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Ontario's $7-billion climate plan abandons Toronto's transit riders

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The Wynne Government is right to develop an ambitious strategy to tackle catastrophic climate change and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the province’s $7 billion plan does not invest enough in public transit.

The leaked climate change plan shows just $354 million will go towards the GO regional rail network's $13.5 billion plan to electrify GO rail and increase service. There's no new money for the cash-strapped TTC, even though the TTC carries nearly 10 times the passengers GO carries.

The TTC holds the embarrassing honour of getting the least amount of government funding of all major transit systems in North America. The province used to match the city's subsidy contribution to the TTC --until former premier Mike Harris slashed TTC funding in the mid 1990s. Overcrowding, fare hikes, and chronic funding shortages persist to this day.

This stubborn refusal by the province to invest in improving public transit in Toronto is shocking given that the Wynne Government wants 80 per cent of people to walk, cycle or take public transit to work by 2050. Setting a target of having just 12 per cent of all new vehicles sold in the province be electric by 2025 does little to reduce Ontarians' car dependence.

TTC studies show that riders will leave their cars at home and take public transit if it's frequent, reliable, comfortable, and affordable. We'll get that kind of public transit when the province steps up and re-commits to fairly funding the TTC.

The urgent threat of climate change means we've not only got to do it now, but we've also got to do it right. The transportation sector is the single largest source of climate emissions in Ontario.  Investing in the TTC is one of the smartest and cheapest ways to tackle climate change and build a sustainable transportation system for our future.

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