A Plea for Better Durham Transit

I received the following comment from Karem Allen, and felt that it was worth putting in a thread of its own.  Remarks here are all Karem’s (although I have tidied it up a bit).

“Help! I don’t work in downtown Toronto.”

I have formed a coalition called C.C.F.S.T.  That stands for Concerned Citizens For Smart Transit.

Durham Region is great at getting people to the GO for the train or bus to Scarborough/Yorkdale/Yorkmills/Finch but other than that it is poorly lacking.

The 407 East extension is coming and the transitway type is unknown to me if it is for dedicated bus lanes or a rail system beside the highway.

What I see is these 905’s are great at having dreams of mass transit and paying for studies, but do not put anything into play.  Viva is a great start however.

I would like to see a plan to have people be able to go to York Region from Durham easier without having to go into Scarborough.  It is on paper and has been there since 2003.  Taunton Road could use a GO Bus route past Oshawa.

The only place to park a car and get on the bus or train in Ajax or anywhere in Durham is at the GO stations.  These are all by the highway yet development has been to the north.  This causes traffic troubles heading south in the morning and north in the evening.

There is a piece of land that I want to see deemed for transit use — park car and get on a GO bus in the North Part of town.  I won’t say exactly where as in the blink of an eye they could build a house on it before I get to the planning department.

GO transit and TTC needs to realise that not everyone wants to go to King and Bay.

Don’t tell me to move as my home is here.  I left the city because we wanted to buy a house.  We bought a small wartime house and at the time I worked in Scarborough.  Next year my company is going to Mississauga. I am not moving there!

If anyone wants a coalition button when I get them, …

Steve:  Please don’t post requests here.  Send email to Karem at the link above. 

I will be sending them to as many officials as possible.

Are there any readers of this site from Durham Region?

Steve:  Any comments on the transit situation in Durham would be welcome here.  If you want to discuss another region, I may start a separate thread to keep things sorted out.

9 thoughts on “A Plea for Better Durham Transit

  1. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for cleaning up, grammar is not my best subject.

    Please edit my email on above post to reflect transit_nightmares@hotmail.com as it will help reduce spam. 

    As of 7:30 am this morning durhamregion.com offered me a community blog for transit issues.  They will pay for the hosting.  I will write for free.  It will be a bit before it is ready for me to start posting.

    I contacted Durham region in regards to their Smart Commute plans and it may have some response but it is geared to in-the-region travel.

    I have an idea in terms of parking and carpooling out of the region that I want to float with area large retailers.

    One other thing, at a recent 407 EA public session I asked an MTO project person why buses can not pass traffic on the shoulder when traffic is at a stand still.

    We are having some road widening here from 2 lanes to 4 lanes and transit is one reason why.  I am going to do my best to request that shoulders be paved and constructed in a manner that can support buses escaping traffic when the need arises on this main corridor that will cross the region.  Transit cannot be an afterthought when doing upgrades on roads.  Not anymore.

    I hope to see other regions post since this is really why sometimes you have to let 3+ trains go by before you cram on.  It is all of us that finally made it into Scarborough, Finch, Kipling, Union.

    The Sheppard line is all you city people.  If it went all the way to Port Union, then it would be full of Durham people.

    I want to help transform Durham from the bastard child of the GTA.

    Thank you very much for this site and editing duty!

    Steve:  You’re welcome.  I have changed the link to your new email address as requested.


  2. I live in Whitby and I work in Newmarket. I feel bad about driving 70 km every day to work, and wish I could take public transit to work, but its damn near impossible. I am also frustrated by GO transit’s Union-centred universe, and DRT’s sole committment to getting ppl to the GO stations. Hopefully trains start running on the Seaton line soon, which will cut through north pickerin-ajax. I don’t think its in the plans, but I’d like to see trains go through to a new GO station in Whitby, maybe near Palmerston, Bradley, or Wyndfiel Park?, but this is just me dreaming. If you take a look at the GO stations in York Region, they are far more centralized, i.e. in their business core with ppl living all around them. Durham Region’s, especially Whitby’s and Oshawa’s GO stations are so isolated, that nobody can walk to the GO station.


  3. I lived in Durham for a few years when I was still with my parents and I must say, the transit situation there is hopeless. I found it impossible to live there without a car. To make matters worse, Durham Region has no long term plans for public transit, unlike most other 905 municipalities (Mississsauga and Brampton in Peel are good examples). So I don’t forsee any improvements for years, if not decades, which is one of the main reasons why I moved back to Toronto.

    Karem, my friend, if your company is moving to Mississauga and you plan on commuting there from Durham, I hope you have plenty of time and patience. Even if you drive, the trek across the 401 is long and arduous. The 407 is a bit better, but is too far north from most residential areas. As for taking public transit, you would have to take such a long and convoluted route to get there that it would never be feasible.

    The municipal governments in Durham need to get serious about public transit. As it stands now, it’s barely registering on their radar, and very few people use the existing service. So until this starts to change, you’ll be fighting a losing battle. Good luck.


  4. This is great to see the responses.

    My coalition is going to show that Durham does care and the levels of gov’t are going to see that we care.

    Membership is free but I ask people that can to assist with research and canvassing and getting to the people and actually talk to them.

    We will push with the region and the province for the $$$.

    Can carpoolers park in GO lots? does anyone know this? If a direct GO route is not available do they offer spaces to carpooling?

    I have 2 transit studies from DRT and they do talk about these high order transit corridors.
    Taunton Road or Hwy 7 into York.
    The most logical first fight is to get a link from Durham to York — pilot a GO bus , something that people can do now.

    Dreams are big and dreams are expensive and they think they have to wait 10 years to do something.

