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What moves you?


This week my focus has been almost solely on transit in Toronto. I’m not complaining – it's been one of the most fascinating parts of my work since becoming a councillor in 2003.


I am primarily a car-driver, but I didn’t get my driver's license until I was 33 years old and had two kids to schlep around. Nowadays, I have your average suburban family – getting where we need to be often means using a combination of cars, buses, trains and taxis.

Our local transit roundtable, DVN Connects, gathered for their first meeting on Tuesday


On Tuesday night, my team and I gathered members of the DVN Connects roundtable for their first meeting. They are a broadly-representative group of Don Valley North residents who, like my family, use different ways to get around the city, including cycling and Wheel-Trans. They're going to work with us throughout the year to do the deep dive necessary to develop solutions.


Improving bus travel

At the same time, the Toronto Transit Commission is working on its five and ten-year strategic plan. At our commissioners’ meeting on Wednesday, we saw a preview of the work. I saw real signs that the TTC is adjusting its focus to give us the best bang for our buck given the Premier’s plan to take over development of rail lines. The TTC's presentation zoomed in on bus travel.

The TTC planning team is looking at bold solutions to bus travel. Solutions like this Brooklyn bus route may be piloted within the next five years.


In all of Canada and the United States, there are 23 bus routes that sometimes exceed 60,000 riders a day. More than half of these – 12, to be exact – are TTC routes. This should come as no surprise in Don Valley North because two of these are the 25 Don Mills, 39 Finch and 85 Sheppard series.


Those are the kinds of ridership numbers that justify building LRT and even subways – neither of which can happen quickly. That is why the five-year plan will take a look at best practices on how to improve bus travel on these routes.

The five-year plan will focus on improving these routes with ridership of over 30K customers per weekday. In the case of Don Mills and Finch it's sometimes over 60K.


Engagement


As part of their public engagement on this plan, TTC staff will do pop-ups in subway stations to catch riders on their way to the bus terminals. They'll be in Don Mills Station on July 4th from 3-6 PM.


I'm a big fan of this direct type of consultation. Often, public meetings in the suburbs start too early and are only easily accessible by car. When proposing to alter roadways, we want to hear from car drivers, of course – but we need to make a special effort to reach transit riders.


For example: back in 2008, when the Transit City plan was being finalized, I insisted we visit Don Mills Station to ask riders how they would make the mode change from the Sheppard subway onto an LRT to continue into Scarborough.

The now-scrapped Transit City plan proposed a Sheppard East LRT extending from Don Mills Station.


There was debate about stacking the tracks on top of each other or extending the subway track so switching vehicles could happen on one platform.


Riders hands-down chose the second option, even if it meant having to close down the subway platform for construction. Some may find this response surprising, which is exactly why it's important to meet people where they are to learn about their experiences.


Where you fit in


Torontonians have become pretty knowledgeable about transit because of the political football played with it. But you may be wondering where you fit into this great debate about transit in Toronto. Well – DVN Connects needs to hear from you and so do I.


That's why we want you to join us for a big town hall this coming Monday. We're making this one special – you will be able to pinpoint your transit needs by adding to an interactive map. We'll also have a presentation from a couple of transit experts before giving you the floor.

Please come by to tell us how you move around Toronto. We need to know your journey as the DVN Connects roundtable develops advice on how to best plan for mobility in Don Valley North.

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