Thornhill Green Transportation Plan

Green Transportation Plan for Thornhill

February 5, 2014

As former Chair of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Parking and Transportation for York University (PACOPT), I co-authored a study called the Green Transportation Plan for York University with the late Tom Arnold, former Director of Parking Services.

The York University Green Transportation Plan included a wide array of measures, both carrots and sticks, designed to encourage almost 50,000 campus commuters to use alternatives to single occupancy commutes in order to reduce road congestion near the campus, and to reduce the percentage of campus lands devoted to vast commuter parking lots. At the time of the study, an estimated 75% of campus visits were by single occupancy drivers, with the 25% balance using transit, car pools, walking and other transportation options.

The Green Transportation Plan included a diverse range of strategies developed by the 20 person PACOPT, which included university administrators, union leaders, student government leaders and several special constituencies. The following were several of the measures included in this strategy:

  1. Create a new York University GO Train Station on the Bradford / Union GO Train Line
  2. Create a new inter-campus regional GO Bus service to link York to other GTA campuses
  3. Provide access to the campus for York Region Transit and Brampton Transit buses
  4. Reduce the amount of the central campus devoted to commuter surface parking lots
  5. Build three large strategically located premium-priced multi-story car garages
  6. Create a Black Creek Smart Commute Car-Share program (now replicated nationally)
  7. Rationalized campus passenger pick up / drop off locations and taxi stand locations
  8. Dedicate the central Harry Arthurs University Common to transit and pedestrians only

This strategy turned out to be very successful. First of all, the report needed to be accepted and endorsed by the PACOPT, which it was. The report then had to be adopted by the York University Executive, which it also did. Finally, and most importantly, the measures had to be implemented by many different campus transportation stakeholders, which also happened. In time,  it was indeed very successful. By the end of an four year implementation period, transportation to the campus had been totally transformed, and the 75% – 25% single occupancy vehicle commuter modal split had been reversed to an estimated 25% – 75%.

The transportation situation in Thornhill and York Region can similarly benefit through well thought out and carefully orchestrated improvements to transportation and transit facilities. These measures could quickly and dramatically improve transportation flows of all kinds throughout the region, facilitate economic development and improve safety for all citizens.

The by-election in Thornhill provides an opportunity to explore what the Government of Ontario, working with other levels of government and all residents, can do to improve transportation in this important area of the GTA. If successful, these measures can indeed become models for transportation improvement that can be replicated across the province.

The following are some suggestions for reflection:

1.       Build large commuter parking garages, like the ones located at most suburban GO Train stations, at the terminus stations of the TTC subway lines at Downsview and Yonge/Finch

2.       Build a Thornhill GO Train Station on Barrie Train Line at Hwy 7 / Centre Street

3.       Build a  large GO Train Commuter Parking Garage at new Thornhill GO Train Station

4.       Plan more GO Train Stations on Barrie GO Train line, in addition to already planned Downsview & Eglinton stations, with relevant destinations including:

·         Wilson(Humber River Regional Hospital/Ministry of Transportation/Bombardier/Yorkdale)

·         Lawrence (Columbus Centre/Lawrence Square/Lawrence Heights)

·         St. Claire (Corso Italia/St. Claire Streetcar Transfer)

·         Dupont (Junction)

·         Bloor (Downtown West & Bloor Subway Transfer)

·         Dundas (Little Italy/Portuguese Village)

·         Dufferin/Queen (Parkdale/Liberty Village/CNE West/Ontario Place)

·         Bathurst/Front (Billy Bishop Airport/City Place)

5.       Build a Thornhill Square GO Train Station  on Richmond Hill line at Bayview & John 

6.       Build a GO Transit commuter parking garage for Thornhill Square GO Train Station

7.       Plan more GO Train Stations on Richmond Hill GO Train line including: 

·         Carville/16th Line

·         Steeles Ave (Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College / Steeles Av. retail)

·         Sheppard  – relocated Oriole (North York General Hospital / Sheppard Subway Transfer)

·         Don Mills (Shops at Don Mills / Edwards Gardens)

·         Eglinton (Ontario Science Centre / Sunnybrook Park)

·         Pottery Road (Evergreen Brickworks)

·         Bloor (Downtown East  & Bloor Danforth Subway Transfer )

·         Gerrard  (Ryerson University / Hospital District)

8.       Study feasibility of a new east-west regional GO Train  using CN track north of Steeles

9.       Build on/off ramps on Highway 404 at John Street

10.    Build on/off ramps on Highway 404 / DVP at McNicoll/Cummer

11.    Build on/off ramps on Highway 404 DVP at Van Horne (Peanut Plaza)

12.    Build on/off ramps on Highway 404 / DVP at Overlea (Thorncliff)

13.    Build on/off ramps on Highway 404 / DVP at Millwood/Pape (East York)

14.    Upgrade on/off  ramps on Highway 401at Bathurst/Wilson to 4 directions

15.    Upgrade on/off ramps on Highway 400 at Steeles/York University to 4 directions

16.    Build on/off ramps on Highway 400 at Sheppard (Emory Village)

17.    Build on/off ramps on Highway 400 at Wilson (Humber River Regional Hospital)

18.    Widen Allen Road/Dufferin Street from Finch to Steeles

19.    Clean-up subway construction mess on Allan Road between Highway 401 & Sheppard

20.    Extend Alness north to Connect Thornhill to Toronto

21.    Connect gaps in Don Valley East and West Trail systems through valley lands to Toronto

22.    Create north-south road crossings across provincially controlled Finch Hydro Corridor

23.    Create more north-south and east-west crossing across federally controlled CN tracks

24.    Explore moving operations of Buttonwood Airport to Downsview Airport

Leon Wasser MBA, P.Eng.                                       

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