Air Rail Link Update - September 2008
Blue 22 has been back in the news this summer. The Weston Community Coalition would like to remind everyone of this enterprise, and what we believe the best solution for Weston and Toronto could be.
The plan, devised originally by the federal government in 2003, was to run high speed trains 15 minutes apart between the airport and downtown, 20 hours each day. This means they would pass Weston as well as all the other communities along the corridor every 7.5 minutes in each direction. The trains would stop at Dundas West Subway station and maybe at Woodbine Racetrack. The tracks, bridges, tunnels etc. would be built with public money by GO Transit. Blue 22’s owners would install a short spur line to the airport, and pay GO $1 per year to use the tracks. The train sets would be two car BUDD diesels, built originally in the 1950’s, with a capacity of 90 passengers each. The fare was set in 2005 at $20 each way. We believe that this price will rise given the current cost of diesel fuel. Originally, all vehicle rail crossings (Strachan Ave. in Liberty Village and Denison Rd. E., John, King and Church Sts. in Weston) would be closed. A later design suggested putting 3 of the 5 rails in a trench through Weston so King and Church Sts. could stay open, but the John St., Denison Rd. E, and Strachan Ave. crossings still will need to be closed.
The Environmental Assessment (EA) Process
The EA was to study alternatives to the plan. The EA has been ‘stuck’ at the provincial ministry since October of 2006. The provincial government has now passed new rules exempting transit projects from most of the Environmental Assessment (EA) provisions. The government also advised it is in ‘high-level’ negotiations with SNC Lavalin, the principal partner in the private consortium who would run Blue 22. It has apparently also been moved to the ‘Infrastructure’ ministry from Transportation. Metrolinx was to have been given control of this project, and is devising a comprehensive regional transportation plan for the GTA. However the government appears to be acting independent of Metrolinx on Blue 22. GO Transit has until December to decide if it will use the new rules for their expansion for Blue 22.
What does the Coalition say?
Despite attempts by both federal and provincial governments to blame Weston for the delays, we are not saying don’t build a link. What we have consistently said is that if our government is to spend upwards of $300 million of our tax money on this scheme, it should serve the people of Toronto, and in particular Weston, by having stops along the route. It should not allow obsolete and outdated technology. We have suggested 10, from Humber College, to Liberty Village. We have also said it should be electric, ideally interfacing with the subway. Noise and pollution would be almost non-existent, and it would be an easy fix for a quadrant of the city with no rapid transit. It would still be a rail link to the airport, which most world-class cities have. No other city uses diesel trains, and almost all have intermediate stops along the route. We want a world-class transportation system!
What can you do?
You can contact the government. You can help the Coalition get the message out. You can make the difference. Here is the contact info:
Hon JAMES J BRADLEY,
Minister of Transportation
77 Wellesley St. W. 3rd Floor, Ferguson Block, Toronto, ON M7A 1Z8
(416) 327-9200 Fax: 416-234-2276
Hon GEORGE SMITHERMAN
Minister, Energy and Infrastructure
Hearst Block, 4th Flr, 900 Bay St
Toronto ON M7A2E1
Phone: 416-327-6758 Fax: 416-327-6754
MPP, York South-Weston
2301 Keele St. Unit 102
Toronto ON M6M 3Z9
(416) 243-7984 Fax (416) 243-0327