Sustainability inSight

Our Framework for Sustainability


To create a cohesive approach to improving sustainability at MTO, it was important to develop a common vision for us to work towards. To do this, SEN members met and, with a set of guiding principles as a starting point, developed the strategic goals that are at the core of our framework for sustainability. The goals, along with the action items that support them, will lead to a more sustainable ministry and transportation sector in Ontario.

MTO's Vision and Mandate
Figure 3 - Framework for sustainability

Guiding Principles

Long-Term Relevance

Each strategic goal should be relevant over the long term and reflect at least two of the three spheres of sustainability (economic, social and environmental).

Broad Reach

Achieving sustainability requires thinking that goes beyond the borders of MTO's divisions, branches and offices. Strategic goals should reach broadly across the organization, recognizing that staff from different areas may have common interests and that working together can lead to more robust outcomes.

Consistency and Practicality

Strategic goals must be consistent with and supportive of MTO's mandate and vision and have practical applications for MTO staff.

Sensitivity to Context

Considering the diversity of Ontario's communities, sustainable transportation takes on different meanings in different settings. Therefore, the strategic goals must recognize that no single solution can be developed. Sustainable transportation systems need to be considered in a local context to provide options that are geographically and culturally appropriate.

Seven Goals for More Sustainable Transportation

Strategic Goal 1

Increase accessibility by improving mobility, choice and safety

Transportation provides access to many things that are essential in the day-to-day lives of Ontarians. Limited transportation options limit access to jobs, education and training, health and social services, goods and services, and recreational activities. Broadening the range of transportation choices, and improving the safety and efficiency of each mode, can increase access to these goods and services. Increased access can also be achieved by finding ways to eliminate the need to travel entirely, such as providing services online. Improving access will help all Ontarians participate in the many activities that this province offers, and will add to our competitiveness.

Areas of focus include:

  • identifying ways to eliminate the need for some trips by focusing on moving ideas and services, instead of people and goods
  • giving individuals and businesses access to a variety of transportation options, so that they can choose the mode that best meets the needs of a specific trip
  • establishing a multimodal transportation network, with effective intermodal connections to reduce the reliance on any one transportation mode for passengers and for freight
  • making each transportation mode - for both passengers and freight - as efficient as possible
  • encouraging safe and sustainable transportation practices
  • improving equity of access for people of different ages, genders, socioeconomic status and abilities
Improving Accessibility

Making transportation more sustainable requires thinking about how trips occur (e.g., by car, by foot) and why they occur (e.g., going to work, doing errands, visiting friends or going for a leisurely walk). Making a commitment to sustainable transportation means thinking about both the reason for a trip and how that particular trip can be made in the most sustainable way possible.

The terms "accessibility" and "mobility" are closely related but they have different meanings. In the context of sustainable transportation, accessibility refers to the ability to reach goods, services, activities and destinations, without presuming the use of any particular mode of transportation. (Please note that this is a transportation sector-specific definition of "accessibility." While it encompasses the meaning of accessibility as used in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005, it refers to accessibility in a much broader sense.)

Mobility considers the movement of a particular transportation mode (e.g., automobile, train, bicycle, mobility device or foot). Mobility is only one way to achieve accessibility. Some activities that once depended on transportation can now occur without travelling (e.g., working from remote locations, e-government options, banking online). Technological advances have improved accessibility and reduced the need for mobility. More and more, it is ideas that move, not people or goods. This is beneficial to the individual, because it saves time, and has broader benefits by reducing the number of vehicles on the road - which is good for reducing congestion and pollution.

Cost, convenience, safety and efficiency all influence which travel mode a person picks. In some cases, and for certain groups of people, these considerations can eliminate certain travel options altogether. For example, owning and operating a car may be too expensive. Transit service may be infrequent or non-existent in some communities, or may cost too much for someone who is homeless or marginally housed. We need to be inclusive in our transportation planning so that everyone, regardless of abilities or circumstances, will have a full range of travel choices.

