toronto transit

Toronto could one day see public transit vehicles come every 10 minutes

As Toronto continues to grow, building condo development after condo development, the city's transportation system must improve.

The Toronto region should be working toward a future where people won't have to wait any longer than 10 minutes for transit on all major routes, says a new Toronto Region Board of Trade report called Next Stop: Building Universal Transit Access.

The "clear region-wide 10-minute frequency service standard would allow for 'turn-up-and-go' service," the report suggests.

This would be a marked change from what many transit users experience now, particularly as TTC staff defy vaccine mandates and slow down service.

Not only is slow transit frustrating, it is also costing us money. Congestion and gridlock cost the Toronto region's economy an estimated $6 billion each year in lost productivity — a figure that is expected to balloon to $15 billion by 2031, the report states.

Congestion also makes it more difficult for workers to get to their jobs, disrupts supply chains, and slows down essential business deliveries.

"As the fastest-growing urban region in North America, innovative and seamless public transit solutions remain integral to the Toronto region’s economic success," said Jan De Silva, president and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

So the report suggests strengthening public transit across the Toronto region, and urges cities across the area to explore new approaches including using on-demand transit supported by technology, especially where high-frequency service is not possible.

Right now residents rely on several different transit systems — GO Trains, different municipal transit services and the TTC — for transportation to work or play.

But the report suggests a universal transit service where fares, schedules, service coordination and transfers are seamless — even across agency and municipal boundaries.

The report singles out Brampton as a success story for public transit, noting that the city experienced a 160 per cent spike in transit ridership over a 10-year period from 2009 to 2019 due to the expansion of its service levels leading to frequent all-day bus routes on major roads.

Although some Toronto residents like to poke fun at Brampton, it might be time to take a closer look at the suburban city's transit system.

"Leaders across the Toronto region must look to public transit success stories like that of Brampton: a city that recently benefitted from the largest increase in transit ridership of any municipality in North America," said Jonathan English, director of policy (transportation) at the Toronto Region Board of Trade.

The report is packed with many ideas, but actually getting different municipalities and systems to work together is another story. But as the GTA grows, we don't have a choice.

"The bottom line is that we must continue striving to build transportation systems across the Toronto region to ensure we are not only catching up with our global competitors but also accommodating the influx of 100,000 new residents that arrive every year," said De Silva.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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