I believe it is clear that everyone agrees that Toronto needs more transit. It is needed across the entire city and in all forms (buses, LRT's, streetcars & subways). I cannot fathom any credible candidate for any level of government who wouldn't agree!
Metrolinx is involved in attempting to bring transit across the GTHA with its BIG MOVE. This is a multi-decade $50 billion transit plan to get transit moving. I support many aspects of Metrolinx in my platform including the need for a Downtown Relief Line (or DRL for short).
TTC has also identified in their transit building strategy that there are concerns for over-capacity on several of their transit lines. The main cause of concern is the Yonge subway which is already having people to wait for multiple trains to board. A solution that TTC identified in 2009 was the need for a DRL also. TTC has a website about their relief line HERE.
With two different organizations agreeing with the need for a DRL, any commonalities led to the public meetings on where each of them stand. Each had information to show the public on what issues need to be addressed and also how solutions can be created.
Public Meeting Info:
I arrived and instantly saw Glen Murray, Olivia Chow, David Soknacki & Morgan Baskin in attendance. It is encouraging to see mayoral candidates engaged in public meetings and to be informed by the 'experts' on transit for their platforms. Decisions by the next mayor and council will have a lasting impact on transit and Toronto.
After an introduction to both organizations discussing who they are and why they view the DRL as an important transit line to build, it was time to break into groups. Both TTC and Metrolinx had a side of the room to brainstorm about the needs and concerns as well as suggestions for improvement.
My first group interaction dealt with "New Transit Lines" and Metrolinx allowed for the public to give ideas. I mentioned the concept of building a line and not necessarily have all the stations complete before having it run. I had seen this in Brazil where the line was complete, but stations along the line were not. This allowed for the main end point stations to be utilized while secondary stations in the middle were constructed. Although they weren't all tied to the DRL, many were interesting and I will list a few I had written down:
- Extend Kipling further west
- Express subway trains
- Express buses
- New Go Stations
- Bike storage in more stations
The next group interaction was the most interesting to me because it was "Policy". Policy involving transit allows for the utilization of current lines and future lines and begin to think of new ways to improve transit. I mentioned time-based transfers, integration GO and TTC so it allows people to choose more than one way to get home. Other interesting ideas included:
- Discounted fares based on income
- Free transit before/after certain times
- Zone fares
- "Premium service fares"
The second half of the meeting was a presentation and interaction with TTC about their Relief Line. They were clear that Metrolinx were futher ahead in their process and that in itself was a positive. It allows the TTC to view their findings and helps guide the process to get the DRL built.
I was very happy to attend the public consultation and impressed with the turnout. The sense of urgency for transit improvement is very evident. Residents of all corners of Toronto and a few from other connected cities were attending to give a voice to concerns they see and solutions they believe will make transit the best way to travel within Toronto.
This is only the first step in a long process to get the DRL built. With as much information and interaction as the public meeting had - it is a positive sign of progress.