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Transport Action Ontario

Advocating for Sustainable Public and Freight Transportation
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Transport Action Ontario (formerly Transport 2000 Ontario) is a non-government organization advocating for sustainable public and freight transportation.

We are part of a federation of 5 regional associations across Canada, each concerned with local and regional issues. The umbrella organization is Transport Action Canada, a registered charity.

For further information about Transport Action Ontario, click the About Us button.

Filed under: Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on June 25, 2016



Transport Action Ontario is a core member of the Move the GTHA (MTGTHA) collaborative, a diverse group of organizations from health, labour, business, policy, environmental and citizen advocacy working together to build awareness, engagement and education in support of investment in the GTHA’s transportation system.


The collaborative intends to release a report in July on the state of transit investment in the GTHA.  The report was previewed at a meeting on local and regional transit investment organized by Environment Hamilton.  The Hamilton Spectator published a good summary of the meeting, as pasted below:



Funding Hamilton transportation operations will be pricey

By Joel OpHardt

Hamilton will have to worry about more than just project funding for the LRT. Maintenance and operation are costly too.

Peter Miasek, president of Transport Action Canada, highlighted key features of a report from the group Move the GTHA on the province’s Big Move transit plan.

The Big Move is a provincial transport plan that calls for the construction of a roughly 1,300-kilometre rapid transit network by 2033. Rapid transit would include public transit options such as bus rapid transit, light rail transit, heavy rail and subways.

“Municipalities are already struggling to pick up the year-to-year operational costs” for transit, Miasek told a crowd of about 40 people at the West Harbour Hub Thursday evening.

While transportation projects get funding from all three levels of government, municipalities are often forced to foot the bill themselves when it comes to maintenance and operation, said Miasek.

At current expansion rates, Move the GTHA estimates operation costs of the rapid transit network would cost municipalities $1.6 billion per year by 2022. By 2032 that number would balloon to $3.8 billion per year.

By 2042, municipalities will need to source $78 billion cumulatively to foot the bill.

“We’re going to need a revenue source that starts small but grows rapidly,” he said. “The sad news is no governments have made commitments.”

To add to the concern, Don McLean of Environment Hamilton pointed to Hamilton’s unique property tax policy that employs a varied transit levy according to location. Because communities like Ancaster and Stoney Creek pay about a third of what central Hamilton pays, the city doesn’t have the money to spend on effective city-wide transit investments.

As it stands, the news on the project funding is much better. Between the province, the federal government and municipalities, about $38.2 billion of the necessary $69 billion to complete the rapid transit network has been sourced.

That level of funding would supply the GTHA with about five more years of construction before the funding would need to be revamped.

Despite the operational cost conundrum, Miasek doesn’t shy of away from supporting rapid transit. The business case is there, he said. Congestion cost the GTHA $6 billion in 2013 and will cost it $15 billion per year by 2033, “simply from wasted time.”

If the Big Move succeeds, the number of people living within two kilometres of rapid transit in the GTHA would double to about 80 per cent.

But “everything starts and stops with money,” says Miasek.

The newly introduced HOT lanes would be a good starting point for funding, said Miasek, but “heavy hitter tools” like increasing HST and the gas tax would be necessary.

Miasek says case studies in the U.S. states and local polling show that the public will support new revenue tools if they’re transparent, if they cover all sectors, and if they’re used to fund projects with solid business cases.

Move the GTHA’s report on The Big Move will be published in July.

Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on June 23, 2016


Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) was released in June, 2016.   TAO has been actively involved, both through the Move the GTHA collaborative and as an individual organization.


TAO supports much of the CCAP.  However, we have identified two significant concern areas related to transportation:

  • No consideration was given for increased role of freight intermodal in carbon emission reduction
  • No consideration was given to enhance public transportation outside the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area


Letters have been written to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change on both topics, and can be viewed below:




TAO will continue to track the CCAP closely.



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on June 16, 2016


Transport Canada is undertaking an on-line consultation on the future of transportation in Canada.  A series of questions were posed, with space provided for answers.


The submission made on behalf of Transport Action Ontario can be viewed here:  TAO-submission to TranspCanada survey 2016-06-16



Filed under: Latest News, Press Releases and Open Letters, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on June 1, 2016



The following press release was sent to media in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area on June 1. 2016

- – - – - -



Media Release


Transport Action Ontario urges Toronto Council to re-examine Scarborough Express Rail in lieu of Subway Extension

At a public meeting in Scarborough on May 31, Toronto City staff revealed for the first time that the forecast ridership for the proposed one-stop 6 km subway extension from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Centre would be just 7,300 passengers per hour at the busiest time in the busiest direction.  This is much lower than the projected ridership of 9,800 to 11,600 for a three-stop extension presented to City Council in March, which was used by Council to justify further work on the project.


Transport Action Ontario has long argued that this $2.6B subway extension makes no sense.  Other transit experts agree, including Dr. Eric Miller, Director of University of Toronto’s Transportation Research Institute, who has developed the City’s ridership forecasting model. 


Instead, we urge Toronto Council to re-examine the Scarborough Express Rail (SER) concept, which provides subway-like service to Scarborough Centre using electrified GO service in a short new corridor, consistent with Smart Track/Regional Express Rail.  This option has substantially lower capital cost ($1.15B) and provides more relief to Toronto’s highly congested subway network at Bloor-Yonge.  The same funds used for the subway extension could potentially take SER to Centennial College’s Progress Campus, a neglected major education node in the current Scarborough plan, allowing more major areas to be served by transit for the same investment. 


Further information on Scarborough Express Rail, including Frequently Asked Questions, is available on our website:  http://transport-action-ontario.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/TAO-SER-FAQ-2016-02.pdf.


For further information contact:



Peter Miasek, President

(416) 526-9132




Filed under: Latest News, Ontario Report — petermiasek on May 30, 2016



The first two  editions  of our 2016 Ontario Report is now available for public viewing:


TAO Newsletter 2016-04

TAO Ontario Report 2016-02



Filed under: Highways and Bridges, Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on May 29, 2016


 In 2015, the Province of Ontario initiated a coordinated review of four key land use plans, including the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) and the Greenbelt Plan.   In December, the Crombie Advisory Panel released its recommendations on how to amend and improve these Plans.  The November/December issue of Ontario Report discussed the Crombie Report in more detail.


In early May, the Province released its proposed changes to these four plans.  While changes are proposed in many areas, the ones of greatest interest to sustainable transportation advocates are:

  • Increasing the intensification target in the Growth Plan to a minimum of 60% of all new residential development to occur in the existing defined built up area, versus 40% today.
  • Increasing designated greenfield area density targets (ie new developments outside the built up area) to a minimum of 80 residents + jobs per hectare, versus 50 today.
  • Requiring municipalities to plan for density targets of 150 – 200 residents + jobs per hectare within 500 m around existing and planned major transit stations.  This is a new requirement not found in the previous Growth Plan.  The definition of “major transit station” is that it covers all subway, LRT, BRT and GO RER stations.
  • Requiring identification of transit priority corridors in Official Plans where municipalities would focus transit-related development
  • Supporting the development of community hubs by encouraging public services to be located near strategic growth areas, accessible by active transportation and public transit.
  • Improving transit to employment areas.
  • Protecting infrastructure corridors for goods movement.
  • Requiring mapping of major and potential rapid transit lines and good movement corridors.



There are major implications to these proposals.  For example, York Region, a rapidly growing edge municipality, has been working on an update to its Official Plan to 2041.  Different Region-wide intensification scenarios have been analyzed by staff planners.  Staff is  clearly pro-intensification and acknowledge the lower capital and operating costs from higher intensification.  However, they have misgivings about intensification targets beyond 50%, as it would force virtually all new home construction to be apartments or condos.  They believe a significant fraction of new-home buyers still want single family detached homes, and hence believe that > 50% is unrealistic from a market perspective.


