Published on October 11, 2016 | by Warren Schlote Photography by Warren Schlote0
Next stop: Rexdale
Rexdale residents and students got an up-close preview of the Finch West LRT service at Humber College’s LRC building.
Metrolinx representatives were at the college on Sept. 26 and 27 to host tours of the car and answer questions.
The proposed light rail route will run 11 kilometres along Finch Ave. between Humber College and the Yonge-University subway. It is scheduled to open in the year 2021.
Many students have been calling for better transit for years. Ahmed Tahir is the president of IGNITE, the student government of Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber. He regularly hears from people who use transit and hopes to find solutions to their problems.
“A majority of our students take transit to Humber,” said Tahir. “I hear people saying that they have to take so many buses to get here and that wait times are long.”
According to the 2016 Sustainable Transportation Study by Humber College’s department of sustainability, the average commute time to North Campus was 45 minutes. Currently, 61 per cent of their students rely on public transit to get to school.
The LRT is expected to reduce travel time and increase convenience, which has sparked community interest. Etobicoke resident Tijn Van Baars relies on transit to get to work, shopping and to run errands. The construction will likely cause disruptions to the local community but he is not concerned.
“I really see it as a worthwhile project,” said Van Baars. “It might cause temporary disruptions, but in the end we’re going to have an excellent transit system and that’s worth it.”
Metrolinx is managing the project in collaboration with others. there has been a lot of collaboration involved. Rani Dhaliwal has been Humber College’s Chief Financial Officer since 2007. Her duties also include managing parking and the safe flow of traffic around campus. She has been involved in the LRT project by coordinating the transit plans with Humber’s own goals.
“We have over five different transportation agencies that come to this site. We’ve been working with them to increase their service levels,” said Dhaliwal. “When the Metrolinx project was in the very early stages about six years ago, that’s when we started to have the conversation.”
According to Dhaliwal, Humber College has multi-year plans for campus development. The consultations have accounted for the available land, the needs of the community and the future. As a result, the LRT stop will be located in parking lot five.
“The location that we have finally decided on supports future expansion, supports the needs of the Humber students,” said Dhaliwal.
Keeping the line running north-south along Highway 27 gives the potential to extend the LRT farther south in the future. It will reduce the amount of disruptions compared to building east-west along Humber College Blvd. The stop’s location also serves the needs of William Osler Health System at 101 Humber College Blvd.
Ahmed Tahir recognizes the challenges with commuting to the North campus.
“The school is, I think, trying to really focus on public transit and reduce the amount of demand that students have for cars. And the reason there’s the demand for cars is that it’s easier to get here with a car,” said Tahir.
Metrolinx expects the Finch West LRT to move 40,000 riders a day by the year 2031. The transportation agency has not announced a builder but construction is expected to start next year.