$30M Kipling hub far from the ideal transit solution
Yesterday’s announcement that the province will contribute $30 million for a western transit hub at Kipling station shows that things are finally coming together for transit in the GTA. It makes sense to add Mississauga and GO Transit buses to a combined subway/GO Train station.
Alas, this project is far from the ideal solution — especially for current TTC riders in Etobicoke.
The new interregional hub at Kipling is part of the City of Toronto’s plans to rebuild the neighbourhood — as well as replace the bus terminal at nearby Islington station with a headquarters for the huge engineering and construction firm SNC Lavalin. So many Mississauga Transit (MT) buses travel to Islington on Burnhamthorpe Road that a few years ago Toronto banned them from the bus bays in a ploy to get the routing changed. For several months MT riders were forced to wait on the street.
Presuming this project can survive an ambitious timetable (it’s slated to open in 2010) as well a possible change in provincial government this October, most existing riders won’t benefit greatly. Islington is actually a faster subway connection for many MT routes, but at least Mississauga riders heading downtown will soon have a better chance at getting a seat on the train at Kipling.
This won’t be good news to those transit customers from Etobicoke who currently enjoy the luxury of sitting down in rush hour. The project also does nothing to expand TTC bus bays at Kipling. The platform is so overloaded that busy routes serving the airport and Humber College stop in a location that wasn’t designed for passengers.
And as if it weren’t already hard enough to squeeze into the commuter parking lots at Kipling, some spaces will disappear under the new MT/GO bus terminal.
In some ways we are paying for years of poor coordination between governments and a too-long drought of funding for transit. With the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority in the picture, municipalities have finally started to work together. The challenge is that we are so behind in building transit that there’s a rush to cobble together mismatched plans.
As much as it makes sense to bring all these modes together, we can’t even imagine building a entirely new transport hub that has room for future expansion — including a proper connection with expected light-rail service to Mississauga. Some have suggested such a super-station could work well just a few kilometers to the west at Highway 427, but that would have required forethought decades ago.
Instead we’re making do with what we have and while riders won’t see extraordinary improvements with this approach, there are signs that better planning lies ahead.