What will be the effect if the province implements these higher intensification targets, the higher designated greenfield targets and the new transit station targets?  Will the suburban regions rebel, especially as money from the province to construct rapid transit is inadequate?  Will developers step up lobbying and/or appeal to the OMB?  Will the prices for detached homes continue to skyrocket?  Will the home construction market crater?  Will the anticipated growth not materialize?


The combined review also contains various climate change policies, including requiring municipalities to incorporate climate change policies in their Official Plans and to develop greenhouse gas  (GHG) inventories, reduction strategies and performance measures.  The largest contributor to GHG emissions in the province is transportation.  Will these policies by enough to slow down the growth in Vehicle Kilometers Travelled?   Will the policies be a factor in the upcoming decision whether to restart the Environmental Assessment for the GTA-West expressway (Highway 413)?  Should more be done in the outer ring of the GGH by encouraging interurban passenger rail and bus?  Should the province become more active in supporting intermodal goods movement?


In conclusion, just as the original 2006 plans changed the face of land use planning in the GGH, the proposed 2016 changes also appear to be very significant, although many questions remain.  Public consultation is planned by the Province until September 30, 2016. 



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on May 28, 2016


The article below was originally prepared for the March/April version of “Ontario Report”.  To make it more readily available to website readers, it is reproduced here.

- – - – - – - -


        Going before the judge must be a troubling experience for federal government departments and Crown Corporations.  And so it likely was for VIA Rail Canada when the Auditor General (AG) published its Special Examination Report (SER) covering the period November 2013 to September 2015.  An understanding of VIA’s troubled legislative and political history is needed to put the SER in full perspective.  Successive federal governments who have repeatedly knelt before the personal automobile, the short-haul flight and have persistently ignored the very negative and social and economic impacts of a fragmented public transportation system and sub-par tourist industry are really a watermark on each page of this document.

         But VIA management, it points out, also have culpability and both VIA users and their advocates are well aware of their corporate missteps and spin machine that continue to both annoy and insult.  Although on-board services are quite acceptable by international standards and train staff are generally accommodating, one gets the feeling of a growing creakiness in the organization and the SER shines a light on the many reasons why.

         The full Auditor General’s report can be read on-line on the website of the Office of the Auditor General.  Some of the key points are as follows:

   Corporate governance.  It’s quite clear that the political nature of the VIA board precludes the necessary talent to plan, manage and operate a customer-focused passenger rail network.  Since 2008 VIA has been unable to obtain federal approval of its five-year corporate plan and has resorted to short-term measures to mitigate operational crises.  Whether this is a direct result of VIA management capability or stone-walling by entrenched federal government ideology is not clear from the report.  Either way, there is no future for VIA without a fully-funded, long-term corporate plan and a forward-thinking federal mandate.

   Frequency and track access.  The report discusses how this inhibits VIA operations and, superficially, one might be inclined to sympathize with VIA.  Both CN and CP are primarily focused on shareholder value, but CN recently rejected VIA’s accusations that it consistently gives priority to its freight over passenger traffic.  So where is the truth?  Why is Transport Canada not working with CN and CP on a better plan of mutual accommodation based the on facts?  Meanwhile VIA continues to display conflicting behaviour by announcing a dedicated Montreal – Toronto track plan, separate from the CN-owned infrastructure, while, at the same time telling Kingston passengers that their station will be modernized and trains “repurposed.”  In fact, VIA spent close to $500 million to add passing track on the current route through Kingston to reduce conflict with freights which should mean that a passenger-only dedicated tract Torontoo-Peterborough-Smith Falls is not required.

   Contract management.  The SER highlights the fact that many VIA capital projects have gone wildly over-budget (Exhibit 5 below).  It shows eye-watering variances that would result in a major management cull in a private company.  But an audit on infrastructure improvement, performed by KPMG, has deflected several access to information requests by concerned citizens.  The conclusion one must draw from this secrecy is that it comprises a litany of very poor planning and ineffective project management by VIA and other contractual players.

You are encouraged to read the entire Special Examination Report as it tells an interesting, if troubling story.  But the bottom line is that the fundamental problems rest squarely on the shoulders of Marc Garneau, Federal Minister of Transport, to sort the mess out.  Instead, he has chosen to kick the can down the road for another three years of study while funding VIA to “imagineer” its future rolling stock requirements.  Both actions are unacceptable.

         “Rise, ye, from the alter of the personal automobile, the short-haul flight, the rolling railway museum and misguided political dogma and soon give Canada a passenger railway that works – please.”

- Ken Westcar, Transport Action Ontario








Key financial indicators (in millions of dollars)






Total operating costs






Government funding – operations






Government funding – capital






Key operating statistics
Passengers (in thousands)






Average passenger load factor (%)






Overall on-time performance (%)






Number of employees






OAG Special Examination – VIA Rail Canada – Exhibit 1: Summary of VIA’s performance over the past five fiscal years.  Source: adapted from 2014 Annual Report, VIA Rail Canada.



Exhibit 5: Improvements to CN Kingston Subdivision rail structure

Initial project 2007 Revised project in light of 2009 Canada Economic Action Plan Project completion and results as of 31 Dec. 2014

$21 million

$251 million

$318.5 million

Improve track and some stations

160km of triple track

at $1.6M/km

70km triple track

at $4.5M/km

Expected benefits

Revised expected benefits

Actual results obtained

12 additional trains

14 additional trains

8 additional trains

Reduced travel times

Reduced travel times

Increased travel times

Improved on-time per-formance (stood at 82%)

Improved on-time performance

Worse on-time perfor- mance (average 65%)

$32 million in additional revenue

$32 million in additional revenue

No additional revenue

23% increase in ridership

23% increase in ridership

17% decrease

 in ridership since 2009

OAG Special Examination – VIA Rail Canada – Exhibit 5 (not all information included here)



The Auditor General’s report on VIA may be found on-line by searching for “VIA Rail Canada Inc.Special Examination Report2016.”

Filed under: Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on May 26, 2016



Toronto Council will be voting in July to approve a new rapid transit network.  A cautionary note was sent to key Councillors indicating that the decision should be deferred until Metrolinx-lead work on fare integration is complete.


The letter is reproduced below:

In July, Council will be asked to approve a conceptual transit network prepared by City Planning that is to be supported by a model forecasting projected ridership in 2031 and 2041, as provided by Dr. Eric Miller using the GTA Model version 4.  This model includes assumptions about fares.  As you probably know, there is a Metrolinx-led parallel exercise taking place on fare integration affecting most of the GTA (including Toronto) that is independent of the modeling work being prepared by Dr. Miller.  At this time, Dr. Miller can only realistically use the status quo fare structures currently in place on GO Transit and the TTC,  in the absence of an approved new policy on fare integration passed by either City Council or the province, as staff cannot make assumptions on such matters in the absence of such an approved policy.
The schedules of the Miller report and the Metrolinx fare integration study are currently not in alignment, based on the updates received in April from Metrolinx and in March from City Planning.  These two initiatives must have their schedules coordinated for Dr. Miller’s model to reflect the fare context of the GTA in 2031, instead of fare context the GTA has today.  The fare integration policy will not be known until the Fall, as September may the first opportunity City Council has to vote on it based on Metrolinx’s current timetable with consultations concluding in August. 
The ridership model that Dr. Miller has been preparing for City Planning therefore will not reflect the network before Council because the fare assumptions will not be appropriate – this is unfair to Dr. Miller and is not helpful to Council.  Fares have a significant influence on rider route choice and ridership demand.  Without the completed fare integration work prepared by Metrolinx, Dr. Miller cannot prepare a reliable model for Council to base their decisions on since nobody at this stage has any confidence in what the future integrated fare structure may look like.
Given the size and complexity of the decision coming before Council, and the delicate, even vulnerable, balance in which the existing subway network currently finds itself, with potentially worrisome impacts on public safety due to extreme platform crowding at the Bloor-Yonge station and possibly other stations at the southern end of the Yonge line, Council must have reliable modeling results to make such decisions.  We urge Council to defer this decision until the fare integration work is ready and available to Dr. Miller and ridership results based on those inputs included in a report before Council.
We will be happy to answer any questions on this important matter.
Peter Miasek
President, Transport Action Ontario

Filed under: Events, Latest News — petermiasek on May 20, 2016


The Board of Directors will be meeting on Thursday,  May 26, 2016 at 5:30 pm at the Centre for Social Innovation, 192 Spadina Ave. Toronto, Room B.    At these meetings, the board typically reviews all major advocacy projects, as well as other matters related to the organization.


