Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tories Try to Woo Transit and Highway Commuters with Transportation Plan

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Tories Try to Woo Transit and Highway Commuters with Transportation Plan

Article excerpt

Tories' transit plan targets commuters


TORONTO - The Progressive Conservatives tried to woo coveted Greater Toronto Area voters on Sunday with a transportation plan designed to appeal both to transit and highway commuters.

Tory leader Tim Hudak announced that, if elected, his party would expand GO Transit service, build a new subway line across Toronto and expand highways in the region.

Hudak promised his government would spend up to $2 billion annually on transit once the budget is balanced, saying the initiatives will create 96,000 jobs as part of the Tories' "million jobs plan."

The transportation push would see a new "express" subway line stretching from Toronto's west end to its east and linking up to the existing east-west subway line. The transit proposal as a whole could help ease congestion on trains and on the roads, he said.

"Nothing more frustrating than when you're packed in like sardines at Yonge and Bloor," Hudak said, referring to a main transfer point between Toronto's two major subway lines that is frequently packed during rush hours.

"I understand there's nothing more frustrating (than) when you're sitting there stuck on the highway, white knuckles on the wheel because you're going to miss your daughter's school play."

The Tories would also have the provincial government take over subway and light rail lines operated by the Toronto Transit Commission along with major highways in the area not already under provincial purview.

Hudak cited the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto -- two major arteries that funnel commuters from suburbs and the so-called 905 region in and out of Toronto.

The Liberals scooped up most of the ridings in that region immediately surrounding Toronto in the last election, and all three main parties have spent much time in the early days of the election campaigning there.

Those highways and GO Transit service would also be expanded, Hudak said.

"I know that people have heard all kinds of politicians say the same thing and nothing ever gets done," he said at a mid-town Toronto transit yard.

"It's time to take a bold new course."

It can all be done without an accompanying tax hike, Hudak said.

The Tories say money will be drawn from expected budget surpluses and a dedicated fund, getting "better value" from existing transit operations and bringing in the private sector to help run transit -- an idea the TTC's biggest union is dead-set against.

Hudak's platform roll-out was temporarily derailed when transit police took umbrage with a throng of television cameras following Hudak as he set out to ride the subway to his announcement. The subway line was stopped for about 10 minutes and Hudak ultimately abandoned the subway journey.

An aide later said the party hadn't received permission ahead of time, while Hudak himself said he hoped no Mother's Day plans were disrupted. …

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