Transit ridership is way up: great news for everyone

Viva passengers getting on and off the bus at Warden Station in Markham

If you’re reading this blog, you have likely already seen the news release on our website, describing the steady increase in transit ridership in York Region. But just to restate, on June 14 we announced that Viva ridership has increased 26% since this service was launched in September 2005. Overall ridership for both York Region Transit (YRT) and Viva Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has increased by 10.5% from January to April 2011, compared to the same period in 2010.

This increase is great news for a number of reasons, whether or not you’re a transit rider.

First, the more people take transit, the more successful our services will be – more riders means more revenue, which in turn can be put back into our route planning and frequency, making services even better for riders.

Second, more people leaving their car keys at home and boarding YRT\Viva means less air pollution for everyone. We all know how important air quality is to our health – especially during hot summer months.

Third, every loaded bus is equal to 70 cars. So even if you’re personally not a transit rider, every time you drive alongside a bus loaded with passengers, that’s 70 cars that aren’t in front of you. The result is less congestion and easier driving for people who need to get around by car.

The fourth, and in some ways the most important reason, is that increased ridership suggests a culture shift – a really important one for the future of this region, and how we manage growth.

There’s no doubt that the culture in York Region, in the past, was quite car-based. That’s not at all unusual in an area that expanded quickly as part of the GTA suburban growth; where new subdivisions were designed for people who travelled by car, and where it was convenient to drive to most places.

But that kind of urban design can only happen when there’s lots of room – room for big wide roads, room for huge parking lots, and room for all the homes and driveways. Not to mention room for all of the cars. With the growth coming to York Region, that design just isn’t sustainable – we don’t have enough room to accommodate everyone without making some adjustments. So going forward, our new growth will be managed with urban, higher density developments, clustered along major roads. These new developments are being planned to make it very convenient for people to live, work and play without needing to get in a car. Our vision is that people will be able to travel between their job, shopping and recreation while using transit.

The fact that our transit ridership is going up shows that our long-term plan is working, and that people are finding it easy to get around by hopping on board YRT\Viva.

With our rapidways and the Spadina Subway extension already under construction, and efforts being made to get funding for the Yonge Subway extension, transit is only going to get better and better, which is great news for all of us.

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One Response to “Transit ridership is way up: great news for everyone”

  1. Steve says:

    Soooooo jealous of York Region’s plans for transit. Can you guys call Rob Ford to let him know how it should be done?

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