Toronto faces an unsustainable situation: we are leading on growth and choking on congestion. We urgently need to build up a world-class transit system to grow our economy and our businesses, support labour force development, and connect workers to affordable housing across the region.
That challenge was the centrepiece of our Transportation Symposium, Day 1: The Economic Benefits of World-Class Transit.
As TRBOT’s President and CEO Jan De Silva illustrated in her speech, “Today’s event shines a light on the congestion crisis facing our economy. And my use of the term ‘crisis’ is intentional. Because here’s an important stat: 57 per cent of the large companies in our region are foreign owned. Their headquarters have a world of choice in where to place their operations and their investments. Our reputation as the third most congested city in North America is incompatible with retaining and growing foreign-owned businesses in our market.”
Alstom’s VP of Public Affairs Canada, Olivier Marcil, added that the growing population – one million new people in the GTA in the next decade – will deepen the congestion crisis but also presents a great opportunity to build a better system.
“Urbanization is a century-long, very heavy trend in our modern society and consequently the need for mobility and goods will only increase,” he said. “Improving transit will be key to fostering economic growth in the region and address the waste of productivity for simply being jammed in traffic. Improving transit will also be critical to responding to the climate crisis.”
Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney echoed De Silva’s concern: “Congestion doesn’t just make you late getting home for dinner with your family, it adds insult to injury by making that dinner cost more.”
To solve the problem, Mulroney said her government is committed to fare and service integration, expanding GO service, and building the Ontario Line subway and Highway 413.
Mulroney added, “Our goal is to ensure that we have the right mix of transportation infrastructure in the right communities so we can get goods and people moving more quickly and more efficiently.”
In a fireside chat with Giles Gherson, EVP and Chair of TRBOT’s Economic Blueprint Institute, TTC CEO Rick Leary confirmed they’re working with their partners to integrate the TTC with surrounding transit systems.
“We’re well on our way right now,” he said. “We’re working with the City of Toronto to design that integration, we’re working with Metrolinx, with Presto, we want to make sure the whole system is integrated so when we introduce it, it provides everybody more opportunity to get on a Mississauga bus or a TTC bus – the customer doesn’t care, they just don’t want a bus going by them – so my hope is we’ll be piloting something much later on this year.”
Attendees were also treated to a keynote speech by John Williams, President, Bechtel Infrastructure Northeast US & Canada, Bechtel Corporation. He was instrumental in getting London’s celebrated new Elizabeth Line up and running. With nearly 70 million trips in just the first six months of service, the new commuter rail service challenges cities everywhere to think big and achieve greatness.
It was an extraordinary half-day of great speakers and panels, with fascinating takeaways for everyone who attended. Make sure you don’t miss Day 2 of our Transportation Symposium on March 30. It’s sure to sell out!
Thank you to our Presenting Sponsor Alstom, Supporting Sponsor CN Rail, Event Sponsor the Waterfront BIA, and the Board’s Principal Sponsors Scotiabank, The Globe & Mail, SNC Lavalin, and the University of Toronto.