Toronto wants K-W transit brought under new Superlinx umbrella

The Toronto Board of Trade is proposing all transit, local and inter-city, between Waterloo region and Toronto brought under the same umbrella organization; a mega-transit corporation called Superlinx, but local lawmakers aren't sold on the idea.

Loss of autonomy concerns regional councillors Tom Galloway, Ken Seiling

The Superlinx body, proposed by the Toronto Board of Trade, would leave municipalities 'with very little input or political control,' said Ken Seiling, chair of the Region of Waterloo. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

The Toronto Board of Trade wants to see all transit, local and inter-city, between Waterloo region and Toronto brought under the same umbrella organization; a mega-transit corporation called Superlinx. 

But local lawmakers aren't convinced Superlinx would do much for Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. 

Merging transit systems would open up opportunities for the region, increase efficiency for businesses and provide better connections to Toronto, said Jan De Silva, president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade — which represents that city's business community.

Lost productivity

She says a number of their members have major operations in both Toronto and Waterloo region.  

"Manulife would be a really good case in point. Big headquarters in Waterloo and big operations in Toronto as well. And the Canadian CEO was telling me that they literally are losing productivity time because of lack of connectivity between the two jurisdictions," said De Silva. 

"They would have staff spending all day on the 401 to get to one meeting and get back."

A "more robust" transit network would go a long way towards fixing that, said De Silva. 

"By coordinating all of these transit authorities that we're operating sub-regionally or municipally across the whole, it's to get better connectivity."

The Superlinx partnership would also allow the cities to take advantage of economies of scale.

'It's overkill'

Tom Galloway, chair of the Region of Waterloo's planning and works committee — which is responsible for transit matters — says while he's a fan of any plan that would improve inter-city connections to the GTA, he isn't ready for the region to give up control of transit within the municipality.

"I think it's overkill," agreed Ken Seiling, chair of the Region of Waterloo.

"It's a very huge body. You can imagine if you've got a problem with your local bus, having to phone someone in Toronto to get it looked after."

Seiling said as he reads the proposal put forward by the Board of Trade over the weekend, it would leave Waterloo region municipalities with "very little input or political control."

"They would still be taxing locally for it, but the decisions would be made in Toronto."

Seiling did say, however, he would like the province to play a bigger role in transit matters between cities and for GO Transit planning - matters currently handled by Metrolinx.

With files from the CBC's Peggy Lam


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