GTTA Board announces $791.3 million in transit projects, including expanded capacity for Yonge subway

    Projects support survey results showing 50 per cent of drivers willing to
    take transit more often

    TORONTO, Nov. 23 /CNW/ - Continuing to take action on transit projects
that can be implemented in a short timeframe, the Board of the Greater Toronto
Transportation Authority (GTTA) today approved a second round of transit
improvements. This included increased capacity on the existing
Yonge-University subway line through new, larger subway cars and leading edge
technology, setting the stage for a possible subway extension to Richmond Hill
in the longer term.
    The 14 projects identified today will now be recommended by the GTTA to
the provincial government for funding consideration. They build on seven
projects announced in August 2007, which were approved for investment by the
province. Funding for the first $100 million package was announced by the
Premier of Ontario on September 25, 2007.
    "The GTTA was created to improve transportation. Each of these new
projects will have visible, tangible benefits for people using public
transit," said Rob MacIsaac, Chair of the GTTA. "Most transportation projects
take a long time to implement, but with these investments, transit riders will
soon see a positive difference."
    In addition to tangible benefits for consumers and a relatively speedy
timeframe for implementation, criteria for choosing the projects included
alignment with the province's MoveOntario 2020 transportation plan announced
earlier this year.
    "Next year, we will be developing a comprehensive Regional Transportation
Plan to give people more transportation choices in a seamless, coordinated
system. But we don't need to wait for the plan to be completed to start making
improvements," MacIsaac said.

    Recommendations by the GTTA Board in this round of proposals include:

    -   Yonge-University subway capacity and service improvement, as the
        first phase of expansion of the line to Richmond Hill. This includes
        automated signals and 126 new, larger "Toronto Rocket" subway cars,
        increasing capacity by 15 per cent by 2012, setting the stage for a
        30 per cent increase in capacity by 2017;

    -   Bus "rapidway" connection on Yonge Street between Finch Station and
        Steeles Avenue, offering dramatic service improvements for travellers
        between Toronto and York by 2011;

    -   Kick-off investment in Transit City Light Rail Transit (LRT), a rapid
        transit network on Toronto's major avenues, and potentially extending
        out to Durham, Peel and York Regions;

    -   A new Toronto Pearson International Airport multi-modal hub
        connecting the Mississauga Transitway, GO, TTC and Brampton Transit;

    -   An additional 22 hybrid buses for improved capacity and service
        frequency on the Hurontario and Dundas corridors in Peel Region and
        first steps towards future rapid transit service;

    -   Bus Rapid Transit service along the Highway 2 corridor connecting
        Durham Region's lakeshore communities;

    -   Investments towards VIVA Rapid Transit service improvements along
        Yonge Street and Highway 7;

    -   Bus Rapid Transit service along Dundas Street in Halton Region,
        linking Halton's growing communities to GO Train service, Hamilton
        and Mississauga; and

    -   Investments in Hamilton's James and King-Main transit corridors, and
        a new platform to accommodate future GO and VIA rail service to James
        Street North station.

    "We encourage the province of Ontario to consider these new projects for
the next budget cycle, helping us build momentum as we work toward a
comprehensive plan to improve transportation across the region," MacIsaac
said. "At the same time, we are also counting on federal funding, and we urge
the federal government to recognize these projects as a high priority to meet
our environmental goals and to keep Canada's economy strong and competitive."

    Research Results Support GTTA Actions

    The GTTA recently commissioned a public attitude survey, conducted by
Ipsos Reid between October 18 and October 28, 2007. A representative sample of
1,000 residents, from across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), was
interviewed by phone. The overall results are considered accurate to within
plus/minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

    Findings from the survey included:

    -   Transportation is a high priority for two out of three residents. It
        was cited as the top priority by fully 22 per cent of respondents.

    -   Fewer than 3 in 10 residents currently get around primarily by public

    -   50 per cent of drivers said they are likely to take public transit
        more often if it is improved.

    -   79 per cent of current transit users said they are likely to take
        public transit more often to get around. Currently, 67 per cent of
        transit users drive their car at least one day a week.

    -   Faster travel times, increased frequency of service and less crowding
        on public transit were cited as key improvements respondents would
        like to see to motivate them to take public transit more often.

    Full survey results are available at the GTTA interim website,

    The GTTA is an agency of the Government of Ontario whose board includes
municipal leaders from the GTHA. Its mandate is to create a seamless and
sustainable transportation system for the residents and businesses of the
Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

For further information:

For further information: Fran Agnew, Executive Assistant to the GTTA
Chair, (416) 874-5902; Rita Scagnetti, Director of Public Affairs and
Communications, (416) 874-5910; Jacquie Menezes, Senior Associate, Public
Affairs and Media, (416) 874-5923

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