Currently, the Ontario Government funds two agencies responsible for rail: the ONTC and Metrolinx. The government's desire to divest the ONTC is apprently justified by the perception that the services are a bottomless money pit that no amount of subsidy can possibly fill. Metrolinx, however, is lauded as being a model transportation agency, with new routes and services being announced every month. The latest report from Ontario's Auditor General sees Metrolinx in a slightly less rosy light.
It seems that Metrolinx isn't as cost-effective as the government would like it to be. PRESTO, the new smart card system, is one of the most expensive in the world and is expected to cost over $700 million. The system, which is designed to offer seamless transfers between transit systems, won't be fully implemented in the TTC network until 2016, one year after the Pan-Am Games. The renovation of Union Station is over budget and will cost more than $270 million. Track improvements at the station are also proving costly, with the final bill expected to be $38 million. The rail link to Pearson Airport, slated to open in time for the 2015 Pan-Am Games, is likely to need more subsidies as the report suggests that ridership will be lower than expected.
It is nearly impossible to run a public transit system without subsidies, but this report also shows just how unrealistic the government's two-tier system is. Metrolinx and the ONTC both need subsidies, yet the ONTC is somehow less worthy of them. Compared to Metrolinx, the ONTC serves a very small group of people, but the service is minimal at best. In the densely-populated Toronto Area, Metrolinx provides a variety of improving services to millions of people, it seems with infinite capital available when it is needed. The north-south divide is clear.
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