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Toronto split over need for new funds to support transit plan, poll finds Add to ...

Almost half of Greater Toronto and Hamilton area residents think that new funds should be raised for Metrolinx’s regional transportation plan, according to a poll conducted for the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance.

Forty-three per cent of respondents think that new funds should be raised to build “The Big Move,” Metrolinx’s 25-year plan for the GTHA. By contrast, 39 per cent believe that existing government funds are enough to cover the cost of this plan.

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So far, $16-billion has been committed to the plan, which is expected to cost $50-billion if all proposed projects are completed.

Metrolinx’s plan includes creating dedicated bus lanes and light rail lines, improvements to GO Transit and subway lines, increasing connectivity to Toronto Pearson International Airport, and integrating transit fares through the Presto system.

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said that $16-billion worth of projects have already begun, and that the remaining $34-billion is needed for the second wave of projects.

“We know what will happen if we don’t have those projects: gridlock and congestion will continue to worsen, and that’s why we’re working very hard to make sure everyone knows about The Big Move and what we need to do,” Ms. Aikins said.

“I think the 43 per cent is good news ... people are starting to get the message how important new investment is in transportation of all kinds.”

The poll is part of CivicAction’s Your 32 campaign to raise awareness of Metrolinx’s transportation plan for the region. CivicAction says the projected average daily commute time in the area will increase by 32 minutes unless Metrolinx‘s 25-year plan is fully implemented. According to CivicAction, the average commute time to work from home is currently 82 minutes for a person living in the GTHA.

CivicAction CEO Mitzie Hunter said that transportation is the top priority for the GTHA.

“[Transportation] is very much tied to the future prosperity of the region,” Ms. Hunter said. “We have 100,000 people that immigrate to this region each and every year and over the next two decades, that’s going to grow by another three million people.”

Ms. Hunter said CivicAction wanted to ensure a conversation was happening around the region about transportation before Metrolinx submits their investment plan to the province on June 1.

“[The poll] indicates that people see that we have to find new money that builds that transportation network that we want,” she said.

According to the results, 71 per cent of GTHA residents are “fed up” with gridlock and traffic congestion in the GTHA, and 26 per cent said that “improving quality of life” was the most important reason for improving GTHA transportation.

The poll sampled 1,491 random residents in the GTHA, and was commissioned by Forum Research on behalf of Civic Action. The poll used Interactive Voice Response, which has a 3-per-cent margin of error 19 out of 20 times.

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