Public transit is one of the most important issues for Etobicoke-Lakeshore and the City as a whole. I kicked off the new term of City Council with a renewed commitment to truly better service for ward 6. I met with the TTC numerous times and, with the help of tweets and emails and photos from our community members, presented concrete proof of the poor transit service we receive in ward 6.
We have had some victories already, like increased service on the Evans, Browns Line, Royal York, and Kipling bus routes. My ShoreLine motion to relocate the Humber Loop and provide a dedicated streetcar right-of-way between Park Lawn and downtown garnered a petition with over 1000 signatures of support and was unanimously approved by City Council. The ShoreLine also formed the basis for the City Council approved “Waterfront Transit Reset” which will provide a complete transit strategy for the waterfront, all the way to Long Branch.
I am currently working on an express bus on Kipling Ave. to provide direct service between Kipling Subway station and the Lakeshore. This new service will cut travel time for anyone in ward 6 who uses Kipling station, but will also help the thousands of students attending school in the area.
Most recently, after years infrequent and unreliable service, 10 minute or better service was finally introduced on the 501 streetcar. I met with the TTC regularly to ensure they understood the unique challenges facing our portion of the route, especially around the Humber Loop and Park Lawn. The delay in delivering the new streetcars made implementing this service a real logistical challenge, but they agreed to provide shuttle busses along the route to try and fill that gap. I was assured short-turns would be a thing of the past. I was concerned about riders having to transfer at the loop but I was guaranteed there would often be an empty streetcar waiting for them, and if not it will only be a few minutes before one would arrive. I was also told that this route split at the Humber Loop was temporary.
I asked residents to let me know what they thought of this new service, and I have received mixed reviews. Most people have acknowledged that streetcars are coming more frequently, and that the route supervisors at the Humber Loop have been able to answer questions about the transfer, provide directions, and increase the feeling of safety. I have also heard that the transfer at the Humber Loop is frustrating, especially for people who live in Humber Bay Shores. It is cold and dark in the evenings, and often more than one streetcar lets passengers off before there is a new car there to pick them up for the rest of the westbound trip. I have sent every single one of your concerns to the TTC directly.
I spoke with the TTC Chief Service Officer this morning, after reading a recent article in the Etobicoke Guardian. He has confirmed that this route split at the Humber Loop is temporary. The increased streetcar frequency with the adjusted route schedule requires more cars than are currently available for the entire Long Branch-Neville Park route. As I’m sure you’ve heard on the news, there has been a significant delay in the delivery of the TTC new streetcars. We need these new cars to be able to fill those gaps. He also agreed that the route schedule does need some tweaking. It is not their intentions to leave people waiting at the loop in the dark so they will look at ways to adjust the timing to provide the equal service on the western portion of the route that was promised.
I want to assure you that transit is a priority for me. I have relayed this very strongly to TTC Staff, Mayor Tory, and TTC Board Chair Colle. I have written about the traffic problems at Park Lawn and Lake Shore more times than you probably care to read, but I recognize that traffic and transit are the most important issues to be tackled right now.