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Possible TTC strike will force commuters to consider other travel options. Here are some of them | CBC News

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Commuters who rely on public transit to get to work, school or elsewhere in Toronto will have to find other ways to get around the city if a public transit strike goes ahead as planned later this week.

Nearly 12,000 TTC workers could walk off the job Friday at 12:01 a.m. if negotiations between the transit agency and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 113 don’t produce a new contract — which could disrupt travel plans for tens of thousands of commuters.

A strike would mean subways, buses and streetcars won’t run, but the Wheel-Trans service for people with disabilities would continue to operate.

If you’re one of the people who normally takes public transit in Toronto, here is some information to help you plan ahead.

Other transit systems

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency that operates the GO Transit bus and train networks, said in an email it “always has contingency plans in place” in the event of service disruptions.

The agency added that GO trains and the UP Express will continue to operate as normal, and its stations will remain open, but it wouldn’t say whether those plans include increasing the frequency of trains and buses.

WATCH | Where negotiations stand as potential TTC strike looms: 

Where negotiations stand as potential TTC strike looms

Toronto Transit Commission workers are threatening to walk off the job as early as Friday. CBC Toronto’s municipal affairs reporter Shawn Jeffords breaks down where negotiations stand and what workers are asking for.

Durham Region Transit (DRT) said in a news release Tuesday that it “does not anticipate significant impacts to our local transit services,” although it is planning to make alternative stop arrangements for its PULSE 900 (Highway 2) and Route 920 services near the Scarborough Town Centre and Centennial College, if required.

“If a disruption occurs, customers who usually transfer to/from TTC services may wish to consider GO Transit options to reach their destinations. DRT does offer connection opportunities to GO Transit train stations and bus stops within Durham Region,” the statement said.

Mississauga’s MiWay said by email it’s also preparing contingency plans for stops it serves that could be affected by a TTC strike, including the Kipling Bus Terminal and Long Branch Bus Loop.

“As part of these plans, we are reviewing possible detour options for routes servicing Kipling Bus Terminal (i.e. Routes 1/1C, 3, 11, 20, 26, 35, 70, 71, 76, 101/101A, 108, & 109) and Long Branch Bus Loop (i.e. Routes 5 & 23),” said Eve Wiggins, director of MiWay Transit, in an email statement.

Taxis

Kristine Hubbard, operations manager at Beck Taxi, said she expects the company’s entire fleet of around 1,300 vehicles to be on the roads. However, she said with demand expected to surge, the company won’t be able to guarantee arrival times.

“We’ll try to do our best to help, but we are no replacement for TTC,” she said.

Beck Taxi has stopped booking scheduled trips for Friday, but customers can still request taxis on-demand by hailing them down on the street, via phone or by using the Beck Taxi app or website

“We won’t forget about you. We won’t overcharge you, but pack your patience and if you don’t have to go, you know, don’t,” she said.

A congested city street full of taxis and other vehicles.
A spokesperson for Beck Taxi said most of the company’s 1,300 vehicles will be in service Friday if a TTC strike goes ahead, though it won’t be able to guarantee arrival times due to high demand. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Uber Canada said in a statement that if the strike goes ahead it will use surge pricing, which means prices will increase in response to higher demand, although it will put a cap on prices.

The exact price of each fare will be based on factors such as the length of the trip, the amount of traffic in the area and how many riders are requesting rides versus the number of Uber drivers on the road, the company said.

Uber said it will also offer incentives to its drivers to entice them to increase the number of trips available. 

It recommends riders also use its “group ride” feature to carpool and split fares with friends, or use UberX Share, which pairs different riders together. 

Cycling, walking or driving

Commuters who normally leave their cars at home will likely choose to get behind the wheel and drive to their destinations, which could lead to more congestion than normal

The Toronto Parking Authority (TPA) said it encourages anyone driving downtown to visit the Green P website for a list of municipally-run parking locations, including those with electric vehicle charging spots.

Others may choose to ride their own bikes or to rent one.

Bike Share Toronto has more than 9,000 bikes available at 700-plus stations across the city that are available to rent for short trips. Riders can access these bikes by creating an account through the Bike Share website, mobile app or at a station kiosk. Pricing options include pay-as-you-go, day passes or annual memberships.

A cyclist rides in a bike lane.
Toronto’s cycling infrastructure has expanded rapidly over the past few years, according to Michael Longfield, director of Cycle Toronto. (John Rieti/CBC)

Michael Longfield, executive director of advocacy group Cycle Toronto, said the city’s network of bike lanes have expanded rapidly over the past few years, particularly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of folks did start dusting their bikes off in the early weeks and months of the pandemic. I’m sure some folks will be tempted to take them out again,” Longfield said.

Longfield said it’s important to make sure your bike is in working order, so make sure to check the air in your tires, that your brakes work and that your chain is functional and not too rusty.

David Simor, director of the Centre for Active Transportation, said for those whose bikes have been sitting in a garage for the winter or longer, there are lots of bike repair shops to get it fixed up. He also pointed to community bike hubs where cyclists can learn do-it-yourself repairs. The city maintains a list of both here.

Simor pointed to the city’s “amazing and under-advertised” multi-use trail and ravine systems.

“It might not be quite as direct as on streets, but certainly very comfortable and really, you know, beautiful and gorgeous to boot at this time of the year,” he said.

Finally, Simor said, those who are fortunate to live close to work, grocery stores and other amenities can go for an old-fashioned walk.

“It’s actually a really helpful thing for those who need to drive by keeping your car off the road. And also it’s great for your mental and physical health,” he said.

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