There’s one issue on almost everyone’s mind in the riding of Davenport, and that’s the Union-Pearson Express, also known as the UPX. Number one, it will send hundreds of diesel-powered trains through our community, raising serious health concerns.
Number two though, the UPX is another example of Liberal mismanagement on a hugely important file, in this case, rapid transit. Think of what they’ve done with this potential game-changer:
- They built an express train that will pass through very communities it should serve, in a race to get to Union Station.
- It will cost a projected $20 or more per trip which, for a family, will mean the same or more that it costs for a taxi right to their doorstep.
- The Liberals chose a foreign supplier of diesel locomotives instead of made-in-Canada electric trains.
- The Liberals also chose diesel, which across the board performs worse than electric on the most important criteria that matter, such as pollution, cost to maintain and operate, journey time, and ability to start and stop quickly.
And they knew all this from a 2010 Metrolinx report. You could not ask for a greater amount of incompetence.
Now, after committing half a billion dollars to complete the UPX, the Liberals have promised to convert to electric at some unspecified point in the future.
This means millions of wasted dollars in an attempt to satisfy an interesting demographic: the people running the Pan Am Games. This is the reason diesel was chosen in the first place. Delayed decision-making made it the only option that could be done by 2015, on time to service the tourists expected for that event.
The Pan Am Games. The Liberals placed the interests of people who will come and leave the GTA in a week or so over the needs of its residents and put off a solution to the gridlock that is choking this city.
And, believe it or not, but the UPX platforms at Union Station may not even be ready for the games.
It’s hard to downplay the transformation that could take place with electrification. First of all, if the Liberals had acted on Metrolinx’s report, the UPX would have been done by now.
More importantly, a rail link to Pearson on the GO corridor could provide rapid transit to more than a million people in Toronto. Electrified, fast, two-way service with stations up and down the line, at places like Queen West, Brockton, the Junction, St. Clair and Keele, joining up with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (the “Mt. Dennis” station), and onwards through Etobicoke.
Instead of something like this, the Liberal-executed UPX will have two stations, Weston and Dundas West. Why? Because diesel trains can’t start and stop quickly.
Great express line, Premier Wynne. A great waste of our time, money, and opportunity.
Over in NDP-land, Andrea Horwath is just as responsible for the present situation as the premier. For two and a half years, she had a veto over Liberal policy. The Liberals bent over backwards to give in to NDP demands.
For two consecutive budgets, NDP representatives at Queen’s Park propped up the Liberals without getting action on the UPX, an issue that the they campaigned on here in Davenport.
Then, in 2014, Andrea Horwath and her colleagues walked out on a budget that finally offered electrification.
By doing so, they abandoned Davenport residents and may hand the government over to the Tories who, under Tim Hudak, have ruled out electrification.
I won’t do the same thing to the people in my riding. If they send me to Queen’s Park, electrification of the Union-Pearson line will be a minimum cost for my support.
It’s not an empty promise. Last time around, the Liberals were one MPP short of a majority.
Time to get real and shake things up at Queen’s Park.