All members in good standing are welcome to attend the meeting.




Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on May 17, 2016



Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau was the key-note speaker at a well-attended public forum on rail safety held in Toronto on April 27.   Several members of Transport Action Ontario spoke, particularly about the need for Positive Train Control, Dragging Equipment Detectors and Automatic Equipment Identifiers.


As followup, a letter providing more detail on the latter two ideas was sent to the Minister’s Policy Advisor.  The letter can be viewed here:  TAO-Chadha 2016-05-17


Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Uncategorized — petermiasek on May 6, 2016



The National Post’s Barbara Kay published a useful commentary on May 5, 2016 describing reasons why VIA Rail needs to be enhanced and become a federal priority.  The article is pasted below:

Commentary in National Post, May 5, 2016

Barbara Kay: At $317 million, Via Rail is cheap to maintain Canada’s rail heritage

| May 5, 2016

 Uh-oh. The federal auditor general’s office has just released a study casting a cloud, yet again, on the future of rail travel in Canada.

The report indicates an increase in late-arrival times over the past two years, from one in five trains to one in four. This deterioration in service – on-time performance being “the main factor in customer satisfaction” – has resulted in a decrease in passenger traffic from 4.1 million in 2010 to 3.8 million in 2014. Passengers down means public costs up: The government provided VIA Rail $56 million more in operating costs in 2014 than in 2010 – $317 million in all.

Figures like these are catnip to market libertarians, who can’t see the difference, in terms of what public conveyances governments should or should not subsidize, between a railway and stagecoaches. Let those who want to travel by train pay the full cost, they say, or let the railway die the natural death horse-drawn vehicles did. As a train lover/user, but more important, as a Canadian who believes we all benefit when the government guarantees core cultural institutions, I think subsidies to operate and improve VIA are easily defensible.

But first, a personal digression.

I live in Montreal, but work and family ties take me to Toronto quite frequently – at least once every six weeks. By preference, I travel by train whenever possible. I’m a spoiled brat, so I usually go Business Class (which isn’t quite what it was – linen-like napkins rather than linen, the meal served all at once rather than in civilized stages, but these, I know, are High Class Worries). That ain’t cheap, but it is cheaper than normal airline rates. Stress-wise, there’s no contest. The interiors have been upgraded, very nicely, I might add, with more comfortable seats and plenty of leg room. And when you add up the hours spent, rail and flying are almost a wash.

It takes me 10 minutes to get to Montreal’s Central Station. I can arrive there five minutes before departure time if I want and walk right on board, settle in immediately, open my laptop or Kindle or whatever, log into the free wi-fi, and get busy on business or pleasure for the next four or five hours (depending on whether it’s the express or not; personally I don’t care much – what’s an hour to a reader?)

On arrival at Union Station in Toronto, which in my case is usually on time or within 15 minutes of on time, so I guess – more on this anon – I am lucky, I generally hop on the subway and within 30 minutes am standing outside my son’s door, a two-minute walk from a subway station. At most, I have spent one hour in non-travel time, so my door-to-door time is about six hours.  

When I travel by air, I must allot 30 minutes to get there (by taxi more than triple the rate to Central Station) to arrive at the airport 90 minutes before departure and those 90 minutes are never pleasant or stress-free. Security checks are tedious, likewise the boarding process. The flight is never entirely restful, because you’re – you know – trapped in your tiny seat and up in the frickin’ air! You land. You can now take the UP train to downtown, as long as that’s where you want to go, another 45 minutes including access and debarkment time, or take a $70 cab ride which, depending on traffic, can be a full hour. Altogether, by air, I might save up to two hours over the train, but I will have lost way more than two hours in reading or work time, and added an incalculable degree of stress and irritation.

Rail traffic figures may be down, but there are still millions of people who feel, as I do, that travelling by train is pleasurable, relaxing and a far more civilized way to cover a moderate distance than by air. The solution to falling revenues is not to abandon VIA, but to commit to a renewed and intelligent plan to bring VIA up to – ahem – speed in, well, speed. And efficiency.

The auditor general notes, for example, that the late arrivals are largely not VIA’s fault, but a result of the fact that freight carriers and other railway carriers own and maintain about 98% of the tracks used by VIA, so they have the right of way, and can often force halts to passenger trains, over which VIA has no control. Moreover, the report finds that the government has refused to sign off on the railway’s business plan for a number of years, forcing it to operate on a year-by-year basis. “In this context, VIA could not fulfill its mandate as economically, efficiently and effectively as desired.”

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. And there should be a will because:

  • The railway is part of Canadian culture in an existential way; without the railway, there would be no Canada. It’s worth preserving, and if its worth preserving, it’s worth improving;
  • The railway is relatively “green,” and doesn’t pollute the environment to the same degree a plane would. Even the noise it makes is a pleasure to hear, unlike you-know-what’s taking off and landing;
  • Flying is dicey in bad weather, and we have a lot of bad weather; there should always be a reliable alternative in busy corridors;
  • When you ride in a train, you “see” Canada; when you fly, you could be anywhere;
  • $300 million is a pittance in the scheme of things. And anyway, don’t airlines get subsidized whenever there is a crisis? The entire Via subsidy is a third what Ottawa is considering bestowing on Bombardier for its over-budget, behind-schedule planes.
  • Oil is cheap today but could be expensive tomorrow. With trains, you know where you’re at cost-wise;
  • Trains aren’t just for vacationers, as some people seem to believe. With Internet services available, a good portion of train travellers are business people, and their travel time is work time;
  • Why don’t we try everything that works in Europe and Japan before we throw in the towel?


I don’t know what the answers are in resolving the freight-passenger conundrum, but I bet a lot of other smart people could find the answer if the government made solving the problem a priority. VIA is not only worth saving; the government should aim to make it competitive with air travel by fixing its deficits and introducing innovations to attract more users. And if that requires subsidies, so be it. Canadians have a right to ride the rails that made this country what it is, and so do their children.



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on April 24, 2016



Michael Enright of the CBC Sunday Morning radio show presented a poignant essay on the decades-long decline of passenger rail in Canada, the current challenges faced by VIA Rail and the need for significant federal investment.


The essay can be heard  here



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on April 20, 2016



Oxford County has developed an advocacy approach to advance Southwestern Ontario public transportation opportunities.  To support this, they have released a “New Direction” public transportation tool kit summarizing the key components required:

  • Partnerships
  • Multi-modal terminals
  • Urban Transit
  • Inter-Community Bus Service
  • GO Transit
  • High-Performance Rail
  • High-Speed Rail


The tool kit and advocacy plan draw heavily on the concepts advanced by Transport Action Ontario, such as Network Southwest Rail and Bus Plan, inter-community bus service modernization and High Performance Rail.   The tool kit has received interest from other parts of Ontario, including Western Ontario Wardens Caucus, Southwest Ontario Urban Mayors Conference, Niagara Chamber of Commerce and Eastern Ontario Wardens Caucus.


