Real Estate Defined

The State of Transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area


In September Metrolinx published their Draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan (Draft 2041 RTP) for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). The Draft Report is a blueprint for what needs to be done to build an integrated, regional multi-modal transportation  system, one that will serve the needs of residents, businesses and institutions until 2041.

*PS – if you are interested in providing comments to the Draft Report, you have until November 17th, 2017. 

The Draft Report identifies the major transportation related investments taking place across the GTHA, and includes a treasure trove of supporting maps and data that delve into the implications and benefits of the investments.

In the figure immediately below, what is shown is the growth our region is anticipated to face to 2041 (keep in mind this is based on 2011 numbers). So expect approximately an additional 3 million new residents and 1 million jobs in the next 25 years here –

The following figure shows in kilometer distance, the transportation infrastructure investments being made to 2041. Over 3,500 kilometers of transit lines, cycling lanes and HOV lanes are planned to be added in the GTHA –

Given the expected growth of about 3 million people and over 1 million jobs, I think it is safe to say that these transportation infrastructure investments are more than justified. But are they enough?

A few weeks back, I wrote a piece on how Ontario reached peak auto sales in 2016, with 2017 set for an even higher number of auto sales. After going through the Metrolinx Draft Report, it is clear to me that cars will continue to dominate transportation in the region up to and likely beyond 2041.

The following chart is from a tweet by Dr. Pamela Blais (of Metropole Consultants) showing how people currently get around in the GTHA (by modal split), and how it is anticipated to change by 2041 as the transportation investments shown in the figure above are realized – 

As of 2011, of the total 8.45 million trips made during peak hours (i.e., between 6 am and 9 am, and 3 pm and 7 pm) in the GTHA, about 14% were made on transit, 8.5% were active trips (i.e., walking, cycling, rollerblading), and a whopping 77% of the trips were made by cars.

In 2041, despite the substantial increase in the number of transit trips made during peak hours (i.e., 700,000 additional trips; or a 58% increase), the transit modal share is set to grow by only 0.5% to reach 14.7% of peak trips.

Below are two maps that show the number of jobs accessible within an hour by transit in 2011 and 2041 –

It is pretty clear from the maps above that transit-job accessibility across the GTHA is not expected to change substantially.

Despite the anticipated additional 1.3 million transit and active transportation trips to be made during peak hours between 2011 and 2041, the increase in the number of car trips more than doubles that figure, with an expected growth of over 3 million car trips to be made during peak hours. And though the modal split does come down for cars as we get closer to 2041, the share of trips made by cars during peak hours is still expected to be over 70%.

As I’ve previously written and said, if you think congestion is bad now in the GTHA, just wait till 2041. And depending on how you think about congestion, it doesn’t have to particularly be a bad thing. Yes it is generally considered a drag on the economy and can negatively impact quality of life. But congestion can also mean that a city is a dynamic place, and people and employers want to be there – which is definitely the case in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.