Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Budget Roundup

The provincial budget was introduced yesterday, and contained some transit goodies for the GTAH.

n Hamilton, service on the B-Line will be improved to connect Eastgate Square with McMaster University, and the A-Line will be introduced to connect downtown with the mountain. In addition, there's funding for a new GO station in Hamilton at the foot of James Street. This station could serve as a jumping-off point to Niagara, and would be less expensive to expand all-day-service to (as CP demands the Hamilton tunnel essentially be rebuilt before service improvements to the station on Hunter Street).

Peel will see service improvements on Dundas and Hurontario, hopefully resulting in something better than an on-street connection between the two bus routes serving the latter street. Also, GO service to Bolton will be improved, but it won't be a substitute for a local transit system.

Halton will see BRT along Dundas, and hopefully a combination of development and feeder bus systems will improve ridership. Dundas is a very busy street, but with most of the homes backing onto it, I worry if there are other corridors which need attention in Halton.

In York Region, VIVA will be getting bus only lanes from Richmond Hill centre to Newmarket Terminal, and along the VIVA Purple route from Pine Valley Drive to Kennedy Road. Curious locations, but its a good first start and addresses the most congested portions of the route.

Durham will get funding to wean themselves off GO and build their own BRT route on Highway 2. This should help DRT finally find its own identity, and could lead to the "plate of spaghetti" in Pickering and Ajax being turned into a logical network. They also received funding to establish a route to Cornell Terminal. DRT routes are almost completely isolated, and this will bring the system into the warm embrace of the GTHA network.

Toronto will get funding to start work on Transit City, funding for automatic train control and funding for the Yonge Street busway - all projects which will build capacity and speed up service. It will be interesting to see the busway's final design, as it will have to accommodate express and local buses heading between Steeles Avenue and Finch Station.

In the broader picture, there will be funding for bike racks on vehicles and lockers at GO stations, 20 new coaches (for the Lakeshore Line, but not necessarily for the Lakeshore Line), 10 more double decker buses (the first was spotted on the road today running some tests), and passing tracks to bring all-day service to the Bradford and Stouffville lines by 2010.

In addition to all that, there's gas tax funding. It was a good budget for transit, but as always, I hope the province doesn't rest on it's laurels.

In other news, this round of collective bargaining between the TTC and the Union seems to be filled with conflicting reports. It's difficult to sort truth from fact, but the bottom line is that the Union will be in a legal strike position on April 1st... and that's no foolin'!

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