Growing transit first priority for MTO: Wynne
Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne restated her government's commitment to building all four of the approved Toronto Transit City streetcar lines to a business lunch crowd at the Canadian Economic Club on Tuesday.
Before Gerald Marois of Waubaushene was mauled by a black bear, the Ontario government's decision to build the lines over 10- to 12 years rather than eight, was feeding headlines almost daily.
"I really believe the additional time will allow for better construction planning and staging to minimize disruption to communities and avoid cost coverruns and delays," said Wynne's speaking notes. (The Star's transportation reporter was stuck in traffic chaos on Bay St. but has read the speaking notes and listened to the proceeding media scrum with the minister.)
Wynne followed up her speech by repeating her government's earlier non-position on road tolls or other taxes to help pay for the dotted lines that have been added to the Transit City map -- sections of track that have been pushed to a Phase II because the money isn't there.
But in her speaking notes, Wynne acknowledges the difficulty of politically supporting transit projects that very often transcend a single term of government.
"Envisioning and acting to reach a goal that is 20 to 40 years down the road is not easy for governments, given their life cycle. Even more difficult for business, where shareholders expect a return not just annually, but quarterly," she wrte in her speaking notes.
This is far removed from the quick win... the Band-Aid solution to population pressures... a changing economy... or political expedience. It requires patience and vision," she said.
"Public transit has become so important that the Ontario Ministry of Transportation's business plan states that our first priority is 'to increase transit ridership' and make it 'an attractive, affordable alternative to the automobile," according to Wynne.