The Toronto Board of Trade has released the results of a survey that suggests there is wide support for their plan to create Superlinx—a regional transportation authority that would see planning and funding for all transit in the GTAH uploaded to a new provincial authority. The TBOT Launched the Superlinx last November and since the June election the Ford government has been exploring the possibility of uploading Toronto’s subway system to the province. Superlinx would take the concept several steps further by uploading the entire transit system in the GTAH to the provincial level. According to the Poll conducted by Environics Research, the concept of a single regional transit agency funded by the provincial government received support from 79 per cent of regional respondents and 74 per cent of Toronto respondents. The 10-minute survey was conducted from August 13-21, 2018 among 1,000 adult residents of the Greater Toronto, Hamilton and Waterloo regions, with targeted samples for each GTA region. As the survey was conducted with an online panel and weighted for age and gender, there is no ascribed margin of error. 65% of Hamiltonians interviewed favoured the super agency concept.
Among the advantages of the new model would be Evidenced-Based Prioritization of transit investments. The report reads, “the lack of progress on many of the proposed rapid transit lines, such as the Brampton LRT, Downtown Relief Line and Scarborough LRT/Subway cannot be attributed solely to lack of coordination or funding. Part of the problem stems from the lack of a proper prioritization of the many transit projects and a need for greater evidence-based planning. To get the right projects built quickly, the new agency will have a strong mandate to prioritize based on ridership data and projections. In addition, the agency would also prioritize projects that could be built faster, such as those with completed environmental assessments.” To protect the Superlinx agency from provincial politicization and interference, clear rules would be introduced to safeguard its independence.” Metrolinx has been criticized for falling prey to political pressure to make transit investments not supported by objective metrics, such as the one-stop Scarborough subway.
With the uploading of transit, the province would assume responsibility for financing new transit construction. The report suggests the funding can be found through increased property taxes on development lands near transit stops, including air rights. The cities involved would also forego fare box revenue and the Gas Tax funds earmarked for Transit. Combined these measures would put approximately $2 Billion a year in the provincial transit pot. This could pose a problem in Hamilton where the city has been accustomed to using some of the gas tax money for non-transit purposes.
The report urges the new agency to position itself to “adapt to and adopt technological advances in the transportation sector. The imminent deployment of Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared (ACES) vehicles will allow for improvements to public transit systems, especially bus routes. They also present the best opportunity to transform first and last mile service. The new agency will have the scale and resources to coherently integrate new technology across the region’s transit operations. “