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Photo Credit/dbking


 

Whenever the Bloor-Danforth line experiences a subway closure (as it will this weekend from Christie to Jane stations) it is reasonable to be a little riled up. Trips that usually take about 10 minutes by train turn into an hour by bus. Tourists getting their first impression of the city inch along Bloor in a crowded bus with all their luggage. They reach St. George and bounce their luggage down four flights of stairs because the station lacks a down escalator. I understand that for many people, buses on Bloor represent a failure of reliable public transit.


So why, you might rightfully ask, should we be interested in having something like that all the time?  


Working customer service in the subway, you quickly realize that Toronto’s elderly riders are already not thrilled about walking up and down stairs in the first place to access trains. There are also many people with heavy, cumbersome items that put themselves in danger carrying them downstairs to reach the subway. When people fall and get hurt, it only leads to further delays for all passengers.


Adding to this problem is the reality that only half (about 34) of TTC’s 69 stations are wheelchair accessible. The TTC will not likely have a fully accessible subway system by 2025, as is the province-wide goal. Even at stations that do have wheelchair access, the trip between the station and their final destination can be daunting.


Buses give all customers the option of travelling aboveground if they cannot make the trip down to the subway. They are naturally easier to access for people who have limited mobility, or who do not like the enclosed feeling of subways. It would allow TTC customers to access the streets along Bloor/Danforth between subway stations they would otherwise have to walk to.


Taking this into consideration, the goal of a local bus is not rapid transit per se, but accessible transit. It’s a practical solution to the limits of underground transportation. We already run the 97 bus along Yonge Street during the day, stretching from Steeles to Queens Quay. Since it comes every half hour, it does not clog up the roads. We also have the 85 Sheppard that travels along the Sheppard Line from Yonge well beyond Don Mills.


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