Great clients means a portfolio of inspiring projects.

Browse this page to read more about some recent THiNGS we’ve been working on.

Toronto Pearson, Transforming Canada’s Largest Airport – ‘Union Station West’ 

Toronto Pearson, Canada’s largest airport, is experiencing rapid growth and is expected to double its passenger volume by 2037, growing to handle 85 million passengers annually and become a ‘global megahub airport.’ This passenger growth requires a new future for ground transportation to accommodate it, and that future is in transit. 

Concept rendering of proposed transit centre and passenger processing facility at Toronto Pearson International Airport (CNW Group/Greater Toronto Airports Authority)

Concept rendering of proposed transit centre and passenger processing facility at Toronto Pearson International Airport (CNW Group/Greater Toronto Airports Authority)

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), has embarked on a major expansion to address this growth, with a new passenger terminal and integrated ‘Regional Transit Centre’ (RTC). Dubbed “Union Station West” this transit station is Canada’s largest new transit hub, with High Speed Rail, four local and regional rail lines and an extensive bus network integrated into a new air terminal.

Design Lead

Working in partnership with HOK Architecture and WSP Canada, Access Planning’s Tamim Raad acted as Planning Lead for the initiative to plan and design this facility. He led multi-disciplinary teams to develop a facility vision and principles, evaluation methods, network concepts and conceptual designs.  A key design focus was on putting passengers first, providing transit seamless integration at the terminal’s doorstep, and also leveraging transit’s new role to support a broader city-building vision for the airport area. 

RTC Project Management Office

The Regional Transit Centre at Toronto Pearson is one of Canada’s largest and most complex rail projects. Successful planning for it involves the complex integration of the new facility with high speed rail, a network of new region-serving rail and bus lines, as well as advancing a new city-building vision for the airport precinct. Bringing this elements together requires thoughtful planning, with broad engagement of government, planning entities and stakeholders.

Access Planning is acting as the GTAA’s owner’s representative on this transformative initiative. We are leading the RTC Project Management Office (PMO), with a mandate to shepherd the development of the new, multimodal transit hub vision to implementation.

Image credit: Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Image credit: Greater Toronto Airports Authority

In this role, we lead development of the Airport’s overall transit strategy, and integrate transit planning and stakeholder engagement efforts to drive the project forward. This includes leading a planning partnership with Metrolinx (the regional transportation authority) on the GTAA’s behalf, facilitating senior government planning and advisory dialogues, and providing oversight to a broad technical program for transportation, development and project appraisal/business casing.

Translink, Delivering TransLink’s BRT Network - Rapid Bus in Rapid Time

Access Planning is working with WSP and Nelson/Nygaard as program management lead for the delivery of 64 kms and 126 stops of RapidBus infrastructure by 2019 – Marine Drive (North Shore), 41stAvenue, Lougheed Hwy and Fraser Hwy.

Access Planning is working with WSP and Nelson/Nygaard as program management lead for the delivery of 64 kms and 126 stops of RapidBus infrastructure by 2019 – Marine Drive (North Shore), 41stAvenue, Lougheed Hwy and Fraser Hwy.

Increasingly, cities and transportation agencies are looking to arterial bus-based rapid transit (BRT) to provide quick, cost-effective implementation of high-quality rapid transit. The idea is to give buses as much as many of the advantages of rail as possible including comfort, reliability, speed, building transit ridership. Transit priority with special lanes and signals, customer amenity such as real time information, protected waiting areas and high-quality urban integration with communities are key features. 

Working with our consulting partners, WSP Canada and Nelson/Nygaard, Access Planning is providing planning and program management leadership for the design and delivery of one of the most extensive system-wide arterial BRT expansions underway in North America. This program is a 200 km network of eleven routes in the Metro Vancouver region. Our initial charge is to delivery four of eleven lines – approximately 64 km of route and 126 stops – by September 2019.  This is a highly complex project, working with a dozen cities and the approving authority and TransLink’s operating entity to deliver an integrated program of projects. We are also preparing a vision and design guidance to support the ongoing improvement and delivery of the remainder of the lines. 

We are excited about these projects. They will be the first major service improvements to be delivered under the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council’s Ten-Year Vision, significantly extending the reach of the region’s rail and conventional bus network and delivering a sea change in transit service to TransLink’s customers.

