Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cheri DiNovo and MetroLinks

Cheri DiNovo, MPP for Parkdale High Park has a candid moment with Realtor David Pylyp about the increase in rail traffic that will occur from the increase in transit ridership, freight traffic and the new Airport Diesel Train link that will be provided by MetroLinks.

The Residents have rallied and petitioned to the Ontario government but other than being heard they are receiving no consideration.

Other world class cities are not increasing their reliance on diesel technology but are moving to maglev (magnetic elevation and super conductor) technology as clean energy. Even Las Vegas, Nevada has their own Mag lev train! Andrew Cash had a better summary;

It was standing room only March 22 when concerned residents, many wearing pale blue Clean Train Ts, converged on City Hall council chambers for a public meeting on the McGuinty Liberals’ flawed diesel train expansion along the Georgetown rail corridor.

And while these kinds of meetings usually raise more questions than they answer, this one was different. With key politicos of all stripes in attendance, from Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne to Metrolinx chief Rob Prichard and mayoral contender Joe Pantalone, no one could have left with any doubt about where this debate has deadlocked. Government wants diesel. Residents want electric. Full stop.

Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. David McKeown – one of three panelists along with Metrolinx VP Gary McNeil and transportation expert and prof Christopher Kennedy – summed up the state of play, saying, “No one should be asked to trade public health for public transit.”

Well, it’s actually worse than that, because we’re being asked to choke back more diesel in the name of privatized transit.

Indeed, while McNeil allowed that Metrolinx wasn’t planning to run 460 diesel trains a day for GO Transit up the west end of the city, as it had originally suggested, the regional transit authority is planning 200. That’s still about a 300 per cent increase over what’s on the track today and a huge added dose of pollution in a city where asthma inhalers are an everyday childhood accessory.

But here’s the kicker: 140 of those trains will run from Pearson Airport to Union Station on infrastructure paid for by our tax money but operated for private profit by SNC-Lavalin. That’s why tickets are expected to go for between 20 and 30 bucks. This train ain’t bound for glory, and it ain’t built for you and me, folks. The fact that it’s diesel and not electric just puts a period at the end of a sentence the gist of which goes something like this: Piss off, folks.

What are your thoughts? Would another study and a new law on air particulate density (How thick and sticky do diesel fumes need to be before you get involved?) and the relative exposure in one neighbourhood spewed have by increased rail traffic have any effect?

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