Doug Ford pledges to spend $730M extending all-day GO trains to Durham Region

BOWMANVILLE—If you build it, they will GO.

Posing for the cameras in a construction site field of dreams, Doug Ford is promising to extend GO Transit train service to this fast-growing community 80 km east of Toronto if re-elected on June 2.

The Progressive Conservative leader said Friday he would spend $730 million to add four GO Transit stations to Durham Region, bringing two-way, all-day commuter rail service here.

“The fact is that people are Bowmanville are frustrated. Like too many people in Oshawa and Whitby and Ajax they feel cut off,” said Ford.

“They’re tired of waiting. Well, folks, the wait is over.”

But Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, who was transportation minister under former premier Kathleen Wynne, said the delay in expanding GO train service is Ford’s fault.

Del Duca pointed out he approved the extension to Bowmanville on June 20, 2016 and construction was supposed to begin in 2019 with service set for 2023-24.

But after Ford’s Tories toppled Wynne’s Liberals in the June 2018 election, the project fell by the wayside.

Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats noted that they have also been advocating for expanding GO Trains here with the promise highlighted in their election platform.

Under the Tory plan, there would be new GO train stations east of Oshawa in Thornton’s Corners East, Ritson Road and Courtice, before ending up in Bowmanville. There would be trains every 15 minutes.

With gasoline topping $2 a litre in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, the highest price in history, there is pressure on Ford to bolster public transit for commuters.

The Tory leader noted that if he wins next month’s election, the provincial portion of the gasoline tax will drop by 5.7 cents a litre on July 1 for the ensuing six months.

But Ford has opposed Del Duca’s temporary plan to slash the cost of public transit fares to $1 across Ontario.

The Liberal leader’s “buck-a-ride province-wide” would apply to all GO and TTC fares and cost the treasury at least $1 billion annually by the time it expires in 2024.

Currently, a GO bus from Bowmanville to Union Station in Toronto costs about $13.

That means a commuter here would save $24 a day under Del Duca’s proposed subsidy.

But Ford wasn’t buying the Liberal promise.

“Steven Del Duca will tell you you have to choose between building highways and transit,” he said, noting the Liberals oppose the 60 km Highway 413 between Milton and Vaughan and the 16.2 km Bradford Bypass connected Highways 400 and 404.

“Everything you need to know about the Del Duca and the Liberals can be summed up with one simple fact. The list of highways they want to cancel is longer than the list of highways they want to build.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie

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