On an average weekday, 1.6 million people use public transit to navigate Canada's largest city, relying on the Toronto Transit Commission's four subway lines, 11 streetcar routes, and more than 140 bus routes to reach their destinations. Writer Dominic Ali spoke with University of Toronto expert Matti Siemiatycki about where Toronto's transit has been and where it's heading.
It's a sad day for Toronto as a family will hold funeral for a seven-year-old girl. She was hit by a van near her home. Her death is an unimaginable loss to her family and the community. This loss of life should compel us to think about making our streets safer for all, but especially for pedestrians and bicyclists, who are more vulnerable than others are. The tragedy is raising questions about the harmful impacts of increased traffic on residential streets.
Anyone who has been down to the Harbourfront recently knows that Queens Quay is under construction. The streetcar tracks are being replaced and Waterfront Toronto is building a new tree-lined promenade that will be spectacular once complete, but creates traffic chaos in the meantime. Although I expected the construction on Queens Quay, nothing prepared me for the trifecta of traffic interruptions that followed. Traffic was already heavy because it was the season home opener for the Argos. That would have been fine, if the rest of the transportation network had been working.
Some transit experts argue that commute times by high-speed rail transit are shorter. It is true for individual trips, but not for the entire communities. Commuters in transit-dependent communities, with ready access to subways, can take faster transit to their destinations, however shorter duration trips are enjoyed only by those whose trip lengths are shorter. With $29 billion in transport infrastructure spending already earmarked for Ontario, Steven Del Duca and Kathleen Wynne, will receive tons of unsolicited advice. They should, however, base their investment decisions on sound analysis rather than conjecture.
You don't hate your commute, it's your job. A Statistics Canada survey revealed that workers who disliked their jobs were much more likely to hate their commutes than those who liked their jobs. Our hatred of the morning commute may be driven by our unsatisfactory jobs. Extensive surveys of workers in Canada have revealed that our love-hate relationship with daily commutes is much more nuanced than what we had believed it to be.
There's growing recognition that prioritizing transit is crucial to moving a region forward. Transit-oriented cities have better air quality with lower greenhouse gas emissions and benefit from reduced traffic congestion with shorter commuting times. Evidence even shows people in cities with a range of transportation options, like Vancouver, are less sedentary, get more exercise and are happier and healthier as a result.
When it comes to urban sustainability, cities in the U.S. and Canada are employing innovative programs and policies to improve the health and well-being of residents and their local environments. But (with some notable exceptions, such as Vancouver and Calgary) no successful rapid transit infrastructure projects have been built in Canadian cities for decades.
Toronto is the fourth most congested area in North America and has a reputation of being a nasty city to drive in. I disagree. I find Toronto alarmingly easy and courteous to drive in -- so long as you are decisive, no nonsense, and not a dawdler. What Toronto motorists can't abide are hesitant slowpokes -- drivers who wait endlessly for openings, who are officiously courteous, who show infuriating patience.
In some European cities, planners are finding that making life more difficult for drivers while providing incentives for people to take transit, walk, or cycle creates numerous benefits, from reducing pollution and smog-related health problems to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and making cities safer and friendlier.