Monday, August 13, 2012

We Need a National Public Transit Strategy

I’m getting more or more concerned that decision makers aren’t going to get their heads around the need for better transportation and transit planning in this country.

A couple of years ago I was optimistic that METROLINX would make a difference.

I’m not so sure now.

In that context it may make sense to look to the federal scene for leadership.

Stephen Harper, you say?

Well no - but there is a private member’s bill championed by MP Olivia Chow that, if passed, would begin the process of developing a national public transit strategy.  Most countries have one.

Bill C-305 contains goals that most of us could agree with.

Increasing use of transit, reducing commute times, improving economic competitiveness of our communities and reducing greenhouse gases are a few that are mentioned in the Bill.

To achieve these goals certain measure are recommended.  For example, the proposed strategy would include an investment plan, funding mechanisms and a leadership role for the federal government.

If the Bill passed the Minister of Transport would be required to convene a conference within six months.  That conference would include provincial governments, municipal representatives, transit authorities and aboriginal communities.

This group would develop funding mechanisms, set targets for programs and develop principles of an agreement between federal and provincial governments.

To me such a conference would seem at least as worthwhile as those First Ministers’ gatherings that we have become so accustomed to.

It is true private members bills don’t succeed very often.  In fact, not that long ago a Conservative Member of Parliament told that his party doesn’t support other party’s private members bills.  This would seem to defeat the purpose of such bills but don’t get me started.

In the meantime find out more about Bill C-305 ( and consider contacting your Member of Parliament to ask for support.