Travel

On a typical day, about 98,000 trips to work are destined for Tor-York East. Of these, 94% are made by automobile. This represents roughly 92,000 auto work trips to the area per day - plus another 92,000 return trips from the TYE, for a total of roughly 184,000 daily car work trips associated with the district.

This figure does not include non-work trips to the TYE megazone. When travel for all purposes is considered, the TYE attracts almost 220,000 trips per day. Assuming a similar number of return trips from the AMZ, we can conclude it generates about 440,000 trips in total daily - almost all of them by car.

Thus the TYE megazone is an auto-dependent area, contributing to congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Only about 5,000 of the roughly 98,000 daily work trips to the TYE zone are by transit. In comparison, downtown Toronto, with almost half a million jobs, generates only 133,287 all-day auto work trips, because 60% of workers there take transit and another 11% use active forms of transportation such as walking or cycling. (See Tables 7 and 8 in the Appendix.)

WHERE ARE TYE WORKERS COMING FROM?

Workers travel from all directions to jobs in the TYE megazone. The predominant direction is from the east, which accounts for one-third or about 33,000 all-day work trips from eastern Markham and the City of Toronto, as well as Pickering and Ajax.

About 29% or 28,000 daily work trips come from the south, including the southwestern part of Markham and the City of Toronto, especially North York.

Travel from the north and west are about equal, accounting for 19% and 18%, respectively, or 19,000 and 18,000 trips to the TYE megazone. The patterns are largely similar when only morning peak-period work trips are considered. (See Table 9 in the Appendix.)

The highest share of trips by transit is from the south, at 9%. Trips by transit from the east and west are at 5% and 4%, respectively, while transit accounts for only 1% of the roughly 19,000 trips from the north. (See Table 10 in the Appendix.)

About one-third of all-day work trips, or 32,000 trips, originate within less than 10 kilometres of their TYE zone work destination. Just under half of all-day work trips - about 46,000 - are between 10 and 30 kilometres.

Most (12,000) short work trips to the TYE originate in the east. Many come from the neighbourhoods immediately adjacent to the TYE megazone to the east, flanking Steeles Avenue.

The remaining short trips are fairly evenly distributed amongst northern, western, and southern origins - about 6,000 to 7,000 daily short work trips emanate from each direction.

For all-day work trips in the mid-range of 10 to 29 kilometres, the south and east dominate as origins, with approximately 16,000 and 15,000, respectively, originating from these directions.

Since most short and medium-length trips to the TYE come from the south and east, there is potential for improved transit from these directions to serve TYE workers and reduce congestion. (See Table 11 in the Appendix.)

TRANSIT TO AND WITHIN THE TYE MEGAZONE

A main reason that transit mode share in the TYE is very low is that current transit service to the megazone is poor. Rapid transit consists primarily of GO Rail service to Unionville (the station is within the Markham Centre UGC), and the Viva BRT along Highway 7. At present, GO Rail service is focused on serving peak travel to and from downtown Toronto, and does not effectively serve jobs in the TYE district. This explains why, although Markham Centre has a GO Rail station, only workers coming from the north - about 120 workers a day - use the service to get to work in the TYE megazone.

Transit improvements are being planned, including two-way service to the Unionville GO station in Markham Centre, but are not well coordinated and fail to treat the area as a single employment zone. For example, the greatest number of work trips to the zone and the greatest number of short trips originate east of the TYE megazone. But the district is poorly served by transit from the east. Rapid transit connections come primarily from the west and south. And the timing and funding of the extension of the Highway 7 BRT east of Unionville GO and Kennedy BRT Stations to Cornell has not yet been confirmed.1

Planned GO Rail service improvements will benefit the roughly 7,600 current jobs as well as future jobs in the Markham Centre. But reducing auto dependence and improving transit service to the almost 100,000 current jobs located elsewhere in the zone requires focused attention. A regional approach to serving this important economic and employment area, one that integrates land use and transit planning, is currently lacking.


[1] York Region Transit, Moving to 2020: YRT/Viva 2016-2020 Strategic Plan Update.