QUALITY TRANSIT SERVICES
York Region is committed to ensure that its transportation initiatives keep pace with the needs of a growing population and expanding business sector. The Region recognized that quality public transit services would support economic vitality, environmental sustainability and the health of the Regional community. In 2000, great progress was made in the development of a Regional transit system, with the York Region Transit system successfully launched in January 2001.
FROM VISION TO REALITY
There have been discussions and associated studies concerning Regional transit dating back to the 1970s. These initial studies dealt with the co-ordination of transit services throughout the Region, with the area municipalities and GO Transit as transit operators. It was not until 1989 that a study first recommended that there should be an amalgamation of transit services in the Region and a York Region transit operating authority established. In 1994, the establishment of a Regional transit system was approved in principle by Regional Council.
It has been well documented that the Greater Toronto Area faces a major transportation crisis unless dependence on the private automobile is reduced. York Region's population is expected to double to 1.3 million in the next 25 years, with a projected increase in employment to 700,000 jobs. Growth in traffic on the Region's road system is already outpacing population growth, with 25% of the Region's roads operating at capacity. The Region recognized that a dramatic shift to public transit had to be achieved over the next 20 years. This could best be accomplished through an amalgamated service.
An amalgamated Regional transit system offered significant advantages over the status quo, including: improved service across municipal boundaries for both conventional and specialized transit users; cost-saving economies; greater public understanding; more effective marketing; co-ordination of transit services with capital improvements; opportunities to extend service into municipalities currently without; and a stronger voice at the Greater Toronto Services Board. Public opinion surveys favoured the notion of one transit operating authority in the Region.
After much deliberation, it was ultimately recommended that a department of the Region deliver Regional transit services. In 2000, the York Region Transit branch of the Transportation and Works Department was formed under the direction of a General Manager and with support from transit managers from each of the area municipal transit systems. Much effort was placed in 2000 on gathering municipal and public input and designing an implementation strategy that would have the amalgamated service in operation for January 2001.
The Transit Committee was formed to provide policy direction and guidance for the implementation and continued growth of the new and long-awaited York Region Transit system. Under the Committee's guidance, the strategic direction of the York Region Transit system will be continually refined to take into account other Regional issues, including broader transportation matters, urban structure and planning, and social service needs.
After many years of community development, the York Region Transit system can now focus on its vision to be the customers' choice in transportation and essential to the Region's continued economic vitality, environmental sustainability and community health.