The Ontario Liberal government is set to increase GO Train transit between Waterloo Region and the Greater Toronto Area—provided, that is, that the province is able to get its budget past the legislature this spring.
Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Waterloo on Tuesday to announce the plan to bring “full-day, two-way” GO Train service between the areas. This would involve introducing two additional morning and afternoon trips by the end of 2016.
“This is a hub of innovation and creativity, it’s a manufacturing hub and what we need is for people to be able to move in and out of the Region in a much more efficient way, and so full-day, two-way GO service is part of growing the economy of the Waterloo Region,” Wynne said to the press following the announcement.
The infrastructure investment is set to create more than 33,000 new jobs, including temporary construction jobs related to physical infrastructure development and longer-term operating employment opportunities.
Details have not yet been released on what the cost of the upgraded service would be, though Wynne acknowledged that there would be a financial commitment getting the project started and that the province would outline funding details in the budget.
Tuesday’s announcement also noted that a new train layover facility would be required to support the infrastructure changes and that an express trip between Waterloo Region and Toronto would be a possible addition.
The implementation of the plan is contingent on the budget being passed.
“My hope is that we will have support for the budget in the legislature. If we don’t, if we have to go to an election, we will certainly be campaigning on this plan, because this is what we believe needs to happen in the province in order for us to have the economic growth and security in the future,” she said.
The announcement was made to the Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce at the Waterloo Inn.
Conservative Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris was skeptical of the premier’s plan.
“Today you didn’t hear how much this’ll actually cost taxpayers and I think those details are important before making a major announcement,” he said.
“Ontario has a significant deficit, a massive debt payment that we spend each and every year and I think that it’s prudent that before we make decisions right before an election, we know how much this is going to cost.”
Harris noted that when Wynne was transportation minister, a position she held from 2010 to 2011, a plan to increase GO service to four daily round trips was not fulfilled.
“Going forward, I have some concerns on the transportation minister at the time who cut that initial plan and today we’re hearing a new one. I’m a bit suspect on that piece, so we’ll have to wait to see where it goes,” he added.
Wynne foresees that more action could be taken to further expand service between Waterloo Region and Toronto in the future.
“There’s an almost-insatiable appetite for more GO service. I’m not going to be able to commit to other plans, future plans at this point, but I know as we implement this plan, there w
ill be other discussions about how we take next steps.”