Getting around the city and the region during the Pan American Games is sure to create headaches but transportation officials are hoping that with a little cooperation from residents the gridlock that has been predicted by some will be averted.

On Tuesday morning a panel of transportation officials held a press conference to provide an update on their plans for the July 10-26 Pan American Games and the August 7 – 15 Parapan Am Games.

Some of the highlights include enhanced service on GO Transit and the TTC, 235 kilometres in high occupancy lanes that will be available as of June 29 and a program that will allow ticketholders to ride public transit for free on the day of their event.

Transportation officials say they have also spoken with large businesses in the region and have encouraged them to allow their employees to work from home or work alternative hours during the games in order to limit the number of vehicles on the road during peak times.

“Our plan is guided by three goals: keep the region moving, create an easy and accessible system for spectators and get athletes and officials to venues on time,” Andrew Posluns, the executive director of the Pan/Parapan Am Games branch at the Ministry of Transportation, told reporters. “It will be busy this summer but we want to make sure that everyone can have a really good games experience.”

A total of 10,000 athletes and 250,000 visitors are expected to visit the GTA for the Pan American Games, making the event the biggest multi-sport games ever held in Canada.

Though parking will be limited at many of the venues and non-existent at the Pan Am Dome (Rogers Centre) and the Pan Am Park at Exhibition Place, officials have ensured that there will be enhanced public transit service to carry spectators to venues.

In Toronto, subway service will begin at 6 a.m. on Sunday, which is three hours ahead of its usual start time. The TTC has also added additional bus routes to ensure that all seven venues in its coverage area are serviced by at least three different routes. The TTC says it has also worked to increase service reliability by completing necessary maintenance and testing on surface vehicles and subway cars. As well, the transit agency says it has made arrangements to have additional vehicles and staff on hand so it can respond to increased demand as it happens.

“We are trying to make transit – as surprising as this seems – fun, so as you are going to volleyball or wheelchair basketball the trip there is enjoyable and is really the start of your experience,” Chief Customer Service Office Chris Uphold told reporters on Tuesday. “This is our opportunity to show what transit can do.”

Metrolinx to boost service

Because the Pan American Games are largely a regional event, with venues spanning 5,300 square kilometres and 15 municipalities, there will likely be a spike in the use of GO Transit.

In advance of that, officials at the regional transit agency say they are taking unprecedented steps to boost service levels and ensure that they have the resources on hand to transport sports fans, officials and other GTA residents that may just be looking to avoid the roads.

Speaking with reporters, Metrolinx Director of Service Planning Chris Burke said that GO Transit service will increase its early morning service on weekends to every 30 minutes and will also add supplementary late night trips on routes servicing games venues.

In addition, GO Transit will also add one to two train trips to Hamilton during each game at the CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium. A shuttle bus will then take riders to and from the GO station to the venue.

“That is a pretty extensive addition to our service,” Burke said. “These are extra trains and many of them stopping as well at Exhibition Stadium, which of course is another very important site.

In addition to the steps being taken by Metrolinx and the TTC, the Pan American Games themselves have launched a website and app to help residents plan their trips during the games.

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