Transit – What is the goal

We have no way to materially increase the roadways, so we need to change the status quo.  The first thing that Toronto, needs to ask itself, as a community, is: What is it we want our transit system to accomplish?.This is also part of a larger question, in terms of what do we want our city to look like.

Is the goal of transit in Toronto, and the GTA, to move the maximum number of people to the core? Or to move people where they want to go? Most people (about ¾) currently traveling to the core do not drive there, and still roads across the region are packed.

If we are looking to transit to solve both our congestion and mobility problems it will clearly need to take on more trips. This is especially so if the region is going to continue to grow. Nearly ¾ of trips not downtown use auto. Clearly transit is a preferred mode in the downtown area, and for good reason. You cannot park, hard to drive, and because there are so many people, there are more transit vehicles, which means it is more attractive, which means even more transit vehicles must be run.

If we are going to continue to attract more people to transit it is fairly clearly we need to allow a little more focus on those people who are not going to the core.   We need to attract many more people to transit from a wider variety of trips.   However, the concentration of trips is not nearly as high, going anywhere other than the core. I would argue that we need to develop a transit system that works nearly as well to get to work along or close to any arterial road in the city, or to major retail locations etc, if we are going to make the city work. However, most of these routes will not be large enough to merit the heaviest types of transit. Imagine how many riders there would be if even half of all those trips within Scarborough or Etobicoke were on transit not auto, yet we still would not get close to subway volumes.

However, if we greatly improve transit, we need to also be conscious of the possibility that we will also attract additional core bound riders, and there is also the detail, of the likelihood of an additional 100,000+ jobs there in the next couple of decades.

Core bound capacity clearly needs to grow, however, this cannot be permitted to become the sole or even primary purpose of transit for the region. Bus makes up a very large portion of all rides and needs to be supported and improved as a destination neutral service.

Further in the last few years there have been attempts to hold costs by allowing loading of buses to rise. There is a desperate need to ensure that transit be made more attractive, and while more can be had from existing resources on the street, that needs to appear entirely as service improvements.   Beyond this efficiency needs to be created and should not be looked for within current capacity and running conditions. Creating efficiency, means changing the basic conditions, larger vehicles, better transit priority, queue jump lanes or being in dedicated rights of way.

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