MoveOntario 2020

Archived Backgrounder

MoveOntario 2020

Office of the Premier

The Cost of Congestion

The GTA is one of the fastest growing regions in North America, increasing its population by approximately 100,000 people -- and 50,000 cars -- every year.


The GTA is the fourth-most congested area on the continent, trailing only Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago.

Traffic congestion doesn't just stay on our roads -- it affects jobs and the economy.  People are late for work.  Trucks delivering the goods that keep Ontario's economy strong don't arrive at their destinations on time. 

As businesses increase their speed and efficiency and develop faster production cycles, delivering goods "just in time" has become more critical than ever -- but battling traffic results in lost time and productivity.  Congestion costs the GTA $2.2 billion each year. 

The personal cost is rising.  Ontarians have been patient, but gridlock and packed transit vehicles can put a real stress on commuters.  Commuting in the GTA currently takes 32 per cent longer than it would in free-flowing conditions.  By 2031, that will rise to 40 per cent. 

The environmental cost of congestion is also unsustainable.  GTA residents made approximately 10 million car trips per day in 2004 and were responsible for approximately 14 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. 

If we continue growing the same way, making the same transportation choices, and not doing anything to relieve gridlock, congestion will get much worse.  The time needed to travel by car from Toronto to Hamilton during peak hours, for example, will nearly double -- from an hour-and-a-half in 2000 to about three hours in 2021.

Commuters choose their car over using public transit because options are either limited or inconvenient.  Effective and expanded public transit will:

  • Reduce traffic congestion and make it easier and faster to get people and goods where they need to go
  • Cut smog and provide cleaner air to breathe
  • Help Ontario reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Support sustainable urban development that leads to stronger communities and a higher quality of life.

This will make Ontario more competitive, spur jobs and growth and help accommodate the expected population growth in the GTA. 

The Plan -- MoveOntario 2020

The McGuinty government has made record investments in public transit since taking office.  Nearly $4.9 billion has been invested since 2003 in public transit around the province.  However, further investments are needed.

MoveOntario 2020 is a bold vision to improve the quality of life in the GTA.  It will be the largest transit investment in Canadian history.  The plan includes 52 rapid transit projects. 

It will create more than 175,000 jobs during construction.  A modern rapid transit system that moves people and goods quickly and efficiently will attract thousands more jobs in the future.

The plan calls for 66 per cent of the projects to be completed by 2015.  By 2020, the goal is to have 95 per cent of the projects complete. 

MoveOntario 2020 includes 902 kilometres of new or improved rapid transit that will move people efficiently around the region.  It will result in 800 million new transit trips per year, taking 300 million car trips off GTA roads.  This will cut smog and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10 megatonnes by 2020.

The Partners

The Greater Toronto Transportation Authority (GTTA) will oversee the entire project. The GTTA will finalize the plan and report back to the Province in early 2008 on their long-term plan for transportation in the GTA. It will include MoveOntario 2020 as well as other key transportation initiatives.

The provincial government will pay 65 per cent of the cost -- $11.5 billion -- out of existing provincial revenue streams.  Costs will only begin once construction has been completed, similar to a homeowner's mortgage.  This means the cost will be spread over 50 years.

Estimated Cost to Provincial Treasury

The federal government will be asked to pay a minimum of 35 per cent of the costs of construction over the life of the projects, for a total of $6 billion.  This is consistent with other infrastructure projects of national economic and environmental importance such as the Pacific Gateway and the Manitoba Floodway.

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Driving and Roads