126 days to go. The 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games are months away, but the transportation plans for them are coming into focus now. Today the Pan Am Planning Committee along with the Pan Am/Parapan Am Transportation Team (PATT), the Ministry of Transportation, The Ministry of Tourism, and the Integrated Security Unit (ISU), among others, hosted a 90-minute business engagement meeting which went through the details of everything from accessibility issues to which streets would experience "soft" street closures—temporary closures around event times—between July 10 and August 16.
In Downtown Toronto there will be soft closures behind the Ryerson Mattamy Athletic Centre in order to create easy access for the shuttle service to providing accessible service. This is being done in part because College Subway station, the nearest TTC stop to the venue, is not a fully accessible station. In the U of T area, Hoskin Avenue and Devonshire Place, which serve Varsity Stadium and the Pan Am Fields, will be closed during the games. Similar soft closures will be in effect around the streets bordering Exhibition Place.
Streets surrounding the city's venues will not be the only ones experiencing changes; select highways throughout south-central Ontario will too. For expressways which have existing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, the lanes will only be accessible to vehicles carrying three or more people instead of the usual two. Multi-lane highways that don't have existing HOV lanes will have a general lane repurposed. These changes will come into effect around June 29th, creating five times more HOV lanes than in use currently. Pan Am vehicle lanes will also be integrated into some major city thoroughfares to get athletes and their teams transported as reliably as possible.
In the GTA, a Game Transit Network has been created to keep everyone involved in games at the Toronto specific venues moving efficiently. The network has been created by the TTC in conjunction with other GTA transit providers like Viva and PULSE (Durham Regional Transit). There will be transit shuttles between Toronto venues as well as walking connections and accessible shuttles, while service increases will occur for several regular routes. The transit network is expected to be put to good use considering that Pan Am tickets double as transportation fare on the day of the ticketed event.
Another highlight of the meeting was the focus on making the event as accessible as possible. The Toronto-based Game Transportation Network and all other transportation to venues in the surrounding region will focus on ensuring accessibility. There is also a special incentive for businesses to make their spaces more accessible in time for the Games. As part of the Are You Ready? campaign, businesses can sign up for an April 15 workshop to assist them in making their spaces more accessible. For their participation they will be featured in a database of accessible spaces during the games.
The Pan Am Games will be the largest sporting event that Canada and, by extension, Toronto have ever hosted. There will be an estimated 250,000 visitors, upwards of 10,000 athletes from 41 different countries and 1.4 million tickets at the box office. There have been millions of dollars poured into creating and updating infrastructure for the games and good deal of thought has been put into how to successfully move people around these spaces. More information about Pan Am transportation planning can be found here. We will keep you updated as more information about the Pan Am Games emerges.