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Don Mills rapid bus tossed in mix

Gridlock solutions: City studying ways for ‘continuous’ transit service from north to south

Natalie Alcoba, National Post
Published: Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Toronto city councillors yesterday moved toward a plan to improve transit and ease traffic along the congested Don Valley corridor.

The city’s planning and transportation committee agreed to combine two environmental assessments: one that looks at how to move people from Don Mills to the Bloor-Danforth subway and another that connects that subway line to the waterfront district.

The integrated study will now examine options for “continuous” service from north to south.

Among the options being studied is a rapid bus route or streetcar system along Don Mills Road that could connect to Castle Frank, Broadview or Pape stations.

Bus and streetcar service will likely be the mode of transport to the waterfront.

Last year, city council ordered a $500,000-plus environmental assessment meant to come up with ways to channel more people on to an improved Don Mills Road transit route. It stemmed from an acknowledgement that Toronto is outgrowing its transit and roadway system.

The city’s official plan does not allow for the expansion of any major arteries, said Joanna Kervin, a program manager in the city’s transportation planning division. She noted there is no room for more cars on roads in the Don Valley corridor, which extends from Bayview Avenue to Victoria Park and includes the DVP.

“To keep pace with the [population] growth we want to get more people on public transit,” explained Ms. Kervin, who is in charge of the Don Mills study.

The city is also working in conjunction with York Region to expand bus service to the Don Mills subway station on the Sheppard line.

The environmental assessments will provide a detailed analysis of all alternate transit options, whether it be buses or streetcars, and if they will operate in their own designated lanes, or be afforded partial or exclusive rights of way.

Councillor Kyle Rae (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) told the planning and transportation committee yesterday that looking at the corridor as a whole is ”the right thing” and addresses residents’ concerns.

Robert Reuter, lawyer for the Castle Frank-Drumsnab-MacKenzie Concerned Residents group, said two separate studies “risk narrowing the options.” For example, a streetcar system along Don Mills Road may make more sense when looking at the entire north-south corridor, he said.

“To make this useful to as many people as possible … we need to look at expanding the route and offering people a choice,” Councillor Jane Pitfield (Ward 26, Don Valley West) said after the meeting. “Not everyone is going to want to get off at Castle Frank.”

And while other councillors saw the merit in integrating both studies, they suggested that the focus was misplaced. “What would really move people is an extension of the Sheppard subway [line],” Councillor Case Ootes (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth) told the planning and transportation committee. “Why pour half-a-million dollars down an EA that isn’t going to go anywhere?”

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) noted it makes no sense to study the merits of a rapid bus route along Don Mills Road when it would be faster to take a bus along any one of the major east-west streets (York Mills Road, and Lawrence and Eglinton avenues) to get to the Yonge subway line.

The Don Mills study is slated to cost more than $500,000 and should, alongside the waterfront transit environmental assessment, be complete by the end of next year.

Council will vote on yesterday’s motion at the end of the month.

nalcoba@nationalpost.com




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