Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis

Regional Express Rail’s Impact on Housing Affordability in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

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Using CANCEA’s award-winning computer platform – Prosperity at Risk (PaR) – and aggregated data from the Toronto Real Estate Board across 773 communities, this report investigates the impacts of transit (and the Regional Express Rail (RER) specifically) on housing affordability in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. Given “affordability” includes more than just housing prices – and must include transportation costs to provide a more complete picture of shelter-related needs – “affordability” is measured using CANCEA’s recognized Shelter Consumption Affordability Ratio (SCAR).

The report notes that proximity to transit does not in-and-of-itself increase accessibility and that development around transit hubs (including greater density) is critical. Nonetheless, when looking at housing prices in the region, accessible transit can provide a premium of up to 12% relative to the base case of no transit. For households around GO stations outside Toronto proper, the estimated improvement in affordability due to RER is 1.5% on average as changes in the cost of a home are more than offset by lower transportation costs (for those who stop commuting by car). While this varies widely, mode shift (i.e., from cars onto trains) is the key driver of improved affordability.