Big Read – In-depth look into the bright future of transit in the GTA

More transit, fewer cars

Expanding public transit will ease congestion by getting cars off the road with 700,000 more rush hour trips on transit each day throughout the region.

As our region grows, so does the demand for more transit. 

Metrolinx and local transit agencies across the Greater Golden Horseshoe are delivering more and more new service to meet the needs of a growing population. 

Across the region, the result will be an increase in rush hour public transit trips by 700,000 per day by 2041, compared to 2011. This is vitally important for easing traffic congestion and giving people a better transit experience. 

“We are offering more choices to get residents where they want to go, across our region by transit,” said Marcy Burchfield, Metrolinx’s vice president of planning.  

Those 700,000 trips are coming from a mix of major new projects – the massive GO Expansion program, four new subway projects, light-rail transit (LRT) and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines across the region – and additions to regular transit schedules. They include the peak periods from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. 

More transit is the solution to the congestion issues which are faced by everyone who lives, works and finds entertainment in the region. 

GO Train stock images

Over $11 billion of GO Expansion work is already underway across the region. (Metrolinx photo)

More transit less congestion 

“Without a doubt, we have a well-documented congestion crisis in the region,” said Monika Wyrzykowska, director of policy for the Toronto Region Board of Trade.  

“Not only does it impact commuters daily, but on a larger scale, has negative consequences for trade, productivity and our overall global competitiveness.  

“Consider, the average driver in Toronto lost 118 hours due to congestion in 2022, costing the region an estimated $11 billion annually in lost productivity and opportunity,” she added. 

Wyrzykowska notes our transit system plays a key part in any congestion plan and as the region’s population continues to grow, the transit network needs to grow with it.  

GO Train stock images

GO Trains will be electric in the future, meaning faster, quieter trips for customers. (Metrolinx photo)

Transit trips beyond downtown 

Additional routes will deliver more transit that connects different communities across the region, and travels in both directions, across a network that has traditionally focused on getting people in and out of downtown Toronto. 

“There will be different travel patterns – not just bringing commuters into downtown to work said Menno Van Linburg, a director in Engineering and Asset Management at Metrolinx.  

The GO Expansion program will be driving much of the growth in transit. Moving across the region on GO Trains will be easier than ever with two-way, all-day service to more communities and trains every 15 minutes or better. 

There is no precedent for the GO Expansion program.  

Over $11 billion of work is already underway, including station renovations, expansions and improvements, grade separations, bridge and tunnel expansions and maintenance facilities.  

The result will be more and faster train travel.   

A key addition will be electric GO Trains. They will reach speeds of up to 140 km/h between stations, making the GO Train faster than taking a car in virtually every instance, and saving current GO customers an average of 10 minutes per trip.   

“GO will have a high frequency service, like LRTs and subways, where you don’t have to look up when the next train is coming, because it’s usually only a few minutes away,” Van Limburg added. 

The number of GO Train departures per week will grow from 3,500 in 2019 to more 10,000 while additional transit routes will also contribute more trips. 

A GO Train travels through Toronto on the Lakeshore West Line

GO Trains travel quickly through Toronto. (Metrolinx image)

Subway projects coming up 

The Ontario Line – a new 15.6-km route with 15 stations from Exhibition Place, through the heart of downtown, to Don Mills and Eglinton – will run as often as every 90 seconds during rush hour. 

Its fast subway service will give drivers a new reason to leave their cars at home. 

Metrolinx projects that people will get on board the Ontario Line 388,000 times per day. This will ease congestion, both on streets and in the existing subway system. 

As people living in neighbourhoods east of Yonge Street switch to the Ontario Line, more space will be freed-up on Line 1. Rush hour crowding inside both Bloor/Yonge and Union Station will be reduced. 

Riders will also benefit from connections to more than 40 other travel options along the way, including the TTC’s Line 1 and Line 2, three GO Train lines, and the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

Expanded subway service will also attract more riders.  

Work has begun for Ontario Line, as well as the Scarborough Subway Extension, Eglinton Crosstown West Extension and Yonge North Subway Extension into York Region. 

Ontario Line Exhibition Station rendering

Work has begun on the Ontario Line subway which will run from Exhibition Place to Don Mills and Eglinton.

Light rail transit projects underway 

The Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT) project will deliver frequent, reliable trips from Humber College Station to Finch West Station with links to TTC Line 1 and local transit in both Peel and York Region. 

In Peel Region, the Hazel McCallion Line, another LRT line, will span 18 km with 19 stops along the way from Port Credit Station to Brampton Gateway Terminal. It will offer connections to a range of transit systems, including MiWay, Brampton Transit, and Züm buses plus GO Trains. 

A new LRT line in Hamilton will connect key areas, destinations and institutions, along Main Street, King Street and Queenston Road, with its 14-km route. 

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects, sometimes referred to as transitways, are dedicated bus routes with more capacity and reliability than conventional bus routes. BRT is proposed for the corridor along Queen Street in Brampton and Highway 7 in Vaughan and a route connecting Scarborough with Durham

Hurontario LRT project

More transit service means fewer cars on the road.

Transforming the region  

Investing more than $75 billion in transit will transform the region to an extent that is unprecedented in Canada.  

The vision behind the investments goes beyond transit. It’s a holistic plan meant to have a profound impact on the region.  

Reducing congestion is one of the key objectives, but more than that, Metrolinx is building a reliable, efficient, and accessible network that connects communities far and wide.  

The result will be a transportation renaissance for the next generation.