As a disabled person, navigating Toronto is stressful and dangerous -- not just because of potholes and construction-brutalized sidewalks, but because of transit. And people. Especially people operating or riding transit. This is largely due to the absence of inclusion of pedestrians in the Ministry of Transportation's Accessibility Permit Program, currently only issued for drivers/passengers of cars, which leaves the rest of us vulnerable to harassment and injury.
Unlike those of us with homes and adequate incomes, people living in poverty are targeted and ticketed for activities necessary to their survival: sleeping in a park, vending goods on the sidewalk, or even setting up a basic shelter such as a tarp or a box in order to survive the night. Municipal bylaws prohibiting those activities stand in the way of people's safety and survival.
Transit agencies are able to operate at a loss during low-demand periods because they operate transit at a profit during peak periods. Regulators allow transit monopolies in exchange for the guaranteed service on low-ridership routes, which for-profit transport providers like UberHop are unlikely to consider.
On the morning of Oct. 28, 2015, 12 pedestrians were struck by cars in the City of Toronto. While some would say it's the result of a wet, grey day, this statistic follows an average of six pedestrians being hit each day, a stunningly high number set to increase as density intensifies and our population ages.
Sadly, in my experience, purposely ignoring pregnant women while riding public transit has become the norm, not the exception. What has happened to humanity? The lack of focus on others, supported by the technological tools to "zone out" or feign ignorance wherever and whenever possible makes this willful blindness not only possible but probable as well.
I was recently in Toronto to interview John Tory, the 65th and current mayor of my adoptive hometown. Thinking about my return to New York, I couldn't help but make comparisons. An age-old saying came to mind. "The grass is always greener on the other side." In my case, was it greener on the other side of the border?
Canadian cities have enjoyed a steady population growth rate, which is significantly higher in suburban municipalities than that in central or urban municipalities. Smart fare integration across transit operators and jurisdictions will help grow transit ridership and improve accessibility and equity in metropolitan areas