By Adrian Morrow
Students who commute to Ryerson from the suburbs could see their travel times cut by a planned subway extension to York University. However, the same investment could lead to a rise in Metropass prices.
“That’s reason to celebrate,” said Zouheir Fawaz, vice-provost students, in reaction to the news of the extension. “Our students come from all four corners of the GTA. We would want the commute downtown to be as easy as possible.”
An extension of the University-Spadina subway line from Downsview station north through York University and into the town of Vaughn was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and a troop of cabinet ministers Tuesday morning.
“The (Greater Toronto Area has) some of the longest commuter times in North America,” Harper told reporters while announcing the plan, which will involve a commitment of nearly $1 billion of federal money.
However, Chris Drew, vice-president finance and services of the Ryerson Students’ Union, cautioned that making a single investment rather than putting up ongoing funding for the city and its transit system could lead to increased fares and Metropass prices.
“Students should be concerned that there’s no commitment to a student pass on the provincial or federal level,” he said. “Unless the TTC comes up with more funding, it could in the long run be bad for students. I worry for students five years from now and what fees they’ll be paying for transit.”
Drew added that putting the money into expanding transit in the suburbs would also divert money from the inner city, where many Ryerson students live.
“Students who get on (the subway) near Bay and Bloor are probably more worried about crowded subway trains,” he said. “There’s nothing to buy new buses.”
In addition, the streetcar system is also aging and as cars go out of commission, riders face longer wait times and packed cars. In addition to the subway extension, the plan will create bus-only lanes in Mississauga and Brampton and inject money into York Region’s VIVA bus service.
Harper added that it was part of a larger transit strategy that included giving tax credits to transit users.
The subway isn’t expected to be completed until 2014.
“(This extension) joins all three universities,” Ontario Finance minister Greg Sorbara told the Eyeopener in reference to York, Ryerson and the University of Toronto. Sorbara, a York alumnus whose riding incorporates Vaughn, noted that he was particularly happy to see the subway extended through the university.
York University applauded the announcement saying that it would reduce some of the nearly 1,500 buses that come to the university every day.
“It really is the right answer,” said Alex Bilyk, a university spokesperson. “It’ll be positive, especially for those that travel.”
He added that the transit expansions will help to open the school up to the rest of the city. “We like to think of ourselves as the heart of the GTA.”