The effectiveness of the regional transit system depends critically on integration with regional development. In the 1960s and 1970s, Toronto had a successful policy of directing new office construction to locations served by the subway, while residential development, even in the suburbs, was configured to support reasonably efficient bus services. However, in the 1980s this policy was relaxed, and other policies (including zoning and taxes) encouraged office development to occur outside the city of Toronto, mostly in "industrial" areas with little or no transit service. Residential development has been allowed to sprawl across the countryside. Although the region now has a Greenbelt, it is quite far beyond the development frontier. While Toronto still has, generally, a reputation as a good place to live and work, Toronto's transportation crisis has been exacerbated by some misguided planning and fiscal policies.
Many cities around the world integrate transportation planning and land use planning. In London, new office development has generally been directed into locations served by the regional rail system and parking provision is strictly controlled. In Vancouver, the Skytrain and commuter rail system have been developed explicitly to link together suburban employment nodes with each other and with downtown Vancouver. Suburban developments are planned for service by feeder buses. Copenhagen, Stockholm, Frankfurt, and Hong Kong are just a few of the other cities with policies that direct employment development to nodes on the regional rail system. The Toronto region can learn from these examples of integrating transportation and land use planning. At present, the two functions are carried out by different groups and there is little evidence of coordination.