The issue of student travel extends beyond students themselves. The vitality and success of the universities in the Toronto region depends on options for students to reach campuses effectively at all hours of the day so that they can take advantage of opportunities and meet demands of campus life. Students participating fully in their communities, as well as their studies, enriches the vitality of the GTHA as a whole.

That’s why Presidents of Toronto’s four universities (OCAD U, Ryerson University, the University of Toronto and York University) met and identified student needs and opinions on transportation as a common issue that would unite students across all campuses in a meaningful manner.

Investing in new transportation infrastructure within the GTHA is desperately needed. In the densest neighbourhoods, demand for public transit outstrips supply by a considerable margin. By contrast, in the lower-density outer suburbs of the GTHA many neighbourhoods are poorly served by existing transit services (primarily bus), congestion is severe, and getting around to work or school takes a long time.

Traffic congestion on the Gardiner Expressway in the Toronto area on Tuesday June 17, 2014. Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency

These challenges impact students especially. Students at Toronto’s four universities make up over 175,000 people who travel daily across a region of 8, 296.8 sq km . These numbers place particular demands for service on an already crowded transportation system. All four of Toronto’s universities, for example, have a high number of students who live off-campus and commute daily to and from campus, as well as to jobs at various locations. Toronto’s universities are also spread throughout the region, containing both downtown and suburban campuses. At this scale, time spent on both transit and the road is one factor that limits students’ ability to engage in campus activities in and outside of the classroom.

StudentMoveTO works to address these challenges and engage students in transportation issues. As a catalyst for a bigger conversation, StudentMoveTO  links the research, teaching and capacities of each university in an open way.