Transportation

Big Move Transportation Investment Will Realize Immediate and Long-Term Net Benefits: Study

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 15, 2011

A new report by the Conference Board of Canada examines the immediate and long-term benefits of the Metrolinx Big Move plan to invest $19 billion between 2009 and 2020 in new transportation projects to connect the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

The report, funded by Metrolinx and titled Connecting Jobs and People: Exploring the Wider Benefits of Urban Transportation Investments, finds that even without considering broader social and economic benefits, each dollar spent in capital will produce a net positive return of $1.19 in GDP growth through the construction phase.

However, the report also finds that the economy as a whole will enjoy a number of benefits from improved regional transportation.

First, the Big Move will "make it easier to match workers and jobs" across the GTHA by giving GTHA employers access to a larger pool of employees and vice versa. This has been shown in other jurisdictions to increase labour productivity and reduce unemployment.

"Without a more integrated transportation network that allows for greater access across the GTHA, the report notes, employment centres "will become more vulnerable to labour shortages and poor job-skill matches."

At the same time, improved regional transit encourages intensification around transit nodes, creating higher employment densities in urban centres and improving economic growth.

However, the report also notices that the current fragmented system of zoning, property taxes and development charges across the GTHA have had the effect of "encouraging urban sprawl" instead of concentrating development.

"Transportation infrastructure is thus a necessary but not sole condition for achieving agglomeration economies."

The report concludes that the GTHA and other urban areas in Canada should do more research on wider economic impacts of transportation investments, noting that such research "has been sparse".

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted August 15, 2011 at 14:59:52

"The report concludes that the GTHA and other urban areas in Canada should do more research on wider economic impacts of transportation investments, noting that such research 'has been sparse'."


I dearly hope that's not the cue for Metrolinx to bankroll $19 billion between in new consultants' reports between now and 2020.

In any event, Hamilton won't be needing any help with sparse research. We've already got the golden boys over at MITL on the case.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted August 15, 2011 at 17:46:09

Is the problem with how scarce it is to do with the fact that it is in short supply. Once you get out of Toronto, transportation really falls off IMHO. Ryan, would I be wrong is suspecting this is another stall tactic?

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By curious (anonymous) | Posted August 15, 2011 at 23:22:54

The report is behind an intrusive account creation wall, any chance of a direct link to it?

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By Megan (registered) | Posted August 16, 2011 at 09:31:05 in reply to Comment 68038

This works for now (not sure if it will time out or not): http://www.conferenceboard.ca/temp/3ef22...

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By curious (anonymous) | Posted August 16, 2011 at 18:56:55 in reply to Comment 68049

Works for now, thanks Megan!

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted August 16, 2011 at 11:01:11

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 16, 2011 at 13:39:40 in reply to Comment 68054

Just more crap.

I love the symmetry here...

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By George (registered) | Posted August 16, 2011 at 11:12:22 in reply to Comment 68054

Would you please cite where in the report it refers to 2009 as the future?

The date of the report is August 2011, and if you read the bibliography there is sourced material from 2010 and 2011

Comment edited by George on 2011-08-16 11:43:10

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted August 16, 2011 at 22:49:49 in reply to Comment 68056

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted August 16, 2011 at 23:09:43

Here is the exact quote:

"The report forecasts a cumulative
impact of 279,000 person-years of employment through
2020, along with an annual boost to Ontario’s real GDP
of $342 million in 2009, rising to $2.3 billion by 2020."

It's forecasting a boost. $342m to $2.3b in 2020.

2020 is the future.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2011 at 17:12:53 in reply to Comment 68096

Congratulations that is a big step. Now all you need to grasp is that 2009 is not a forecast anymore. It was when the report was written but not any more.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 17, 2011 at 21:35:47 in reply to Comment 68142

It's pretty clear that the report is forecasting growth over a period of 11 years beginning two years before the report was written. That still leaves 9 years of forecasting - enough to satisfy normal people, but probably not enough to satisfy sociopaths bent on crushing the tiniest glimmers of hope in their fellow citizens.

I can't link to the report, but I'm guessing they chose 2009 as the reference point since that is the year Metrolinx began its $19B investment push - not sexy enough for our friendly neighbourhood conspiracy theorist, but there you go.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted August 17, 2011 at 18:55:18 in reply to Comment 68142

"The report forecasts a cumulative impact of 279,000 person-years of employment through 2020, along with an annual boost to Ontario’s real GDP of $342 million in 2009, rising to $2.3 billion by 2020."

Much as I hate to get in the middle of this entertaining lovers' tiff, I do have to point out that the wording there is really muddy. It sure sounds like a projection to me; that in 2009, they're believing that the GDP will rise some $342 million (in which case they should have stated the total anticipated GDP with this increase, because the next figure is a total, not an increase amount), to $2.3 billion by 2020.

Man, I must be bored.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted August 18, 2011 at 08:01:46 in reply to Comment 68146

Thank You.

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By George (registered) | Posted August 18, 2011 at 08:55:52

Yes, the study includes the 11 year spending period from 2009 to 2020. No reason you can't go back a year or two to study spending impacts.

The report is replete with material from 2010 and 2011 and to say that this study was completed sometime ago and witheld is ridiculous.

Just a couple of sources from the bibliogarphy:

Mobility Hub Guidelines for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Paper presented to Metrolinx Board of Directors, February 18, 2011.

Canadian Urban Institute. The New Geography of Office Location and the Consequences of Business as Usual in the GTA. Toronto: Canadian Urban Institute, March 2011.

With several other sources listed as accessed in April 2011.

Comment edited by George on 2011-08-18 09:00:44

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted August 18, 2011 at 13:24:50

All I ask is that you actually read what is in the report, not what you want to be there or what you wish to be there just read the report. When they start "forecasting" for 2009 you have to know right there that the report is total CRAP.

I am surprised the report does not try and tell me that LRT works in SMALLER cities like Minneapolis or St. Louis. Maybe that is why you RTH faithful are so enamored by the LRT myth you actually believe the nonsense like that.

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted August 18, 2011 at 22:29:50 in reply to Comment 68205

Dear Mr. Anonymous,

I agree there is CRAP here. However it is in the form of a Continuously Ranting Anonymous Poster. There are references from 2011 in the report. Point out what you don't like about the report that you deem to have read. The basis of your conspiracy theory has been doused repeatedly.

Comment edited by misterque on 2011-08-18 22:30:15

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