Getting Around

Why is this important?

The ability to move people and goods efficiently is vital to the economic health of the city and its environs. The congestion on regional arteries may be costing the GTHA more than $6b annually in lost productivity. Focusing on building good, affordable transit and active transportation networks is also good for our health and for our environment, promotes equity and accessibility, and ensures that all have the ability to get from A to B.

 

What are the trends?

The number of commuters who take transit, walk, or bike to work continues to increase. Still, the Toronto Region remains rare among the world’s top cities in having both long commute times and a low percentage of commuters who use something other than a car to get around. Although congestion levels improved slightly in 2015, the average Torontonian spends more time getting to work than the average commuter in any other municipality in the country except Vancouver.

 

What’s new?

Most Torontonians support safer cycling; a third already ride. Research shows that a complete street approach that more equitably supports all road users may be better for business. The City is developing Complete Streets Guidelines and a 10-year cycling network plan. The percentages of schoolchildren using active transportation to get to and from school decreased significantly over 25 years, and children in newer neighbourhoods are less likely to walk to school unsupervised. A study has found great variability in transit access and equity across the GTHA. Revenue from the UP Express is not expected to meet operating costs, and taxpayers might subsidize the difference.

 

 

What do Torontonians want their streets to look like?

People want “human-scale, walkable neighbourhoods” with fewer cars for Downtown Yonge:

  • snapshotYonge Love,” a consultation project conducted by the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area in 2014, used a variety of approaches including social media, community “pop-up activities,” and an online, interactive survey that saw 1,693 participants.
  • Participants chose from a list of possible changes to Yonge Street and their highest priority was pedestrian-only weekends (selected by 17%). 16% wanted to see more bike lanes, and 15%, wider sidewalks.
  • When asked to select from “sentiment keywords,” (and allowed to choose as many as they wanted), most participants wanted to see the area be more walkable (70%), clean (69%), pedestrian friendly (67%), and safe (64%):

 

Participant Responses Regarding Highest Priority Change to Yonge Street, 2014 [1]

one-change

  • Respondents were a mix of residents, students, visitors, and workers (Downtown Yonge’s “daily crowd”), and mostly said they arrive by transit (49%). Only 13% drive. 40% arrive on foot, and 35% of area residents walk to work.[2]

Downtown Yonge Street at a Glance, 2014 [3]

at-a-glance

Danforth Avenue merchants may favour leaving the street as is, but visitors bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and less on-street parking:

  • A March 2014 survey by Ryerson Planning and Consulting (Ryerson University’s Urban and Regional Planning studio group) for the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation gathered perceptions from 62 merchants and 152 visitors regarding street use allocation on Danforth Avenue (from Carlaw to Playtor Boulevard).
  • A comparison of merchants’ perceptions of how their customers get to the Danforth and visitors’ reported means of arrival showed that merchants overestimated how many of their customers drove:
    • On average, merchants believed that most (39%) of their customers arrive by walking, 35% drive, 17% take public transit, and 9% cycle.
    • In fact, most of the surveyed visitors did walk to the Danforth (46%), but far more took public transit than drove: 32% versus 19%. When asked if their mode share would be different in summer, more visitors said they would cycle in summer (17%), while a similar number (45%) would walk, 24% would take transit, and only 13% would drive.[4]

 

How Visitors arrived on Danforth Avenue, 2014 [5]

danforth-visitors

 

The City has released a “sneak peek” at its developing Complete Streets Guidelines:

  • A complete streets approach to street design is used successfully in many Canadian and American cities. It considers the social, economic, and environmental elements of street use. Safety—for all street users—is a particular priority, but function and aesthetics are important considerations too.
  • The City is currently developing its own Complete Streets Guidelines. The guidelines are meant to shift how councillors and engineers make decisions when it comes time to resurfacing roads: instead of rebuilding them in the same old way, different pedestrian and cycling infrastructure could be added to plans.
  • Streets make up a quarter (26%) of Toronto’s land area, an area equal to the size of North York. The rest comprises 61% parcels and 13% parkland.[6]
    • Changes would be most dramatic in Toronto’s suburbs, where there is little existing complete street infrastructure.[7]

 

The Clean Air Partnership–Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) is developing a complete streets catalogue:

  • Ideas-and-InnovationsThe tool is meant to help municipalities within the Greater Golden Horseshoe use existing examples of complete streets to better plan for transportation infrastructure that promotes active transportation and public transport use.[8]

 

In June 2016, City Council approved most component of a proposed 10-year cycling network plan that builds on the current network by connecting, improving, and extending it (although implementation of individual projects in the plan are subject to future City Council approval):