The tool kit can be viewed at this link:  Oxford County New Directions Final 160420



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Uncategorized, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on April 17, 2016




Fanshawe TV student reporter Chris Callahan has produced three videos under the umbrella name “Connecting London”:

  • Part I features the public transit plans in Waterloo Region
  • Part II features the rapid transit plans for the City of London
  • Part III features connecting towns and cities across Southwestern Ontario, including interviews with key members of SWOTA (Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance


The videos can be viewed  here



Filed under: Events, Latest News — petermiasek on March 27, 2016


The Transport Action Ontario annual general meeting  and public meeting  will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at Toronto Metro Hall,  55 John Street, Toronto, Room 303.


The  Annual General Meeting will be held at 10:00am.   All members are encouraged to attend to hear about the state of the organization and to elect officers and directors.   Nominations are open for the election of officers and directors.  They may be submitted to the Secretary, Bruce Budd at  brucefbudd@gmail.com.


Lunch will follow at Aroma Restaurant, 287 King St. W., 2nd floor.  12 noon – 1:30  p.m.  Members and guests invited. 


The afternoon public forum will occur from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m:

David Ticoll, Distinguished Research Fellow, Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto will speak on:          
The author claims that  self-driving cars are here today, and will transform the landscape before we know it. They will bring massive benefits to the environment, safety, congestion, land use and accessibility, while dramatically reducing costs. They will also bring many challenges. Is Canada ready?    Ticoll will provide an overview of the opportunities, issues and policy priorities.
David Ticoll’s Oct. 2015 discussion paper on AVs for the City of Toronto may be viewed on the Internet under the title: “Driving Changes: Automated Vehicles in Toronto.”

Filed under: Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on March 27, 2016



The January/February, 2016 edition of  Transport Action Ontario’s “Ontario Report”, our bimonthly newsletter, contains an excellent article written by our editor, Tony Turritin, about Hamilton transit.  The article  was picked up by Hamilton’s  “Raise the Hammer” organization,  which modified it slightly and added helpful pictures.    We have decided to make this article a stand-alone entry on our website, so that it becomes findable on a search.   The article is reproduced below, with thanks to Raise the Hammer:

Hamilton Transit Expansion Threatened by Continued Underfunding

Comparable transit systems across Canada have grown ridership by expanding service frequencies and routes. By contrast, Hamilton City Council in Hamilton has a closed wallet for transit expansion.

By Tony Turrittin
Published March 23, 2016

Articulated HSR bus (RTH file photo)
Articulated HSR bus (RTH file photo)

The Hamilton Street Railway (HSR) is Hamilton’s transit agency operating its many bus routes. Since the late 1980s, ridership growth on the HSR has stagnated due to decades of transit underfunding by the city. In 2013, ridership was 75 percent of what it was in the late ’80s when HSR had 50 percent more buses on the road.

The few routes with high levels of service have had, and continue to have, high ridership, confirming a relationship long known in the transit industry.

Chart: HSR service hours and ridership, 1992 - 2006 (RTH file image)
Chart: HSR service hours and ridership, 1992 – 2006 (RTH file image)

Regional Transportation Plan

In 2006, the Province created a regional transit planning agency for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) that adopted the name Metrolinx in 2007. GO Transit was merged into Metrolinx in 2009. Municipalities in the GTHA were asked to put forward major transit initiatives for funding by the Province.

Hamilton’s Transportation Master Plan of 2007 led to a proposed five-line LRT network with Hamilton putting forward its downtown east-west LRT (B-Line) as its highest priority, to be followed by a north-south LRT line that would connect downtown Hamilton to the part of the city on the Mountain (A-Line).

The Province’s MoveOntario 2020 transit plan of 2007 included Hamilton’s B-Line LRT as one of its top 15 projects, these projects becoming part of Metrolinx’s 2008 regional transportation plan “The Big Move.”

Detailed planning for light rail in Hamilton began with substantial public consultations. A great deal of public support developed during this process. LRT was pictured as more than just higher order rapid transit; it would stimulate revitalization of Hamilton’s downtown and other neighbourhoods along the route.

A Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis of the B-Line LRT was positive. Environmental assessment was concluded in 2011 and the LRT was ready for provincial funding.

Metrolinx LRT vehicle on display in front of Hamilton City Hall (RTH file photo)
Metrolinx LRT vehicle on display in front of Hamilton City Hall (RTH file photo)

Hamilton LRT on Hold

In 2011, Hamilton’s LRT project was put into suspended animation by then-Mayor Bob Bratina, elected in the fall of 2010. Bratina represented to the Province that the city’s priority was all-day two-way GO train service, not LRT, with the Province responding by moving Hamilton’s LRT down in the Metrolinx priority list.

Hamilton’s city manager suspended the Rapid Transit Office and established a new team to focus on getting all-day GO rail service.

Delayed construction of LRT had the consequence of giving opponents opportunities to undermine the project, to the distress of the many citizens who had energetically supported it.

Though the new West Harbour GO station opened in July, 2015, just west of the old James Street North GO station it replaced, there still is no all-day two-way GO train service to the city.

LRT Moves Ahead

In January 2013, Kathleen Wynne became leader of the Ontario Liberal Party, becoming Premier and continuing as Premier with the Liberal election victory in June 2014. In the municipal elections of October 2014, Fred Eisenberger was elected Mayor of Hamilton, having perviously been Mayor between 2006 and 2010.

(Former Mayor Bratina was elected as MP (Liberal) for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek in October 2015. He remains a strong supporter of passenger rail.)

Eisenberger went to bat for LRT and, in May 2015, the Province announced $1 billion in funding for the Hamilton’s B-Line LRT. Because it is entirely funded by the province, the B-Line project is in the hands of Metrolinx.

The project has been modified, with the east end of the route cut back from Eastgate Square to Queenston Circle. Instead, there will be a branch off King Street on James Street North to the West Harbour GO station, a segment of the proposed A-Line LRT.

Part of the funds allocated to Hamilton will also be used for a brand new Centennial Parkway GO station in Stoney Creek 9 km east of James Street on the CN railway line to Niagara Falls.

Hamilton LRT and GO Extension Map
Hamilton LRT and GO Extension Map

HSR will need a garage facility for its 14 light rail vehicles. A likely candidate is a former relatively modern bus garage on Wentworth Street North at the CN rail line, now a City Public Works Department facility.

With modifications, this facility has indoor space to accommodate HSR’s LRT fleet. Using this location would require about 2 km of connecting track.

Wentworth Operations Centre, 330 Wentworth Street North (RTH file photo)
Wentworth Operations Centre, 330 Wentworth Street North (RTH file photo)

LRT Coordination in Hamilton

In December 2015, Paul Johnson became director of LRT coordination for the City of Hamilton. He is working to expedite LRT construction, starting with utility removal and/or replacement.

As in Kitchener-Waterloo, the construction of the project will be a P3. Contract tendering will occur in 2017, with construction to start in 2019, completion being in 2024.

Johnson has indicated that the A-Line segment to the West Harbour GO station is now being more fully studied. Other parallel streets just either side of James Street may get the track. There may also be room in the budget to take this branch to Waterfront.

With Brampton rejecting an LRT line through its downtown in October 2015, some Hamiltonians are hoping these unspent funds might move to Hamilton. They could be applied to extend the B-Line to Eastgate Square as originally planned, or to extend the A-Line to Waterfront and/or St. Joseph’s hospital on James Street South.

Bus System Still Under-Supported

While the LRT drama has had a happy ending, drama still surrounds Hamilton’s bus-based transit system, in decline for 30 years. Comparable transit systems across Canada have grown ridership by expanding service frequencies and routes. By contrast, City Council in Hamilton has a closed wallet for transit expansion.

