Week 10 Main Post: Transit Crisis in Toronto

The more time I spend on the subway and bus, the more I realize there are issues with accessibility that isn’t easy to address.

For one, the price just keeps going up. As the price of tokens and tickets increase, accessibility decreases. Not everyone can afford to compensate for the costs of their commute. Sure, some individuals will continue to use the TTC regardless, but at some point, carpooling or biking when possible could become a cheaper alternative.

Another issue is the location of bus routes, subway lines, etc. There is a heavy concentration of transit options in the downtown core of Toronto, which is understandable but still a shame nonetheless. For those living in suburban or rural areas who need to take the subway or bus, they have a long commute before they can reach the first bus route and probably an even longer commute to find a subway line. I realize it’s impossible to have the TTC cover every part of the city, but as of right now, Toronto only has 4 subway lines and 11 streetcar routes, with 4 of them running at night. This coupled with the fare can be a major turn-off for potential and even present commuters.

Access to transit is not equal. However, it should be for both the rich and poor as well as those living downtown along with people residing in suburban neighbourhoods. If something doesn’t change soon, I feel as though the rich will become richer while the poor have little to no opportunity to prosper since they cannot even leave their community. And even if they can, they will still face a difficult commute. It is hard enough to meet basic survival needs while living under the poverty line. It’ll be even harder saving enough money to take a bus or train.

I believe the TTC can help in bridging the city to make it more accessible. They need to start freezing fare prices or even consider lowering them in order to allow a greater number of individuals to take public transportation. And expanding routes or lines in the future to other busy, populated areas outside of downtown Toronto will help passengers reach the subway or streetcar.

Week 4 Main Post: City Hall And Digital Divide

I expected formality and professionalism on my first visit to City Hall. And though there were elements of both, it was much more casual than I expected. The meeting resembled a structured conversation where councillors were allowed to speak for an allocated amount of time on a specific issue.

The experience was far from boring. In fact, at times, I felt overwhelmed as I tried to soak it all in. Many individuals from councillors to other members in the audience came and went. I found that my eyes would linger when I saw someone stand to leave.

One day I would like to go back. I think City Hall itself is a fascinating building and an interesting tourist spot.City Hall Meeting
The Digital Divide came up in their discussion.

More specifically, they were going back and forth on a motion of whether or not internet costs should be regulated by the government. It’s a relevant issue, especially as costs continue to rise. Companies like Bell and Rogers are two of the biggest Internet providers. It almost feels like these two companies have a duopoly, meaning Bell and Rogers dominate the Internet service market, which makes it harder for other businesses to compete against them. More importantly, this duopoly means regulation of prices by the government or some other body of power is more difficult.

The divide between those who can access the Internet and those who cannot continues to be a growing concern for all. It’s difficult for those in lower-income neighbourhoods to access technology such as computers or smartphones. And for the individuals who do, the access is limited.

According to the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), more than 80 percent of Canadian households have access to the Internet. Although that number seems high, it isn’t as high as other countries such as Iceland or Denmark where over 90 percent of homes have a connection to the World Wide Web.

It’s interesting to note the varying rates of access across the country. Statistics Canada did a study on Canadian Internet usage back in 2012, determining the percentage of household access by province. It found that British Columbia and Alberta ranked the highest while New Brunswick had the lowest percentage.

I personally cannot imagine my life without the Web. Regardless I’m still baffled by how much my parents pay every month.