  • The Cycling Network Plan will serve as a comprehensive roadmap and work plan, outlining the City’s planned investments in cycling infrastructure over 2016-2025.[9]
  • Toronto’s Transportation Services General Manager proposed a 10-year (2016-2025) plan for a cycling network (click here for map) to include about 525km of new cycling infrastructure.
    • Proposed infrastructure included:
      • along fast, busy streets, 280 centreline km of bicycle lanes or cycle tracks and 55 centreline km of sidewalk-level boulevard trails;
      • along quiet streets, 190 centreline km of cycling routes; and
      • along eight arterial roadways (Yonge, Bloor, the Danforth, Jane, Kingston Road, Kipling, Midland, and Lakeshore Boulevard West), a possible 100 centreline km of bike lanes, trails, and tracks (17 segments along these corridors will be studied to determine opportunities for city-wide connections).
    • The cost to implement the plan was estimated at $153.5m over the 10-year period, about $56.5m over the 2016 capital budget and 2017-2025 capital plan for Transportation Services.
    • Transportation Services has devised five funding scenarios for the plan, with staff recommending $16m annually, which would allow completion of 85% of the project. All scenarios include $1m annually to fund expansion of bike parking.[10]

 

Funding Scenarios (Years 1-5), 10-Year Cycling Network Plan, City of Toronto [11]

cycling-scenario

Chart by William Davis (Toronto Star) from City of Toronto data.

Note: “Does not include plans for additional multi-use trails or quiet streets.”

 

  • Council voted in June to adopt the 10-year plan with amendments and capital funding of $16m per year.
  • Council requested an extension of the Yonge street study from Finch to Steeles, but excluded, at least for now, other proposed major corridor studies except those currently underway: Yonge between Finch and Sheppard, Yonge between Bloor and Front, and Bloor-Dupont between Keele and Sherbourne.
  • The City requested that staff provide recommendations for a study of Danforth Avenue and, for Dundas Street East, update cycling counts and consider ways to improve its bicycle lanes.[12]
  • The approved “scaled back” version of the plan includes the creation of new cycling connections to TTC stations and changes that will extend and connect existing bicycle lanes including:
    • bike lanes on Palmerston Avenue, Sumach Street, Portland Street, and Dovercourt Road to connect existing bike lanes;
    • extension of current bike lanes on Dufferin and Bathurst into Vaughn;
    • connection of Parkdale to the waterfront by a cycling route over the Gardiner Expressway at Dowling Avenue; and
    • a direct route from an East York tower neighbourhood to the Don Valley Trail via a bike lane or cycle track on Thorncliffe Park Drive.[13]

 

A poll shows almost nine in 10 Torontonians support safer cycling in the city:

  • An April/May 2016 poll via the Angus Reid Forum by research firm MARU/VCR&C measured interest in a “safer cycling network.” The research, commissioned by Evergreen, Cycle Toronto, the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), and the Metcalf Foundation, found that 86% of Torontonians are “strongly or mostly in favor of the idea.”
    • Among those, 90% were cyclists, and 81% non-cyclists.
    • Support was highest among Toronto and Scarborough respondents at 88%. Support was lowest in Etobicoke, but still a healthy 79%.
  • 68% “strongly agree/agree the City of Toronto needs to create better bike infrastructure urgently.”
    • 76% of those were cyclists, and 60% non-cyclists.
  • 84% “strongly agree/agree cyclists need better protection from motor vehicle traffic in Toronto.”
  • While 12% of cyclists reported feeling comfortable riding under any conditions and a third (34%) are comfortable in traffic (although they prefer bike lanes), over half (54%) will ride only if they are separated from traffic, or on low-speed roads:

 

Riding Comfort Levels Among Toronto Cyclists, 2016 [14]

riding-comfort

 

A third of Torontonians are already riding in the city, and a majority want more City investment in infrastructure:

  • In a May 2015 random sample telephone poll of 822 Toronto voters by Forum Research, 32% of respondents said they bicycle in the city.
    • Residents of Toronto and East York region were most likely to report riding, while those of Etobicoke or York were least likely (47% and 23% respectively).
  • 44% of those who cycle reported commuting to work or school by bicycle in good weather. Respondents aged 18-34 were most likely to report doing so (60%), although 40% of seniors reported the same.
  • 18% of those who bike in the city reported biking every day during good weather, 27% reported several days a week, 31% once or twice a week, and 25% less than once a week.
  • 50% of all respondents disagreed with bicyclists being licensed. 40% agreed they should be licensed, with senior respondents being most likely to agree at 61%. Agreement from other age cohorts ranged from 30-44%.
  • 61% of all respondents agreed that “the city should invest in more bicycle infrastructure downtown, including separated lanes on major streets.” The youngest adults (18-34) and those living in Toronto and East York were most likely to agree (at 73% and 72% respectively).[15]

 

globalWhile cycling is gaining traction in Toronto, the current km of bicycle paths per 100,000 population across the city pales in comparison to other global cities:

