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Media Advisory

March 9, 2010

CITY OF TORONTO MOTION SHOWS "RESPECT FOR TAXPAYERS" SAYS CLEAN TRAIN COALITION

City asks Province to electrify Air Rail Link before service starts –even if it means not being ready in time for Pan Am Games

TORONTO CITY HALL – The City of Toronto today waded into the hot debate over whether hundreds of diesel trains will be running through local neighbourhoods in the west end and downtown. Toronto's City Council passed a motion, brought forward by councillors Frances Nunziata and Doug Ford, calling on the Province of Ontario to electrify the Air Rail Link and not buy diesel trains for this service.

"We are encouraged by the latest salvo in our Mayor's 'Respect for Taxpayers' campaign. It is hugely wasteful to run diesel trains first and convert to electric later," said Carina Cojeen, co-chair of the Clean Train Coalition (CTC). "If it can be done in time for the Pan Am Games in 2015, great. But if not, a two-week sporting event is not a good enough reason to subject our neighbourhoods to years of additional diesel pollution and waste hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the process."

Metrolinx, the provincial agency charged by Premier McGuinty with building the Air Rail Link (ARL), has opted to buy more expensive diesel trains first, and then spend even more to convert them to electric later. They have also advised that electrifying later will require the building of an additional track for $400 million so that trains can continue to run while electrification takes place. Metrolinx hopes by 2020 to get 5,000 passengers each day to use this service, at a fare "competitive with taxi and limo fares." Taxis are currently $53 and limos are $58. By comparison, a streetcar with a fare of $3.00 carries 5,000 passengers each hour. The ARL, as it stands, will have no value to regular citizens living in Toronto as it will be too costly to use, will not stop in
enough convenient locations and is not being planned to be integrated with other modes of transportation.

"We hope that Premier McGuinty will finally 'get it' and understand that the citizens of Toronto won't stand for this waste and pollution," said Mike Sullivan, co-chair of the CTC. "Metrolinx's own figures show that 5,000 riders on these trains will pollute the air as much as 15,000 cars. It would
actually be better for the environment to use private automobiles, than run diesel trains. That's why using electric trains for this service is such a no-brainer," said Sullivan.

The City of Toronto motion joins a chorus of voices calling on the province to “Do it right the first time.” Liberal MPPs Laura Albanese and Tony Ruprecht co-authored a motion asking their leader to change his mind and electrify from the outset. It passed unanimously with all-party support. Transportation critics Frank Klees (PC) and Cheri DiNovo (NDP) have also called on McGuinty to build it once and build it right.

CLEAN TRAIN COALITION CONTACTS:

Mike Sullivan: 416-571-8723
Carina Cojeen: 416-886-2320

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The Clean Train Coalition is a completely volunteer-run, grassroots organization representing the communities along the rail corridor. We believe that a healthy environment and vibrant neighbourhoods depend on smart investment in public transit infrastructure. Build it once, build it right! www.cleantrain.ca


 

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