It appears to have adopted an unofficial policy of refusing to put more city tax dollars into transit, instead relying on fare increases (which can be counterproductive) and extra money from the Province.

In November 2014, David Dixon, formerly an operations manager with the TTC, became the new director of the HSR. As someone finally willing to push a transit agenda in Steeltown, his arrival in that post was viewed by many Hamilton transit advocates as a breath of fresh air.

Dixon delivered a Ten-Year Transit Strategy [PDF], adopted by City Council in March 2015. The plan was growth-oriented, but Dixon did not ask Council to dip into its municipal pockets.

The plan included fare increases sufficient to provide some new buses and additional drivers. More ambitiously, it called for increased service, especially on routes that have been identified for future LRT.

Out of sync with the Mayor, who was in negotiations with the Province to get Hamilton’s LRT funded, Dixon’s Ten-Year Transit Strategy called on the Province for a $302 million grant, the first $100 million being for fleet expansion and the rest for a new bus garage. (At present the HSR bus garage and maintenance centre is on the Mountain close to the airport.)

LRT supporters were stunned by this new grant request, which was perceived as putting LRT funding by the Province at risk. But Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca quickly threw cold water on another handout to Hamilton, stating that, instead, Hamilton should make use of the gas tax refund monies that are returned to municipalities across the Province on an annual basis.

In January 2015, Hamilton city council voted to end a transit-only bus lane through downtown Hamilton, a pilot project funded by Metrolinx in October 2013. The vote was 9 in favour of closing the bus lanes to 7 against. The Councillors from wards in which the bus-lane operated supported keeping it. The HSR Ten-Year Transit Strategy, which Council approved, includes extensive use of transit-only lanes.

The way forward for the Ten-Year Transit Strategy should be clear. The gas tax refund by the Province is a case in point. Close to 90 percent of the gas tax money is used for roads, whereas the program was originally intended to be a main source of paying for transit.

Waterloo, for instance, uses half of its gas tax refund for transit.

Area Rating for Transit

There is another tax anomaly working against transit expansion, a peculiar property tax policy that Hamilton has followed since amalgamation. Amalgamated Hamilton includes the old high-density city, less dense suburban areas, and rural districts. The property tax includes a transit levy that varies according to location.

The transit levy originally reflected the level of transit service in the city’s 17 designated areas. Today, ironically, one consequence is that low tax areas (suburbs) oppose transit expansion because their transit levy would go up with better transit.

Critics point out that property taxes for a city’s services and programs ought not be a fee for service, but should rather reflect the cost of services and programs to everyone equally.

Two citizen panels have recommended an end to area weighting for the transit levy. One option is a uniform tax rate with only rural areas being exempted. Transit is the only city service remaining with levies determined by area rating.

The area rating system for transit funding and the lopsided use of the gas tax refund for roads are depriving the HSR of significant revenues it needs to augment service to reduce car-dependency by stimulating a modal shift to transit.

The challenge for Hamilton is to finally fund transit at a level typical of most cities of its size, joining the trend to become more transit oriented.




Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Major Reports — petermiasek on March 9, 2016


Transport Action Ontario, in conjunction with the Save VIA citizens’ committee of St. Marys, Ontario, has released an expert discussion paper on high-performance rail passenger service.  It calls on Canada’s new federal government to seriously investigate and consider the high-performance rail approach as a means of quickly and affordably improving VIA’s Quebec-Windsor Corridor service, fighting climate change and stimulating the economy.


A short brochure summarizing the report can be viewed at this link:TAO HPR Brochure 2016-03

The full report can be viewed at this link: TAO HPR Discussion Paper Final Revised 2016-03-09




Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on March 7, 2016



Our affiliate organization, Transport Action Canada (TAC), has written to federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau discussing the importance of federal infrastructure funding for Canada’s short line railways.  A variety of funding instruments were suggested.


The TAC letter can be viewed here:  TAC- Garneau -Short Lines 2016-03-07



Filed under: Latest News, Uncategorized, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on March 1, 2016


As readers know, Transport Action Ontario has long advocated for electrification of the GO Rail system and conversion to “surface subway-like” service.   Our advocacy started with our “No Little Plan” concept report of 2011 and then with the highly-detailed “Regional Rapid Rail” report of 2013.  We were very pleased when our ideas were largely adopted in 2014 in the  Province’s Regional Express Rail plan and the City of Toronto’s SmartTrack plan.


One of few areas not picked up by either the Provincial or City plans was our idea to construct an electrified GO Rail branch/spur line to Scarborough Town Centre, rather than an underground subway or a LRT line.  Over the past few months, we have been in ongoing detailed discussions with staff and elected officials at the City, and with staff at Metrolinx on this concept,  now known as Scarborough Express Rail or SmartSpur.


A series of frequently-asked-questions can be viewed here: TAO-SER-FAQ-2016-02

A technical memo covering various technical aspects of the concept can be viewed here: TAO-SER-TechMemo2016-02-29




Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on February 22, 2016


In a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Wynne, the Western Ontario Wardens Caucus (WOWC) recognized the importance of VIA Rail to the economy and the vital role it can play in economic and environmental improvements.  The letter references key reports produced by Transport Action Ontario and its affiliates, including our  Network Southwest Plan, our submission to the Province on Modernizing Intercity Bus Services,  and Transport Action Canada’s VIA 1-4-10 Plan.


WOWC encourages a strategic partnership between the Federal Government, Provincial Government, VIA Rail and Metrolinx to develop an integrated multi-modal mass transportation model in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor.


The WOWC letter can be viewed here:  WOWC Letter to Trudeau&Wynne



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on February 10, 2016


At a Council meeting on February 8, St Catharines City Council voted unanimously to request that VIA Rail restore effective train service to Niagara.   Transport Action Ontario  submitted a letter and presented a deputation to Council supporting this request.    In our view, both VIA and GO are needed to fully meet Niagara’s needs.


The deputation and letter can be viewed here

TAO- St. Catharines VIA Presentation 2016-02-08

TAO St. Catharines Council Submission 2016-02-05


Given below is some of the press coverage that resulted:

St. Catharines requests reinstatement of VIA rail service

Council passes motion urging VIA, feds, to restore service in Niagara

By Scott Rosts

ST. CATHARINES — City Council would like to see VIA Rail return its daily train service to Niagara.

On Monday night St. Catharines council unanimously approved a motion that urges VIA Rail and the federal government to restore “effective” VIA train service in Niagara. The motion, put forth by Coun. Bruce Williamson, comes after VIA officials have suggested it will invest in the national passenger rail service. Council is hoping VIA will reverse the decision it made in 2012 to eliminate the daily return service in Niagara.

“The existing rail infrastructure, including a climate-controlled station building and parking area, is already in place,” said Williamson, adding “Niagara is positioned favourably for growth and transportation links are vital ingredients for future prosperity and sustainability.”

Greg Gormick, a rail policy advisor with Transportation Action Ontario, told council the benefits would be “large” for the city, serving as a foundation for GO service. The two, he said, would complement each other.

“Is it VIA or is it GO for Niagara? It’s both,” said Gormick. “They’re two different types of services … really complementary services.”

Gormick and Williamson both noted there are economic and tourism benefits for the region, but the service would also provide a tie to the Empire Corridor, a designated high speed rail route between Niagara Falls, New York and New York City, and the Toronto-Montreal Corridor.

Mishka Balsom, CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce agreed, saying it makes sense to push for VIA service in addition to advocating for the GO expansion to Niagara.

“We need to take full advantage,” said Balsom, noting long-haul rail service should be an important part of any future Niagara-wide transportation master plan.