  • As reported to the World Council on City Data (WCCD) in 2015, Toronto had 18.52 km of bicycle paths per 100,000 population. This is almost on par with Los Angeles at 18.21 km, but significantly below Boston (33.12 km) and Vaughan, ON (68.04 km). Amsterdam’s 76.31 km of bike lanes per 100,000 population is a whopping four times greater.
  • London, while considered a city that has reduced reliance on cars for getting around downtown, only has 5.86 km of bike paths per 100,000 population. That is more than three times less than Toronto.[16]

 

Bicycle Paths, in km, per 100,000 population as Reported to WCCD in 2015 [17]

km-cycling

A cycling advocacy group says at least one Toronto street moves nearly as many bikes as cars during rush hour and the City should invest in cycling to get Toronto moving:

  • For the past few years, Cycle Toronto has counted cars and bikes on College Street in late September. The organization says it has repeatedly found that the College Street bike lanes, “like bicycle lanes across the city, are a more efficient way to move people.”
  • According to Cycle Toronto, only 19% of the road is reserved for bikes. Yet on September 20, 2015, when it counted westbound traffic from 5pm-6pm, bikes made up 46% of traffic and cars 54% (they counted 571 bikes and 666 cars).[18]
    • In September 2013, Cycle Toronto counted (on two study days) approximately equal numbers of cars and bikes using College during the afternoon rush hour—a 74% increase in cycling on the street in just three years.[19]

 

The economic impacts for local businesses of a Bloor Street bike lanes pilot project which began in August 2016 are being studied:

  • Separated bike lanes have been installed on Bloor Street West between Shaw Street and Avenue Road.
  • TCAT is leading the pre-post study (between 2015 and 2017) with support from a research team at the University of Toronto and funding from the Metcalf Foundation, the Bloor Annex BIA, and the Korea Town BIA.
  • The study will supplement the City’s feasibility study to identify design and impacts, as economic impact is outside its scope.[20]

 

Parkdale shoppers reach their destination mostly by walking and biking, and they spend more money:

  • A 2016 survey by Cycle Toronto’s Ward 14 Advocacy Group of about 700 shoppers in Parkdale found that only 4% arrived by car.
  • The vast majority, 72%, arrived on foot (53%) or by bike (19%). 58% of walkers and bikers spent more than $100/month in Parkdale, versus 37% of drivers.[21]

 

Ideas-and-InnovationsA “sneckdown” is an abbreviation of snowy neckdown, where snow extends a curb that shows where traffic does not run:

  • Mapping sneckdowns can provide the City with an idea of where they can shorten pedestrian crossing distances, add bicycle infrastructure or be repurposed with infrastructure like bump outs to calm traffic.
  • The areas can also be repurposed into gardens. * Torontonians can take photos of sneckdowns and send them to to.sneckdown.ca

 

sneckdown

 

This image of multiple sneckdowns is taken by Matt Worona at Bloor St. W. and Alberfoyle Cres./Gardenvale Rd. in Etobicoke. Curbs have been highlighted with yellow to show how far past the snow extends.[22]

 

How congested is Toronto and what can be done?

The Region remains rare among the world’s top cities in having both long commute times and a low percentage of commuters who use something other than a car to get from A to B:

  • Transportation continues to be one of the key weaknesses in Toronto’s labour attractiveness, the Toronto Region Board of Trade argues. Our low percentage of commuters who take some form of transit other than the car to work again earned the Region a 14th place ranking and a “C” grade on the Board’s 2015 Scorecard on Prosperity.
    • globalOnly 29.0% of Toronto’s employed labour force uses some form of transit other than the car to get to work. Most of the other ranked North American cities do not fare any better—only New York (in 11th with 40.6%) and Montréal (in 13th with 29.3%) bettered Toronto. Vancouver is just behind Toronto (in 15th place with 27.8%).
  • Hong Kong placed first, where 88.5% use a mode other than the automobile to get to work.
  • The Scorecard also placed Toronto 15th (unchanged from 2014) out of 22 global metropolitan cities for average round-trip commute time.
    • It found that Toronto has the longest round-trip commute time (66 minutes, earning a B grade) of any North American city in the rankings except New York (in 18th place with 69.8 minutes). Chicago is 12th with 61.9 minutes and received an A grade.
  • Calgary took the top spot, with a shorter commute of 52 minutes.[23]
    • Increasingly longer commute times have a negative effect on health and intensify the “time crunch” that one in five Ontarians feels caught in, with less time for family, leisure, and community.[24]

 

Toronto is home to some of North America’s worst congestion and longest commutes, although congestion levels improved slightly in 2015:

  • The annual traffic index from TomTom, a Dutch company that specializes in navigation and mapping products, measures travel times across the day and for peak versus non-peak periods.
  • Toronto’s congestion level (percent increase in travel time compared to a free flow or uncongested situation) is 28%, a 3% decrease from 2014. Congestion affects travel time more on non-highways (where it increases travel time by 30%) than on highways (where it decreases to 25%)
  • The most congested day in 2015 was February 21, a Saturday.
  • Toronto’s most congested times of the week are Wednesday mornings and Thursday evenings. Thursday evening congestion is 65%:

