Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht isn’t going to let the federal government forget about the promises they made on the campaign trail to increase train service between Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo. He recently penned a letter to all MPs across Canada, the minister of infrastructure and the minister of transport reminding them to make GO Transit funding part of the federal budget deliberations.
“I am simply pointing out to my federal counterparts that the commitment that was made in the election has to be followed through and the best time to do that is prior to the budget being implemented. I am just giving them a heads up,” he said. “This is my job, I think, as the member of parliament for the area, and I want to keep them accountable to their promises.”
His provincial counterpart, MPP Michael Harris, points out recent fare hikes – about $1.20 for Kitchener-Waterloo riders – isn’t justified when the campaign promises, on both a federal and provincial level, aren’t being implemented.
“A dollar and 20 cents isn’t life-ending, but we keep hearing these announcements that [increased service] is coming, when the only thing that is coming is fare increases for the folks that ride the two-hour-plus train to Toronto every day,” he said. “We’ve seen the movie before – our residents waiting for that extra train that is never going to come. It is enough talk. Time for our transit commitments to be delivered in the region.”
Included in plans for a GO Transit expansion in the region is a park-and-ride station in Breslau. While Harris sees the plan as a good thing for Woolwich Township, there remain many unknowns.
“We have long heard that there is going to be something in Breslau in the future. We have also heard of a layover station in Baden,” he said, adding that the province could just be paying lip service to residents to keep the hounds at bay. “The government prides itself on the fact that there is going to be a layover station for the two additional trains, whenever they get here. I don’t know if that is a short-term solution using taxpayers’ money, or a long-term solution down the road being built. I do know that Breslau could be the subject of a kiss-and-ride or a stop or something, which is great for Woolwich.”
Albrecht sees all-day GO Transit service to the area as providing environmental, social and economic benefits.
“There is no question in my mind that the all-day GO service to Kitchener is a great initiative. I was behind it. I am totally behind it,” he said. “ When you look at the traffic along the 401, the gridlock, the lost time and productivity and it isn’t just cars. When I think about the transport trucks along the 401, there are huge lost dollars there. Environmentally, the greenhouse gases and pollution we are throwing in the air, and then of course, the lost time for families. People are on the 401 for an extra hour to and from work – it is just lost time for families. When we see the kind of traffic that is happening because of the high tech industry in Kitchener-Waterloo region, that is why we need two-way all day service. There is a lot of traffic coming into the area from the GTA.”
Harris echoed Albrecht’s thoughts.
“It is not only the two trains that head out in the morning, it is also the no trains that come back into the region in the morning as well. Our high tech community includes those that are commuting from Toronto into the region and is part of the huge push,” he said. “There was a huge business case done that was enough to justify the investment and yet, the last time they made a significant announcement, it was in Barrie for GO Transit, so we are going to keep beating the drum or shaking the tree here, as long as I am around, to hold the Liberals to account for their election promise.”