Would You Like to See Public Transit on the 407 in Brampton?

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Those of you who have taken Highway 407 know that there are usually less vehicles using it than the 401, mainly because it's a tolled highway. As a result, it's a much smoother ride than the usual trip along the 401, 400, DVP or Gardiner. You can feel the openness of the 407 on a clear day as you glide smoothly through the corridor, the sound of the humming concrete beneath the wheels of your vehicle.

Well, now there may be other options for using the 407 coming in the near future.

Ontario's Ministry of Transportation is looking to conduct a study to see how viable it would be to construct a transitway along the Highway 407 corridor, stretching from Burlington all the way across York Region into Durham Region ending at Brock Road. SInce the 407 is a lengthy piece of infrastructure, the project has been divided into segments which you can read about here. The portion of the 407 pertaining to Brampton would be the portion from Hurontario Street to Highway 400.

The 407 Transitway (as this project is called) includes a fully graded separated transit facility on an exclusive right-of-way, running along Highway 407. It will consist of 23 km of running-way and several stations that will include parking facilities, transit integration and other amenities. Subject to the outcome of the study, the 407 Transitway will be implemented initially as Bus Rapid Transit, with the opportunity to convert it to Light Rail Transit in the future.

Public information sessions will be held this week in Brampton and Woodbridge. The one in Brampton took place on December 6 at the Greenbriar Recreation Centre. There will be another one on December 8 at the Woodbridge Pool and Memorial Arena. Both sessions will run from 4pm to 8pm.

While these sound like some lofty ambitions for Highway 407, there are two points that should be considered:

How To Convince A Private Consortium to Buy Into This?

If the provincial government didn't sell off the 407 back in the 1990s to the private sector, which brought in road tolls on the route, perhaps the government would have more leverage in terms of deciding the timelines for this project's completion, or even getting this approved at all. The 407 is currently not even part of the provincial highway network, thanks to a 99 year lease, and is currently owned by a private consortium of Canadian and Spanish investors operating under the name 407 International Inc.

The tolls charged by usage of the 407 do not go back into any public assets; it's operated on a for profit motive, so getting the owners of the 407 to acquiesce to this kind of examination of the 407's long term usage would be extremely difficult if they don't see any benefit to the bottom line for them.

Not Much Opportunity for Transit Oriented Development (TOD)

The conventional wisdom is that LRT spurs development along its corridor. Look at the Hurontario LRT; the amount of proposed new condos and high rises being proposed are very close or right on Hurontario in anticipation of the incoming LRT. But if the idea is to have the 407 eventually be serviced by an LRT, there isn't much opportunity to put in transit oriented development (TOD), such as mixed-use buildings.

This route stretches from Burlington to Oshawa, connecting the 407 to all the local transit routes and other BRT/LRT routes that the province is planning. The heavy emphasis seems to be on just moving people, and won't be much room for spurring development other than giant parking lots. Would an LRT make much sense if that was the case? Perhaps leaving it as a BRT would be sufficient enough for expanding transportation needs.

So should they install a BRT (or even LRT) route along Highway 407? 407 Transitway has four individuals which you can get in contact with for any questions on the project. Two are from the Ministry, and two are from independent consulting firms.

Graham DeRose, MTO Project Manager, Planning and Design
Tel: 416-235-5255, graham [dot] derose [at] ontario [dot] ca

Sarah Merriam, MTO Senior Environmental Planner, Environmental Section
Tel: 416-235-5272, sarah [dot] merriam [at] ontario [dot] ca 

Khaled El-Dalati, Consultant Project Manager from Parsons Corporation
Tel: 905-943-0505, k [dot] eldalati [at] parsons [dot] com

Grant N. Kauffman, Consultant Environmental Planner, LGL Limited
Tel: 905-833-1244, gkauffman [at] lgl [dot] com

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