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Collective voice needed to tackle gridlock in the western GTA, says task force

May 22, 2014

Mississauga News

PEEL — When it comes to identifying transit priorities in the region, there needs to be greater transparency in the manner in which Metrolinx prioritizes and awards projects, say members of a citizens’ group representing residents from Brampton, Mississauga, Oakville and Caledon.

The observation was part of 28 recommendations made by the Western GTA Move Task Force, a non-partisan group, in a report — Unlocking our Gridlock Together— released, Tuesday at the University of Toronto, Mississauga campus (UTM).

Joe Horneck, one of co-chair of the organization said many transit projects in the western GTA, despite having sound business cases, were shoved aside by Metrolinx with the money directed to Toronto instead. Transit priority should be focus on benefits such as the number of new riders, environmental benefits, time saved by travellers and labour costs, he said.

“We want to see more clarity on how the projects are assigned,” said Horneck, a banker who commutes from Mississauga to Toronto for work.“For instance, with every project there’s a business case analysis done by Metrolinx. Often times though, when they are doing the priorities about which project should get funding from the provincial and federal governments, it (funding) goes to projects with more popularity.”

To that end, the report calls for greater representation from the western GTA at the Metrolinx table including the need to have a unified regional voice.  

Members of the task force also expressed frustration over the fact that  ‘political winds are damaging many viable transit projects’ because every newly elected mayor or premier feels the need to put their own signature on initiatives while ignoring the needs of commuters.

“One of the recommendations we have right now is to get Peel and Halton to sit down twice a year and go through their regional transit plans,” Horneck said. “We need to speak with one voice to the federal and provincial governments to advocate for projects crossing municipal boundaries. We should also cut down red tape and allow buses to cross municipal borders because the riders don’t care, they want to see an efficient transit system that seamlessly connects.”

Calling the report, a call to arms to take action on gridlock, the Western GTA Move Task Force also called for greater integration and coordination of routes, fares and overall services between different transit systems operating in the GTA.

“This (report) is the voice of number of people from the different areas,” said Jeannette Chau, co-chair Western GTA Move Task Force and an engineer. “We are passionate about this. We want to be able to go to all levels of government, committees and citizen groups so that there’s a groundswell or momentum that leads to action.”

Several municipal, provincial and federal candidates from Brampton and Mississauga; citizen-led groups and other stakeholders attended Tuesday’s meeting.

In his opening remarks, Deep Saini, vice president and principal, University of Toronto, Mississauga campus (UTM) said one of the most frequent complaints he hears from students who commute to school is how long and how expensive their trip to school is.

“Even for students that live as close as Brampton, it takes two hours to get to the campus,” Saini said. “Thirty per cent of our students commute from Mississauga, the rest from other municipalities, so transportation is a huge issue for this campus. I am thrilled to see this report because I believe this is an issue that has to be taken at regional level and has to be taken yesterday…”

The report includes other proposals such as: ensuring long-term funding from Queen’s Park and Ottawa, offering discounts for people taking transit during the non rush hour; introducing “fare holidays” that would offer free rides on public holiday and that urban planning and transportation should work together.









Mississauga News

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