Toronto

Etobicoke transit at 'tipping point,' councillor warns as resident raises funds for shuttle bus

Public transit hasn't kept up with a major condo boom near Lake Ontario in Etobicoke, so one resident is trying to get a shuttle bus running to improve the commutes of his neighbours.

A new GO station is the 'ultimate goal' for resident hoping to transport residents to Mimico Station

As condos continue springing up in south Etobicoke, the local councillor is worried transit isn't keeping up with the demand. (Ed Middleton/CBC)

Public transit hasn't kept up with a major condo boom near Lake Ontario in Etobicoke, residents say, and one is trying to get a shuttle bus running to improve the commutes of his neighbours.

Scot Johnson has launched a crowd-funding campaign for the Park Lawn and Lake Shore Improvement Association, and those who pay $175 to join for four months will get the "perk" of access to a weekday shuttle bus that will take them to GO Transit's Mimico Station.

"We are not creating a transit service. We are creating an association which tackles neighbourhood issues — and one of the issues is this transit," Johnson told CBC Toronto.

While the shuttle bus is temporary solution, Johnson says what he's really after is a GO station at Park Lawn.

"It's just a matter of proving that business case," he said.

"The GO station is the ultimate goal for that area."

The transit crunch is especially bad in the area as bridge work and other repairs have shut down streetcar service. With frustration mounting among residents, Johnson said he is confident that people will be eager to try the shuttle bus, and noted that some condos in the area already offer similar services.

However, there is some risk that the city may shut it down, because the TTC is the only organization allowed to operate a transit service. A group in Liberty Village frustrated with packed streetcars on King Street recently tried to launch a shuttle service to the downtown core from that neighbourhood, but concerns about rules brought an end to that plan.

Local councillor OK with shuttle idea

Some condos in the area already offer shuttle service to nearby transit stops. (Ed Middleton/CBC)

Coun. Mark Grimes, who represents the area, said if the buses start running, he won't stop them. 

"Transit down there's at the tipping point right now," he said.

"People are ticked off and I'm not going to step in the way of anyone trying to improve their route to get to work."

Grimes said they city's been trying to improve transit in the area for years, but there's been little progress, adding he's asked city staff to look at running a similar circular route to Johnson's in the past.

He said unplanned growth, and the risk that even more land — including the massive former Mr. Christie plant — will be developed in a way the city isn't prepared for, is making the problem worse.

Grimes and other politicians in the area are hoping part of the Christie site becomes a transit hub, complete with its own GO stop.

"We've made that perfectly clear," he said.

TTC working on long-term fixes

Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said the province is working closely with the TTC to coordinate service in the area to improve customer service.

"And we've been working on improving the Mimico Station to ready it for increased rail service," she said in an email.

TTC spokesperson Stuart Green said the transit agency is working with Waterfront Toronto to improve transit in the area. The two organizations are working on a "Waterfront Reset Study," which is set to go to council later this year, and it will make recommendations for the entire strip along the lake, including the booming neighbourhood just west of the Humber bridge.

The city is also working on a Park Lawn Lake Shore Transportation Master Plan, although right now the plan is still at the stage where it is identifying problems.

Green said the most immediate relief for the area will come when Bombardier delivers more new streetcars, which can handle more people, and the line reopens.

Johnson is hoping to get his buses running this year and suggested he only needs to make it halfway to his $50,000 goal to launch the service.

As of Friday, the campaign has only raised $450, although Johnson says a local business is kicking in $2,000 more for advertising on the bus.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Rieti is the senior producer of digital at CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country. In Toronto, he's covered everything from the Blue Jays to Toronto city hall. Outside of work, catch him cycling in search of the city's best coffee.

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