Over at Urban Toronto, Jonathan English posted a review of our Review of Metrolinx's Big Move where he wrote:
Debates over Metrolinx's Big Move returned to the headlines this week with the release of a detailed new report prepared by planner Michael Schabas for the Neptis Foundation. While some observers may dismiss it as "yet another" study of transit in Toronto, we can never have too much information about a plan that will, after all, cost tens of billions of dollars. The report brings some useful and occasionally provocative suggestions to the table and also effectively criticizes some of the weakness of the GTA's transit planning process. This article will examine some of Schabas' conclusions.
This report began as a question asked by Tony Coombes, the founding executive director of the Neptis Foundation, who passed away earlier this year.
Toronto (11 December 2013): An independent analysis by Michael Schabas for the Neptis Foundation shows that Metrolinx's Big Move is in need of a major course correction if it is to meet its stated goals of doubling ridership and decreasing commute times.
The analysis by Schabas, a partner at FCP, an international transit and rail consulting firm based in London, England shows that Metrolinx has yet to prove the business case for many of its projects, and whether they provide value for money.
Metrolinx, which has embarked on a $36 billion program of capital investment has also been less than transparent when it comes to providing clear, complete, and consistent evidence to justify and prioritize its projects, says Schabas.
Given the urgent need to expand transit in the region and to make decisions based on the best possible evidence, the Neptis Foundation commissioned this evaluation of all Metrolinx projects on a consistent basis, the first study of its kind for the Big Move. The report analyses the business case for each project individually and as a package. It also draws on international best practices to offer suggestions for improving certain projects to help Metrolinx realize its goals of doubling transit ridership by 2031, reducing average commute times and highway congestion across the region.
Unlike other municipalities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, York Region has implemented the minimum intensification target for each of its lower-tier municipalities using a total number of residential units instead of a % of total units. David Fleischer tweeted a question about the minimum intensification targets of lower-tier municipalities.
Just how much land has been set aside to be urbanized in the Greater Toronto Region in the coming decades?
What is the status of the implementation of Ontario's innovative, ambitious and award-winning Growth Plan that is designed to promote "smart growth and curb sprawl"?
What are the key challenges and issues that have become apparent as municipalities translate provincial population forecasts, density and intensification targets into land budgets to determine how much land will be urbanized to accommodate residents and jobs?
Transit is the talk of the region these days and Edward J. Levy's webbook Rapid Transit in Toronto: A Century of Plans, Progress, Politics and Paralysis is a timely body of work that provides useful historical lessons and insights as today's politicians, planners and citizens discuss ways to build and finance transit infrastructure.
The webbook published in collaboration with The Neptis Foundation is a treasure trove of rare, historical maps and plans dating back to the early 20th century which tracks numerous but unsuccessful attempts to build a rapid transit network that placed Toronto at the centre of a vast, interconnected region.
Levy says there has never been a shortage of creative and robust rapid transit plans which, had they come to fruition, might have created the integrated network Toronto never built and now needs more than ever.
Instead the history of attempts to build a rapid transit network in Toronto has been a sad story of missed opportunities.
Many of these plans contained the concept of a U-shaped subway line extending east and west of the city core, the long sought "network builder" that would have allowed Toronto's skeletal subway system to become a true network offering several well distributed and integrated interchanges, built-in redundancies in the case of train breakdown, area-wide connectivity and operating flexibility for the benefit of the majority of riders across the city and region.
In the postscript to his book: Completing the Regional Connection, Levy argues that the rebirth of regionalism with the creation of Metrolinx and the Province of Ontario's "Places to Grow" plan for south/central Ontario provides the backdrop to what should be our next grand in-city subway building exercise.
"In doing so the Greater Toronto Region must learn from its history and do it right," said Levy.
His solution is the Regional Relief Line which builds on the idea of the proposed but very limited Downtown Relief Line, and places it squarely in a regional context, showing how a series of modifications would reduce congestion across the region, and allow a 50-year discussion about the integration of GO Transit and the TTC to become a reality.
"It is crucial that the tiresome downtown-suburban dichotomy over such projects be expunged from the discussion because this line could become the ultimate network builder, linking TTC and GO Transit services, thereby serving the whole region," said Levy.
- Three city's apples-to-apples comparison: Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver
- Where and how growth happened was analyzed through: changes in population and dewelling, landuse plans and growth policies
- Conclusions are drawn on the relationship between type of policies, its effects and associated circumstance
- Vancouver accomodated 80% of its residential growth through intensification, while in Calgary, 78% of housing growth occurred as greenfield developmet in the urban fringe. Toronto has a rate of 44%, between Calgary and Vancouver's values.
The project is an innovative collaboration between the fields of remote sensing (the use of satellite imagery), spatial analysis and statistics, and policy analysis. The approach represents a new way to evaluate the results of planning policies and governance structures across different jurisdictions. The study found that there is a high degree of correspondence between long-term planning goals and urban development patterns in each metropolitan area. Each city pursued a different approach to planning urban growth, and that these different approaches have shaped and channelled that growth in distinctive ways. The report concludes that planning policies are more likely to be effective if they are pursued over the long term and buttressed by a sense of shared objectives and supportive institutions, and that provincial governments play a central role in shaping the institutional environments within which regional planning operates