Improving Modal Choice and Efficiency

A sustainable transportation system offers convenient, comfortable, safe, efficient and well-integrated mode choices. New types of vehicles and devices are introduced into the marketplace every day. Reflecting the province's recognition of the importance of market innovations, Ontario recently announced legislation that allows for the use of electric bikes ("e-bikes") and continues to pilot new mobility options, such as Segways and electric low-speed vehicles. These new technologies expand Ontarians' mobility options and provide more environmentally friendly ways to travel. As new transportation options emerge, MTO will need to ensure that policy, legislation and regulations stay current.

Multimodal transportation means combining different transportation modes to reach a destination (e.g., combining cycling and public transit). In the short term, actions such as putting bike racks on buses, ensuring safe and comfortable walking routes to transit stations and putting carpool parking lots in strategic locations will help promote multimodal transportation. Over the long term, changes to the built environment (the structures and spaces that people build to live, work and play in) will reduce our reliance on the automobile as the primary transportation mode. This can include building "mobility hubs" that connect commuter rail, regional and local bus services, offering commuter parking lots for people driving to transit hubs, or providing safe pedestrian access and bike ramps alongside stairs in transit stations, so people can roll their bicycles up the ramps instead of carrying them up the stairs. Over the next 25 years, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of Ontarians over age 65.10 Research shows that people over 65 are more likely than other members of the population to develop physical and cognitive disabilities that can limit their mobility.11 This can have a dramatic impact on a person's lifestyle, particularly in communities that were designed for residents travelling mostly in their own vehicles. Communities and transportation services will need to be more pedestrian- and transit-friendly in order to offer alternative, safe access to goods, health care, friends and family. This will support aging in place, helping seniors maintain their independence and community connections.

Improving modal choice and intermodal connections is also important for freight transportation (e.g., combining truck and rail to transport goods and materials). Ontario's status both as Canada's leading trading partner with the United States and as Canada's largest provincial economy relies on the efficient movement of goods within the province and across its borders. Achieving sustainable freight transportation is critical to Ontario's economy, health and standard of living. To satisfy the demands of a diverse community of freight transportation providers and users, the province depends on an efficient multimodal network of highways, railways, waterways and air routes.

Improved processes and technology can make freight transportation modes more efficient and more sustainable. For example, mechanical enhancements to vehicles can reduce fuel consumption and air pollution. Operational improvements can increase loading efficiency and therefore reduce trip requirements and costs.

To maximize our economic competitiveness and meet the needs of the 21st-century economy, MTO, together with the federal and Québec ministries of transport, is leading the development of an Ontario-Québec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor initiative. The goals of this initiative are to plan for key transportation infrastructure investments and to improve policies, regulations and operational practices. One of the Gateway strategy's objectives is the ongoing integration of sustainability into the transportation system, and includes:

  • encouraging energy efficiency, reducing emissions, and reducing dependence on non-renewable resources
  • minimizing the environmental impacts of transportation infrastructure and operations
  • better integrating community needs with transportation infrastructure development
  • better integrating transportation into land-use planning, and protecting corridors and facilities to preserve options for future growth
Improving Safety

Safety is an integral part of MTO's culture. MTO policies and practices ensure Ontario's roads are among the safest in North America. Although Ontario is a leader in road safety, motor vehicle collisions continue to have a significant impact on our society, economy and transportation system. More than two people are killed and 10 seriously injured every day on Ontario's roads, which translates to $9.1 billion in annual social and health care costs.12 In addition to this financial burden on our social and health care sectors, vehicle collisions can lead to traffic congestion, lost job productivity and increased pollution through idling.

There are many different ways that MTO seeks to keep Ontario's roads safe - from engineering design standards and winter maintenance practices, to driver testing and impaired- and distracted-driving laws and programs. But there is much that is still left up to individual drivers that can affect safety of the road system and the environmental and social impacts of driving. For example, while driving aggressively is dangerous to other road users, it also increases emissions, because hard braking, rapid acceleration and speeding increase fuel consumption. In that way, "green" driving practices are also safe driving practices.

