QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPPs Bhutila Karpoche (Parkdale-High Park), Faisal Hassan (York South—Weston), Tom Rakocevic (Humber River-Black Creek), and Marit Stiles (Davenport), introduced a bill Tuesday that aims to electrify and improve access to the Union Pearson Express (UP Express).
“Residents in Parkdale-High Park and across Toronto have long had diesel trains running through our neighbourhoods” said Karpoche. “The impacts of diesel fumes on our health and on the environment are harmful; that’s why we need clean trains, now.”
If passed, the Clean Trains Now Act would establish a committee to review the UP Express transportation system between downtown Toronto and Pearson Airport and make recommendations with regards to a plan, timeline and funding estimates to achieve certain goals including the electrification of the UP Express line, full fare integration so that passengers on the UP Express can travel seamlessly across all public transit routes in Toronto, and an increase in service capacity.
"I applaud the advocacy of the Clean Train Coalition, which has its roots in York South—Weston," Hassan said. "The Liberals campaigned on electrification of the UPX and didn’t deliver. The diesel trains running through our community is the Liberals' legacy and the Conservatives' shame in not making it right. We need full fare integration and public consultation so that we can repair the damage of these governments."
Electrification would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce noise levels near above-ground rail lines while reducing the negative health impacts of diesel exhaust, which is considered a carcinogen.
“This bill presents an opportunity for the Ford government to finally address the problems surrounding the UP Express and make the necessary improvements communities have long advocated for, so that the system is cleaner, more accessible and affordable,” said Rakocevic.
“We are calling for the electrification of the UP Express so that high-quality, clean and green transportation is accessible to residents across the GTA,” Stiles said. “Davenport is a community defined by trains. It’s important that we consult on making the transit system cleaner, more affordable and more convenient, with full fare integration.”
The bill would require the minister to table the committee’s report in the Legislative Assembly and inform the Assembly of the government’s response.
The Clean Trains Now Act has been endorsed by: TTC Riders. Environmental Defence, Green 13, Parkdale High Park for Climate Action , Safe Rail Communities and the Junction Residents Association.
“Paying more to ride faster modes of transit creates an unfair two-tier system. Increasing service and integrating the Union Pearson Express with the TTC for one flat fare will make rapid public transit more accessible to people living in Weston and northwest Toronto.”
“Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario - and it's a sector where these polluting emissions continue to rise at a time when we need them to fall. To reverse this trend we need to clean up our transportation network through electrifying passenger vehicles and all public transit busses and trains including the UP Express line. We also need to make public transit more accessible for everyone. This bill would do both of those things."