Growing up, the trip from home to school was just a simple walk, bus ride, and/or car ride away. However, as I got older and began attending post secondary school, long distance commuting to school has become a daily occurrence.
The StudentMoveTO survey, launched in 2015, found that students spend more time commuting than on academic and extracurricular tasks . The survey taken by students of OCAD University, Ryerson University, York University and the University of Toronto found that on average, it takes students 40 minutes one way to get to campus and commuting times impact the courses students choose to take . The survey depicts how Toronto’s universities have a significant influence on the urban region’s economy and everyday life and stresses the need for more efficient and faster transit options.
On December 17th, The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) opened the much-awaited new Line 1 extension all the way to Vaughan. The new line includes six new subway stations and has an estimated time of 42 minutes from Vaughan Station to Union Station, which includes a stop at York University. The expansion of the line has been described as a “first for Canada” as all six stations are Presto, Wi-Fi and cellphone equipped and are run on an automatic train control system . Like the other TTC subway lines, these subway stations allow students to buy discounted monthly passes by showing their student cards. The extension of Line 1 will go a long way in helping those who commute to and from outside of the metropolitan core.
Toronto’s increasing housing and living costs have caused the dispersion of individuals outside of the downtown region. Even those that live close to downtown Toronto, yet have no subway near them, find it difficult to reach the core due to inefficient and run-down streetcars and buses.
To aid commuters, Metrolinx has been involved in the construction three new major transit projects: the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, the Sheppard East LRT, and the Finch West LRT.
These improvements will not only aid Toronto’s workers, but will also give students more flexibility in their daily choices. For instance, long breaks between lectures make life difficult for some commuting students as their trip home between classes would be senseless due to time constraints and expensive transit fares, forcing them to linger downtown.With more useful and abundant transportation options, students will be able to have more mobility and accessibility.
Some Toronto universities already make or are in the process of making life easier for commuting students. For instance, Ryerson University has created an on-campus place equipped with study spaces and social floors for students to spend time between their classes. The University of Toronto operates an Inter Campus Shuttle Bus between the St. George Campus and University of Toronto Mississauga. Some colleges such as Emmanuel College in the University of Toronto offer Condensed Course Scheduling which permits students to cluster their courses together to enhance their scheduling flexibility. The College also offers reduced student parking, a student lounge, locker storage, a quiet student zone, and short-term accommodation for students who need to stay one or two nights per week.
Perhaps one of the most influential campaigns at the moment is U-Commute. The Student unions at Ryerson University, George Brown, U of T, and OCAD have united in lobbying for a student transit pass that would be included in student fees . This pass would alleviate costs for students and would give students more flexibility.
To find out more and/or to get involved go to ucommuteto.ca or visit your university’s student union website.
Sarah D’Aversa is a third-year undergraduate student studying Urban Studies, Political Science, and Human Geography at the University of Toronto (St. George Campus). Sarah is always looking for international opportunities to create better cities and is interested in public policy, urban issues, built form, and social and cultural development. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @sarettadaversa on Instagram.