 

Toronto’s Congestion During 8-9am and 5-6pm Rush Hours, 2015 [25]

rush-hour

 

  • TomTom’s data since 2008 show that despite the slight improvement in congestion in 2015, the overall trend of traffic congestion for Toronto has been steadily worsening:

 

Toronto’s Congestion Level History, 2008-2015 [26]

congestion-time

  • Toronto is the 64th most congested city in the world (of 174 cities with populations greater than 800,000), and remains the second most congested city in Canada.
    • Vancouver is first in Canada with a congestion level of 34% (down 1% from 2014), making it the 36th most congested city in the world.
    • Montréal is third in Canada with a congestion level of 26% (down 1%) and 81st in the rankings. Ottawa is not far behind, with a congestion level also of 26% and ranking 86th.

 

Transportation within the GTA region is a “painful” experience for most:

  • Transit was the top concern for 54% of residents in a July 2015 Angus Reid Institute online survey of a random sample of 813 GTA adults.
    • Rounding out the top three issues for respondents were the economy (40%) and housing prices (36%).

Most Important Issues facing GTA according to Torontonians, 2015 [27]

most-important

 

  • Of those who commute, most (29%) travel 30-45 minutes to school or work. 12% have a commute of more than an hour a day.

 

Length of Commute for Torontonians, 2015 [28]

length-of-commute

 

  • Younger people are more likely to take public transit and less likely to drive. 27% of respondents aged 18-34 drive every day compared to 50% of those 35-54 and 43% of those 55+.

Frequency of Travel Mode by Torontonians, 2015 [29]

how-often

  • Income plays a role in the type of transportation used. Two-thirds (about 67%) of those earning more than $50,000 rely on driving, compared to a third (about 33%) of those earning less.
  • While some people find their everyday transportation experience and transportation within their city or community “painful” (22% and 26% respectively), when it comes to transportation within the entire GTA region more respondents (46%) rate the experience “painful” than “easy” (21%).
    • Commuters are more likely to find transportation painful: 31% of those who live in Toronto but work outside the city and 28% who live outside Toronto but work within it ranked their experience as painful, compared to 22% of those who live and work outside Toronto and 17% of those who live and work in Toronto.
    • Proximity to the subway makes a difference too. 54% of those who live on the subway line find their commute easy compared to 39% of those who do not. [30]

 

Intensification would allow for easier transportation and less car use:

  • A Pembina Institute report discussing the benefits of intensification (building on already developed land) for the GTA concludes that compact, walkable, transit-friendly neighbourhoods create demand for transit service so residents do not need to rely on cars.
  • The authors use Downtown Markham as one example of good density planning. It has planned retail space of 2.2 million sq. ft., 3.7 million sq. ft. of office space, 8,000 residential units, a retail centre, retail spaces on ground floors of high-rise and mid-rise buildings, and transit service from both Viva buses and GO trains.[31]

 

Two Toronto streets are among the 10 worst roads in Ontario:

  • Bayview Avenue and Dufferin Street in Toronto are the eighth and ninth worst roads in Ontario according to the 2016 version of CAA’s Worst Roads list, which highlights the need for infrastructure investment across Ontario.
  • Both streets have appeared on this top 10 list at least six times. Dufferin was named Ontario’s worst road in 2014, but dropped to third in 2015 and ninth this year.
  • The five worst roads in the Toronto Region are Bayview, Dufferin, Lawrence Avenue E., Markham Road, and Scarlett Road.
  • County Road 49 in Prince Edward County was named the worst road in Ontario.[32]

 

How are Torontonians doing on the active transportation front?

The number of commuters who walk or bike continues to increase:

  • According to the 2011 census, 47.1% of Torontonians were choosing transit, walking or biking instead of driving to get to work, an increase from 44.2% in the 2006 census.[33]
  • A Share the Road survey conducted in 2014 found that 5.7% of Torontonians ride their bikes daily.[34] And Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank has noted dramatic growth in bike ridership since 2009.
    • In 2009, the City’s Transportation Department released its Cycling Study, which showed that 29% of Torontonians were utilitarian cyclists.
    • snapshotAnalysis of 2011 National Household Survey data found “astonishing” levels of cycling mode share in some census tracts—nearly 20% in Seaton Village and Dufferin Grove. Other west-end neighbourhoods were not far behind. The data accounted only for trips to work and school.
    • In 2013, the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation and Share the Road released survey results showing that 7% of Torontonians cycled daily.[35]
    • Nonetheless, a September 2014 Smart Commute survey of 1,000 GTHA commuters found that of participants (chosen for having travelled or teleworked at least three times a week for work, school, or volunteering in the last 12 months), only 4% walked and 2% biked.
    • While 30% reported using public transit, the majority of respondents (55%) drove alone. Only 7% carpooled.[36]