There are some positive signs in the midst of the request. With federal government promises to invest in infrastructure and transit, VIA Rail CEO Yves Desjardins-Siciliano said last fall the Crown Corporation would submit a $4 billion dedicated track plan for the busy Toronto-Montreal-Ottawa corridor to the new government. The project would see the company build, acquire and restore tracks to increase the number of daily departures from each city to 15 from the current six. Also, during a 2015 annual public meeting, VIA officials said “VIA Rail is looking into the opportunity of increasing service in the Niagara/St. Catharines region in 2016. The potential in the area is for passengers travelling for leisure or as commuters.”

Williamson suggested the region could see VIA service reinstated before any type of regular GO service was provided.

“This is not a long-term plan and can become a reality in the short term for Niagara,” he said, describing it as a “no-risk, zero-cost opportunity”.

Mayor Walter Sendzik agreed with the concept, but suggested that VIA be requested to embark on a business case analysis. He said while there would be no cost at the local level, the funds do come at the federal level and “all of us in the region pay (federal) tax dollars”.

The city has also requested that other municipalities that were receiving service — Niagara Falls and Grimsby — be asked to pass the motion as well to strengthen the message.




Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on February 8, 2016



Transport Action Ontario is a co-signatory to a letter authored by Safe Rail Communities to the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, to follow up on promises made during the election campaign to review rail safety regulations.   Transport Action Ontario has been working with Safe Rail Communities on this important file for over a year.  A request for a meeting was made.


The letter can be viewed here:  TAO-SafeRailCttee-Garneau letter 2016-02-08



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Press Releases and Open Letters — petermiasek on February 5, 2016



Transport Action Ontario board member Ken Westcar recently published the following Op-Ed piece in the Hamilton Spectator of  February 4, 2016.  It is reproduced below.   Our thanks to the Hamilton Spectator for publishing this article.


Let’s not forget the steel wheel in climate change

Rail service

Rail service

The Canadian Press

Ken Westcar argues upgrading existing rail infrastructure on the Montreal-Windsor corridor to permit 175 km/h speeds and more frequent service is one way to improve transportation in Canada.
Hamilton Spectator

Given that transportation in Canada is responsible for approximately 34 per cent of our carbon emissions it’s interesting to note how the media and two levels of senior government have tended to ignore it. Add the fact that carbon-intensive air transportation is ring-fenced due to its exemption from the COP21 Paris climate-change aspirations and one must wonder what actions will be taken on the ground to compensate.

So far, it seems there’s lots of excitement about electric cars and ride sharing but very little beyond this. Outside the GTHA the private motor coach industry wrings what profitability it can from a shrinking route network. Only in September 2015 did the province of Ontario invite public submissions on a new regulatory framework for bus operations. Whether buses can be restored as an appealing option of carbon-efficient transport for rural and intercity passengers remains to be seen.

Trucking has had very little mention in climate change discussions. The ability to haul dual 53-foot trailers behind a single tractor as a productivity boost has been in place for several years but one has to answer the philosophical question of whether a train belongs on the highway or the rails. Future ton/mile emission reductions will be increasingly hard to find as highway congestion worsens.

Canada’s woeful underinvestment in intercity passenger rail for the past 50 years or so beggars the belief of most of our G7 partners except, perhaps, the United States. But the voice of opposition in many U.S. states is changing to a more positive approach as communities push politicians for rail service reinstatements and expansion. The diminishing utility of the personal automobile for longer trips and increasing hassles of flying are being supplemented by greater concern about the environment and this is where the passenger train is seen as a more attractive and sustainable option.

Much the same applies in Canada where communities with existing passenger train service are starting to understand their value in a congested and carbon-constrained world. Bus feeder service to nearest railway stations is also receiving growing attention and rural public transportation advocacy is becoming focused and louder as personal hardship levels grow when the private automobile is no longer a mobility option.

While paper-progress is being made on the federal- and provincial-level plans for intercity passenger rail expansion, it is quite obvious that they are totally incompatible. On one hand, VIA Rail wants a new, freight-free route between Montreal and Toronto with higher frequency trains operating at about 175 km/h, whereas the province of Ontario is planning a true high-speed rail investment in the southwest with 320-km/h capability. A real head-scratcher!

VIA’s position has somewhat more economic and technical credibility than Ontario’s but neither seems to recognize that much of their ridership comes from intermediate stops along existing corridor routes. Communities such as Sarnia, Stratford, Woodstock, Ingersoll, Brantford, and Chatham are voicing concern that they could actually lose intercity passenger rail service under the current federal and provincial rail infrastructure plans. Neither level of government has yet provided them with any clarity whatsoever.

One solution, largely dismissed by governments, is the upgrade of existing rail infrastructure on current Montreal-to-Windsor corridor service to permit 175-km/h operation and more intensive schedules. Given that government relationships with both CN and CP have been challenged for several decades, any pursuit of this concept will not be for the faint of heart. But it’s precisely what Amtrak does in the U.S. to get more passenger trains onto existing privately owned rails.

If mutual accommodation can be found between CN, CP, and our two senior levels of government, an injection of public money could benefit all parties. In addition to accommodating more and faster passenger trains it could also be used to remove freight bottlenecks including construction of the “missing link” between the Milton GO rail line and the CN bypass line at Bramalea, west of Toronto. It would make passenger rail plans easier to achieve and speed freight movements across the top of the GTHA.

This and similar capacity improvements along the existing corridor rights-of-way could be implemented more quickly and at far less cost than VIA’s proposed new route and the provincial high-speed rail plans combined. The resulting speed increases with the high-performance solution would deliver the train frequencies, fares and journey times people want, while substantially reducing carbon emissions.

Under new climate-change realities, a public-private mechanism must be found for preserving Canadian rail infrastructure and making it more productive. Railways built Canada and are now, more than ever, a means to sustain it as we seek ways of reducing our carbon footprint while offering the public safe, economical and reliable mobility.

When economic and climate-change realities are stark it’s better to look at more immediate, astute and affordable improvements to passenger rail services. Grander plans can wait for better times.

Ken Westcar is a Woodstock resident and a board member of Transport Action Ontario, a public transportation advocacy group, with broad experience of passenger railway operations in North America, Europe, and Africa.




Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on February 5, 2016



The Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA), which includes Transport Action Ontario as a core member, has sent a letter to the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport regarding our Network Southwest Passenger Rail and Bus Service Action Plan, requesting action.


The letter and key attachments can be viewed here:

SWOTA Letter to Marc Garneau 2016-02-05

SWOTA -Liberal Resolution 2014

SWOTA-Liberal Resolution 2012



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Major Reports — petermiasek on January 30, 2016

Transport Action Canada and its regional associations, including Transport Action Ontario,  are pleased to release our nation-wide blueprint for the revival of VIA Rail Canada.  It demonstrates how the new federal government can turn VIA around and make it a modern, more frequent and highly useful public transportation service at a reasonable cost over a period of 10 years.  The plan also outlines how improvements can be made to a number of VIA services – including Southwestern Ontario and on the North Main Line – within one year.


The report can be viewed here:

VIA 1-4-10 Plan V2 2016-02-01


We have also produced a two-page infographic summarizing the report and its recommendations for the Windsor-Quebec corridor.  These can be viewed here:

VIA 1-4-10 Infographic page1

VIA 1-4-10 Infographic page2



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on January 25, 2016


Transportation has been the most challenging sector in Ontario for reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  A paper by Transport Action Ontario shows that GHG emissions from diesel-based intercity passenger rail travel in Canada are about 2 to 3 times lower per passenger-km than emissions from equivalent travel by car or personal truck.  Intercity passenger rail can therefore play an immediate significant role, at low cost and with other social/economic benefits, in achieving climate change targets.


The paper can be viewed here:  TAO-RailandClimateChange



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Press Releases and Open Letters — petermiasek on January 18, 2016



With the federal cabinet meeting in New Brunswick prior to the opening of a new session of Parliament, Transport Action and its regional affiliates issued a press release urging passenger rail investment.