Strategic Goal 2

Integrate transportation and land-use planning to reflect sustainability

Transportation infrastructure has a lasting effect on a region's character. MTO staff and management recognize that integrating transportation and land-use planning is one of the most important ways the ministry can make the transportation system more sustainable. Pursuing this strategic goal will enable the ministry to support the many growth planning initiatives that Ontario already has underway. Areas of focus include:

  • recognizing that land use and transportation have a symbiotic relationship; both have a permanent effect on communities and influence the transportation choices of people and businesses
  • encouraging integrated planning that emphasizes communication between ministries, across levels of government and with other organizations to reach common goals (e.g., in reviewing municipal Official Plans or conducting Environmental Assessments)
  • bringing a stronger sustainability perspective to the transportation planning process to balance business and passenger transportation needs, manage sprawl and congestion, protect natural and agricultural lands, and promote more active forms of transportation

Land-use decisions affect travel choices by influencing the number of trips an individual needs to make, the length of those trips and the choice of transportation mode. Neighbourhoods that have homes, shops and services concentrated closer together (often called "compact neighbourhoods") are better able to offer alternatives to driving - they are easier to serve by transit, and distances are more suited for walking and cycling. If people choose to travel by car, compact neighbourhoods make it easier to make one, not multiple, trips to do several tasks. This saves energy and cuts fuel costs, making transportation more efficient and sustainable. The compact design of neighbourhoods can also help residents increase their rates of physical activity which can reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The location and type of transportation infrastructure can significantly affect regional competitiveness and a community's economic development. Reliable, timely transport of goods and materials is essential to maintaining a robust economy in Ontario. Communities with sound transportation infrastructure are more attractive to investors and business owners.13 This, in turn, may affect subsequent local zoning and land-use decisions in ways that will make communities attractive to investors.

It can be challenging to balance what seem to be competing interests - on the one hand, the goal of maintaining transportation networks extensive enough to support business and consumer needs and, on the other hand, the desire to manage sprawl, the loss of green space or agricultural lands, and the direct and indirect costs associated with a low-density pattern of development. Ontario has taken steps towards a balanced approach to this issue, by identifying common goals for growth planning as outlined in documents such as: the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS), 2005; Ontario's Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006; the Proposed Growth Plan for Northern Ontario, 2009; and the Metrolinx Regional Transportation Plan, 2008. These documents are one mechanism that helps coordinate land-use and transportation planning among different levels of government and across provincial ministries. Sound planning requires the involvement of many players and sensitivity to numerous influencing factors. We will need more tools to support these efforts, to ensure that we are all moving in the same direction.

It is clear that transportation infrastructure can have a profound impact on the long-term character of a region. Applying a sustainability perspective to infrastructure planning will reveal creative options to support economic prosperity and encourage sustainable travel patterns.

Strategic Goal 3

Consistently apply a context-sensitive approach in MTO's work

Local context dramatically influences transportation system decision-making. Communities in different regions have their own distinct features, needs and priorities. For example, many urban communities in southern Ontario must manage the challenges of growth and congestion. At the same time, the province's diverse northern communities are looking for ways to encourage economic development and link communities across a vast geographic area.

Areas of focus include:

  • recognizing that there may be a need for different sustainability solutions in different contexts (e.g., rural versus urban, respecting historical or cultural heritage)
  • engaging communities throughout the planning and implementation of a transportation infrastructure project
  • making sure that infrastructure provides lasting value to the community by meeting its transportation needs and respecting local values and identities
Engaging Communities

Under Ontario's Environmental Assessment process, MTO must undertake significant public consultation as part of its infrastructure planning. Encouraging the people affected by transportation decisions to participate in the discussion - at many different stages in the process - increases the likelihood that the outcomes will satisfy the needs of users, while minimizing or addressing any adverse impacts. The majority of MTO's transportation infrastructure planning and design projects follow a Class Environmental Assessment (EA)14 process that requires public consultation. Municipal roads, water and sewer, forest management, highways and transit each have their own EA process.

The consultation process must reflect the concerns expressed by the public, provide timely, convenient opportunities for public input and constructively address the input that the public provides. Public consultation helps to ensure that MTO's planning and design decisions reflect the issues and concerns identified by the people affected.

On several recent projects, MTO has applied innovative community consultation processes that encourage thinking from a sustainability perspective. For example, Community Value Plans (CVPs) are a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, inviting all stakeholders to participate in the development of a transportation facility. The goal of a CVP is to ensure that infrastructure addresses its users' needs for mobility and safety, while at the same time keeping the scenic, aesthetic, historic and environmental resources of the location.