 

GTA commuters are highly dependent on cars:

  • Using commuting data from the 2011 NHS (i.e., employed residents over 15 years of age who reported their main mode of transportation between home and work), data visualization website The10and3 mapped how GTA residents get to work.
  • Outside Toronto, almost 90% of commuters drive to work. Within Toronto, over half of residents in some areas drive despite having greater transit options. Even in the downtown core, 20% drive to work.[37]

 

Percentage of GTA Commuters who Drive, By Census Tract, 2011 [38]

driving-census

 

The number of public transit trips per capita in the city of Toronto is less than half that of London, and lower than other global cities:

  • globalAs reported to the World Council on City Data (WCCD) in 2015, Torontonians take almost eleven times more public transit trips per capita than people who live in Vaughan – 201.9 vs. 18.7, and four times more public transit trips per capita than people who live in LA – 201.9 vs. 53.1.
  • However, Toronto’s public transit usage pales in comparison to several other international cities: 214.9 trips per capita were reported in Boston, 265.0 in Amsterdam, and an impressive 563.0 in London.[39]

 

Public Transit Trips, per capita, annually as Reported to WCCD in 2015 [40]

public-transit

 

Toronto was named the second-most walkable city in Canada in Walk Score’s national rankings in 2015:

  • snapshotWalk Score rates the walkability of various cities (selective sections of cities, not cities as a whole). Among 22 Canadian cities, Toronto finished behind Vancouver again in 2015.
  • Toronto received a score of 71.4 out of a possible 100, while Vancouver scored 78 and Montréal 70.4, making all of these cities “very walkable.”
  • Of 141 cities across the US, Canada, and Australia with populations of 200,000+, Toronto ranked 13th (New York was first).
  • Of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, the Bay Street Corridor, the Church-Yonge Corridor, and Kensington-Chinatown were singled out as tops in walkability.[41]

 

Bike Share Toronto is expanding its network:

  • Ideas-and-InnovationsIn July 2015 the Province committed $4.9m to expanding the Bike Share program in Toronto.[42]
  • In June 2016 the Toronto Parking Authority and Metrolinx began adding 120 new Bike Share stations housing 1,000 bikes—doubling the number of bikes available.
  • Stations will be placed in the downtown core, near transit stations, and in densely populated areas across the city.[43]

 

Urban enthusiasts #SitTO advocate for more seating in public spaces:

  • Ideas-and-InnovationsOn June 4, 2016, #SitTO placed 20 chairs around the city to highlight the need for more public seating in our city’s shared spaces.
    • According to the Toronto Star, Toronto has 1,700 public benches, and 100 to 200 more are added each year.
  • #SitTO’s action was part of the 100in1Day event, which showcases city improvement ideas and innovations.[44]

 

The percentages of elementary and secondary schoolchildren using active transportation to get to and from school decreased significantly over 25 years:

  • A Metrolinx report exploring patterns of travel to and from school in Toronto between 1986 and 2011 shows an increase in car trips, while walking decreased among both elementary (11-13 year olds) and secondary (14-17 year olds) students.
    • In 2011, 29.1% of Toronto’s 11-13 year olds and 26.4% of 14-17 year olds got to school by auto, compared to only 11.8% and 13.3%, respectively, in 1986.
    • Getting home from school shows the same trend. In 2011 19.9% of 11-13 year olds and 13.8% of 14-17 year olds travelled from school by auto compared to only 7.6% and 8.2%, respectively, in 1986.
  • Toronto’s percentages for auto mode share are smaller than for the GTHA as a whole.[45]

 

School Trips by Mode, Toronto and GTHA, 1986-2011 [46]

School Travel In The City Of Toronto

Children in newer neighbourhoods are among those less likely to walk to school unsupervised, impeding their acquisition of important types of knowledge:

