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Now, if only my transfer could talk, too

TRANSIT: MAKING CONNECTIONS

MEGAN O’TOOLE

May 26, 2007

Most riders are familiar with the Toronto Transit Commission’s transfer system, but a “walking” transfer? At Museum Station this past week, many greeted the concept with a blank stare.

“I’ve never heard of them,” said 69-year-old Katarina Biro, who uses the TTC every time she travels downtown. “It’s new, is it?”

Not exactly. Walking transfers have been around since at least the late 1920s, and very likely before that, explains John Chamberlain, senior superintendent of surface transportation for the TTC. But the one that operates between Museum Station and the 94 Wellesley bus stop at Hoskin Avenue and Queen’s Park is certainly new - it came into effect just last month.

Operating in both directions at 59 locations along TTC routes, they allow riders to “walk” a transfer between two bus or subway stops that don’t directly intersect, but are close together. That way, the customer avoids having to pay an additional fare.

Chad Marshall, in his early 30s, says that if he had known years ago that walking transfers were an option, he would have taken advantage of them. “I used to [use the TTC] a lot more often, and that would definitely have been more convenient,” he adds.

Walking-transfer points can be determined in a couple of different ways. In some cases, such as with the Museum/Wellesley location, a customer approaches the TTC with a transfer request, which is then assessed. More often, though, they’re identified by vehicle operators or by TTC staff who are planning a new route, Mr. Chamberlain says.

The walking transfer looks no different than an ordinary transfer, but drivers are made aware of the points on their route where they can accept a transfer that has been “walked” from another stop.

There are no specific guidelines about how much distance there must be between two stops in order for the location to qualify, Mr. Chamberlain notes. “At this point, it’s driven by common sense,” he says. “Our past history of defining these locations, I think, shows we’ve been quite liberal in our use of common sense.”

More walking-transfer points will probably be added as routes change and new needs are identified, Mr. Chamberlain continues, adding the increased convenience could boost ridership.

Bonnie Bond-Hornig, 58, has been employed by the TTC for 21 years but has been driving her current route, the 20 Cliffside, for just a few months.

Since 2001, a walking transfer has been available on her route. Not a huge number of people use the walking transfer, Ms. Bond-Hornig says, but the ones who do appreciate the option.

“It shows a little bit of flexibility in the system, and people respect that, and they think it’s great they can do that type of thing,” she adds.

Now, if only more customers were familiar with the system, the TTC could really get walking transfers rolling.

For a list of walking-transfer connections, go to http://www.toronto.ca/ttc/servicedetails.htm#walkingtransfer




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