MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR
On November 28, 2008, the Metrolinx Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt this Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), which we have named The Big Move: Transforming Transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). The Big Move is a landmark achievement. The municipal leaders on the Metrolinx Board have come together, with a single voice, to create a common vision for transportation in the region.
This plan has been forwarded to the Minister of Transportation as part of the requirement under the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Act Section 6 (2).
The emergence of the GTHA as one of the largest and fastest-growing urban regions in North America in the 1970s and 1980s was spurred, in part, by a regional transportation network that was ahead of its time.
In the last generation, however, we have not sufficiently invested in the region’s transportation network. As a result, every year, congested roads and overtaxed transit systems result in billions of dollars lost from our economy through delays, wasted energy and dirty air.
We are releasing The Big Move at a time of significant economic uncertainty. Despite this, we believe that now, more than ever, acting on the recommendations in the RTP is critically important. The RTP will not only reclaim our region’s traditional transportation advantage, but also bolster our global competitiveness, protect our environment, and improve our quality of life.
For the very first time, like so many of our global competitors, we are thinking like a single region. We are proposing new transportation projects that amount to two billion dollars annually over the next 25 years — the largest public transit expansion in half a century. Over its life span, this investment will not only help create thousands of new green and well-paid jobs, but also will save billions of dollars in time, energy and other efficiencies.
We plan to build over 1,200 kilometres of rapid transit — more than triple what exists now — so that over 80 per cent of residents in the region will live within two kilometres of rapid transit, with an emphasis on areas with large senior and low-income populations who rely on transit to get around daily.
The Big Move is about values as much as it is about vehicles. With over 100 priority actions and supporting policies, it moves the yardsticks in a wide range of transportation areas. Benefits will be widespread. It will help get people to the places they need to go more quickly, allowing them to spend more time on what is really important. Average commute times will decrease, despite an expected 50 per cent increase in population. More residents will be able to access jobs that were once inconvenient to reach by transit, while integrated transit fares and leading edge information systems will help all of us make smarter choices.
The Big Move will help to revitalize our communities into the kinds of places where residents can take transit, ride a bicycle or walk to fulfill their day’s activities, and where children can once again walk to school. Over 7,000 km of new lanes, trails and pathways for pedestrians and cyclists will make walking and cycling safe and encourage healthy lifestyles. Greenhouse gas emissions per resident will decline dramatically and our air will be cleaner.
The Big Move is the result of the participation and support of many people.
To create this plan, we held open houses and public meetings across the region, as well as numerous meetings and discussions with stakeholder groups. We listened to all the input we received and adjusted the plan where necessary to make it even more practical, realistic and workable.
The plan also owes much to our staff, whose passion and dedication over the last year made the plan possible. Further, our consultants, led by IBI Group, provided us with their unparalleled expertise and in-depth knowledge of the region. Staff from provincial ministries, municipalities and transit agencies guided our work with timely and helpful input.
The development of the plan was guided by the Metrolinx Board of Directors. It was my honour to chair this group of municipal leaders and professionals whose dedication to changing the face of transportation in the region has been unwavering.
And finally, the plan is directly attributable to the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Transportation who had the vision and commitment to launch both this important initiative, and the unprecedented MoveOntario 2020 commitment of $11.5 billion to begin the implementation of The Big Move and to get shovels in the ground as early as 2009 on key transit projects.
The Big Move will immediately deliver real, tangible results in the way we plan and operate the transportation system. As the most ambitious long-term transportation plan on the books in North America, the Big Move is a bold and visionary plan that will restore the winning combination of mobility and prosperity that defined our region in the post-war era. It will put us ahead of our competitors and closer to our families and communities. Its vision and concrete actions will permeate every transportation decision in the GTHA. The plan introduces a new way of doing business in transportation.
Working together, let’s seize this unique opportunity to keep moving forward.
Video Message from the Chair