Thursday, January 29, 2009

Milton Transit: Change is Coming!

I grew up in Toronto, which probably has the best transit system in the country. No matter where you are in Toronto, you are rarely more than a few blocks away from a bus, streetcar or subway stop. More importantly, even if you are unfamiliar with the specific TTC routes, you can generally find your way to where you're going because the routes are all on a grid system. So if you know you want to go southwest, you just get on a westbound bus and then onto a southbound.

It doesn't quite work that way in Milton.

Back when we had one car and my husband was commuting to Toronto, I got myself a short-lived job doing layout for a graphics company up on Steeles Avenue. It was too far to walk, so I used to take the bus. Back then they only ran once every hour, but I was fortunate in that there was a bus stop right across the street from me, and that bus went straight up Commercial and Martin Streets to Steeles and then back again.

Today, getting to that same location would involve a 15 minute walk, two different buses and a rather extensive scenic tour of Milton.

The current Milton Transit system is a classic case of "you can't get there from here" - unless, of course, "here" is one of the new housing developments and "there" is the GO Station. If, on the other hand, you live in 'olde Milton'* and want to get to the Wal-Mart or the movie theatre or the grocery store, you're better off taking a cab. And you really, really don't want to take a cab in this town.

Happily, a Strategic Plan Study has been underway for some time now, and proposals are now being made for an overhaul of Milton' beleaguered transit system. As reported in today's Champion, draft recommendations were presented at a public meeting on January 19th (which I missed because of work), and are now available online for public comment until Feb. 2nd.

The new routes proposed still aren't perfect, but they're a significant improvement.

With this I could get to my old workplace using only one bus and a considerably less circuitous route, although there'd still be a 15 minute walk involved. And although it's still a radial system, they do seem to have more two-way routes and fewer complex loops, making the whole thing easier to navigate.

All this will cost more money of course, but as luck would have it, Milton is about to get a big boost in the amount of gas tax revenue it receives from the federal government as a result of our growing population. Perfect timing!

Just as long as they don't blow it all on another million dollar imported glass wall.

* yes, the realtors actually call it 'Olde Milton'.

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