Value Analysis workshops, another technique sometimes used at MTO, help the ministry understand stakeholder values related to a project. An MTO team works with the stakeholders to find cost-effective ways to reflect those values in the project. Sustainability is a specific performance target in Value Analysis workshops. Providing a forum for open communication and collaboration helps us to have meaningful conversations about the things that matter to communities and to find creative solutions to transportation challenges. This adds lasting value to the community, the environment and the transportation system.

Working with Aboriginal Communities

Aboriginal communities have a unique and dynamic relationship with government, with rights that may extend beyond those of a typical stakeholder. In addition to constitutional requirements that underscore the duty to consult and accommodate Aboriginal communities, the broader goal of building a relationship based on respect and trust requires sustained communication and engagement.

Strategic Goal 4

Optimize infrastructure design, capacity and investment

Transportation infrastructure is an essential service in any community, one that brings many benefits. However, building and maintaining infrastructure is expensive. It can have many impacts on its surroundings. Government decisions must be guided by a responsibility to respect public interests and priorities, and to make sure that public funds are spent wisely and sustainably. Areas of focus include:

  • developing a more inclusive approach to accounting methodology to evaluate long-term social, environmental and economic costs and benefits
  • managing transportation demand as well as transportation supply (e.g., reducing the need to travel by offering alternatives, like online services or incentives like faster travel times for more sustainable forms of transportation)
  • expanding the use of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technology to improve the existing transportation system's efficiency
  • using resources sustainably throughout the infrastructure lifecycle
Considering External Costs

It would be easy to assume that every time a roadway becomes congested or a new destination becomes popular, the solution is to add more lanes or build a new highway. However, with the reality of constrained budgets, competing government priorities, and undesirable community and environmental impacts, we need alternatives.

Transportation efficiency means making the right passenger and freight transportation choices for the right purpose. For example, different types of freight have different price and service requirements - whether it's bulk raw material cargo like iron ore that can be stockpiled, or fragile time-sensitive packaged cargo like eggs - that drive transportation decisions. Efficiency also means ensuring the maximum benefit can be gained from transportation investments and maintenance costs that individuals, businesses and governments incur. In both cases, it is important to consider two efficiency measures: internal costs and benefits (i.e., paid by the individual making the service or investment decision) and external costs and benefits (i.e., environmental and social costs to society).

Often, in the application of economic analysis, value is defined very narrowly, ascribing it to some things and not to others. Value is typically assigned only to things that can be sold to perform a specific function. For example, when a pine tree is alive, it provides shelter, absorbs carbon and releases oxygen, removes pollutants from the air, prevents erosion and offers beauty and a home to wildlife. These functions are difficult to quantify and are often not translated into measurable value. However, if that pine tree is cut down and turned into paper or lumber, only then does it have monetary value.

This example shows that things in their natural state are not always seen as having a measurable value. Since only monetary value and cost is generally included in financial analysis, there has often been no full accounting of the real costs of certain actions (such as chopping down a tree). As well, the external costs to society get overlooked, because they are not "charged" to any particular user (e.g., the environmental cost of greenhouse gas emissions, or the social and economic costs of congestion).

A more inclusive type of accounting is necessary to address these issues. To be effective, there needs to be a standardized "triple-bottom-line" methodology to evaluate impacts and opportunities in the three sustainability spheres of environment, economy and society. A more inclusive method of accounting will also consider impacts over the life of an investment, ensuring the best value for money, rather than simply the lowest short-term cost. A triple-bottom-line approach will help create a more holistic analysis of the real costs and benefits of a project over the long term, and not just those in the immediate future.

To achieve more sustainable freight and passenger transportation, both internal and external costs need to be factored into decision-making. Developing the capacity to evaluate the transportation options in these terms is an essential part of encouraging government decision-making that provides the best long-range return on investment.

Making the Most of Every Infrastructure Investment

Using transportation demand management (TDM) and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) are two ways we can address the challenge of inefficiency and make the most of every investment. Doing so maximizes the use and extends the lifecycle of every asset.

