toronto transit expansion

Toronto getting clobbered on transit expansion

Despite having one of the most heavily used transit systems on the continent, Toronto has missed numerous chances to expand its rapid transit network and reap the associated economic and environmental rewards, according to a new report published by the University of Waterloo.

"Toronto and Montreal have both missed opportunities to vastly expand the role of transit in promoting sustainable, reliable, and economically‐supportive transportation networks," says the report, which studied transit ridership and growth between 1996 and 2012.

People in Toronto took an average of 133 rides on the TTC each year in the study period, the highest number in the country, but the municipal, provincial, and federal governments didn't match those ridership levels with expansion. Only 18 kilometres of new rapid transit, the Sheppard subway, St. Clair streetcar lanes, and the Spadina line extension to Downsview, were added.

The report compared Toronto with Dallas, Philadelphia, and Miami, three U.S. cities of similar size and economic output. Dallas, the best performer in terms of expansion, grew its network by 106 kilometres--a whopping 84.8 percent--over the last two decades, while Philadelphia remained stagnant, adding nothing.

Despite Toronto's relative lack of expansion (in Canada, Vancouver and Calgary built more) TTC ridership grew by 25 rides per person, per year. In Dallas, a city famous for its love of cars, old habits have proved hard to break. Ridership only increased by 10 rides per person, per year.

Bottom line: Toronto loves the TTC. More people are riding than ever before, and it's time the various levels of government paid back that investment, for everyone's sake. Failure to do so will dent the economy, lower the quality of life for residents, and lead to more congestion and pollution, the report says.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Ben Roffelsen/blogTO Flickr pool.


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