  • Children who are allowed to travel independently have greater opportunity to develop skills such as wayfinding and spatial and social problem solving. A two-phase, Metrolinx-sponsored research project examined how the social and built environments affect school travel and the independent mobility of schoolchildren in the GTHA and the city of Toronto.
  • Phase one used data collected from a May 2011 telephone survey on school travel to focus on social and environmental factors that predict walking. The final sample of 559 GTHA respondents lived within 2km of their school and had valid postal codes that could be used to determine the environment in which they lived. This phase found that 56% of all GTHA student respondents walked to school, while 31% were driven.
    • Children who were female, who lived more than 1km from school, who came from higher-income families ($95-125K), or who lived in newer neighbourhoods (post-1960) were more likely to be driven to school.
    • Of those who walked, three-quarters (75%) were accompanied by an adult. Only 23% walked independently. Children who lived in pre-1960 neighbourhoods were more likely to walk independently, as were those who were older (for each year in age, a child was 2.7 times more likely to walk independently).
    • Rates for walking were slightly higher among respondents living in the city of Toronto, where 43% walked and 33% were driven.
    • In Toronto, being driven was more likely for children who lived in neighbourhoods with a lower street tree density, missing sidewalks, or a higher density of intersections to cross. Surprisingly, being driven was also more likely for children with greater access to transit.[47]
  • Phase two took a closer at the city of Toronto, using data from 17 city schools from the Built Environment and Active Transportation (BEAT) research project conducted by the University of Toronto from Spring 2010 to Spring 2011. Almost eight out of every ten children (77.5%) walked to school, while only two in 10 (22.5%) were driven.
    • More vehicles in the household, longer walking distance, more intersections to cross, and lack of sidewalk coverage all decreased the likelihood of walking. Having stay-at-home parents increased the likelihood of walking.
    • Of those who walked, most (65.7%) walked independently. 34.3% were accompanied by an adult.
    • Longer walking distance, parents with a flexible work schedule, and more traffic around the school all increased the likelihood of children being escorted.
    • More children walked home from than to school (708 and 651 respectively). Higher family incomes, longer distances, and more intersections to cross all decreased the likelihood of walking home. More traffic and having stay-at-home parents increased the likelihood of walking escorted, while older children and boys were more likely to walk independently. Again, children in areas constructed post-1960 were less likely to walk home.
    • Parents’ concerns about strangers decreased the likelihood of walking either to or from school.[48]

 

Where are we making transit an easier and more attractive option and what can we do better?

Station and service improvements are making Toronto’s transit more safe, fast, convenient, and accessible:

  • The TTC is continuing its work to not only increase the aesthetics but also the accessibility of a number of subway stations throughout the system. For example, in December 2015 construction began on Coxwell Station that will see the addition of elevators at platform level and accessible gates at entry, increased signage, and installation of CCTV cameras.[49]
    • The TTC has also made efforts towards its goal of a barrier-free system. In 2015 the last high-floor bus (with a wheelchair lift) was retired—as of February 2016 all 1,875 buses in use are low floor and ramp equipped.[50] And as of the end of 2015, 14 new low-floor, accessible streetcars were in service.[51]
  • According to an article in Torontoist, however, slow progress on accessibility makes riding the TTC a continued struggle for Torontonians living with disabilities.
    • Each station accessibility project typically takes five years (two for design and three for construction). Currently, only half of all subway stations (34 of 69) are accessible (i.e., they have accessible entrances, fare-gates, and elevators).

    • TTC has indicated that it is on track to meet its 2025 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) deadline and that St. Clair West and Ossington stations are 2016 priorities, while Woodbine and Coxwell are 2017 priorities.
    • An individual needing an elevator who wants to go to the Wellesley or College areas, for example, would have to go to Dundas or Bloor stations, or arrange other transportation such as Wheel-Trans.[52]
  • Six more express bus routes were launched in March 2016:
    • 24E Victoria Park Express (Victoria Park Station to Steeles Avenue);
    • 185 Don Mills Rocket (Pape Station to Steeles);
    • 186 Wilson Rocket (York Mills Station to Humber College);
    • 188 Kipling South Rocket (Kipling Station to Lake Shore Boulevard);
    • 199B Finch Rocket (York University to Scarborough Centre Station via Finch Station); and
    • 199C Finch Rocket (Finch Station to Morningside Heights).[53]
  • The transition from tokens, tickets, and passes to PRESTO smart cards continued. Between September 2015 and year’s end, the TTC installed PRESTO card readers on all streetcars.[54] In May 2016, it began installation on buses,[55] and as of May 30, 178 buses were PRESTO enabled.[56]
  • Proof of payment and all-door boarding was implemented on all 11 streetcar routes in December 2015.
  • In June 2015 the first subway stations became cellular-capable (St George, Bay, Bloor-Yonge, and those along Line 1 (Yonge-University) for WIND Mobile customers.
  • The TTC’s efforts appear to have paid off. In October 2015, customer service satisfaction reached an all-time high of 81%.[57]
  • In May 2016, the Federal government announced that the TTC would receive $840m in funding from the $3.4b in transit money in the federal budget.
    • The City will decide how the money will be spent. According to Mayor John Tory, the funds will be used for new buses and trains, signal upgrades, and projects related to the 2025 accessibility deadline.[58]
  • The cost of transit per passenger trip in 2013 (the most recent year for which data are available) was $3.35 ($0.61 amortization, $2.74 operating cost).[59]

 

Ideas-and-InnovationsThe TTC has launched a program to better integrate cycling with public transit

  • In September 2015 a first self-service bike repair station was launched outside Davisville subway station.[60]
  • 10 stations (Davisville, Bathurst, Downsview, Dupont, Finch, Kipling, Keele, Kennedy, Pape, and Spadina) were chosen for the program, which provides cyclists with tools needed for small repairs, such as wrenches, screwdrivers, and air pumps.[61]

