Evidence of meeting #10 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was transit.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Bruce McCuaig  President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Merv Tweed

I have to end it there.

Mr. Merrifield.

November 2nd, 2011 / 4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

As a new member, I find this very interesting. It's a sort of blast from the past from the last government, but none the less, transportation is near and dear to my heart and my interests.

When it comes to railway, I know a little bit about moving people and railways, as the minister in charge of VIA, and I do know that if you want to save money, you'll stop running trains; they usually don't make money.

The issue on this one...and I don't think anyone is opposed to doing everything we possibly can to move people by rail, it's certainly efficient.... As the previous questioner, Mr. Cash, has suggested, the development of the GDP and of the community, particularly in high-density areas such as Toronto, is absolutely critical.

The first question I have is about the $15 billion in the first phase; that was $14 billion from the province and $1 billion from the federal government and municipalities. How much of that $1 billion was from the federal government?

4:40 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx

Bruce McCuaig

It's $14 billion dollars approximately from the provincial government, and about $1 billion from each of the municipal and the federal governments.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

How much was federal?

4:40 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx

Bruce McCuaig

I think it was $1.1 billion.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Okay. And your municipality gave how much, then?

4:40 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx

Bruce McCuaig

I believe it was $1.4 billion.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Do you know whether they use the gas tax money as money for that?

4:40 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx

Bruce McCuaig

The gas tax money has been a great success story in terms of investment in local infrastructure. I think the municipalities have been using their gas tax money for a variety of different purposes; part of it has been going to transit, part of it to roads, and part of it to other infrastructure needs.

In the City of Toronto, they have directed their gas tax money largely to transit. As to whether it goes specifically to a cross-town project or they put it into other transit projects that the Toronto Transit Commission is pursuing, I don't have that level of detail about how they disburse the funds.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

I guess the point is that there's a fair amount of federal money going to the municipality.

That leads to the question of the polling you did--which I find interesting--showing that mobility was the number one issue, above education and health care, until you took education and health care away, and then all of a sudden it would change.... Nonetheless, it's very valid in that polling.

The question is, when you're looking at a long-term strategy--and this gets back to a long-term strategy in transit--did you, in the poll, ask the question whether, if it was their number one issue, it was enough of a number one interest for them to be able to support it financially as well?

4:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx

Bruce McCuaig

What we've learned through our research is that, as you would expect, there is a reluctance on the part of the public to provide additional income or revenue to any level of government. At the same time, we see that it differs according to how the revenue is collected and how it is disbursed.

For example, if you ask the public the question, “Do you support additional revenue generally...?”, the answer is no, but if it's dedicated to transportation and transit, it goes up quite significantly. This is an indication that if the public has some idea of specifically where the investment is going, they have a greater level of support for it.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

Okay.

Let's take your airport link to downtown Toronto. It's a tremendous advantage economically to get a link like that there. I don't know the economics of how it would work. I'm sure you do. But one question would be, would you put a vehicle tax on downtown vehicles to reduce congestion and apply that to the link to the rail? Would that be acceptable? Have you any research or any polling that would suggest that they would be open to that sort of thing?

4:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx

Bruce McCuaig

We haven't done any research with that specific kind of question. The Air Rail Link is a unique kind of service, because it's not really positioned as a commuter aid for your trip from home to work and back again. It's more a premium-level service to deliver people to the airport as an alternative to a $50 cab ride.

We actually have a mandate to recover all of our operating costs--and hopefully some of our capital costs--from the fare box on this project, which is quite different from your typical transit service. We're looking at more of a cost-recovery model.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Merrifield Yellowhead, AB

You talked about electric versus diesel on that route. Is that going to be electric?

4:45 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx

Bruce McCuaig

We will be launching the service in 2015 with tier 4 diesel locomotives. That's the highest quality of emissions control. We're in a process to see whether or not we electrify that service in the future.