Dedicated Funding for a Regional Transportation System
The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) has more than 7 million people living across 30 municipalities, over 8,000 square kilometres, four levels of government, and 10 transit agencies. Our demographics and politics are complex. Our needs, values and motivations are diverse. By 2041, over 10 million people will live in the GTHA, comparable to the number who currently live in London or Paris.
Our transportation system is not ready to meet the needs of this growing population — economically, socially or environmentally. Gridlock costs our economy at least $6 billion a year; the transportation sector is one of the main contributors to climate change and air pollution, and we have one of North America’s longest commute times.
Move the GTHA came together to advance the development of a transportation system that connects our region with a network of public transit, regional rail, GO trains and buses, ride-sharing, and active transportation infrastructure. To reduce GHG emissions, have cleaner air, boost our economic development, and many other benefits, we need fewer single-occupancy vehicles on our roads and highways.
In 2008, Move the GTHA advocated for our provincial and regional governments to approve a Regional Transportation Plan prepared by Metrolinx called The Big Move. Since then, Move the GTHA has been actively pushing for the commitment required to build the plan. To date, over $40 billion has been committed by provincial, federal and municipal governments to construct regional transportation projects. An updated draft 2041 Regional Transportation Plan was issued by Metrolinx in 2017. This plan does not identify any additional funding for transportation projects, despite the need for a further capital investment of $45 billion to complete the updated plan, as well as over $1 billion a year in operating costs. This large gap remains unfunded and to fill it, different levels of government will need to adjust their spending priorities and tap into new revenue sources.
In 2013, numerous expert groups including Metrolinx and the Transit Investment Strategy Advisory Panel produced reports on new revenue sources. However, Ontario has taken only small steps to implement these recommendations. Municipalities have increasingly made requests for new revenue tools but the province has not agreed.
Civic organizations and coalitions, such as Move the GTHA, play an important role in raising awareness, identifying public priorities, concerns and preferences, and garnering support for new revenue tools.