Everyday at 7 a.m., Sach Bhutani leaves his home in Markham for his hour-and-a-half commute to work, with MP3 player in his hand to help pass the time.
“You can’t really sit and open up a book because if it’s crowded,” he said, “you’re just packed in like sardines.”
Bhutani works at the March of Dimes on Overlea Boulevard and says the commute on the bus frustrates him everyday.
It takes him 45 minutes just to reach Don Mills Road and Steeles Avenue. He then catches the connecting bus to Overlea Boulevard. The ride home can be even longer, taking him up to two-and-a-half hours.
Mayor David Miller announced his plans to make Toronto a more transit-friendly city at Downsview Station on Tuesday.
A city that moves by public transit
Miller plans to develop dedicated bus lines along Yonge Street from Finch to Steeles, and along Kingston Road from Victoria Park to Eglinton.
He also said he would implement light rapid transit (LRT) along Don Mills Road from Steeles to the city centre and through the East Bayfront and Portlands. He said these methods will only cost a fraction of the cost of building new subway lines.
“My vision for the future of Toronto is a city that moves by public transit,” Miller announced. “Our city’s big and growing fast; we can’t wait for subways to be constructed.”
TTC analyst James Bow said the implementation of dedicated bus lines and light rapid transit is the most reasonable method of expanding the TTC with its limited funds.
He explained that the Sheppard subway cost $925 million to produce 6.2 kilometres of service or over $100 million per kilometre. He said the plan to extend the subway to York University will cost double that amount.
“If we’re not sure we have that money, then it’s irresponsible to be looking at subways,” he said.
He said any time transit is improved it will cost the city and citizens. But congestion on the roads costs the city billions of dollars a year.
Building new subways not in the budget
“We’d certainly have to pay a lot more taxes to put in these subway lines,” Bow said.
Mayor Miller said that in order to accommodate Toronto’s expected population boom by 2021, transit must be expanded. Since building new subways is not in the current budget, he calls on other governments to contribute.
“If we want the economies of cities to succeed, we need proper funding,” he said. “We need to find a way to share some of that prosperity (of the provincial government) with the city government so we can properly invest in what people depend on.”
Until then, Bhutani will continue his hour-and-a-half ride to work each day, but hopes to soon ride the LRT on Don Mills, perhaps with enough elbow-room to read the odd book.