Growing congestion on roads and transit is challenging future growth and prosperity for the people of the Region. There are no simple solutions. Effective infrastructure investment requires a coordinated approach to policy development between all levels of government.
SRRA’s mandate is to provide a forum where innovative new policy can be developed and tested by experts in both government and the private sector, in a non-partisan evidenced-based setting. By connecting silos of government policy and private sector expertise the impacts and value of new infrastructure can be measured and evaluated in a transparent environment.
Public infrastructure decisions must stand the passage of time. Once built, buildings, roads, and transit shape where and how people live and work for many years to come. But, infrastructure decisions made today take years to complete. Forecasting the impact of new roads and transit on what the region will look like in the future requires a broader understanding of the markets that create housing and employment infrastructure.
The conversation and research conducted by SRRA with a broad range of influencers closes the gap between the realities of markets and community expectation.
SRRA publications and Forums address three key areas of policy innovation: Transportation, Land Use, and Funding
Land in the region is intensifying. This is putting greater pressure on the limited capacity of roads to move people, goods, and services. For transit to be a viable option for people it must compete with roads for convenience, cost, and speed. Effective investment in public transit ought be measured first by understanding the impact of each project on the number of new transit users it brings to the network.
SRRA's transit research is focused on understanding the relationship between where people live, where they will live in the future and how effectively each new transit project is at creating a viable option for people to use public transportation to get to where they need to be.
DEVELOPMENT AND TRANSIT
New development of homes and work places benefit from transit proximity. And transit operators benefit from ridership originating from people living and working in close proximity to transit. Why then does land use and taxation policy not recognize the value of intensification surrounding existing and new transit projects? Getting intensification right benefits both transit operators and builders.
This is policy innovation which can be effective immediately. Before a new major transit project is approved and constructed over a time frame of 10 to 15 years, the region will grow by another 1.5 million people. But homes and workplaces can be encouraged to locate near transit now.
SRRA's research suggests that a collaborative approach utilizing direct partnerships and/or implementing innovative tax and planning policy will create greater intensification around transit. In turn, this will lead to greater transit use, reduced congestion and facilitate continued growth in the region.
FUNDING INNOVATION FOR TRANSIT
Funding the capital expansion of transit capacity has until now been the exclusive domain of government. The need for more capital investment investment than governments are willing to contribute requires innovative approaches to securing funding. Public private partnerships in the financing of transit have been part of policy for over 15 years. But little has been done to in the GTA to create the environment where public pension funds and other pools of capital can augment government funding.
SRRA has been pursuing the problem of the funding of transit since its inception and believes that the principles and processes of transit delivery employed in other cities have to become part of the way new projects are funded in the GTA to accelerate the development of more capacity.