York subway extension just a numbers game

A project geared at reducing travel time during rush hour has cost the city $40 million. The time saved: seven minutes.

Scheduled for completion in November, the York Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will run between Downsview subway station and York University via dedicated bus lanes on Dufferin Street, through a hydro corridor and to and from the campus.

When the math is applied, a student would save 10,920 minutes over the six years until the subway extension to York University is completed in 2015. Do a little division, and it shows for every minute saved, the city will have spent $3,663.

According to Anthony Perruzza however, councillor for the ward containing York University, the numbers are not all that bad.

“I don’t know if I would do the math in that way,” he said. “With those kind of statistics you can make a very harsh argument as to why the (BRT) may not have been of value, but I wouldn’t do it that way.”

Perruzza believes the number is misleading because of the progressively worsening rush hour traffic on Keele Street.

“It may have been seven minutes when we first debated it,” he said. “But I suspect that if we updated those numbers now, the seven minutes would probably have grown.”

Scott Haskill, a senior planner for the TTC, agrees and thinks it isn’t the cost or the time that’s important – it’s the end result.

“The key thing is…it’s not about the time savings,” he said. “Whether it’s a couple minutes or not, it’s about the fact that the service will be much more reliable and as a result much more convenient for passengers.”

The BRT was initially approved by the city after an environmental assessment, and then again after city council gave the go-ahead to the subway extension. This, according to Haskill, was a good move and will be of great benefit to the commuters.

“This project was pre-existing from the subway extension,” he said. “There’s no question it will deliver a significant improvement in transit service now, before the subway is open.”

Perruzza echoed that statement, saying the BRT was a commitment made to York University years ago and with the large amount of students at the school, something had to be done.

“Somewhere between 55,000-65,000 people come onto that campus on a daily basis. It’s a functioning city within our community and we need to make it work,” he said. “From everything I’ve seen on it, it’s a worthy project.”