    They can make some modifications and start servicing now!

    Leo: please email me and give me permission to post your transit comments on the soon to be blog on Durhamregion site. Email me with how you think DRT could make some realistic changes that could be implemented in under a year to help increase ridership.



  5. There have been marginal improvements since the creation of Durham Region Transit on January 1, but most routes are still based on the old transit systems and do not connect the municipalities together well – very ironic considering that DRT’s slogan is “Connecting Communities”. In Ajax and Pickering in particular, service is GO-oriented to the point of being almost impossible to use for other purposes. For example, travel from Ajax to Whitby still requires the use of the Hwy 2 GO bus, although at least that is now accessible with a DRT fare.

    DRT does have a 5 year plan created before amalgamation, and during the first year they have implemented all of the first-year service changes called for in the plan. The plan includes increased service on major east-west roads like Bayly over the next few years. This isn’t good enough, and DRT needs to radically speed up its implementation program.

    Durham Chair Roger Anderson has called for (as recently as Tuesday) better transit on Hwy 2 and Taunton, with connections to the TTC and YRT. I suspect that Durham is aiming towards Viva-type service on Hwy 2, and I would not be surprised to see a pitch made to the province in advance of next year’s preelection promise. What’s not clear is whether Durham is ready to spend its own money if provincial funds are not forthcoming.

    Personally, I’d love to see DRT introduce all day service on major east-west and north-south corridors by the end of 2007, along with significant planning towards a Viva-style service on Hwy 2. GO could then redeploy its equipment to provide all-day highway express service to Scarborough and North York. In the longer term, an LRT with connections to the TTC in Scarborough is a must.


  6. Durham isn’t really experiencing the traffic problems that other 905 regions are. Traffic is bad, but I wouldn’t say there are many traffic jams to the extent that you see in York Region or Mississauga. Driving is still much faster than public transit. Until traffic slows down considerably, public transit won’t be able to keep pace with private automobiles. It is not uncommon for families to have 3 or even 4 cars, one for every driver. I live in Whitby-Oshawa, so I don’t know if the abundance of cars comes from living in Mo-Town, or if its an affluence thing, or just convenience. But busses cannot keep pace with cars when there is no traffic.


  7. David, please email me.  I want to be able to contact you.  You are very well versed in DRT and probably know more then me.

    Where did you hear this from Roger Anderson?  I sent an email to Mayor of Toronto with other people and included Steve Parish on November 30th in regards to York Region and Durham connection.  It was forwarded to DRT.  I was told to wait for a response that I have not received yet.

    Brendan, I hope we do not have to wait until it get’s that bad before something is done.

    Buses move slower yes. B uses have to become a choice for longer trips.  I for one will drive to get my groceries because I have that choice.  I feel sorry for those that do not however.

    Escape routes for buses would be attractive in times of heavy traffic.  If not full fledged Bus only lanes — paved shoulders that can support period bus traffic to get around gridlock.

    Hwy 2 and Bayly and Taunton when a major accident on 401 —not a fun time to be on a bus or in a car but if bus can move around for a while then that is good.

    People have to start going to council meetings and show that we are there.  Any evening meetings for DRT open to public I will be there.  Durham Region evening meetings I want to try to go to.

    I want people to wear the buttons when they go.

    This way they know I am not a lone crackpot!

    Which end of the region do you live?  Can you do any active legwork with us?  Please email me.

    People in Durham/Pickering stopped an airport.  Enough of us should be able to get a bus!

    Today I used the Contact Form to the Minister of Transportation asking where Durham’s $$ were for their Transit Dreams like what York received for Viva.  Did York complete their bus only lanes on Yonge and Hwy 7 as the Toronto Star article said was planned for 2006?



  8. Today I sent an email to Scott Crawford of Regional wards 1 and 2, plus local wards 1 and 2. — We only have 4 wards in total for Ajax.

    He replied back the same day and looks forward to working with our group. Sees it as an advisory group to make DRT staff aware of “grass route” issues in town. He may regret that statement in less then a year!

    Any guidance on how to really be effective would be appreciated.

    My goals are realistic, our Mayor is regarded as a hero of the greenbelt but what he will do is throw up his hands and say it is the region.
    The Region will then say — it is the Province. Everyone will support me but point the finger of not being able to do anything until funding comes in.

    I stated my position in regards to no new development should be started anywhere without a full agreement that transit service is ready to go when the people are able to take possession.

    You may think that the people that buy these houses do not need transit at their door but what you may not be aware of in these new areas of big houses.
    — many rent out basements to help pay the big mortgage.

    There are so many people in the “nice” neighbourhoods that live in basements, have no car and difficulty getting around.

    I spoke today to a grocery clerk that recently moved here from Brampton. She said they moved here because her mother has friends and wanted to be out this way. She was use to 10 minute wait for a bus.

    I gave her my sympathies. She now drives everywhere in an old car she had to buy.


  9. From my original post

    “There is a piece of land that I want to see deemed for transit use – park car and get on a GO bus in the North Part of town. I won’t say exactly where as in the blink of an eye they could build a house on it before I get to the planning department.”

    Update: Well the corner is owned my developers and an oil company.  The current plan has it as mixed commercial.  Similar to what is at Salem and Kingston road now — read low end service jobs.

    Well the plans are currently in a revision stage.

    I emailed my regional councillor and others with my vision of it combined with the planned commercial ventures but integrate the Transit hub with it like existing GO train station.

    We shall see.  Ajax/Durham readers please pester your representative’s about future Transit hubs in Northern areas.  These must be designated now before it is to late.

    Steve:  I am now going to close off this item to comments because it’s turning into Karem’s personal blog.  When she has her very own page up and running, I will post an announcement of it here.


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