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Budget 2008: Our politicians have 34 days to act on the $500 million Public Transit Infrastructure fund

By shost at 12:43 am on Wednesday, February 27, 2008

“Budget 2008 sets aside up to $500 million in 2007–08 to be paid into a third-party trust, allocated on a provincial-territorial per capita basis, for public transit infrastructure. Funding will be paid into the trust, once legislation has been passed, for only those beneficiaries that have made public commitments before March 31, 2008 to undertake investments in public transit. The beneficiaries of the trust will have the flexibility to draw down the funding as they require over the next two years. They are encouraged to report publicly on the expenditures financed and outcomes achieved.

The trust will be used for specific projects of capital infrastructure such as rapid transit, rail, transit buses, and high occupancy vehicle and bicycle lanes.”

Immediate application ideas:

* Guelph’s Intermodal Transit hub.. freeing up money for  Guelph Transit 20 minute service (Thanks David for the tip)

* North Municipal Mainline Alliance passenger rail improvements (GO Trains, anyone?)

* GO Transit improvements to Waterloo Region (GO Bus in the least!)

Time to send off those applications..

Filed under: UncategorizedComments Off

2008 Federal Budget: Peterborough to get Commuter service if budget passes.. but wait.

By shost at 12:20 am on Wednesday, February 27, 2008

According to the 2008 Federal Budget, and highlighted by politicians.. as part of a $500 million, immediate investment in public transit, may include railway upgrades for a Toronto ->Peterborough link.

Peterborough,  Population 80,000 people is serviced by the Canadian Pacific Railway as a freight only link. This railway line is in a state of major disrepair, with freight train speeds of 10-15 MPH the entire length of the route.

$88 million is being earmarked for these upgrades, presumably for VIA rail to provide the commuter service.

 

The Toronto Star comments: “However, government officials said that the revived rail line was not a fait accompli and had only been offered as an example of the programs that might qualify for funding.

Municipalities only have until Mar. 31 to put forward their proposals for capital investments, which could include rapid transit, rail, transit buses and bicycle lanes.”

 

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Guelph VIA Commuters: Kiss your free parking good bye in 2009

By shost at 10:28 pm on Monday, February 25, 2008

To all Guelph VIA Commuters: Your parking spots at the Guelph Station are about to be kissed goodbye, thanks to the new Transit Hub scheduled for 2009. Essentially, the parking lot is in the way of the Transit Hub, and will all be removed in favour of integrated station servicing Guelph City Transit, GO Bus, Greyhound, and VIA Rail.

While not without precedent (Kitchener VIA Commuters have had to pay for parking for 3+ Years) it would seem communication of this problem has not proceeded all that smoothly.

Parking for Commuters has become quite an issue for patrons of VIA Rail in Guelph – there are so few free parking spots every single inch of useable space has been squeezed by the regulars to park their cars. In this Authors opinion and experience using Guelph’s commuter trains, the problem jeopardizes the safety of the premesis due to blockage of fire routes. Usually by 7 AM, when Train 86 departs, the lot is already full with yet another train (#84) yet to arrive. Every single inch of parkable space is utilized, blocking the Park and Ride, Garbage disposal unit, and Handicapped Parking spaces.

The inability of Parking for VIA to be sustained downtown raises the following points:

a) With all this success with VIA Commuter service (as illustrated by the parking problems), what will be done to maintain their parking spaces and ensure continued levels of VIA patronage?

b) What will happen if GO Trains come to Guelph? Virtually ALL GO stations have a reasonable measure of park and ride capabilities, handling hundreds of parking spaces at NO charge (as long as you buy a Train Ticket).

Incentives should be provided  — such as a Free or discounted parking pass for users of the Macdonnell St Parking Garage which is adjacent the Station. (The price is currently $60/month for a pass)

I applaud the City for putting together an intermodal Transit Hub — the first of it’s kind since the Toronto Suburban Railway ran into St Georges Square in 1930 (From Toronto). But let us make sure we move along existing initiatives and think clearly about the future of Transit — Parking lots are a neccesary intermediary between the highway-driven culture of today, and the transit-integrated future of Tomorrow.

- Steve Host

 

Filed under: City of GuelphComments Off

David Graham takes Guelph Council to task on transit issues

By shost at 3:30 pm on Wednesday, February 20, 2008

David Graham, a site contributor to GOKW.ORG has recently made a presentation to Guelph City Council, which he summarily made available online. In addition, there are other posts of interest to GOKW readers. First, his presentation to council, very well thought out, and covers a broad spectrum of transit and planning issues for Guelph:

http://www.cdlu.net/entries/20080204.shtml

And secondly, over the last few years David and I have co-developed our viewpoint on the opportunity provided by the Lafarge Lands in Guelph. The Lafarge Lands have been a flashpoint of interest for Guelph Residents for a number of years, and is well known only to residents. His viewpoint can be found here:

http://www.cdlu.net/entries/20080120.shtml

Congratulations to David for the excellent presentation to Guelph Council!

