During the recent municipal election many Metro readers wrote in to describe their experiences riding transit in Toronto.
They told of long waits, buses that arrive at irregular times and crowding. Several of the routes singled out by readers are ones that connect to the subway at Finch station. As the terminal of the busiest subway line in Canada, Finch is a major hub for the TTC. York Region and GO Transit buses also serve Finch, all trying to shoehorn into two cramped bus depots.
Vast parking lots adjoin the station and heavy traffic hampers transit patrons who arrive by bus or car. Both the TTC and regional bus loading areas are under construction, and we’re still waiting to see new dedicated transit lanes built on Yonge Street north to Steeles Avenue.
Because Finch is so often mentioned by readers of In Transit, and because its problems are indicative of those found at other busy subway stops, I invited new TTC chair Adam Giambrone to tour the station and its environs.
On Tuesday during rush hour, we started in the busy, cramped mezzanine and watched as riders streamed through, heading for buses or the street.
Like so many TTC stations, Finch seems as if under a permanent state of construction. Ceiling slats are missing everywhere. Temporary and handwritten signs adorn walls, windows and collector booths. Wooden hoarding closes off a major portion of the corridor heading to the buses, but there are no signs describing what’s going on.
Perhaps the work is linked to construction underway upstairs, where some bus bays are shut down while a new roadway is built to Yonge Street. A bus-only exit will offer a simpler way out of the terminal, and potentially save riders time and frustration.
Posters indicate the project was to be finished November 2006.
We also looked at the York Region/GO Transit bus area, where electronic message boards count down the minutes until the next "Viva" bus departs.
Nearby, cars waited on Yonge Street hoping to get into the busy passenger pick-up zone, and we surveyed the new bike lockers that Giambrone hopes will be installed across the system.
Throughout the tour, the new commission chair spoke of plans for better service, cleaner stations and improved information to customers. In Transit will focus on these in 2007, but first, Giambrone says he wants to hear from riders.
Although I’m concerned he and the TTC don’t yet have the resources to respond to patrons in a satisfactory way, you can contact the chair at firstname.lastname@example.org.