02/21/2013 08:56 EST | Updated 04/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Transit plan will be key, Murray says

Ontario's new transit minister says Toronto-area residents struggling with choked roads and crammed streetcars understand the need for new funding tools to pay for transit, but first want to see a workable plan to pay it.

Glen Murray, MPP for Toronto Centre, appeared Thursday on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning to talk about the future of transit funding in the Greater Toronto Area. There are currently three different consultations underway, all focused in part on how the city can pay for the transit it needs to serve a growing region.

"It's a huge challenge for us," Murray told host Matt Galloway. "We’ve gone through 30 or 40 years of massive under-investment in transit as our region grew. We're now paying the price for that.

"So it's how do you play catch-up and find an affordable way to make the investments that have been so long delayed?'"

'It won't be a one-off conversation'

Galloway asked Murray if there exists the political will to introduce new taxes or tolls, which are sure to be unpopular.

"It won’t be a one-off conversation," said Murray. "We're going to have a plan. People will understand the costs of doing it and the cost of not doing it. I think Torontonians and Ontarians are ready to act but they want a plan and we don’t have the plan yet. We’re close to it, but we don’t have that plan yet."

Galloway also asked Murray about how new transit can be paid for when Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has expressed opposition to new taxes and tolls.

"I have a very good relationship with Mr. Ford," said Murray. "One of the points he's trying to make is 'look, we can’t just load on new charges.'

"There are options for partners with the private sector to generate some of that investment, so let’s just keep an open mind about how we can approach these things. I think the plan that Metrolinx will bring forward will be a pretty solid plan and a pretty implementable one."