TDM refers to a variety of strategies to improve travel choices, reduce reliance on single-occupant vehicles, decrease the number of trips people have to make, and help manage congestion. TDM works by understanding why people travel and facilitating their choice to travel at a different time or by a more sustainable transportation mode. For example, MTO builds high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes that reward people travelling on transit, or driving with two or more occupants, by allowing them to use dedicated lanes that tend to move faster than regular highway traffic. Knowing that they can shave time off their commute provides travellers with a positive incentive to carpool or take the bus instead of driving alone.

Further integrating demand management considerations into transportation planning could reveal new opportunities for the province, municipalities and the private sector to work together to plan infrastructure that supports a more sustainable transportation system.

ITS uses technology to improve the overall function of the transportation system. For instance, monitoring congestion levels makes it possible to take actions to respond, such as rerouting buses or providing information to travellers that will help them to better plan their routes. Traffic management technologies can also be used to balance traffic flow across modes and routes or could provide information for road pricing.

ITS also includes new technologies that can fundamentally change the way we travel. One such innovation is "networked vehicles" that can share information, so that if, for example, one vehicle has to brake suddenly to avoid an ice patch, a message can be sent to warn the vehicles behind it.

Building Sustainable Infrastructure

Making infrastructure sustainable can be accomplished in two ways. The first is to design infrastructure that encourages more sustainable behaviour. Examples of this include incorporating carpool lots at strategic locations along provincial highways, or improving pedestrian and cycling access to GO Transit stations.

Second, when the best option for addressing travel needs is to build new highways or add lanes to existing ones, we must adopt practices that make our planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance more sustainable. These could include using recycled aggregate, sourcing or generating renewable energy, and managing storm water run-off that can carry contaminants. Overall, the focus should be on designing infrastructure that takes into account the community and environmental impacts and seeks to lessen them in the most efficient, cost-effective ways.

Applying a sustainability lens to the decisions that we make will influence what we build and how we build it, so that the overall sustainability of our physical infrastructure, as well as people's travel habits, will be improved.

Strategic Goal 5

Demonstrate good stewardship

The breadth and scope of MTO's mandate offers many opportunities to practise good stewardship of Ontario's resources - human, financial and natural. Every time we make a decision, we need to consider how it will affect the surrounding ecosystem and communities. MTO's transportation activities must include protecting and conserving the province's resources and dealing with any potentially negative effects of our activities or operations. Areas of focus include:

  • recognizing that many natural resources are finite and shared, and making every effort to conserve, reuse and recycle them as much as possible
  • minimizing disruptions to the natural environment or to historic or cultural features
  • responding to climate change by reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector and preparing for the potential impacts of climate change
  • investigating methodologies to improve our ability to incorporate sustainability in our Environmental Assessment process
  • supporting the Ontario Public Service-wide Green Transformation, an initiative that will reduce the environmental footprint of the provincial government and foster a green organizational culture

Transportation can be a resource-intensive industry. Responsible use of energy, water, sand, stone and gravel is essential to ensure that these resources are protected for future generations.

Managing the impacts of MTO's activities has always been part of regular business practice. MTO understands that impacts can extend beyond study-area boundaries, with consequences that can be felt across ecosystems. Because the scientific understanding of the delicate relationships that exist within ecosystems is still evolving, MTO will continue to work closely with other agencies and research institutions, so that our standards and practices reflect current best practices. As these are defined, we will explore opportunities to reference them in contracts, so that those who are delivering projects on behalf of MTO can be held accountable for compliance with requirements.

Accepting our role as steward means acknowledging our responsibility to respond to concerns about climate change. MTO must act on two fronts - to reduce further damage by mitigating the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and to prepare for the impacts of our changed climate by adapting to emerging realities. The approaches used to reach these goals must be economically, socially and environmentally sound. For example, we need to accommodate increased volumes of precipitation to protect the long-term investments the province makes in our infrastructure, and to make sure that our communities are protected from flooding and property damage.

MTO also understands the importance of supporting new and changing technologies, particularly when they help to preserve non-renewable resources or reduce waste. For instance, Ontario has committed to supporting the consumer adoption of electric vehicles. Beginning July 1, 2010, Ontarians can receive incentives towards the purchase of a plug-in hybrid or battery electric vehicle.

