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INTRODUCTION

1.1 THE NEED TO ACT: TRANSFORMING TRANSPORTATION

We have all been there. You are stuck on a 400-series highway for two hours because of a traffic accident. When it finally arrives, the bus is overcrowded. The train is 45 minutes late. Because of traffic congestion, you are late picking up your child from daycare. The courier package does not arrive when it is supposed to. The critical electrical part your company needs is held up in traffic. Your commute, which used to take half an hour, now takes 45 minutes.

You are not alone. This impacts everyone. The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is facing a significant transportation challenge — one that affects people, the environment and the economy. Once highly regarded, the GTHA transportation system is no longer meeting the needs of the area’s residents and businesses. Some of the symptoms of this are clearly evident in our congested roads and highways, gridlocked urban streets, unreliable and inconvenient transit, and lack of safe bikeways and pedestrian pathways. Other symptoms are less easy to see — the economic disruption from congestion, the hindrance of trade and the movement of goods, the increased number of smog days, the toll on individuals and families from commutes that take way too long, the ever-increasing share of the family budget devoted to basic transportation.

Things need to change. And that is what the “Big Move: Transforming Transportation in the GTHA” is about.

The mandate to create a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) is embodied in the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority Act, 2006 which established Metrolinx and directed it to create a long-term strategic plan for an integrated, multi-modal, regional transportation system. As defined by the Act, this is to be a transportation plan that:

  • takes into account all modes of transportation;
  • makes use of intelligent transportation systems;
  • promotes the integration of local transit systems with each other and with the GO Transit system;
  • works toward easing congestion and commute times, and reducing transportation-related emissions of smog precursors and greenhouse gases; and
  • promotes transit-supportive development and the viability and optimization of transit infrastructure.

The RTP is the third piece in a three-part approach by the provincial government to prepare the GTHA for growth and sustainability. It builds on the Greenbelt Plan, which protects more than 1.8 million acres of environmentally sensitive and agricultural land in the heart of the region, and the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, which manages population and job growth, and curbs urban sprawl. Together, these three initiatives will lead to the development of more compact and complete communities that make walking, cycling and transit part of everyday life.

The RTP fulfils the province’s commitment to undertake further work and analysis to implement the transportation network and policies of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. It also meets the Growth Plan’s directions that call for the transportation system to be planned and managed to provide connectivity among transportation modes, offer a balance of transportation choices, encourage the most financially and environmentally appropriate modes for trip-making, offer multi-modal access to jobs, housing and services, and shape growth by supporting intensification.

The Big Move is the blueprint for a more sustainable transportation future. It reaches out 25 years into the future to guide and direct decision-making. It sets out priorities, policies and programs for a future of complete mobility. The aim of the RTP is to achieve a transportation system for the GTHA that is effective, integrated and multi-modal. The RTP presents a vision for the future in which transportation within the GTHA is seamless, coordinated and efficient, as well as a blueprint for how to get there.

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