Filed under: City of GuelphComments Off

High Speed Rail between Quebec and Windsor: What this means to our North Mainline

By shost at 12:40 pm on Wednesday, February 20, 2008

In January 2008 The Federal Government announced it is revisiting studies for High Speed Rail between Windsor and Quebec City. With all the new found prosperity due to Oil and Gas, Natural Resource, and general economic prosperity (including budget surplus) we might actually see this happen in the next 10-15 years. A link to the media release so you can understand the background is posted below. However, this has an impact on our Commuter transit issues..

http://www.tc.gc.ca/mediaroom/releases/nat/2008/08-h004e.htm

What does this mean to the North Mainline, or the other rail lines in Waterloo Region? This high-speed rail study is a very key development and *all* residents, Councillors, Mayors, MPP and MP’s should be aware of the consequences if High Speed Rail becomes a reality.

Basically, all freight traffic between Chicago, the Southern US, and Toronto runs on the two railway lines south of us: the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National mainlines between London and Toronto. If one of these lines  is upgraded to become the high speed rail link, *the north mainline will be forced to host that lines freight traffic through our cities*.

What do North Mainline residents prefer? High speed rail improvements, or oodles of long and slow freight trains running through your city?

Reasons why this argument holds:

* The North Mainline also is the same corridor that would link up to Toronto Pearson Airport — a Pro for the North Mainline to recieve high speed rail

* The North Mainline currently holds 90% less freight traffic compared to the other two mainlines through the Toronto – London Windsor/Sarnia Corridor. The existing freight traffic will simply coexist with passenger service as it currently does. It will not require rerouting. Therefore we have a relatively-blank slate when considering our line for high speed use.

Therefore we have a strong case for hosting the High Speed Rail corridor between Toronto and London IF and ONLY IF our councillors, provincial (MPP), and federal politicians (MP) lobby for us to recieve it. This week this was confirmed when Waterloo Region concillors approved lobbying for the high speed rail link. (as discussed in post below this one)

Reasons that will counter our argument: 

* Most passenger service is concentrated on the Toronto-Oakville-Burlington-Brantford-London route with heavy emphasis on the densely populated GO Lakeshore line. This line has been marked on many ocasions for what is dubbed “SuperGO” — an electrified higher-speed commuter service.

* The North Mainline route is longer by 10 KM (Source: VIA Rail timetables, Union Station to London Ontario)

* There may be a fouth option:  Goverment opts to build a fouth, and brand new Railway Corridor to host high speed rail. This is ultimately the most expensive (billions of dollars) and least likely option. Construction of this magnitude has not happened in Ontario since the 19th century.

Comments, questions? Please fire me an e-mail at steve [ a  t ] hostovsky.com

 

 

Filed under: Cambridge,City of Guelph,Kitchener,WaterlooComments Off

(Waterloo Region) The Record: Two cities vying for GO link

By shost at 12:18 pm on Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Waterloo Record has published an article concerning the divide in Waterloo Region as Waterloo/Kitchener and Cambridge councillors battle for who will get a GO Transit Rail link to Toronto. Basically, to paraphrase the article, Councillors have voted to pursue both Kitchener and Cambridge options for commuter rail service. In addition, they have agreed to the following:

“Commits the region to spending $75,000 of its own money on a feasibility study for passenger rail service into Cambridge.”

“Asks the province to fast-track GO buses between Milton and the region, as an interim step.”

(GOKW note: This should have been done 3 years ago… as it was announced in 2005 and still has yet to proceed. It’s about time!)

“Asks senior governments to consider a high-speed rail station within this region, as part of the latest study on high-speed rail between Windsor and Quebec City.”

(GOKW Editor note: This I will comment about in a new article..)

Article link: http://news.therecord.com/News/CanadaWorld/article/311459

Great work, to all in Waterloo Region Council who are finally on board with this effort.

To all in Waterloo Region, including Councillors: Don’t lose sight of the fact that *both* Cambridge and Kitchener can have GO Train service, but consider each a seperate project. Bus service will also be required in the interim, and shoud be started as rapidly as possible in order to start building the market for GO Service demand in Waterloo Region. Ensure what was promised in 2005 (Go Bus service to Waterloo Region) a Reality in 2008.

- Steve

 

 

 

Filed under: Cambridge,Kitchener,WaterlooComments Off