Strategic Goal 6

Engage MTO staff expertise to promote innovation

As we developed the sustainability strategy, one thing became very clear: MTO staff members already have a great deal of knowledge and experience in sustainability. They are keen to put sustainability into practice in every aspect of their work, and make it part of the MTO culture. This strategic goal recognizes our staff's expertise and our commitment to building a work environment that actively encourages, promotes and rewards responsible and sustainable innovation.

Areas of focus include:

  • building MTO's internal sustainability expertise
  • sharing knowledge and best practices internally and with our partners, as well as reaching out to new partners, to encourage innovation
  • making sure that our standards and protocols can adapt to incorporate new and proven approaches to move sustainability into the mainstream
  • promoting, rewarding and celebrating innovation
  • empowering our staff to try unconventional approaches, taking into account an appropriate level of risk for a public sector organization
A Culture of Innovation

One part of enriching the culture of innovation within the ministry is exchanging knowledge and best practices both internally and with other partners, including other levels of government, academia and the non-profit sector. Complex relationships exist between a wide range of sectors and stakeholders who influence transportation behaviour, ranging from real estate, to logistics, to telecommunications. Seeking out and establishing relationships with stakeholders not traditionally associated with the transportation sector can help us find innovative solutions to Ontario's transportation issues.

There are many examples of MTO staff taking initiative to try new approaches that have environmental, social and economic benefit. In one case, staff members were concerned about the high cost and the unacceptable carbon footprint of generating electricity with diesel generators at the Summer Beaver Airport in northwestern Ontario. Under an MTO cost-savings program, they got funding to use surplus solar equipment to power the airport. An Ontario government Innovation Fund grant for wind generators made it possible to convert to a solar/wind-powered project. The result:

  • a reduction in environmental risk associated with the long-range transport and handling of petrochemicals in the sensitive northern environment
  • annual fuel savings of $32,000

For MTO to become an even more innovative ministry, we will need to be proactive in sharing information about successful pilot projects and new approaches. Processes should be put in place so that sustainability successes are not exceptions to how we do business, but rather building blocks for doing business in a way that helps make the transportation system more sustainable. Individuals committed to sustainability are essential to the long term success of this strategy.

Promoting a culture of innovation at MTO will help us continue to keep the talented, creative people who already work at the ministry and attract new people who share our vision for a more sustainable transportation system.

Managing Risks

Incorporating sustainable practices will often require innovation and therefore risk. As a steward of public funds and trust, it is important for MTO to recognize and manage these risks. We will continue do this as we move forward. At the same time, incorporating the principle of sustainability into our work is in itself an effective tool for risk management. For example, reducing GHG emissions from the transportation system through sustainable initiatives could help avoid, reduce or delay the potentially significant consequences of climate change and reduce some of the external risks to transportation infrastructure over the long term (e.g., road surface erosion).

Strategic Goal 7

Drive a cultural shift towards sustainability

Ensuring safety for road users is a priority for MTO and is an ingrained part of our corporate culture. It should be the same for sustainability. To do this, we will look at methods of integrating sustainability considerations into our business planning processes and develop resource materials that go into more detail about the strategic goals and their practical application. As with the strategy, these materials will be prepared using a collaborative approach that builds on the diverse skills and experience of our staff.

Areas of focus include:

  • providing staff with the necessary tools to improve the overall sustainability of projects and programs
  • raising awareness, on an ongoing basis, about the benefits of sustainable practices
  • rewarding successful sustainability initiatives
  • using MTO's significant purchasing power to influence the availability of sustainable goods and services
  • educating the public about sustainable transportation issues
Using Procurement to Promote Sustainability

As one of the Ontario government's largest purchasers, we can leverage our purchasing power to increase the market demand for, and availability of, more sustainable goods and services. The strategic approach to green procurement should be to ensure the highest economic value, not simply the best price (e.g., taking into account the costs we will avoid by reducing waste, minimizing energy consumption and buying products with better lifecycle value). MTO's aspirations for procurement fit well with a broader OPS green purchasing initiative being led by the Ministry of Government Services.