City of Toronto, Transit Fare Integration - Fair Fares in Toronto and the GTHA

The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) has a highly complex fare structure for regional transit travel that acts as a barrier to seamless travel, and limits transit ridership. This is owning to the separate, unintegrated fare structures (and underpinning philosophies) for Metrolinx, the TTC and the almost half dozen other major transit operators in the region. These impacts will be amplified with to extensions of rapid rail transit outside the City of Toronto boundaries and the introduction of Regional Express Rail (frequent all-day service) within it. 

Access Planning acted as Senior Strategic Advisor to the City of Toronto’s Chief Planner and to Planning Division staff on strategy, technical and implementation matters related to transforming its policy on transit fares.

Access Planning provided strategic advice and develop a structured policy and technical work program to support integration for Presto electronic fare payment into the City’s transit system, as well as fare integration of the SmartTrack (Regional Express Rail) and TTC systems. Our key focus was to strategically advance viable fare structure and pricing options and advice that Council and City Executive could incorporate into their discussions and negotiations with Metrolinx regard infrastructure development and fare agreements. We developed a performance based policy framework founded on the City’s long-range growth planning and transportation goals, largely emphasizing a shift in towards greater fairness (geographic and income), compact urban development and mobility and ridership growth. 

Through this work, we were instrumental in opening facilitating a dialogue with Metrolinx and City of Toronto on shared goals. We also made recommendations regarding near term adjustments to the GO Rail fare structure and price that were advanced through City Council and since incorporated by Metrolinx in its regional fare proposals. A key focus of our work was to translate complex information into simple, compelling graphics that could be used for clear story-telling and support decision dialogues with Executives, elected officials and agency staff. 

Co-fare effect Toronto.png

See the results of the work we led and advice we advanced in our work summarized in Toronto Council report here:

And a positive review (that do not come easy) by transit critic Steve Munro in his blog here:

TransLink, Regional Transportation Strategy - Program-Wide Advisory Services

TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s integrated multi-modal regional transportation agency, is developing its new long-range Regional Transportation Strategy (RTS) with an outlook to the middle of this century.  

Access Planning is playing a central leading role in the development of TransLink’s RTS, a role familiar to us from similar undertakings for Canada’s major transportation planning agencies. With the advent of automation, e-commerce, ride-hailing, electrification and connected technology, people and things, transportation agencies across Canada are grappling with a rapidly evolving marketplace for new mobility.  

For TransLink, we act as trusted advisors to the agency’s staff and leaders in creating their new plan - evolving plan-making frameworks from familiar physical and policy planning tools to ones that embrace flexibility, adaptability, and resilience. Our approach is to hold a keen focus on what isn’t changing – aspirations for a livable region – and to explore approaches that harness the power of the coming change to realize it. 

In this assignment, we are providing strategic advisory support as well as program management, technical and stakeholder engagement support. This includes development of a regional vision and goals, creating evaluation frameworks, identifying ‘resilient’ policy responses to future scenarios, and integrating support for network development, portfolio development, policy and engagement streams. A key outcome is defining the future role of TransLink as a mobility service provider in this new environment for technology and services.

Creating the First Strategic Plan for Greater Montreal’s New Regional Authority

The Autorité Régionale de Transport Métropolitain (ARTM) is the new regional entity responsible for bringing integrated transit planning and delivery across Greater Montreal. ARTM’s primary mandate is to harmonize transportation planning and transit regionally, expanding transit and transportation with a seamless customer service offering to build ridership and reduce car use. 

With this new mandate, ARTM has launched a process to complete its first Strategic Plan. The intention is to develop a new regional roadmap grounded in this new mission and the forces that gave rise to its creation. These include needs for multi-modal integration, transit-oriented communities, seamlessness of passenger experience (in infrastructure, transit services and fares), service delivery efficiency and, critically, the need to ready Greater Montreal for a rapidly changing marketplace for mobility services. 

Access Planning is a lead strategic advisor to ARTM on the development of its this strategy. Since 2017, we have supported ARTM across a range of elements including:

  • Understanding the global state of practice in transport strategy development;

  • Plan vision development and evaluation framework;

  • Policy prioritization and work program development for the Plan;

  • Scenario planning to develop resilient policies;

  • Transit network planning and service guideline development;

  • Stakeholder engagement. 

