As the board meets today (and the Clean Train Coalition protests), there are several signs that the public transportation agency is moving toward greener commuting.
After decades of resistance, Metrolinx is slowly coming around to the idea of electrification, according to several reports. At an press conference on Monday, a representative said:
Electric locomotives are cheaper to operate than their diesel counterparts, they are faster and more environmentally friendly, said Ms. Pitre, but there’s a price tag attached to changing the rolling stock, building the overhead catenary system and supplying power. “Everyone has always acknowledged that there are benefits” to electrification, Ms. Pitre told a room full of journalists gathered Monday for a study briefing, but “do the costs justify the benefits?”
The Air Rail Link, however, is still a source of much irritation for the Coalition and transportation thinkers. Steve Munro, Toronto’s foremost independent transportation pundit, said
Particularly galling is the comment that this line will not serve commuters. Those who work at the airport and those who travel in the Weston corridor can look elsewhere for their travel needs. For $300-million (the cost of the spur, airport station and vehicles) plus the ARL’s share of infrastructure upgrades in the Weston Corridor (two of eight tracks), the cost of infrastructure to serve 5,000 tourists and business travellers per day is getting rather high.
The Coalition has also responded in a thoughtful letter to the chair and board of Metrolinx. While the letter is technical (and brutally reproduced by the Star), I think the CTC’s objections can be summed up as:
- Metrolinx is putting the cart before the horse and buying diesel trains before the electrification study has been completed
- The diesel trains will be much less environmental than the cars they replace
- The ARL is an expensive way to serve tourists, not a part of public transit