Here’s where the rubber meets the road for residents of the GTA, regardless of your degree of excitement about the Pan Am Games.
On June 29, temporary HOV lanes (for vehicles carrying three or more) will go into effect, along with a slew of other measures that will affect everyone seeking to get around the GTA, including enhanced TTC and GO service, dedicated tow trucks, and 5,000 new street signs.
It’s all to manage Games traffic as an anticipated 250,000 visitors come to the region in July and August. The plan aims to serve tourists, residents and athletes alike.
Some 35 transportation and security agencies, from the 16 municipalities touched by the Games to Metrolinx and the Ministry of Transportation, teamed up to create the plan outlined at a news conference Tuesday.
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca previously announced that the Games $61-million plan depends on a 20 per cent traffic reduction.
Organizers hope to hit that target by promoting transit and encouraging businesses and workers to plan ahead and adjust their routines during the Games.
The education campaign includes apps for transit users and drivers. Metrolinx previously unveiled the Triplinx planner, which provides transit route information across GO, TTC and other regional transit services.
Now there’s one for drivers. The Ministry of Transportation released a new trip planner mostly aimed at motorists Tuesday.
It includes real-time traffic information, driving and transit directions to venues, and parking details. It is available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry formats, as well as online.
As part of the push to get more people on transit, Games tickets will double as transit passes on the event date.
The major downtown venues — the Rogers Centre and Exhibition Place — will rely heavily on transit, with parking available only for pre-booked accessible spots. Otherwise, visitors must arrive by transit, foot, or bike.
The TTC and GO Transit will offer enhanced service, including temporary routes and additional stops for venues during the Games.
The TTC will run its 193 Exhibition Rocket, usually operated only for the Canadian National Exhibition, to serve Exhibition Place, which will play host to 16 sporting events and 50 live cultural performances.
A temporary shuttle bus, the 406 Venue Shuttle Downtown, will run from Varsity Stadium to the Pan/Parapan Am Fields on the University of Toronto’s back campus to the Ryerson Athletic Centre.
Reliability, flexibility and resiliency are the TTC’s goals going into the Games, Chris Upfold, chief customer service officer, said at Tuesday’s news conference. “We are ready and keen to show what we can do when we have the resources,” he said.
The TTC will have extra staff on standby for emergency repairs and maintenance. Ordinarily 10 per cent of staff take vacation during the summer, but unionized staff agreed to keep the level at 4 per cent. Subways will start running at 6 a.m. Sundays.
GO will also have buses on standby ready to accommodate increased demand, plus more buses running on existing routes to Games venues.
Extra train trips will be added to the Lakeshore West line to serve the Exhibition stop and Hamilton’s new soccer stadium.
In addition, the transit agencies will dispatch 1,800 “ambassadors” to 40 transit hubs across the region to provide customer service, directions and even first aid.
Most of the ambassadors will be transit agency office workers, from lawyers to accountants, who offered to contribute.
Starting June 29, a 235-kilometre system of HOV lanes will be in effect from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
From June 29 to July 27, only authorized vehicles and those carrying three or more passengers may drive in the lanes, on pain of a $110 fine and three demerit points.
Restrictions loosen during the Parapan Ams, allowing vehicles with two or more passengers from July 28 to Aug. 18.
Toronto police have contracted tow trucks to be on the ready for 20 hours a day from June 29 to Aug. 18. Two will be stationed to clear accidents on each of the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway. In addition, a heavy tow truck will be on standby in case of major rollovers.
The Pan Am Games run July 10 to 26. The Parapan Ams follow on Aug. 7 to 15.