Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday January 21, 2020
GO Transit expansion turning out to be a bumpy ride
It is too early to say GO Transit’s planned expansion might be coming off the rails. But it’s not too early to worry about whether the timing and the scope of the expansion could be in doubt.
The GO Expansion plan is intended to transform what is essentially a commuter railway into an all-day, two-way transit network with service as frequent as every 15 minutes in core areas. When fully rolled out the expansion could boost ridership from current levels of about 70 million to 200 million by 2055. It also involves electrification of core parts of the transit network.
According to documents obtained by our sister paper, The Toronto Star, provincial transit agency Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario (the agency responsible for delivering major public infrastructure projects) are being compelled to reconsider how the procurement process for the expansion is working. Companies in charge of executing the expansion are raising concerns about how the province is contracting out the work, and the amount of risk private sector bidders are being asked to assume through the public-private partnership model being employed.
The leaked documents also warn that changing procurement procedures at this point could delay the final phase of the expansion which is supposed to be complete by 2025.
Obviously, this is a big deal for the GTA which is still the heartland of GO Transit, but the threat of delays should also concern more peripheral areas such as Hamilton, Niagara, Waterloo Region and Peterborough, all targets for commuters fleeing GTA prices and congestion.
What, if any, impact will the procurement concerns have on the scope and timing of the project? We don’t know, because GO and Infrastructure Ontario aren’t saying, but it is telling that Infrastructure Ontario would not confirm whether the final phase will be completed as planned and on time. (Continued: Hamilton Spectator)