Clearing the Air on the TTC - Report

On November 15th, TEA and TTCriders released a report on the environmental benefits of the TTC, with key recommendations for the TTC and the new Council.

CLEARING THE AIR ON THE TTC:Recommendations to Increase the Environmental Benefits of the TTC

Report prepared by Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) and TTCriders November 2010

 Executive Summary

The TTC is vital to Toronto. Without it, Torontonians would be living in perpetual gridlock and spending even more of their waking hours commuting. Moreover, Toronto’s air would be significantly dirtier and we would be emitting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of additional greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions into the atmosphere.

During the 2010 municipal election, there was much discussion about the future of the TTC. Lots of suggestions were made about how to improve existing services and about how best to expand the TTC, especially into Toronto’s inner suburbs. Almost all of the discussion centred on finances, the merits or drawbacks of various forms of transit vehicles and what type of new transit modes should be built. There was almost no consideration of how proposed changes and expansion plans would impact the environment, specifically air quality and ghg emissions.

Election campaigns are a great opportunity for candidates, pundits and the public to debate ideas and options. Now, the new Councillors and Mayor must move from debate to action. Decisions about the TTC’s existing operations and expansion plans must be made and we cannot afford bad decisions. In particular, we cannot afford decisions that harm our air quality or our ability to reduce ghg emissions.

This report offers information and recommendations to assist our elected officials in making decisions to improve our air quality and to reduce our ghg emissions. In particular, this report provides:

  • An estimate of the ghg emissions avoided due to transporation by TTC instead of private vehicles.
  • An estimate of the ghg emissions avoided should the 2007 Transit City Plan be fully implemented.
  • An analysis of the ghg emissions produced by subways and Light Rail Transit (LRT) using Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs).

Based on this information, we urge the new City Council and the Toronto Transit Commission to maximize the environmental benefits of the TTC by adopting the following recommendations:

  1. Develop a baseline analysis of ghg and smog emissions resulting from current practices as well as a baseline analysis of avoided emissions resulting from current practices.
  2. Develop a methodology to assess the ghg and smog emissions of various operational changes and that the results of this methodology be considered when making decisions about which operational changes to adopt.
  3. Continue implementing the 2007 Transit City Plan and only change course if careful analysis of other expansion plans can clearly demonstrate that they offer greater reduction of ghg emissions per dollar spent and better service to TTC users.

We hope these recommendations will be adopted by our elected officials to help determine the best options for service improvements and for system expansion. Doing so will result in improving and expanding the TTC in such a way that most effectively cleans Toronto’s air and contributes to reductions in ghg emissions.

Toronto Environmental Alliance