Ontario students face higher commuting fees

Urban sprawl creates shift in demographics for transit authorities

TORONTO (CUP) – Ontario students who commute to school face higher transportation costs because of urban sprawl, according to a leading urban planning consultant for the David Suzuki Foundation.

David Gurin says Ontario commuter trains and buses are beginning to feel the strain of an influx of new customers as more students are choosing to live in off-campus commuting areas.

“If car ownership is required to get to school this means increased costs for students. More money to pay for transportation can mean less money for education,” said Gurin. Because of this, students are choosing transit over owning their own cars, he said.

Currently, most of Ontario’s major universities are located within the most densely populated areas of Ontario, including University of Toronto, Ryerson, McMaster, Carlton, York and the University of Ottawa.

As cities like Toronto continue to expand, and more people must commute to get to work, students can expect their traveling costs to escalate.

Alietha Faul, a first-year student at George Brown College, spends two hours on GO Transit each day travelling from Oshawa to Toronto.

She starts her day at 5:30 a.m. and is on the train by 6:52 a.m. “It’s early, but you really can’t do anything about it,” she said.

She says it’s easy to notice the increase of student riders commuting to school.

“There are more trains that are overcrowded, there’s always people standing,” she said.

Gordon Chung, the Chairman of GO Transit, said approximately 8 per cent of the commuters who ride GO Transit are post-secondary students.

“Urban sprawl affects us by people commuting farther, and the increase in pressure of the impact of people having to move out of the city,” he said.

“The quality of life … affects GO because it changes the demographics for our services constantly,” Chung continued.

GO Transit has access to many regions connecting with local transits, reaching Guelph, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and more recently, York University.

Students get monthly passes at a price 38 per cent lower than normal. With the number of commuters increasing, however, this is expected to change.

Joanne Lidakis, a student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, spends on average between 40 to 60 minutes daily on the TTC travelling from North York to the downtown core.

If commuting prices go up, would she consider driving to school?

“Are you crazy? I’d probably get down to school quicker if I crawled on my face.”

According to Statscan, approximately 14 million people depended on urban transit in 1998 alone.

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