If you're a driver, don't kid yourself. You won't win against the Games on Toronto roads this summer.
You've been hearing it for months, but as Friday's opening ceremony approaches, Pan Am officials are renewing their advice to leave the car at home, take transit, expect crowds. If possible, travel outside the rush hour or telecommute. Consider walking or biking.
"We're taking a transit-first approach for these Games," said Allen Vansen, of TO2015.
While an event ticket will get you free all-day transit on the scheduled day to any of the venues, it's particularly advisable downtown.
Even if you can get there by car, parking will be scarce, he warned. There isn't any Rogers Centre parking for the opening ceremony.
The warnings come with a formidable roster of 183 road closures, lane restrictions, parking changes, detours and higher traffic volumes in some areas across the GTA.
Some are in effect for the entire Games, others for an hour or two, or a day or two.
HOV lanes specially designated on major routes throughout the Games mean it's already a slow drive for cars carrying fewer than the required three occupants.
Transportation officials say some rush-hour trips are taking up to 12 minutes longer than they normally would, particularly on the Gardiner and the Don Valley Expressway. That's five minutes more than they predicted if they achieved a 20 per cent reduction in cars at peak times.
But Andrew Posluns of the Ministry of Transportation, said travel times will improve. "It is a period of adjustment through the opening days of the HOV network. We're going to continue to deliver the message to people around the region that they should be keeping track of how the traffic is moving and consider other travel options," he said.
Motorists in Toronto are actually lucky, said John Mende, director of Toronto transportation infrastructure. In other Pan Am cities, lanes were reserved exclusively for athletes and officials.
"We needed to strike a balance between athlete and official transportation and the impacts on residents and businesses," he said, adding that the travel delays are similar to those during recent Gardiner Expressway construction.
RIDES FOR ALL
Accessibility is a top priority for Games organizers. Pan Am ticket holders who require an accessible service such as Wheel-Trans can book a ride up to seven days in advance of the event through the Call One service. The number is 1-844-727-2663.
Accessible parking for all Games venues can be pre-booked at online. Spaces are limited and costs vary.
About 700 accessible spaces have already been reserved, and organizers are urging those who want those spots to book as soon as possible.
All the accessible spots for Friday's opening ceremony have already been booked and some venues are nearly sold out, including CIBC Pan Am Park at Exhibition Place, Caledon Equestrian Park and the CIBC Pan Am Aquatic Centre and Field House.
MAKE TRANSIT FUN
The TTC is promising to "surprise and delight" riders with special entertainment in busier stations. It will "make the traveling experience a festive and fun one," said chief customer officer Chris Upfold at Tuesday's Pan Am news conference.
Service levels have been increased to accommodate Games-related trips, but riders are warned to expect significant crowds at some stations, especially after big events like the opening ceremony.
The subway will open at 6 a.m. rather than 9 a.m. on Sundays July 12, 19 and 26.
Electronic group day passes will be available starting Wednesday for iPhones and Android devices, so riders won't have to go to a subway collectors' booth to get one. The $11.50 passes, normally sold only weekends and holidays, can be used any day throughout the Games. They can be purchased in advance and activated when you're ready. The electronic passes will remain on sale after the Games, until the TTC fully implements the Presto electronic fare cards.
GO Transit is laying on 186 additional bus trips and 378 extra GO train trips from July 11 to 26.
Trains will be added to the Lakeshore East and West lines to get people to key venues in Hamilton and Exhibition Place. There will also be more weekend morning trains on the Lakeshore line, said Barry Stannard, chief of GO Transit's Control Centre.
Standby GO buses will be available near key venues to carry heavier passenger loads when required.
Additional resources are in place to respond to the track switch and signal problems that have recently affected GO service.
"We're ready and set to react to many issues exponentially," said Stannard.
Metrolinx, the provincial agency that runs GO, has also recently launched Triplinx, an online trip planner. It includes Games venues, special routes and special services.
TAKE TWO WHEELS
Cyclists will also need to be aware of road closures and some bike lane restrictions, including on the Martin Goodman Trail.
The trail will be closed for the men's marathon and the men's and women's cycling road race from Saturday, July 25 at 1 a.m. to Sunday July 26 at 2 p.m., but detour signs will be posted.
Bikes travelling east will have to exit the trail at British Columbia Rd. and Lake Shore Blvd., detour north on Dufferin, east on Liberty St. and south on Strachan, where they can rejoin the Martin Goodman Trail at Coronation Park.
Those traveling west will need to exit at Remembrance Dr., near the northwest corner of Coronation Park. They can then detour east on Lake Shore, north on Fort York Blvd., west on Fleet St., north on Strachan, west on Liberty St., south on Dufferin and west on British Columbia Rd. Those cyclists can pick up the trail again at Marilyn Bell Park.