We are supporting ARTM in defining a substantial new mandate under a very tight legislated timeframe to prepare its first plan. ARTM must undertake a significant scope of technical and policy work, while developing a new organization and nurturing new stakeholder relationships. Access Planning is bringing its extensive experience in successfully navigating challenging environments, including for freshly minted organizations, to create strong, deliverable plans that have a broad constituency of support.

City of Surrey, lRT - Vision Development, Urban Integration Guidelines, and Strategic Leadership Advisory Services

Photo credit: Via Architecture

Photo credit: Via Architecture

Access Planning provided senior advisory and planning services to the City’s LRT project on a wide range of matters including planning, design, communications and engagement, project negotiations, and governance. The City is working to advance a city building vision for an LRT system that transforms the King George and 104th corridor and offers seamless integration with its streets and communities. 

Access Planning worked with senior Surrey leadership and successfully developed an LRT Vision and Planning Framework to guide all of Surrey’s LRT activities and decisions leading to a Council-endorsed Vision. 

We developed an Urban Integration Framework and strategic approach to provide practical design guidance for the seamless integration of light rail into the City’s streets and communities. The Framework provided decision-making strategies to determine context sensitive solutions for multi-modal and community/land use integration that drive towards Surrey’s city building objectives. 

Access Planning also worked with the design and architecture team to direct the production of photorealistic renderings, translating the project’s transportation and development intent to compelling still and time sequence transition imagery. This was used to communicate Surrey’s transformative vision to the community, stakeholders, and elected officials in support of its funding advocacy and government relations efforts. 

City of Calgary, Streetscape Design for 16th Avenue NW (Montgomery)

The City of Calgary’s Municipal Development Plan outlines 24 main street areas across the city that are targeted for improvements to development, streetscape and multimodal infrastructure to support and focus long term growth in key corridors.

Access Planning, working with the City of Calgary’s joint consulting team (led by Sturgess Architecture), is supporting a streetscape redesign of a portion of Calgary’s 16th Avenue NW. The project team is developing and applying complete street principles to inform design decisions that will guide the transformation of this street overtime to walkable, people-oriented community capable of driving long term land use changes.

Our approach focusses on collaborative community engagement to define values most important to the constituents, and ensuring they are at the core of all design conversations.

City of Toronto, Waterfront LRT and Transit Infrastructure

Image: Access Planning

Image: Access Planning

This assignment involved providing advice to the City of Toronto Chief Planner and senior planning management on range of infrastructure and policy files related to reshaping of the City’s vision for transit on the Waterfront. 

Access Planning worked with the project team and the Toronto Transportation Commission (TTC) to build a shared vision, goals and evaluative methods for this highly complex transit project. This successfully recast the vision to provide a city-building focus for unifying the corridor. It refocused the technical program on new city-building drivers, making better use of limited study resources. 

Access Planning also designed and facilitated a formative cross-department training course “Transit Design for City Building” to build skills, knowledge and tools for bringing planning for transit operations and infrastructure, multimodal access, and city building into one integrated solution.

Edmonton Transit Service and City of St. Albert - Regional Transportation Governance

Working with the Edmonton Transit Service and the City of St. Albert and the Stewart Group, Tamim Raad led a review and redesign of the service delivery and governance framework for Metro Edmonton’s transit services. This involved developing an engagement process to define values and principles for the formation of a new regional transit service entity and designing and facilitating working sessions and workshops with the respective executive and senior leadership teams. Tamim supported the team to develop a vision, goals and comprehensive evaluation framework rooted in agency and regional values with the aim of creating a regional authority that could launch initially with some focussed regional commuter services and transition over time to a fully integrated regional authority. This involved generating and evaluating governance and service delivery options, recommending a preferred option based on an assessment of governance, funding, fare and service integration, providing service delivery considerations, and developing an implementation strategy. The recommendations were adopted by both Edmonton and St. Albert Council and implementation is now underway.

 News coverage and Edmonton Metro Region Board report highlighting implementation actions based on this work can be found here: