Metrolinx launches Investment Strategy to support sustainable transportation improvements



    TORONTO, Jan. 25 /CNW/ - At the same time as public and stakeholder
consultations are underway on a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), the
Metrolinx Board of Directors has approved development of an Investment
Strategy to ensure on-going, sustainable improvements to the transportation
system.
    "Transportation infrastructure is expensive - to build, maintain and
operate," said Rob MacIsaac, Chair of Metrolinx. "As we determine how to
improve transportation across this region, we need to consider how to pay for
those improvements."
    MacIsaac said that all options will be considered, including government
funding, private sector investment, user fees such as road pricing, or
tolling, and public transit fares. He acknowledged user fees are a sensitive
subject, but said they inevitably need to be part of the discussion.
    "Building, maintaining and operating the transportation system for this
region will require long-term, dedicated funding. Federal, provincial and
municipal investments will obviously be an important part of the equation, but
we need to go beyond relying solely on traditional government funding sources
in the long term," he said.
    Metrolinx is also looking for innovative solutions, and will be studying
best practices from other jurisdictions as it develops the Regional
Transportation Plan.
    "At this point, we won't rule anything in or out in terms of the plan or
the investment strategy," MacIsaac said. "We are already hearing plenty of
suggestions - from parking fees, to a greater role for the taxi industry and
the private-sector bus industry, development charges, bike-rental systems, gas
taxes and other dedicated revenue solely for transportation projects, to name
just a few. That's why we're conducting such extensive consultations - we want
a wide-ranging discussion to determine what makes the most sense for
transportation users in this region."
    Metrolinx is keeping an open mind throughout this process, MacIsaac said,
emphasizing that no decisions will be made until after broad consultations
with the public and stakeholders. He also stressed that improving customer
service is the guiding principle throughout the process.
    "We believe people will be supportive as long as they feel they are
getting good value and the money is being well spent," added MacIsaac.
    User-based funding tools are not just about generating money to build and
operate system that will help address gridlock and environmental pollution,
MacIsaac said. "Financial incentives and charges can be useful to help people
make sustainable transportation choices and to balance our transportation and
taxation systems."
    As it develops the Regional Transportation Plan - a comprehensive
strategy for a coordinated transportation system in the area encompassing
Hamilton, Toronto, Peel, Durham, Halton and York Regions - Metrolinx has begun
issuing a series of Green Papers on various relevant subject areas, including
Mobility Hubs, Transportation Demand Management, Moving Goods and Services,
Highways and Roads, and Transit. Stakeholders and the public are invited to
review and post comments online via the interactive consultation website
<a href="http://www.metrolinx.com">www.metrolinx.com</a>. Based on feedback from the public and stakeholders, these
will evolve into White Papers and a Draft RTP, which will be the focus of
another major consultation initiative later this spring. Feedback will be
considered, and the final RTP will be released in the fall of 2008.
    "Our primary objective throughout this process is to improve choices and
improve service," MacIsaac said. "Whether you are a transit rider, driver,
cyclist, pedestrian, shipper, or combination of the above, our aim is to
ensure a transportation system that is timely, convenient and affordable."

    Metrolinx is a Crown agency of the Province of Ontario, operating within
the legislative framework of the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Act,
2006 and the provincial Growth Plan.

    Aussi disponible en français





For further information:

For further information: Fran Agnew, Executive Assistant to the
Metrolinx Chair, (416) 874-5902; Jacquie Menezes, Senior Associate of Public
Affairs and Media, (416) 874-5923

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