On December 11, 2014, Toronto City Council directed the City Manager in consultation with the province/Metrolinx to develop a work plan to undertake an accelerated review of the SmartTrack and RER plans. Council also directed the City Manager to retain the University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute (UTTRI) to support the planning analysis and required transit ridership modelling as a component of the overall review.
The UTTRI component of this work provided transit ridership estimates and other key network performance measures using the City’s new Regional Travel Demand Model (GTAModel Version 4.0) developed by UTTRI.
The study did not deal with detailed engineering design, costing or financing considerations of route alignments and stations. Rather, it focused solely on the transit ridership levels and other system performance measures that are likely to occur if various transit network improvements are made.
While the primary focus of this analysis was on options for the proposed SmartTrack line, this line cannot be considered in isolation of the overall Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area (GTHA) transit network and, in particular, other major transit infrastructure proposed investments, notably GO RER plans, and Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) and Relief Line (RL) options. Similarly, the future is a very uncertain place, and so ranges of estimated ridership were generated across a variety of possible future year growth scenarios and other assumptions. Given this, a wide range of combinations of network investment and growth scenarios were generated in this study and results were compared in detail.
As noted in the covering memo from City of Toronto Planning Division, the projections documented in this report represent “a moment in time” (circa mid-2016) in terms of the assumptions concerning service concepts and future scenarios. Since the preparation of this report, City Planning has continued to refine their plans and update their analyses. Nevertheless, we feel that this report represents a useful contribution to the understanding of the potential impact of SmartTrack and other major transit investment options on transit ridership within the City of Toronto and the GTHA as a whole. We also believe that it demonstrates the usefulness of advanced modelling methods, and the evidence that they can generate, to contribute in a useful way to the policy debate.
We are pleased to have received permission from the City of Toronto to release this report to the public.