Urban Transportation: An Essential Factor

A basic message of this paper is that effective transportation is an essential factor contributing to
the success of urban areas. The paper discusses major socio-economic benefits of improved
urban transportation and relates the implications of these to Canada’s 27 Census Metropolitan
Areas (CMAs), grouped in terms of size and growth rate.

Five requirements for sustainable urban transportation are outlined, plus a discussion of the
importance of integrated transportation and urban development in order to achieve smart growth.
The experience of Metropolitan Toronto during its years of major build-out (1953 – 1985) is
quoted as an example of past success in achieving smart growth, and key messages are drawn
from this and more recent experience in the Greater Toronto Area plus Hamilton (GTA/H).
While provincial-municipal working groups produced a “GTA Vision” for smart growth in 1992,
the paper comments that major objectives of the Vision have not been achieved since then to the
extent anticipated, and attributes much of this experience to the lack of investment in improved
transportation, particularly high-order transit. In the absence of an integrated network of trunk
transit lines, the compact, mixed-use development nodes and corridors essential for sustainable
transportation and smart growth in a large metropolitan area have not been occurring as planned.
Two major reasons for the lack of the required transportation investment integrated with land use
development are identified:

1. Insufficient funding; and
2. Fragmented planning and implementation of transportation and related land use.

Transportation user fees based on full costs for fuel, road space, parking and/or vehicle
registrations are suggested as an important component of improved funding programs, essential
to provide multi-year reliability. A Greater Toronto Transportation Agency is proposed as the
governance mechanism to plan, fund and deliver integrated transportation and related land use for
the entire urban region comprehensively and consistently over time.

The paper concludes by noting that continuing funding shortfalls and fragmented governance
carry major environmental, economic and social risks; in contrast, adequate, reliable funding and
appropriate governance leading to more sustainable transportation and land use will greatly
enhance the liveability and economies of Canada’s urban areas.


Irwin, N.A.

Session title

Opening Plenary Session: The Transportation Factor


Municipal / Urban



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