The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) board will meet on Thursday to discuss ridership — how to move customers more reliably, make public transit seamless, and innovate for the future.
It’s a big topic. The TTC doesn’t just want to retain their current ridership. According to the TTC, ridership hasn’t grown since 2014, with about 535 millions trips each year. They want to see it grow along with the changing network.
“Over the past decade, major shifts in demographics, travel behaviour and technology have changed how people travel in cities,” the report reads. “The transportation system has shifted from a traditional model of owning a car or using public transit, to a “mobility as a service” system where one either owns their car or accesses a sharedcar/bike alternative.”
The goal of the TTC will be to focus on reliability, mobility, and innovation in order to increase ridership. To do this, the board will approve three initiatives:
- Provide more surface routes to relieve overcrowding on busses
- Implement two-hour transfers
- Implement a discounted fare for PRESTO customers combining TTC and Go Transit/UP trips.
These three initiatives were discussed months ago by the board, as well as city councillors, so chances are they will pass at the meeting this Thursday. Other ideas mentioned in the report include a U-Pass for students, partnering with car-sharing services, and launching public awareness campaigns.
The board will also discuss a corporate strategy that will create a five-year plan “to be a transit system that makes Toronto proud.” This plan focuses on moving transit quickly, including looking at measures similar to the King St. Pilot to relieve congestion on certain routes under the Surface Transit Priority Plan. “Measures that keep transit moving include dedicated right-of-way like we currently have on the 510 Spadina and 512 St. Clair streetcars: queue jump lanes that let transit bypass other traffic at key intersections and traffic signal priority, which reduces dwell times for TTC vehicles by holding green signals longer or shortening red signals.”
There is also a goal to be 100 per cent emissions free by 2042!
Metrolinx is thinking about the future — at least as far as 2041.
The board released their Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area at their Sept. 14 meeting, with the intention of gathering feedback over a 90-day public consultation period. The information they get will be considered for use in the final draft, which will be available in December.
By 2041, Metrolinx says over 10 million people will live across the Golden Horseshoe Area. The new transportation plan will move beyond The Big Move.
The report reads: “We need to plan for a future characterized not only by continued population and employment growth, but also by changing demographics (including an aging population), the changing nature of work, new transportation technologies and services, and the impacts of climate change. In short, we cannot stop.”
There are five different aspects of this new transportation plan.
- Completing delivery of current regional transit projects: Metrolinx is in the midst of increasing their Rapid Express Rail, working on the Hurontario, Eglinton, Hamilton, and Finch Light Rail Transit, as well as the York VIVA. Delivery is expected by 2025.
- Connecting more of the region with frequent rapid transit: The goal is to create 15-minute all day service so that people can get around the region without delay.
- Optimizing the transportation system to make the best possible use of existing and future transit assets: Metrolinx has determined that fares by distance is the most efficient structure. It also wants to ensure that more people take alternative modes of transportation on their way to use the transit system. Their goal will be to increase the number of people who bike, walk, or carpool from 38 per cent to 62-64 per cent.
- Integrating land use and transportation: This strategy will help create mobility hubs and new developments, with the goal of intensifying certain areas so that transit becomes more accessible. The designs wil encourage cycling and walking as primary modes of transportation.
- Preparing for an uncertain future: The plan encourages a regional approach to transit planning as opposed to municipal or private enterprises. Metrolinx will also continue to study new technologies to help reduce greenhouse gasses.
The public will be able to provide feedback at six regional roundtables prior to the final draft.
The Ontario government has finally released the long-awaited Climate Change Action Plan — and it is jam packed with lots of incentives for electric vehicles and green home retrofits.
The strategy works in tandem with the cap and trade program finalized by the Liberals a few months ago. This strategy is expected to create around $1.9 billion in revenue through the auctioning of emission credits, which will then be invested into a new Greenhouse Gas Reduction account. These funds will be “responsibly and transparently invested into actions that directly reduce greenhouse gas pollution, create jobs, and help people and businesses shift to a low-carbon economy.”
One of the biggest concerns people had with the government’s climate strategy was that the plan would include a ban on natural gas and would negatively affect businesses and drivers that use a lot of carbon. The 86-page document addresses this concern by saying “it will not take away personal choice: no one will have to stop using gas in their home or give up their gas-powered car by a certain date. Rather, the plan creates the conditions that provide choice. It gives consumers and businesses more reasons to reduce their carbon footprint, and creates competitive conditions for the adoption of low-carbon technology.”
Here are some of the highlights:
- A Green Bank will be established to help homeowners and businesses access and finance energy-efficient technologies to reduce greenhouse gasses. This includes a number of rebates for retrofits in social housing. Homes being sold after 2019 will be provided with a free energy audit.
- More than one third of Ontario’s greenhouse gasses are created by transportation. Cars and trucks make up 70 per cent of this carbon. The Ontario government is offering rebates of up to $14,000 per eligible electric vehicles, including a $1,000 rebate for charging stations. The goal is to have every new home buying built after 2018 to include a charging plug in the garage.
- The government will establish a four-year free overnight electric vehicle charging program for residents starting in 2017.
- A “cash for clunkers” program will work with the rebates for electric vehicles to get older, less efficient vehicles off the road. Companies and drivers who buy green vehicles will receive a special license plate that will allow free access to provincial HOV and tolled lanes.
- Focus on researching and developing new green technologies and transitional allowances for high-polluting businesses.
- Emphasis on implementing more cycling and walking networks throughout the province to rid gridlock and therefore reduce the amount of carbon emitted by vehicles on the roads.
The purpose of all of these programs is to cut Ontario’s greenhouse gas pollution to 15 per cent bellow 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030, and 80 per cent by 2050.
The government is spending between $5.9 billion to $8.3 billion over the next five years on new programs, incentives, rebates, and green technologies. The $1.9 billion earned by selling emission credits through the cap and trade program will make up some of these funds.
The plan will add about $5 a month to home heating bills and 4.3 cents a litre to gas prices.
The Climate Change Action Plan outlines the provincial (and sometimes municipal) responsibilities for the next five years and will be reviewed and updated every five years after the fact. An implementation update will be provided annually for transparency.