I’d like to thank everybody who came out on Saturday afternoon to the Clean Trains Festival organized my Jonah and I. It was a huge success! We had over 600 come out to show Dalton McGuinty that we want Clean Trains Now! Jonah will be introducing a Private Member’s Bill in the Ontario Legislature this week that calls for the electrification of the Air Rail Link.
Thanks again for showing your support! Here are some myths and facts about the rail link:
The Ontario Liberal Party’s platform promotes a vision ofOntarioas an international leader in clean-energy ideas, technologies and jobs.
So, why is the new Air Rail Link (ARL) to Pearson going to run on dirty diesel fuel?
Myth:Electric trains are too expensive.
Fact: The initial investment in electric trains is higher, but electric trains actually cost less to operate. In fact, the government’s own transportation agency, Metrolinx, concluded that the operational savings would make up for the extra costs of electrification in just 10 years.
Besides, Metrolinx has already promised to electrify the rails eventually, so they could save a lot of money by doing it right the first time.
Myth:The new so-called clean diesel (tier 4) trains are not bad for your health or the environment.
Fact: All diesel fuels emit pollution which can cause illnesses ranging from asthma to cancer. The addition of 140 ARL trains a day will increase emissions along the route. The 300,000 residents who live along the rail corridor, many of whom are already socially disadvantaged, will suffer the health consequences of the increased emissions most directly. Within one km of the ARL tracks, there are 30,000 children attending local schools and 44 daycare and long-term care facilities.
�Because of concerns about the impact of ARL pollution,Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health asked Metrolinx in 2009 to electrify the line as soon as possible.
Myth:The ARL will reduce pollution and traffic congestion by removing 1.2 million car trips to the airport annually.
Fact: The government has consistently overstated the environmental benefits of the ARL by using unrealistic ridership scenarios which envision having full trains at all times of the day.
If the Ontario government is serious about using the ARL to get cars off the road, then it needs to incorporate the line into a broader transit strategy for the GTA by including more stops and reducing the price of the fare (projected to be around $20). By offering a viable alternative for GTA commuters, particularly those 38,000 people who work at Pearson airport, the ARL really could help reduce traffic problems in the city.
Myth:This is just a question of NIMBYism. Electricity generation also produces pollution for residents in other regions of Ontario.
Fact: Ontario’s electricity production is 70% non-fossil-fuel based and is becoming even cleaner under the government�s green energy initiatives. Plus, electric trains convert energy more efficiently than diesel trains because they don�t need to carry fuel. Electric trains are also far less noisy.
Residents along the rail corridor are going to have the trains in their backyards, so they quite rightly want them to be clean and quiet. They would also like to have access to them. Because stopping diesel trains is dirty and expensive, Metrolinx has only planned two stops along the line. Electric trains move and stop more efficiently, quietly and cleanly so the number of stops can be increased and more people will be able to use them to move across the GTA.
In April 2012,Torontocity council passed a motion asking Metrolinx to electrify the ARL and add eight additional stops.
Myth: There’s no time to electrify the line in time for the PanAm games in 2015.
Fact: The ARL has not been fully incorporated into the Pan Am Games transit strategy, as it does not directly connect with any of the sporting sites. 2015 is a false deadline. We need to focus on how well the ARL will serve Torontonians and visitors toToronto as part of a broader transit network far beyond 2015.
The McGuinty government knows that electric trains are better for the environment and for the economy and that’s why they have already committed to converting the ARL to electric in the future.
Why wait? Ask the McGuinty government to make funding available for Clean Trains Now!