Encouraging Sustainable Transportation Choices

As the issuer of drivers' licences and overseer for beginner driver training, MTO can play a role in educating the public on sustainable transportation issues, such as providing information about eco-driving. Eco-driving refers to driving techniques that reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, noise levels and collision rates. The fuel savings associated with eco-driving techniques amount to 5 to 10 per cent on average.15

Through the ministry's public website and other avenues, MTO can help Ontarians become aware of sustainable transportation options as well as involving them in the shift towards sustainability. For example, through online voting on the ministry's website, the public helped MTO develop a uniquely branded licence plate for electric vehicles. This green vehicle licence plate will allow drivers of plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles to:

  • use Ontario's HOV lanes until 2015, even if there is just one person in the vehicle
  • access recharging facilities at GO Transit and other provincial government-operated parking lots
  • use designated parking spots where available at private companies or institutions (such as university campuses)

10 Ontario’s Long-Term Report on the Economy (Ontario Ministry of Finance, 2010).

11 A Profile of Disability in Canada, 2001 (Statistics Canada, 2002).

12 Analysis and Estimation of the Social Cost of Motor Vehicle Collisions in Ontario (Transport Canada, 2007).

13 Promoting Economic Development by Improving Transportation Infrastructure for Goods Movement (US Economic Development Administration, 2009).

14 Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Transportation Facilities (Ontario Ministry of the Environment, 2000).

15 “Driving More Efficiently,”

How MTO Keeps Ontario’s Roads Safe

According to the most recent Ontario Road Safety Annual Report (2006), Ontario’s roads are among the safest in North America. To keep it that way, MTO:

  • tests (via an external provider) approximately 2,800 new drivers on a typical weekday
  • sets the beginner driver’s education curriculum for ministry-approved schools and publishes the Official Driver’s Handbook
  • in partnership with the Canadian and United States federal governments, develops and implements vehicle standards for safety and performance
  • monitors and inspects commercial vehicles on Ontario’s highways to ensure compliance with safety standards
  • collects and analyzes vehicle collision data to evaluate and monitor Ontario road safety

Ontario Road Safety Annual Report (2006).

How MTO Supports Integrated Planning

MTO is currently updating its Transit-Supportive Land Use Planning Guidelines. These guidelines show how all forms of urban development and redevelopment can be made more accessible by public transit through policy and design decisions. The document is a source of ideas and best practices for public and private sector practitioners, including land-use and transportation planners, developers, municipal politicians, engineers, transit operators and others.

In the future, MTO intends to develop Freight-Supportive Land Use Planning Guidelines, outlining best practices to facilitate the movement of freight within and through municipalities.

How MTO Uses Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)

  • The COMPASS system monitors traffic conditions on Toronto-area highways, sharing incident and congestion information with drivers.
  • The Advanced Road Weather Information System (ARWIS) provides information about pavement and weather conditions. The information helps target road salt application.
  • Traveller information services, such as TRIP and 511, can offer the traveller more options as they choose their mode and time of travel — and in the future can even help them select more fuel-efficient routes (e.g., truck drivers avoiding steep hills).

Quick Facts about Wildlife and Roads

One in 17 Ontario motor vehicle collisions involves a wild animal. This is both a safety hazard and a threat to species that may already be in danger of extinction. Of Ontario’s 95 species at risk, approximately 44 are negatively impacted directly or indirectly by road infrastructure.

MTO has taken several actions to prevent wildlife collisions:

  • installing fences along major highways
  • adding wildlife "over crossing” (e.g. Hwy 69)
  • posting signs to warn drivers
  • highway lighting to improve night visibility
  • distributing a "Watch for Wildlife” brochure to raise awareness about wildlife collisions
  • wildlife detection system in Sault Ste. Marie that monitors the highway right-of-way and alerts drivers if there are large animals

MTO’s Watch for Wildlife and Toronto Zoo Ontario Road Ecology Group

How MTO Supports Transit

Investments in transit improve service levels in communities with existing transit systems and can help establish new transit systems in places that do not have them. Making transit convenient and reliable will encourage more people to leave their vehicles at home. In support of transit, we are:

  • providing $1.6 billion in Gas Tax funding to Ontario municipalities by October 2010 to improve and expand public transit in the province
  • committing $9 billion for priority transit projects in the GTA and Hamilton
  • designating bus bypass shoulders on Highway 403 that allow GO Transit and local transit buses to bypass congested highway sections
  • working towards making transit accessible for travellers with disabilities by 2025, under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005