Traffic in the GTA is notorious for being terrible at the best of times. It is therefore no surprise that much of the discussion surrounding this summer’s Pan Am Games has been focused not on the athletes or the games themselves, but how they will undoubtedly exacerbate the city’s severe traffic woes thanks to the addition of an estimated 250,000 visitors and 7,400 athletes. Not to mention officials, coaches and volunteers. This also doesn’t take into account the added traffic and stress that temporary HOV lanes, road closures and parking restrictions will cause.
The good news is that organizers have a plan on how to overcome these issues, the bad news is that the solutions are most helpful to the limited number of spectators currently committed to attending the games, not those who live and pay taxes there. Part of the plan has involved reducing existing traffic by 20 per cent, according to Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca. In an effort to alleviate the added congestion, organizers have suggested that people work from home, carpool or take public transit.
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In an effort to ease the transition and educate motorists on the 185 additional kilometres of HOV lanes installed for the duration of the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games, lane usage restrictions came into effect June 29th, effectively grinding the entire city to a halt during commuting hours. Unfortunately for spectators and organizers, purchasing a ticket to the games does not entitle lane usage. It does however grant you free access to the TTC.
Use of HOV lanes is limited to official Pan Am accredited vehicles, regardless of passengers, but other motorists will require either two passengers or be driving an electric vehicle or a motorcycle to bypass the gridlock in the left lane.Emergency response vehicles, public transit buses, licensed taxis and airport limos are also free to do so.
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation online portal features an interactive map that provides the location of carpool parking lots for those looking to make use of these lanes.
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The TTC and GO Transit will both offer enhanced service throughout the duration of the games, including temporary routes and additional stops at event venues. The 193 Exhibition Rocket normally reserved for the CNE will also be operating to assist in transporting event participants and spectators and a temporary shuttle bus will run from Varsity Stadium to the University of Toronto’s back campus to the Ryerson Athletic Centre. Additional bike racks have also been installed at event venues in anticipation of added bike traffic.
Those looking for information on alternative modes of transportation can access transit route information for GO and the TTC with Metrolink’s recently unveiled $8.6 million Triplinx planner or by using the Pan Am Games trip planner app which is aimed at assisting motorists and those taking public transportation. Motorists can also visit Ontario.ca to view road closures occurring during the Pan Am and Para Pan Am Games.
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