Siemens study shows Complete Mobility is key to sustainable future for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

A new Canadian mobility study finds the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA), Calgary and Edmonton are more closely aligned with “At Risk” cities, such as Melbourne, Australia; Chicago and Rome, while Vancouver and Ottawa clearly perform as “Best in Class” cities alongside cities such as London, Singapore and Copenhagen. 

The study – entitled Complete Mobility in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area – was commissioned by Siemens Canada and was conducted by UK consultancy MRC McLean Hazel Ltd. in collaboration with MRC Inc. in Toronto (both part of the MMM Group) and examined the existing situations and established solutions pertaining to the concept of Complete Mobility.

The Complete Mobility Index employs five qualitative and 10 quantitative mobility indicators to measure the “sustainability”, “efficiency” and “user focus” of a city’s mobility system. These are plotted against GDP per capita for the cities. “The Complete Mobility concept aims to define a system that moves people and freight by developing sustainable, efficient and user focused infrastructure that offers a high level of service and is safe, reliable and environmentally friendly for cities, metropolitan areas and major hubs,” said Marco Jungbeker, vice president of Siemens Mobility Division.

Both the GTHA and Calgary are closer positioned with the “At Risk” category on the Index rather than the “Best in Class” spectrum. A detailed analysis of the GTHA, however, shows that in moving towards a “Best in Class” position, it faces a number of challenges, including growth and urban sprawl, modal integration, balancing the demand between goods and passenger movements, and managing the travel needs of new arrivals and visitors to the region. The study also indicates that the GTHA can just as easily slip towards the “At Risk” classification, unless significant efforts are applied and financial resources are secured.

Urban sprawl and low population densities have led to lifestyles built around the car, as well as growing congestion levels. Integration between car, public transport and the movement of goods in the GTHA must be improved by integration of physical infrastructure and information technologies. People and goods must be able to move seamlessly through the system.

“Our goal in publishing the report was to allow Siemens to engage various stakeholders in a dialogue about critical decisions that have to be made now to ensure a sustainable future for the GTHA,” said Jungbeker.

The study provided a detailed analysis of the mobility trends impacting the GTHA, and detailed review of local current and planned initiatives, including Metrolinx’s “Big Move”. The work was developed through local stakeholder interviews and workshops. 

Research highlights/scenarios

The Complete Mobility in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area report, presents three future scenarios for the GTHA to 2030 and the impact of each scenario upon the GTHA’s Complete Mobility Index score is subsequently plotted.

A “Business as Usual” scenario up to 2030, which sees only the infrastructure projects that have already received committed funds, i.e. The Big 5 + 4 infrastructure scheme, being implemented, leaves the GTHA slipping further into the “At Risk” category with an overall reduction in Index score.  It is a scenario where the GTHA is exposed to significant risk from external factors such as increased oil prices and competition from other global cities for investment and jobs.

A “Big Move” scenario up to 2030, which sees the full implementation of the Big Move policies and programs, improves the performance of the GTHA moving it firmly into the “Best in Class” category. While the process and outcome of the Big Move plan is highly regarded by stakeholders, in many ways it only begins to address years of underinvestment and past lack of mobility strategy within the GTHA. Against the tide of global trends and local challenges highlighted in the report, the Big Move is not sufficient to place the GTHA in a dominant position within the global Index.

A third “Complete Mobility” scenario is developed in the study. By developing three pathways to achieve Complete Mobility – Infrastructure and Technology pathways – User Focus pathways – Value Added pathways – by 2030, the GTHA is taken well into the “Best in Class” category, alongside global cities such as Paris and Vienna and in many ways performing better than London and Singapore. 

These pathways consist of packages of infrastructure and services that adhere to the principles of Complete Mobility and thus provide the extra impact necessary to achieve high scores within the Index and the indices developed. The pathways, as illustrated by numerous best practice examples from around the world which are presented in the study, are distinctly achievable and have in common a focus on the seamless whole journey and total goods movement, including the all-important first and last kilometre. Crucially, they come together to realize a system that can be proactively managed to achieve integrated policy objectives: they create ONE SYSTEM.

Key recommendations

The study concludes with an analysis and recommendations as to how Complete Mobility can be delivered in the GTHA. Four preliminary requirements to Complete Mobility are presented:

Adequate and sustainable funding: Metrolinx must be innovative and “think outside the box”, including the adoption of the “user pays” principle, the control and exploitation of the potential revenue streams from integrated ticketing such as those realized in London and Hong Kong.

Effective governance and delivery: Clearly separated functions should be established with a contractual relationship between strategy, delivery and operation. Performance management must have a focus on the user experience and a new operational role for a “Mobility Manager” (perhaps contracted to Metrolinx) is proposed, that will be responsible for meeting performance requirements.

Integrated transport and land use planning, with a focus on placemaking: The report notes that Toronto city centre is not maximizing the benefits of the city to improve the economy and quality of life of the area. In many places, there is a need to rebalance “movement space” with “exchange space” which will then drive the economy and improve the experience of citizens, business and visitors alike.

Integration of modes and interoperability: to move to ONE SYSTEM requires improved infrastructure and technology. Proactive management is possible with new technologies, though new organizational requirements will be required to harness and channel this power to use transport proactively as a tool to manage the economy and environment of the GTHA and improve the quality of life of its citizens and visitors.

In undertaking the research Siemens has opened to door for discussion. “We hope the Complete Mobility report will encourage dialogue with the aim of engaging stakeholders to embrace and possibly rethink what the future of mobility in cities across Canada can look like,” said Jungbeker.

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