Canadian Consulting Engineer

Greater Toronto Area plans largest expansion of public transit in half a century

A grand plan for expanding the public transit system in the Greater Toronto Area, promising at least some relief fr...

September 29, 2008   Canadian Consulting Engineer

A grand plan for expanding the public transit system in the Greater Toronto Area, promising at least some relief from gridlock, was released on September 24.
Metrolinx, the crown agency of Ontario that oversees transportation in the area outlines $50 billion in spending on approximately 100 projects over the next 25 years. The report is entitled, “The Big Move: Transforming Transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.”
And big it is. The agency says its plans are “the largest expansion of public transit in the region in more than half a century.” In total the plan outlines 1,150 kilometres of new rapid transit lines.
The Metrolinx goal is that when the plan is fully implemented, 75 per cent of the residents in an area from Hamilton in the west, to Newmarket in the north, to Oshawa in the east, will live within two kilometres of rapid transit. The figure compares with 42 per cent of residents now.
Rapid transit access to the airport is a major factor and not just from Toronto, but “from all directions, including a fast transit link to downtown.” The rail link to the airport is long overdue. Over 42,000 people work at the airport, and it services more than 31 million passengers a year. Yet at present only 1 per cent of all travellers get there by public transit, which at present requires awkward train and bus transfers.
A new proposed east-west rapid transit line along Eglinton Avenue would link the airport to Scarborough Town Centre and Meadowvale.
Other transit line plans include:
– a subway extension via York University to Steeles Avenue and north to the proposed Vaughan Corporate Centre at Highway 7 west of Jane Street.
– Rapid transit along New Hurontario Street from Port Credit to downtown Brampton.
There would be several other new rapid transit corridors, and expanded rail service throughout the region. A system of connected “mobility hubs” will be created to serve as destinations in themselves rather than just stations. People will be able to switch from various modes of transport at these points.
Highway construction is not completely forgotten. The plan calls for “expanding the region’s expressway network, including extensions to Highways 407, 404, 427 and 410.” These extensions were identified in the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
The plan also calls for $500 million to be spent on new walking and cycling paths.
The draft plan is to being presented at public meetings across the region in October and November, but Rob MacIsaac, chair of Metrolinx, says, “We want to see shovels in the ground. These infrastructure improvements, particularly to public transit, are long overdue.”
A draft investment strategy was also included in the report, but MacIsaac said enough money has already been committed to start moving on an extensive list of projects: “Through the province’s MoveOntario 2020 commitments, we can start moving on many projects within the next year.”
For more details, see www.metrolinx.com


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