Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis

Transportation Pressures in the GTHA

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As the leading region for job creation in Ontario over the past decade and home to over half of the provincial population, the GTHA’s prosperity is closely linked to that of Canada. At the heart of the region is the Toronto metropolitan area, which alone generates 52% of Ontario’s GDP. Between 2006 and 2016, the population in the region has grown by 14% and the number of jobs has grown by almost 10%. By 2041, the population is expected to grow by a further 41% to over 10.1 million.

Currently, more than half of commuters spend over 30 minutes commuting in a single direction, and for some commuters, this can even exceed an hour. This exceeds the commonly cited “Marchetti’s Constant”, the notion in transportation literature that on average, people are willing to commute for 30 minutes in a single direction, and hints at the pressure building up in the system. Longer commutes are a consequence of the geographical divide between home and workplace found in the region. The majority of employees in six of the nine municipalities with the largest number of jobs commute in from other municipalities.

This study highlights that:

  • The continued population and employment growth in the GTHA can exacerbate current population challenges.
  • Sufficient, properly leveraged and well-planned transportation infrastructure is essential to preserving quality of life and avoiding an increase in the costs of doing business in the region.
  • Future investments in transportation infrastructure should be evaluated on the basis of their productivity to avoid a worsening of congestion.
  • The alignment of residential, economic and transportation development is critical to Ontario's prosperity and future growth.