 

Rising transit fares are a very visible cost of transit improvements:

  • On January 1, 2016, the cost of tickets, tokens, and PRESTO card fares rose by 10 cents (to $2.90 for adults), cash fares increased 25 cents (to $3.25 for adults), and prices for weekly passes rose by $1.50 (to $42.25). The cost of a monthly Metropass, however, remained stable at $141.50 (after an increase of nearly $8 in March 2015).[62]

 

Despite higher fares, the TTC reached an all-time ridership record in 2015, although ridership growth has slowed to an alarming rate:

  • Annual ridership for Wheel-Trans was 3,487,526 in 2015, up 13% from 3,077,181 in 2014. TTC vehicles of all modes covered over 231 million km.[63]
  • On 22 days in 2015 ridership reached more than 1.8 million (down from 33 days in 2014). Highest single-day ridership day in 2015 was 1.863 million on November 27.[64]
  • Ridership increased by 0.5% over 2014, to a record 537.6 million rides. However, growth was smaller between 2015 and 2014, than between 2014 and 2013, which was a 1.8% increase (from 525,194,000 trips to 534,815,500). Growth was even larger between 2012 to 2013, which was 2.2% (from 514,007,000 to 525,194,000).[65]
  • In early 2016, the TTC began to undertake a review of its budgets and projections for 2016, as total 2015 ridership numbers and early 2016 projections came in lower than expected. In July 2016, the TTC estimated that the projected 2016 year-end passenger revenue shortfall would be $25 million. It found that at the end of February 2016, ridership was 1.6% (1.4 million) below the 2015 comparable period and 4.6% (4 million) below budget.
  • Based on these results, and on an analysis of various factors that may influence ridership for the remainder of the year, it was estimated that 2016 year-end actual ridership could be in the range of 540 to 545 million. This would represent a growth of only 2 million rides (+0.4%) over the 2015 year-end actual (which included 4 million free Pan Am/Parapan Am Games rides) and a variance of up to 13 million rides (-2.4%) from the 2016 budget of 553 million.
  • As of June 18, 2016 ridership for the year to date was close to 2015, but 2.9% (7.4 million) below budget.
  • As a result of these revised projections, multiple actions have been taken by the TTC and the City, and more are being considered and developed to try to mitigate current negative ridership trends.[66]

 

Although UP Express ridership has increased substantially since fares were lowered, revenue is not expected to meet operating costs, and taxpayers might subsidize the difference:[67]

  • The Union-Pearson Express (UPX) launched in June 2015, departing every 15 minutes with a 25-minute travel time and $27.90 fare for a one-way trip.[68]
    • $456m was spent to build the rails linking Toronto Pearson International Airport with Union station.
    • The airport train was expected to replace 870,000 car trips in 2015 with revenues of $40m.
    • 1.5 million riders were projected for 2015.
  • Actual ridership between June and December 2015 was only 507,054.[69]
    • In September 2015, ridership was reported to have decreased to 10% of capacity, or 2,500 passengers a day.[70]
  • With only about 2,20 daily passengers by March 2016, fares were reduced from $27.50 to $12 one way. For PRESTO card holders, fares dropped from $19 to $9.[71]
    • In a random sample telephone poll of 530 Toronto voters a few days after the decrease, 51% said the new cost was about right, an improvement from 25% in an August 2015 poll and only 14% in a February 2016 poll.
    • 51% said they were somewhat or very likely to use the UPX compared to 39% and 36% respectively in the August 2015 and February 2016 polls.[72]
  • Since the fare reductions, ridership has more than doubled, to more than 5,000 passengers a day. But the lower fares are expected to bring revenues well below operating costs, expected to range from $69-74m from 2016 to 2019.
  • Studies for Metrolinx suggest that both the revenue gap and a per-ride subsidy to close it will be significant.[73]

The biggest expansion of urban rapid transit in the GTHA in more than half a century is underway, but it will be completed a year later than promised:

  • With a price tag of $5.3b, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the province, and the largest public transit project under construction in the country.[74]
    • 2,500 workers are expected to work on the project, 90% of them from the GTA.[75]
  • The Crosstown will run 19km across Eglinton Avenue between Weston Road and Kennedy Station, with the TTC operating 15 stops underground between Black Creek Drive and Brentcliffe Road and 10 street-level stops from there to Kennedy Station.[76]
    • The line will connect to 54 bus routes, three TTC interchange subway stations, and GO transit.[77]
  • In September 2015, Metrolinx announced that the Crosstown will be delayed an extra year—it is now expected to be running in 2021.[78]
    • Projected usage by 2031 is 5,500 passengers per hour during rush hours, with 162,000 daily boardings, and 50 million riders annually.[79] The capacity of one LRT car is 163 passengers, 3.4 times that of a bus.

