Transit: a broader study needed

June 23, 2016   ·   0 Comments

GOOD PUBLIC TRANSIT is an increasingly important part of urban infrastructure. That being the case, the Transit Optimi-zation Study currently being undertaken by Orangeville Transit is certainly welcome news.

However, we wonder whether the study of financially sustainable opportunities to optimize service, improve service quality and meet the needs of a growing population goes nearly far enough.

Certainly, the existing service has many weaknesses, among them the lack of Sunday and weeknight service and the absence of two-way service on any main street, including Broadway and First St.

We certainly wish Orangeville Transit well, but must ask whether studies of long-term transit needs should be confined to the Town limits.

For example, is there any good reason why the local public transit service should not be extended into Mono, with buses going as far north as Mono Plaza and east past the many car dealerships to the bustling ACTS (Athletic Centre For Training Through Sports) facility.

Granted, such logical extensions of service should be a subject of talks on cost-sharing with the Town of Mono, but they are only one of many considerations in the area of long-term planning.

Without a doubt, Dufferin County is in a unique position, bordering the Greater Toronto Area yet lacking any form of public transit outside Orangeville. The County’s other three towns have burgeoning urban populations but no plans for anything for their residents beyond costly taxicabs.

As we see it, there’s terrible irony in the fact that 50 years ago, when Shelburne had a population of 1,200, the village’s residents were served daily by both the CPR and Gray Coach Lines (a subsidiary of the Toronto Transit Commission). There were four trains and at least as many buses daily. Today, with a population approaching 8,000, the town has no railway and has had no intercity bus service since early 2015.

(Ironically, Grand Valley residents at least have nearby daily bus service, the Can-Ar buses between Port Elgin and Toronto via Pearson Airport having a flag stop on County 109.)

Meanwhile, there’s no evidence of any plan by GO Transit to provide even a single morning and evening bus to Shelburne, let alone expanded service out of Orangeville to link with the GO trains at Brampton, which now run hourly between the morning and evening rushes.

One fairly obvious fact is that most of the population growth in Dufferin is the result of skyrocketing housing prices in Toronto and to a lesser extent in the rest of the GTA.

In the circumstances, isn’t it time for someone – perhaps Dufferin County Council – to conduct a study into the area’s long-term transit needs?

And in the shorter term, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense for either the County or its lower-tier municipalities to look at some form of bus service in Shelburne and Grand Valley that would include occasional trips to Orangeville’s shopping malls?

Another option to be considered might be for the County to ask Dillon Consulting Limited, which has been studying the Orangeville Transit system over the past few months, to look into possibilities such as extension of the Orangeville Transit service into Mono, a County-operated transit service along Highway 10, GO bus service north and west of Orangeville, and the introduction of some GO train service between Orangeville and Brampton or Streetsville.

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