Light Rail

Paul Bedford Final Address to Metrolinx Board

By RTH Staff
Published April 13, 2012

Paul Bedford, the chief planner emeritus for Toronto and a tireless lifelong advocate for high quality transit and healthy urban development, was a member of the Metrolinx board of Directors for six years until he was unceremoniously let go this past February.

Bedford helped write The Big Move, the Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) that articulated a 25-year, $50 billion project to build a modern, integrated transport system to meet the region's needs.

The Big Move identifies the proposed east-west B-Line LRT in Hamilton as one of its top priority projects to be completed in the first ten years, with a north-south A-Line LRT to be built in the future. Bedford gave an inspiring talk in Hamilton last July, titled Why Transit Matters.

He also insisted, as a Metrolinx Board member, that Toronto City Council needed to vote on Mayor Rob Ford's unilateral decision to abandon that city's Transit City transportation plan to connect under-served areas with Light Rail Transit (LRT).

He has taken issue with the Ontario Government's reluctance to proceed with implementing The Big Move before it puts together a long-term funding plan. Metrolinx was launched (as MoveOntario 2020) with $17.5 billion in provincial and federal funding, and will need to raise the rest of the capital costs for its 25-year plan from other sources.

The potential revenue sources are politically controversial, and the Ontario Government has tended to recoil from the prospect of new sin taxes, a regional sales tax, an employer tax, a vehicle registration tax, new parking levies or highway tolls - all of which are being implemented in other jurisdictions also struggling to invest in regional transit.

Premier Dalton McGuinty has requested a comprehensive funding strategy by June 1, 2013, but Bedford believes there's no reason to delay having the necessary public conversations about these proposals today. "Enough talk! What are you waiting for?"

Bedford says he is disappointed he will no longer serve on the Metrolinx Board, but is "now totally free to speak out, advocate for the transit agenda and make a contribution elsewhere."

Here are the notes from his farewell address to the Metrolinx Board on February 16, 2012.


  • I appreciate the invitation to say goodbye to the Board and Metrolinx staff in person

  • The Minister's call and Cabinet discussion not to reappoint me was a surprise but I accept it with mixed emotions

  • It reinforces my firm belief that planning is political!

  • I am proud of my 5 years on the Board and for the opportunity to make a contribution

  • I am proud to state that I never missed a single Board meeting or Committee meeting

  • Will share our accomplishments and also want to leave you with my thoughts for moving ahead

Taking Stock Of Achievements

  • It was a privilege to serve on the first Metrolinx Board with the GTHA Mayors and Chairs who demonstrated their collective ability to think like a region and unanimously adopt the "Big Move" Plan in November 2008

  • Commitment of the Province to transit in tough financial times for the city of Toronto and the region

  • Increased GO transit service with 12 car trains, more train trips and new routes

  • Union Station revitalization

  • Unanimous Board decision to electrify the GO network starting with the Georgetown line

  • Adoption of the Mobility Hub Guidelines

  • Chair of the GO Customer Service Advisory Committee/substantial improvement in customer satisfaction

  • ARL to finally become a reality in 2015

  • Insisting on adding the words "city council" to the MOU regarding the Eglinton LRT

  • Working with great people that I will miss

  • All of this was the easy stuff/hard work lies ahead

Priorites For Moving Forward

Investment Strategy

  • Enough talk! What are you waiting for?

  • Need to embark on an aggressive public campaign to inform and educate the public, GTHA politicians and stakeholders in 2012

  • Must paint the true picture of CHOICES and CONSEQUENCES

  • Spell out the NEW REGIONAL REVENUE MENU of $3+B per year based on GTHA road pricing (U.S, Europe), sales tax(LA), employer tax(NYC Region), income tax(U.S.), commercial parking levies, vehicle registration tax, gas tax levy(Vancouver Region) etc.

  • How bad do people want great transit? Are they prepared to pay from the above revenue tools?

  • More important than ever after Don Drummond's report

  • Connect the big picture choices to daily life cycle experiences in terms of wasted time spent in gridlock, money spent on two cars, reduced health and overall quality of life

  • Answer "what is in it for me" first!

  • Recognize that without the $3+B of new revenue each year for the next 25 years, NOTHING WILL BE POSSIBLE - BIG MOVE WILL A JOKE

  • Spell out the consequences of adding 3-4 million people without new transit to the economy, quality of life and individual daily life

  • Get it done in this year given the window of opportunity of a newly elected provincial government and the mid point of the municipal election cycle

Transformational Role of Metrolinx


  • Transform the existing GO commuter network into a regional rapid transit network with a frequency of trains that would no longer require a schedule

  • Stop the confusion over subways, LRT's and streetcars by getting Bombardier to bring an LRT vehicle to Toronto so people can see, feel and touch the real thing and finally understand that LRT's are totally different than streetcars!

  • Talk about the power of LRT's to help transform main streets by producing the kind of mid rise linear revitalization that people want for their neighbourhoods

  • Make strategic decisions that integrate transit with land use and provide the biggest bang for the buck (LRT and downtown relief line in Toronto, Hurontario in Mississauga, LRT in Hamilton


  • 60% of TTC riders on the surface that feed the subway system

  • Dispel the myths about Sheppard subway/48,000 daily riders vrs 52,000 daily riders on the Spadina streetcar

  • Power of streetcars: 283,000 daily riders vs. 190,000 on entire GTHA GO network of trains and buses

  • Monitor the ARL ridership carefully and be prepared to introduce a combined express and local service that allows for the employees of Pearson to use the ARL and provides a new transit service for the dense population located along the Georgetown corridor

  • Move forward with electrification in an aggressive manner

  • Update the BIG MOVE 2 and get it adopted and funded

  • Bring the Mobility Hub Guidelines to life by targeting key stations for mixed use development and use all powers and tools available

  • Utilize the powers of the Metrolinx Act to the fullest extent possible regarding the development of a Transportation Policy Statement from the Minister and the creation of a Development Corporation

  • RESPECT THE WILL OF [TORONTO] COUNCIL DECISION on how to best spend $8.4 B by moving forward with the Finch LRT, Eglinton LRT (above and below grade) and the decision yet to be made by Council on the Sheppard extension

Role of the Board


  • The Board is not there to give political advice

  • Must be bold, strong and independent voice

  • Use the authority contained in Metrolinx Act re: Transportation Policy Statement and the formation of a Development Corporation

  • Meet in public session to enhance your credibility as you have nothing to hide

  • Meet more frequently than every three months

  • Listen carefully to the Customer Advisory Committee members as they are the voice of the GO system

  • Remember that you are building a city and region ON PURPOSE, NOT BY ACCIDENT

Bottom Line

  • The worst possible scenario for Metrolinx is to be stuck in neutral by inaction

  • You must keep moving forward/failure is not an option!

  • I regret that I can't be part of the work ahead but am now totally free to speak out, advocate for the transit agenda and make a contribution elsewhere

  • I wish you all much wisdom, courage and vision


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By lakeside (registered) | Posted April 13, 2012 at 14:55:51

Right back at you, Mr. Bedford. Thank YOU for YOUR wisdom, courage and vision. Lets hope its contagious.

And, say, if you`re looking for a new place to happen...

We could sure use someone like you around here.

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[ - ]

By Cirrus (anonymous) | Posted April 17, 2012 at 06:22:25

Metro(Toronto)linx, increasingly.

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