On October 18th, 2012, a private member’s bill is being introduced asking the Ontario Government and Metrolinx to consider the immediate conversion of the Airport Rail link from diesel to electric power. TTCriders supports conversion to electric power as a way of addressing the health and air quality concerns associated with diesel emissions. Electrification is also an important first step toward transforming the Air Rail link into a multi-stop rapid transit service.
1. Call or write to the Premier of Ontario, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure or your local MPP, and tell them that you do not support the use of diesel powered trains. Tell them you support conversion of the Airport Rail link to electric power.
Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario - 416-325-1941 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Transportation and Insfrastructure - 416-327-9200 or email@example.com
Your MPP – Contact Information
WHY ARE WE CONCERNED?
The rail line leading towards the airport is one of Toronto’s most important transportation routes. GO Trains utilizing the line, pass through many different Toronto communities including Liberty Village, Parkdale, Dundas West, The Junction, Weston, and Rexdale. In the very near future, the line will host rail traffic associated with Metrolinx’s Airport-Rail link connecting Union Station to Pearson International Airport.
TTCriders has two major areas of concern regarding present and future service along the rail line.
- The Environment and Public Health
GO Transit’s Georgetown trains are already powered by diesel. The addition of the diesel powered Air-Rail link, running at the frequency of one train every 20 minutes, means more than 400 diesel-powered trains will eventually run along the line daily. Residents living close to the line are concerned about the health risks associated with emissions coming from an extraordinary high volume of diesel trains.
Studies across the globe have pointed to emphysema, asthma, and even lung cancer as potential adverse effects of excessive exposure to diesel exhaust. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health is on record as stating that diesel exhaust contains toxic chemicals including acetaldehyde, acrolein, benzene, and 1,3-butadiene. Diesel exhaust also contains a variety of greenhouse gases such as nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide. Accordingly, the Medical Officer of Health suggests that, “electrification of the proposed rail line continues to be the mitigation option that most clearly addresses the predicted air quality and health impacts.”
- Improving Transit Service
From a transportation planning perspective, TTCriders is concerned about a lack of rapid transit in the area. We feel that Metrolinx’s present design for the Airport-Rail link, with just four stops at Union, Dundas West, Weston and Pearson Airport, misses a significant opportunity to provide a more far-reaching transit option.
The communities adjacent to the line including Liberty Village, The Junction and Rexdale are some of the least serviced in Toronto. TTCriders supports the alternative vision proposed by City Council for an electrically powered 11-stop rapid transit service. The rapid transit envisioned by council includes stops in Liberty Village, The Junction, Carleton Village, the 401, Rexdale, Humber, and Pearson Aiport with important transfers to both the Bloor-Danforth subway and the future Eglinton Crosstown LRT.
Multi-stop rapid transit service along the rail line would provide fast, reliable transportation to under-serviced communities and would offer better connections to both existing and planned transit services. Multi-stop transit is also expected to be fully integrated with and have comparable fares to the TTC. More importantly, this alternative would still provide a vital connection between Pearson International Airport and Union Station, and multiple stops would benefit a larger majority of Torontonians the currently proposed diesel plan.
The important first step in mitigating both pollution and insufficient transit service is the immediate electrification of the Airport Rail link. This is why TTCriders supports the present private member’s bill asking the Government of Ontario and Metrolinx to refrain from using diesel. TTCriders feels that the Government of Ontario should be commended for its commitment to commuter rail and for exploring alternatives to automobile travel to and from Pearson International Airport, however the present Airport Rail link plan requires significant improvement in order to truly meet the needs of the City of Toronto.
We hope that the Government of Ontario recognizes the desire of Torontonians for better transit and the health hazards associated with excessive diesel emissions.