Saturday, July 10, 2010

Daily commute to Toronto forced me to move -

This article appeared on this past week, and it's worth reproducing in its entirety. Of course, some of the commenters on the article argue that the author will feel differently once he is older, has a full time job and a family, but I disagree. It might be a desire to party, a desire to enjoy your hobby or a desire to spend more time with your family - long commutes are no way to live because they take time away from living your life.

Going forward, all municipalities have to encourage live-work-play developments and move away from just being bedroom communities. They also have to invest in all-day, bi-directional transit service to reduce congestion and make their neighbourhoods more accessible and attractive. If they don't, there is a real risk of a mass exodus when the price of oil rapidly forces people to look for alternatives to their cars.

Article after the jump.

Daily commute to Toronto forced me to move
July 3, 2010

It's funny how travelling a mere 20 kilometres, with the most modern methods of transportation at my disposal, takes more than an hour when it happens to be between metro Toronto and Richmond Hill.

I made the transit journey most days during my first year at Ryerson University, having declined to live in residence.

I underestimated the toll the morning mission would have on me. The only time I went downtown during high school was to attend fun things like concerts, where that mission was part of the experience. The exact same trip is a little more arduous when it's part of the daily grind.

Actually, that hour and a half trip to school was comparable to driving to Hamilton or flying to Montreal - take note McMaster and McGill students!

I honestly don't know how so many of you adults do it day in and day out. I loathed the commute.

By the time I got to my lecture, an hour and a half of transit later, I was spent and in no mood to soak up the education that, for the first time in my life, I was paying for.

There's no question that I missed out on all that campus life has to offer. I often found myself turning down impromptu invites to all sorts of fun times because I had to catch a GO train or my parking meter was going to expire.

The commuter is at the mercy of his transportation. That, my friends, was no way to live.

When I was back in Richmond Hill I would get casual invites from university friends for coffee or a slice, things I used to take for granted when the bulk of my friends lived nearby, which were suddenly out of the question. It was like living a Richmond Hill life and a Toronto satellite-life linked only by a network of sub-par transit or road congestion experiences.

When the campus-dwellers were throwing impromptu parties, I was sprinting through Union Station at 4:31 p.m., counting on the inaccuracy of Toronto Transit Commission for a 4:30 train, or taking my foot off the brake to cover a few more inches of the Don Valley Parkway.

When fellow students were choosing between Bud and Coors, I was choosing between GO and Viva. For them, 5 p.m. was the celebrated happy hour; for me, it was the dreaded rush hour.

Oh, who am I kidding - it felt like every hour was rush hour - the roads were slow from about 7 to 11 a.m. and again from 2 to 8 p.m. While I sat on the DVP and saw stationary cars lined up in each direction, brake lights carving a red sea across Toronto, I wondered why the people going north don't just switch houses with the people going south and put an end to this mess.

To alleviate the agonizing frustration, I've found a "pad" with a couple of friends downtown. It's centrally located and abnormally beautiful for a lowly student like myself, so we certainly lucked out.

Now I can be a part of life in the city - not life in the 'burbs and class in the city.

I can roll out of bed 15 minutes before class or go home for lunch between lectures without bugging a classmate to let me crash on their couch. I can go out on the town without arranging my transportation a day in advance and walk to grocery stores or farm markets on the weekends for fresh ingredients.

Honestly, maybe I'm just over-excited, but I can't think of anything I'm going to miss about life in Richmond Hill... Well, except getting The Liberal.

Ross Arbour is a Richmond Hill journalism student at Ryerson University and a member of The Liberal's Community Links advisory group.

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At 10/04/2010 1:41 a.m. , Blogger Ross Arbour said...

Thanks for the recognition


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