A citizens’ group has published a list of recommendations – from smarter pricing to free Wi-Fi at stations – to improve the public transit experience and ease congestion in the GTA.

With a goal of finding solutions to transit problems while giving citizens a voice, the civic action committee’s members come from a variety of backgrounds and its roster includes a professional engineer, lawyer, teacher and students.

In a 50-page report released Wednesday amid ongoing provincial and municipal election campaigns, the Western GTA Move Taskforce is proposing 28 recommendations for all levels of government and transit agencies.

Some of the recommendations in the "Unlocking Our Gridlock Together" report call for seamless or distance-based fares.

After the initial fare is paid, the total cost should be based on distance, the report says.

The volunteer group is calling for Presto cards to be accepted anywhere within Metrolinx’s operating area to make it easier to transfer between jurisdictions.

It also wants meaningful “off-peak” discounts to encourage more short trips and to encourage better use of a system's capacity.

The group says it is non-partisan and it has decided not to endorse specific "revenue tools" to pay for projects.

"We have found the debate surrounding the proposed 'Big Move' has focused so much on how to pay for the projects that it often forgets why we need to build them," the report says in reference to Metrolinx's long-term transit strategy.

As for specific projects, the committee is backing the Hurontario LRT, a proposal to bring two-way all-day trains to GO Transit’s Milton and Kitchener rail lines, and the bus rapid transit lines on Dundas Street (from Kipling Station in Toronto to Brant Street in Burlington), Queen Street in Brampton and Highway 403.

Building those projects would be a boon to the economy and they would improve the quality of life for west GTA residents, the group says.

Here are some of the other recommendations:

  • Using Presto cards, implement a uniform discounted rate structure across the Toronto and Hamilton areas for university and college students, seniors and people who are unemployed, low income earners or Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program clients.
  • Allow riders to travel for free on public holidays and seek corporate sponsorships to offset the loss in paid fares.
  • Free Wi-Fi at all stations overseen by Metrolinx.
  • Rent out space in stations for food and beverage concession stands and add space for sheltered bicycle parking, repair and rental.
  • Appoint regional representatives to Metrolinx’s board of directors.
  • For the provincial and federal governments: Create a sustainable, dedicated, long-term fund specifically for mass urban transit projects.
  • For the federal government: Contribute all gas tax revenue as part of a national strategy on transportation.

The citizens' group formed after last year's Western GTA Summit in Mississauga, where politicians, city planners and stakeholders met to discuss transit problems and solutions. The next summit is being held in 2015.

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