What does Bill 57 mean for Metrolinx & multi-modal transportation

by Jamie Stuckless, Executive Director, Share the Road Cycling Coalition

Share the Road was in attendance for a speech by The Honourable Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation at the Economic Club of Canada on Nov. 26

On November 15, the The Honourable Victor Fedeli, Minister of Finance, presented the Fall Economic Statement and tabled Bill 57 the Restoring Trust, Transparency and Accountability Act. This Bill covers a wide range of issues and affects over 70 Acts, including the Metrolinx Act.

Schedule 25 of Bill 57 removes the requirement that Metrolinx transportation planning take into consideration all modes of transportation. It also proposes changing the objectives of Metrolinx, replacing the object to provide leadership on multi-modal transportation networks with the object of providing leadership on transit networks.

Screenshot of Bill 57, Schedule 25 (www.ola.org)

As your provincial cycling advocacy organization, our first step was to gather information about what was behind this change. Share the Road reached out to partners inside and outside of government for clarification, including the Minister of Transportation’s office. Our key questions have been:

  • What is the impetus behind this change;
  • How would this affect the ability to plan for first and last mile connections to transit, and;
  • What does this mean for multi-modal programs such as Smart Commute, bike share and Bike to School Week.

We have received confirmation that staff in multiple offices are looking into our questions, but we have not yet received an official response. We will continue to follow-up and seek clarification.

Currently, we do not know exactly what Bill 57 means for Metrolinx and multi-modal transportation planning. So, what’s next.

Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

Bill 57 has passed first and second reading in the House and has been referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. The Committee is holding public hearings on Bill 57 today — Monday, December 3.

As part of the hearing process, Share the Road has submitted a written comment to the Committee regarding Bill 57, in which we recommend that Metrolinx continue to have a leadership role in planning for multi-modal transportation networks. Planning for multi-modal first and last mile connections will provide safe, convenient and affordable transportation options for residents and ensure that stations are able to absorb the planned increases in ridership.

Currently, 62% of transit users are driving & parking at stations and 85% of station parking lots are near or at capacity (Metrolinx GO Rail Access Plan 2016). It is already challenging for current transit riders to find a parking space and ridership is expected to grow. To accommodate upwards of 125,000 new riders over the next 15 years, Metrolinx estimates that we would need to build more than 75,000 new parking spaces (Metrolinx 2016).

Allocating more space for parking around transit stations is expensive, and it reduces the available space for residential and mixed use development around stations. Planning for walking, cycling and micro-transit connections to stations will also help to free up parking spaces for transit users who need to drive.

At present, Metrolinx plays a leadership role in facilitating impactful first and last mile multi-modal initiatives, including station access planning, Smart Commute and bike share. As such, we strongly recommend that Metrolinx continues to take a leadership role in planning for door-to-door transportation for transit users across this province.

You can view a full copy of our comment on our website here.

Written comments can be submitted to the Clerk of the Committee until 6pm tonight.

If you choose to also submit a comment today, please cc Share the Road and reference our remarks and recommendation. A united voice is most effective.

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