The release can be viewed here:  TAO-Press Release V1-4-10 2016-01-18



Filed under: Latest News, Ontario Report — petermiasek on January 15, 2016



All six  publications of Ontario Report for 2015 are now available for public viewing.

Transport Action Ontario Report 2015JanFeb

Transport Action Ontario Report 2015MarApr

Transport Action Ontario Report 2015MayJune

Transport Action Ontario Report 2015JulyAug

Transport Action Ontario Report SepOct2015

TAO Ontario Report 2015-12


Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on December 30, 2015



Our affiliate organization, Save VIA, of St Marys Ontario has produced three thought-provoking videos:



The first, entitled “An Expensive Train Robbery” may be viewed  here

The second, entitled “Modern Trains for a Modern Canada” may be viewed here

The third, entitled “Clearing the Tracks for VIA” may be viewed  here



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on December 9, 2015



Ontario has opened its online consultation for the province’s 2016 budget priorities.  SWOTA has posted a submission asking for integrated public transportation outside the GTAA, as envisioned in our Network Southwest plan.   The submission can be voted on, and comments provided here


A copy of the submission can also be viewed below:


Integrated Public Transportation outside the GTHA

Created on December 9, 2015 by Terence Johnson


While Metrolinx has made great strides in improving and integrating public transport in the GTHA, services in Southwestern, Eastern, and Northern Ontario have declined, and communities have suffered as a result.

Since 2009, more than 100 Ontario communities have lost their last public transport connection to the outside world. Strategically, this creates a risk of long-term economic decline across entire regions that will become harder to reverse as time goes on. On a human scale, when someone needs to travel to a medical appointment, to work, or simply to visit friends or relatives, this is already a crisis.

The social and economic costs of isolation are large compared to what it would cost to revitalize Ontario’s public transport network.

Restoring Ontario’s public transportation network outside the GTHA would require only a small fraction of the $15bn the Ontario government has already pledged to invest in infrastructure. The key ingredient is not money, but collaboration. By working with the federal government, municipalities, and the bus industry, the province can get the best value for every dollar.

Connecting services and coordinating schedules so door-to-door car-free journeys become practical and easy is cheap, simple, and already happening right across the border in Michigan. There, Amtrak, local transit, and long-distance bus operators work together. It already happens in Ontario, within the GTHA.

Rail service cuts by the federal government in 2012 hit many communities hard, including Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Stratford, Cornwall, and Belleville. There are also many communities, including St. Thomas, Leamington, and Goderich, where bus services have been withdrawn by Greyhound, in some cases many years ago. However, Ontario’s current bus regulations prevent local operators or our municipalities from offering a new service.

The province has already made a step in the right direction by announcing a review of bus regulations in fall 2015 that may allow Ontario companies to start providing services to local communities. Seed funding to restore a core network of services integrated with each other, transit, and rail, is vital to ensuring that Ontario gets the network it needs to meet its commitment to tackle pollution and to give youth and seniors in all our communities the mobility they need and deserve.

Improving Ontario’s public transportation system will materially assist Ontario municipalities with their sustainability plans, including reduced carbon footprints, a stable or increasing population (as opposed to population shift and decline), easier recruitment and retention of skilled professionals, tourism promotion, increased workplace productivity, and more high-paying and permanent jobs.

A 2015 study by the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance estimated the capital cost of implementing a fully integrated network for Southwestern Ontario at $400 million over five years, to be shared with the federal government. This would include helping municipalities upgrade existing bus terminals and rail stations in ways that attract new economic development, eliminating the worst train delays and road safety hazards by lighting rural grade crossings and replacing 60-year-old trains with new made-in-Ontario equipment. (http://www.swota.ca/network-southwest)

If our government acts now, these incremental improvements can deliver significant results before the next election for the one-third of Ontarians who do not own a car or prefer not to drive.

Filed under: Aviation, Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on December 2, 2015


The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) is studying future airline passenger traffic in Southern Ontario.  It is recommending coordinated planning among all airports in the region.  One aspect that did not receive much focus in the study is the issue of ground-side access to Pearson International Airport.


Transport Action Ontario has sent a letter to GTAA identifying that ground-side airport access needs to be improved, particularly by working towards a better balance between road and rail options.  Our letter can be viewed here:   TAO-lettertoGTAA2015-12-02




Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Uncategorized — petermiasek on November 10, 2015



Since the Lac Megantic rail tragedy in 2013, and numerous other rail incidents in Canada, the issue of rail safety has had high visibility with the Canadian public.  Transport Action Ontario and its affiliates has been vocal in on this issue.  There are numerous posting on this website on the topic of rail safety.


Transport Action Ontario has been assisting a non-government organization, called Safe Rail Communities, to advocate with the federal government on improved rail safety.  As part of the recent Federal Election, each party was solicited for their commitment to improve rail safety.  The response from the  Liberal Party of Canada was particularly encouraging, and is available for viewing at this link:



We are also pleased to note that the issue of reinforcing rail safety is cited in the mandate letter to Minister of Transport Marc Garneau.




Filed under: Highways and Bridges, Latest News — petermiasek on October 25, 2015


Transport Action Ontario is a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) for the Gardiner East Environmental Assessment.  Although our preference was for the “Remove” option, where the elevated structure would be replaced by an urban boulevard, Toronto City Council opted  in June, 2015 for the “Hybrid” option, where the elevated expressway function is maintained.


Since that time, the SAC has been involved in evaluating several different options for the Hybrid approach.  All  involve the same vertical alignments as today’s situation, with the Gardiner elevated and Lakeshore Boulevard at grade.  However, at the SAC meeting on October 20, 2015, we proposed an innovative option where Lakeshore Blvd is actually at higher elevation than the expressway near the Don River.    We were requested to submit a written description.


The description was submitted as an email on October 25.

It can be viewed here:  TAO-GardinerEastVerticals2015-10-25



Filed under: Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on October 23, 2015


Transport Action Ontario was a signatory to a letter sent by the Move the GTHA collaborative to Premier Wynne reminding her of the federal Liberal party promise to boost investment in public transit, and asking her to impress upon the new government the urgency of rapidly funding transit and active transportation in the GTHA.     Adding new federal dollars will help get us closer to achieving the required funds needed to build the transit we need.


The letter can be viewed here:  MTGTHA Letter to Premier Wynne October 2015



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on September 24, 2015



The Government of Ontario is consulting on information and ideas on modernizing intercity bus service.  This is in response to the critical state of the industry, with declining service, ridership and profitability.


The Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA), of which Transport Action Ontario is a key member, has made a submission to this consultation.    It focussed on the proven best practices for integrated passenger rail and bus networks, as documented in our Network Southwest plan.  The submission makes several recommendations on how to modernize the bus regulatory regime.


The SWOTA submission can be viewed here: SWOTA-BusServiceModernization_2015-09-22



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on September 15, 2015



The Western Ontario Warden’s Caucus (WOWC), a not-for-profit organization representing 14 counties and Chatham-Kent in Western Ontario, has led a submission to the Government of Ontario’s Moving Ontario Forward consultation.  This consultation is requesting input on how to allocate funding on critical infrastructure needs and an integrated transportation network across the province.  About $15 Billion is available over 10 years for projects outside the GTHA.

The WOWC consulted with member municipalities, the nine single-tier municipalities in the region and various non-government organizations including the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA) and Transport Action Ontario (TAO).  The submission includes a number of strategic areas, including our $400 Million (over 5 years)  Network Southwest plan.

The WOWC submission can be viewed here:   WOWC-submission to MovingONForward2015-09


In addition, SWOTA issued a letter of support for the WOWC submission, providing more detail on the Network Southwest portion.

