Due to increasing congestion on roadways and expenses of owning a car making public transit a more viable option for commuters, I always take it as welcome news when the government announces its plans for expansion and improvements that will further connect me to outlying regions with greater efficiency.
Kathryn McGarry, Ontario’s transportation minister, has said that the provincial government has now set plans to expand GO Transit in Greater Toronto and the Hamilton region.
McGarry has shared the news about the GO Transit expansion while appearing at Union Station on Monday, when she indicated that the government has issued a request to begin selecting companies to initiate the designing, building and financing, in addition to operating and maintaining the GO Regional Express Rail network.
“Today, I am pleased to announce that we are on track to deliver the next stage in GO Transit’s evolution — Regional Express Rail,” McGarry said. This includes new trains, refurbished vehicles, infrastructure for electrifying the entire GO corridor, and improvements such as bridges, tracks and noise walls to make travel seamless. This also includes improvements right here at Union Station to its tracks as well as its platforms to make room for more train service and electrification across the entire network.”
The process is therefore underway, ahead of any contracts being offered for GO Transit expansion. Ontario will issue a request for qualifications.
Six new Toronto Smart Track stations will also be built, and there will be upgrades made to 22 current GO stations that will involve renovations to stations, digital signage and new bus loops.
Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said the request for qualifications is a “big milestone” and the transit projects are “hugely exciting” for the provincial agency. “In many transit jurisdictions, these are the biggest projects out there today,” Verster said. “For our customers, this is really exciting.”
Regional Express Rail is also to include more than 400 projects across 40 municipalities, which is being financed with the city of Toronto.
The project Mayor John Tory initiated during the 2014 municipal election, SmartTrack, will include integrated services via rail on the Stouffville, Lakeshore East and Kitchener GO lines, as well as on the Eglinton West Light Rail Transit extension, between Mount Dennis and Renforth.
Spokesperson for Metrolinx, Anne Marie Aikins, says that this is “another step closer to building the transit people need.”