Much delayed Toronto subway extension a go
It appears that the federal government has finally gotten their house in order and is getting much needed funding to the Province of Ontario after 2 years of stalling by the Harper government. The feds are chipping in their $697-million share of the $2-billion dollar Spadina subway extension, according to the Toronto Star.
Any subway extension is good news in my book (even the poorly conceived and pointless Sheppard line, but barely), but this stretch is especially important to Toronto. Take a look at the proposed extension below (for the full view, check out my subway map here):
Image courtesy of Spadina Subway Extension Project
Why is this an important extension? The Jane/Finch area of Toronto has been notoriously under served by transit for years. As one of Toronto’s lowest income areas, the lack of efficient transit options only serves to make a bad situation worse. With less transit options, more money is spent on vehicles, insurance and gas.
The extension of the subway through the northwest portion of the city is a big step towards combating the usual cycle of poverty. Can transit make that big a difference, you ask? I’ll give you a hypothetical situation grounded in reality as an example. I’ll use a single-parent, single-child family living at the intersection of Shoreham Dr. and Hullmar Dr. (near Jane and Finch) for this example.
In this example, the parent works downtown as a receptionist. To get to work now it requires catching the 35A to head south on Jane St., transferring to the 84 west and then transferring again to take the Spadina subway south to downtown. So we’re talking 6 km of rush hour bus travel, 2 transfers, and a 45 minute subway ride. Total trip time: approx. 1.5 hours
And, assuming that our parent has to work late for extra income or another job, the trip would get even longer as rush hour routes are cut back off-peak.
Now, with the extension in place, this 1.5 hour trip is suddenly cut down to 50 minutes with a Steele Ave. station only 1.5 kms away. Suddenly, this parent can leave 40 minutes later and get home 40 minutes earlier. That’s a significant amount of time saved everyday, time that can be more productively spent caring for and interacting with a child, cooking, being involved in the community, or simply resting.
My point is, for people living on the margins, little differences like this can make a big difference. I won’t delve into the possible political and social motivations for delays around this extension, but you get the idea.
So, hooray extension, boo Conservative federal government with no urban planning.
Update: It looks like there will also be a dedicated “busway” running from Downsview station to York University, further helping our fictional family in the shorter term with planned deployment for 09-10. Not sure what a “busway” is exactly, maybe it’s a UK phrase? I assume it’s BRT, though.