A MASSIVE expansion of Toronto’s commuter rail services is envisaged as the backbone of improved public transport in a strategic plan unveiled by the new Greater Toronto Services Board at the end of January. Closer integration with metro and streetcar services is recommended, together with the construction of ’gateway’ park-and-ride stations.

Created on January 1 1999 to co-ordinate planning for the City of Toronto and five neighbouring authorities, GTSB assumed control of GO Transit from the Province of Ontario last summer. The 25-year strategic plan warns that the Greater Toronto Area is at ’a congested crossroads in imminent danger of gridlock.’ To counter this it favours major investment in public transport, although GTSB Chairman Alan Tonks says federal and provincial funding will be essential.

Remodelling Union Station with better interchange between rail, bus and metro would allow the introduction of all-day services on GO routes which currently see only a handful of rush-hour trains. These would link Toronto to Burlington, Whitby, Milton via Mississauga, Brampton, Richmond Hill and Stouffville. A shuttle bus would link Pearson Airport with the nearby Georgetown line. Proper interchange stations would be built where the rail and metro lines intersect.

Existing rail lines would be used to extend passenger services to Vandorf, Uxbridge and Bowmanville. A new route would serve Pickering, Seaton and East Markham via Scarborough, where it would interchange with TTC’s ALRT mini-metro. Orbital ’transit corridors’ are also envisaged to link key stations along the radial rail routes.