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September 2010
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“Get on the buses, you’ll see all your friends next year…”

As with many of my friends, I went to summer camp up in Ontario. We were on a private lake, we walked everywhere, had wide open fields, no pollution, sunny days, blue skies, great friends … it is some of the best days of my life. Camp would end on the third Thursday in August and trumpeting on main field you could hear the director ‘Get on the buses, you’ll see all your friends next year …”

While his end of camp tag line seems comical now, Toronto’s bus system is depleting so rapidly that it might take a year for you to see your friends again (ok, not really). Unless you live directly on the subway there is little hope that you can travel on the transit system efficiently.

40 minutes to go 5 kilometers?

Reported in the Globe and Mail yesterday, Toronto’s bus routes “fail those who need it most.” According to their research only those who are part of the ‘creative class‘ can afford to live on the subway routes. The remainder, the working and the service class can’t afford to live along the subway, despite needing it the most. Unable to afford a car, insurance and parking these people are forced to use ‘The Better Way‘.

Would a Congestion Charging Scheme Improve Bus Scheduling in Toronto?

In early 2003 London introduced a congestion charging scheme; camera’s were installed and charged people who drove into the city. Rates varied by time of day and day of the week. People who lived in Central London were charged a tax to own a car. And more buses were added to there vast route network just prior to the congestion charging scheme implementation.

The overall result: there was a 30% reduction in automobile traffic. Reliability of the buses increased. With reliability increasing more people saw buses as an attractive alternative to get in and an around town.

Toronto currently does not have a congestion charging scheme. Individuals commute to and from the suburbs, local Toronto residents drive anywhere and everywhere with no other viable option available. In the end the TTC, along with individual automobiles, competes for space on the road.

Forget “fancy, European-style light-rail transit” and subways. Create dedicated bus lanes and carpool lanes during rush-hour. Implement a congestion charging scheme. Promote living where we work. Once again make all aspects of the TTC ‘The Better Way.’