 

Capacity of LRT Car versus Bus [80]

lrt-bus

  • The Crosstown LRT is expected to lower Ontario’s transportation sector greenhouse gas emissions per person by 29%.[81]

 

User satisfaction with GO Transit, Ontario’s inter-regional transit system, is high:

  • 2015 saw 69.5 million riders on GO trains and buses, and 79% of riders reported (in a customer satisfaction survey) that they would recommend GO Transit to others. 70% said they were satisfied with GO’s communication.
  • Capacity was increased by over 35,000 daily (30,000 on 19 new train trips and six extended trips and 5,300 on 96 new weekday bus trips).
  • 1,200 parking spaces were added in the GTHA (at King City, Oshawa, Stouffville, Aldershot, Weston, Bronte, and Newmarket), including a 300-space parking lot at Erin Mills Transitway Station.
  • In June 2015 free Wi-Fi was piloted on GO buses.
  • In October 2015 riders were able to take advantage of the first of 127 new GO rail cars with improved seating, i.e., more space and better ergonomics.
  • The PRESTO electronic fare payment system continues to expand, with 56 self-serve reload machines added in PRESTO-enabled TTC subway stations, the GO Transit York Concourse, and UP Express stations. As of March 2016, there were 1.95 million PRESTO cards in use, a 550,000 increase from March 2015, and throughout 2015 there were 15.7 million taps per month of PRESTO cards.[82]

 

A York University study has found great variability in transit access and equity across the GTHA:

  • The City Institute at York University (CITY) examined 10 GTHA transit systems and found a wide range of pricing and fare methods.
    • Transfers are accepted in some areas, but not others.
    • Some systems (GO and York Region) use distance-based fares, while others (Toronto) are fixed.
    • Some (five of the 10 transit systems in Hamilton, Mississauga, and the Regions of Halton and York) offer discounts for low-income residents, while others do not.
  • The authors make recommendations that all transit systems in the GTHA should adopt for more equitable transit access:
    • discounted fares for low-income persons;
    • time-based transfers; and
    • the addition of GO Transit to the GTA Weekly Pass. Currently, the $61 pass provides unlimited travel on the local transit systems of Peel Region (MiWay and Brampton Transit), York Region (YRT/Viva), and Toronto (the TTC), but excludes GO Transit.[83]
    • Meanwhile, Metrolinx is examining the pros and cons (e.g., benefit to transit users versus lost revenue) of fare integration across the GTHA, noting the obvious disadvantages to two fares being required for travel between the TTC and local 905 transit and between the TTC and GO Transit. Recommendations are planned for Fall 2016.[84]

 

A third of Toronto university students spend two or more hours a day getting to and from school:

  • The GTA’s four universities—OCADU, Ryerson, York, and the University of Toronto—joined forces for StudentMoveTO, a data collection effort examining where students live, where they travel during the day, and the factors that affect their schedules. Its 2016 overview of early findings focuses on a student travel survey in which 15,226 students kept single-day travel diaries.
  • A third (36.8%) of the over 36,000 trips students recorded were to school.
    • 33% of students spent at least two hours a day travelling to and from campus.
    • Students at Ryerson and York’s Glendon and Keele campuses have the longest travel times, over 45 minutes for a one-way trip:

 

One-Way Travel Time to Campus in Minutes, GTA, 2015:

one-way-campus-minutes

  • Long commute times prevent students from engaging fully in campus life. Of those with a one-way commute of 60 minutes or more, 90% reported that it discouraged participation in on-campus activities.

 

Relationship Between Commute Times and University Involvement, GTA, 2015:

student-involvement

 

  • A quarter (25%) of students lived 20km or more from school. On any given day, students who live further from school are less likely to travel to campus at all:

 

Percent Students Coming to Campus Daily, by Distance from Home, GTA, 2015:

coming-from-home

 

  • While cost was the most important factor in choosing housing (for 24.1% of students), for students who have a say in the decision, being able to get to school using active transportation (i.e., by walking or cycling) was the next most important factor. One in five students (19%) walk to campus and 7% bike.
    • Transportation by local transit is the most-used method for students at all universities at 50%. 13% use regional transit, 6% are solo drivers, and 4% use ride share.

 

Mode Share for Travel to Campus, GTA, 2015:

PowerPoint Presentation

  • Factors that would motivate students to change their method of transportation to school included a change in housing location (for 59% of students), transit improvements (26%), lower transit costs (21%), and higher transit costs (20%). 9% reported that they would be motivated by improved bike lanes.[85]
  • Meanwhile, York University’s new Markham Centre campus promises to be “transit-friendly,” served by 15 transit routes including GO Train and GO Bus, York Region Transit (YRT)/Viva, and the TTC. [86]

 

 


To learn more about innovative community-based organizations and programs working to address issues relating to health and wellness, check out ckc.torontofoundation.ca.

 

 


 

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