Reverse-Commuting a Worrying Trend

By Ben Bull
Published July 06, 2007

OK, my last blog of the day (I promise!).

A letter writer in today's Star highlights the very same problem I myself am now having: reverse commuting.

"I had to buy a car when I got a job in Mississauga," explains George Haeh, of Toronto. "I researched GO and Mississauga Transit schedules and found they don't accommodate reverse commuters."

Reverse commuting is an ongoing frustration for those of us who have downsized our homes, moved back into the centre of the city and taken all the supposed 'right' steps to reduce our global footprint.

With life in the burbs behind us, many of us are forced to ask, "what happened to my walk to work?!"

What happened is that downtown rates are sky-high and districts like Mississauga, Thornhill and Brampton are dirt cheap by comparison. So we all have to drive.

But what to do? I recall reading an interview with Jane Jacobs sometime ago. She was asked about the "idealism" of her vision of a mixed neighbourhood and she conceded that people needed a wide variety of choice when it came to finding employment, and that the walk to work ideal was "not always practical."

That may be the case but the realities of cheap employment lands in un-serviced-by-transit locations is a worrying trend. One wonders if we'll ever get this mixed neighbourhood walk-to-work way of life worked out.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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By Connie (registered) | Posted July 06, 2007 at 21:42:30

I read in the Ontario Builders' that greenfield prices are becoming a severe deterrent. Another article bleated about 'native land claims'. The editor gently reminded them that their 'soft landing' would be in intensification.

I was delighted to hear that.

There will be a turnover.

Industrial, though ... hmmm ... that's harder.

They'll just have to invent pavement and buildings that let the earth breathe!

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By Jon Dalton (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2007 at 11:48:02

If you work near the Lakeshore line, Go has you well looked after with their hourly service both directions. The Georgetown line also has reverse service limited to a few runs. Anywhere else in the GTA though, it's going to be a series of long bus rides.

The manufacturing and technology industries that locate in suburban areas are the worst for promoting the one person, one car mentality. In the industry I work in, everyone drives their own car to get to work and to get around on business.

Companies must like the image of a building in a newer suburb with a green chemical lawn and a parking lot full of late model cars. They are the ones who encourage and reward people for buying following this ridiculous pattern of one person in one car, everywhere they need to go. They could do alot to help by allowing people to adjust their schedule to match train times, and building fewer costly parking spaces and offering the option of a free transit pass instead of a free parking spot. But they won't because they have this image of car equals rich and bus equals poor.

The Go Transit system survives on its morning runs into Union and the evening runs out, because those passengers save time as well as money, and make enough to pay for it. If these trains didn't run, (they carry 3 times as many passengers as the GTA's main highways), people could not get to work.

The reverse commute situation will improve when it becomes a necessity, but transit companies can't make any improvements when people are still too stupid to use what's there.

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