The SWOTA letter can be viewed here: SWOTA-supportfor WOWC2015-09-15





Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on August 1, 2015



On July 30, 2015, the St Marys Ontario Save VIA non-government organization released a new report on VIA’s North Main Line.    Save VIA  is a close affiliate of Transport Action Ontario, and we are both members of the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA).


The report gives a situation analysis and outlines numerous quickly-implemented low-cost improvements that can be implemented on the line to boost ridership, revenue, cost recovery and service frequency.  The report can  be viewed here:   NML Reborn Final Rev5 150801sm (1)




Filed under: Aviation, Latest News — petermiasek on July 7, 2015


The Greater Waterfront Coalition, of which Transport Action Ontario is an active member, has released a 30 page report, together with photographs and illustrations,  on 11 safety issues associated with the  proposal to expand Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA).      The report calls for independent expert study of these issues.


The report has been presented to the Working Group of Waterfront Toronto’s Peer Review of the Environmental Assessment for this expansion.


The report can be viewed at this link:  http://www.waterfrontcoalition.ca/safety_report



Filed under: Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on July 3, 2015


The results of a  referendum in the Greater Vancouver Region held during May and June were released on July 2.  The referendum asked residents to vote on a half-point sales tax increase, which would be dedicated to regional transportation initiatives.  At final count, only 38 per cent of those who cast a ballot supported the increase.


The Move the GTHA Coalition, of which Transport Action Ontario is a core member, released the following statement: here



Filed under: Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on June 18, 2015


On April 21, 2015, the Ontario government committed to full provincial funding, totalling $1.6B,  of the 23 km LRT project proposed along Hurontario and Main Streets in Mississauga and Brampton, between Port Credit and downtown Brampton.  Transport Action Ontario welcomes this announcement.    However, while this project has been well accepted in Mississauga, there has been debate in Brampton about the best route through or around the heritage area on Main Street.   The issue will be resolved by Brampton Council in July.


Transport Action Ontario has published a letter of support for the Main Street route, which is strongly recommended by both Metrolinx and Brampton City staff.   The letter can be viewed here:   TAO-letter-BramptonLRT2015-06-17





Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Major Reports — petermiasek on June 10, 2015



Dr. Avrum Regenstreif, long time member and colleague of Transport Action Ontario, has completed a report on developing higher speed electric railways across Canada.  it is intended as a backgrounder to foster discussion and it offers one possible long term vision on development of higher speed electrified railroads in Canada.  While Transport Action Ontario has long supported railway electrification, the details of how this is to be achieved as expressed in this report are the opinion of the author, and are not the official position of Transport Action Ontario.


We welcome feedback on this important topic.


The report can be viewed here:  TAO-HSR-Paper-Final2015-06




Filed under: Latest News, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on June 4, 2015



As part of the Relief Line Project Assessment, the City of Toronto is conducting consultations on the station locations and route alignments for the Relief  Line - a proposed subway line that would connect downtown Toronto to the Bloor-Danforth Subway east of the Don River.   Transport Action Ontario (TAO) sits on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for this project.


A formal submission was made by TAO in June, 2015.  It received a positive response from the City.  The process continues in September.


The TAO submission can be viewed here:  TAO-ReliefLineSubmission2015-06



Filed under: Highways and Bridges, Latest News, Press Releases and Open Letters — petermiasek on June 2, 2015



The Move the GTHA collaborative, which includes Transport Action Ontario, has issued the following statement in support of the “Remove/Boulevard” option being considered in the Gardiner East Expressway Environmental Assessment.


The statement can be viewed here:  MTGTHA Gardiner Statement2015-06-02



Filed under: Latest News, Press Releases and Open Letters, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on May 28, 2015



The  Move the GTHA collaborative, including Transport Action Ontario, issued a statement welcoming the Ontario Government announcement for funding for the Hamilton LRT project and for expansion of GO Transit service.


The statement can be viewed here:  MTGTHA-Hamilton2015-05-27



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News, Press Releases and Open Letters, Urban_Transit — petermiasek on May 27, 2015



The Move the GTHA collaborative, including Transport Action Ontario, has issued the following open letter to Ontario Premier Wynne regarding Ontario’s plan to implement carbon pricing in the province.


The letter can be viewed here: MTGTHA-CarbonPricing2015-05-27





Filed under: Events, Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on May 17, 2015



St. Thomas will host a public forum to present the  Network Southwest Passenger Rail and Bus Service Action Plan, our plan for rapid solutions to Southwestern Ontario’s  transportation challenges.  The keynote presenter is transportation analyst and government policy advisor Greg Gormick.


Wednesday May 27, 2015, 7.00 p.m. – 9.00 p.m.

St. Thomas CASO Station, 750 Talbot St.

St. Thomas, ON N5P 1E2


For further details on Network Southwest, consult other recent postings on this website.


Filed under: Aviation, Latest News — petermiasek on May 15, 2015



The Ontario government is conducting its 10 year review of the Greenbelt Plan.   Transport Action Ontario made a submission to the province concerning the proposed Pickering Airport.  Although the presence or absence of this airport is not within the scope of the Greenbelt Plan Review, we believe that this airport will have a major deleterious effect on the Greenbelt lands.


Our submission can be viewed here:  TAO-Greenbelt(Pickering)2015-05



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on May 15, 2015



As readers know, Transport Action Ontario is part of the Southwestern Ontario Transportation Alliance (SWOTA).  In the past, SWOTA has worked closely with the Southwest Economic Alliance (SWEA) to improve public transportation in the region.  SWEA is a coalition of the public sector (municipalities), private sector and civil society (social non-government organizations, universities) founded to advocate for  improved conditions for economic vitality in the region.   With the retirement of its president in November, SWEA is now in the process of re-evaluating its mission and approach.


Improved public transportation remains a focus for SWEA.  SWOTA president Terry Johnson and Transport Action Ontario president Peter Miasek presented a summary of our Network Southwest plan at SWEA’s Board Meeting on May 14.     The presentation can be viewed here:  SWOTA Presentation to SWEA 2015-05-14


The Network Southwest plan and program appear to fit very closely with SWEA’s mission and approach.  SWOTA looks forward to continued cooperation with SWEA on this vital advocacy program.



Filed under: Intercity_Rail_and_Bus, Latest News — petermiasek on May 14, 2015


On May 12, 2015 at 9:20 pm, an Amtrak Washington to New York train with 7 Amfleet cars plus locomotive derailed catastrophically in Philadelphia.  Eight persons were killed, and a large percentage of the 240 passenger plus 5 crew on the train were hospitalized.


Transport Action Past President, David Jeanes, was interviewed on CTV Television regarding this tragedy.  His interview can be viewed here:  http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=612974



Filed under: Highways and Bridges, Latest News — petermiasek on May 13, 2015


Transport Action Ontario (TAO) has been participating as a member of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) in the consultations for the Gardiner East EA since its inception in 2009.   Our last position paper was published in March, 2014, where we supported the “Remove” option.  Subsequently, Council directed staff to undertake several additional studies – primarily to evaluate a new “Hybrid” option, and to study traffic mitigation steps for the “Remove” option.


During the past year, the SAC continued to meet to review the new findings.    A public meeting on the new results was held in April, 2015.   The matter came before Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on May 13, and will go to Council in June.   As input to these deliberations, TAO issued an updated public paper.


The paper concluded that the “Hybrid” option is not appreciably different than the “Maintain” option, other than relocated access ramps.  It also noted that a small reconfiguration of the urban boulevard in “Remove” has reduced the auto and truck travel time penalty to only 3 to 5 minutes, as verified in two independent studies.    Therefore TAO continues to urge Council to advance the “Remove” option as the preferred alternative for completing the Gardiner East EA.


Our updated position paper can be viewed here:  TAO-GardinerEast2015-05-11