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Bus route would link with subway

Committee backs $500,000 study

But critics say plan would attract cars


A proposal for a new bus-only link in the Don Valley is being backed as a way to improve transit from the north-central part of the city to downtown.

But an unusual grouping of Rosedale ratepayers, environmentalists and transit advocates are vehemently opposed to the idea, in part because they think it will become a thoroughfare for cars instead of buses.

Despite the opposition, a joint meeting of the city’s works and planning and transportation committees yesterday supported spending $500,000 on a formal environmental assessment study. The issue goes to city council next week.

The plan involves building a new 600-metre extension of Redway Rd., south of Eglinton Ave. E., that would allow buses on Don Mills Rd. to access Bayview Ave. and the Castle Frank subway station at Bloor St. E.

Bus ramps to reach the station could cost $15 million to $30 million, but Councillor Jane Pitfield is suggesting a different approach: Buses would drop riders off on the valley floor and they would take an escalator up to street level at the Bloor Viaduct and walk up to 280 metres west to the station.

Pitfield (Ward 26, Don Valley West), who chairs the works committee, released estimates yesterday that her system could be installed for less than $10 million.

Rosedale residents are opposed to the plan because they believe there will be immediate pressure to let motorists use the link as an alternative to the congested Don Valley Parkway.

“I see this (busway) very much as a Trojan Horse,” said Patrick Howe, president of the North Rosedale Ratepayers Association. “It’s incomprehensible that this roadway would stay a bus route for any period of time.”

A staff report said the service would attract about 700 extra riders an hour in the morning rush at a cost of about $8 per rider, based on the project’s capital cost, but transit advocates said the TTC’s official ridership growth strategy would add new riders at just over $3 each.

Transit advocate Steve Munro told the committee that adding a single GO train on the Richmond Hill line would carry more riders through the valley, relieving DVP congestion.

City council would be better off sticking with the TTC’s ridership growth strategy, said Gord Perks, of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

“The strategy gets us 45 million new riders at half the cost per rider of this plan,” Perks said. “We’re throwing away the ability to improve transit in order to pave more parts of the Don Valley. It’s nuts.”