Even without the G20 meeting in late June, this summer was already set to be very challenging for commuters. In addition to the high-security downtown summit, many parts of the GTA are going to be affected by road closures, construction delays and transit detours until winter comes.
Patience, many deep breaths, as well as modern technology are your best ways to cope — unless you’re planning to spend the season on an island far from here.
Transit riders can expect detailed updates leading up to the multi-government meeting June 26-27, but various construction projects are already slowing certain streetcar and bus routes. Thanks to a huge influx of federal stimulus funds, many roads and bridges will be rebuilt before March 2011.
It may help to become familiar with a new array of information sources. Up-to-date TTC streetcar arrival information is now available at nextbus.com. Each tram stop is assigned a unique number and by late July it should be possible to get real-time arrivals via text message. Displays at some stops also show when the next car is due. The bus network gets similar treatment by next year.
A few TTC surface lines will divert just before and during G20, but street demonstrations could mean wider disruptions and even affect subway service. Check ttc.ca to find out how to recieve alerts. The unofficial site — ttcupdates.com — also posts instant route warnings via Twitter.
GO Transit riders can expect the unexpected during G20 as the security zone takes form on the western edge of Union Station. Train users will be able to use other street exits, but be ready for police and protesters. GO buses could be delayed by motorcades on key roads and highways.
The expansion of Union Station continues this summer and GO regulars may have to find alternate routes through the rail complex.
A new wave of online sources aimed at those driving vehicles can also help anyone using GTA streets. Look for detailed traffic maps, estimated road speeds and travel times at beatthetraffic.com, triptimes.ca and Google Maps. The City of Toronto also has roadwork details at toronto.ca/torontostreets.
For a full list of transit and traffic websites, see my links page at eddrass.com.