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York University Transit Plans Threatened

I've only occasionally been to the hinterland that is York University. So, it wasn't until recently that I knew about the line-ups. I always understood that it must be painful to ride the bus through jammed suburban traffic just to get to Downsview Station. (From there, as fast as the subway is, you still have a long enough ride to get where you're going.) But what I didn't know was that students frequently have to line-up for a long time just to get a place on one of the buses headed back to Toronto.

Anyway, the City has both a short-term and a long-term plan to help these people. Unfortunately, news this week has put both of them in potential jeopardy. (Despite my hyped-up headline, I'd say the risk is minor, but still real.)

The short-term plan is to build bus-only lanes to connect Downsview Station and York University. However, just this week, a plan to build streetcar-only lanes for the St. Clair was frozen in court. The legal issue was that the new development was considered to be "rapid transit" which was not specified in the 1994 Official Plan, and the 2002 Official Plan is still tied up at the OMB and not yet in force. This ruling may affect the York Busway, too, although I hope it would be easier to get it fixed since I'm unaware of serious opposition to the busway project.

The long-term plan is to extend the Spadina subway through York University. An environmental assessment is underway and a prefered route has been determined. The City and the TTC don't have the money to undertake this project on their own, but rumours of Ontario government support have inspired them to be ready. However, the resignation of Finance Minister Greg Sobara is a threat to the funding hopes. After all, Sobara's role as a key player in the McGuinty government, his position as MPP of the region at the end of the subway extension, and his ties to York University were the reasons that we thought he'd be able to budget the funds before the next election. Now he's out.

Hopefully the provincial government still finds it worthwhile to invest in the project.

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