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York seniors need community bus service, says local group

May 22, 2008 03:15 PM

Seniors are essentially prisoners in their own homes without a community bus that offers service along smaller routes in Weston and Mount Dennis, said a local seniors group who made a deputation to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Wednesday afternoon.

Maggie Knapp, executive director of the York West Active Living Centre, stressed the importance of providing community bus service with a growing seniors population in the former city of York.

It’s something members of York West Active Living Centre have been asking for four years.

“How many more years is it going to be?” Knapp said. “We have a huge wave of baby boomers coming.”

While most of the regular TTC bus fleet are becoming more accessible, that only means the floor at the door entrance is lowered.

A community TTC bus, however, is fully accessible and has ample space to hold people dependent on scooters and wheelchairs, Knapp explained.

Community bus service also travels along minor streets and can be flagged at any point along the route, making it easier for seniors to board the bus without having to make a lengthy trip to bus stops located at major road intersections. The cost of a ride is just one regular TTC fare.

Simone Marion, board president of York West Active Living Centre, first inquired about having a community bus for York four years ago after taking the 405 community bus that services parts of Etobicoke.

“It was an idea to get people out,” said Marion, adding she took the community bus to attend social events at church.

Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata (York South-Weston) also spoke at the meeting, asking the TTC committee to expand the Etobicoke 405 community bus route to connect with Weston and Mount Dennis.

“Why it’s important is that we do have a number of developments in the area and it’s very difficult for seniors to have access to,” Nunziata said.

For example, she noted there is currently no direct bus that goes to West Park Healthcare Centre where many seniors would have to go for treatment.

York Community Services is also building its new satellite health centre by the corner of Jane Street and Trethewey Drive, a location which would require most local residents to take two buses.

It’s also about giving seniors more independence, said Francie Kendal of York Community Services.

“In this community, there’s a much higher percentage of seniors living alone,” she said.

To send the message home to the TTC committee members, Margaret Todman sang her deputation, repeating the chorus line, “We need the TTC.”

She received applause from the city councillors present, who then referred it to staff to review for the 2009 budget process.