earmarked for the new service, which will include bus-only lanes on
sections of Highways 403 and 407, new buses and park-and-ride facilities
controversial part of her announcement — the Central Ontario Transit
Authority — could have far-reaching implications for commuters in the
Golden Horseshoe region, from Waterloo to Peterborough and from Niagara
of Toronto officials say it could spell bad news for the Toronto Transit
Commission, which accounts for about 85 per cent of riders in the Greater
like the province has abandoned the TTC," chairman Howard Moscoe said
yesterday, fearing the TTC could lose out if the proposed new agency
gives priority to — and allocates funding for — big-ticket projects
for example, is already worried that its future capital expansion plans
could be eroded by competing proposals in neighbouring York Region.
As it is, the region just received the green light for $50-million each
from the province and Ottawa for the first phase of its bus expansion
provincial officials emphasized that even with a new regional body,
existing transit systems — such as GO Transit and the TTC — would continue
to operate their own services.
the new agency could implement a so-called "seamless" fare system, with
commuters using a single ticket to move from one transit system to another.
the agency could co-ordinate bus, streetcar, subway and train schedules
across Central Ontario for riders who transfer from one local service
has long resisted moves to high-tech "smart cards" and other forms of
seamless fares, citing the high cost and the value of investing first
in service improvements for riders.
officials said yesterday the proposed agency would also co-ordinate
and integrate big-ticket transit projects that cross municipal boundaries.
The precise mandate and membership of the new agency has yet to be worked
out, though officials say they expect it would have a board with representatives
from the public and private sectors.
agency will not be set up until next year at the earliest, pending municipal
elections this Nov. 10 and a possible provincial vote.
absent from Ms. Ecker's statement were two items that municipalities
had lobbied for — a share of the provincial gas tax (now worth $2.3-billion
in 2003-4) and authority to levy a local hotel tax.