Mushtaq: Long Overdue to Improve Public Transportation in Windsor

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For a city that produced the first electric streetcar in Canada that served five communities and operated for nearly 50 years, Windsor seems more content with a tribute to the riverfront streetcar rather than phasing out public transportation.

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This is beginning to change thanks to the grassroots defense efforts of Activate Transit Windsor-Essex (ATWE).

Co-founder Jessica Bondy says the group is working to build public participation and excitement around transit in the region while advocating for better transit policies and investments.

“Having a good public transportation system is about offering freedom and more access to opportunity for more people,” Bondy said. “It is about offering other ways of moving around the region.

“You are creating a region where it is easy and pleasant to live without having to have a vehicle. It is about a better quality of life. It’s about making an investment in people and their ability to participate in the economy. It is about promoting a transition towards more sustainable and healthy forms of mobility from an environmental point of view “.

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It is a dream, but I think it is also within our reach.

The 2021 Windsor Works report recommended investments in public and active transportation to improve urban mobility, while noting only modest increases between 2015 and 2020.

Transit Windsor’s 2019 Transit Master Plan previously laid out the plan to improve bus service in the city.

We know that Windsor transit is underinvested compared to other municipalities of similar size, along with a smaller amount of service. Despite this, the demand for transit has increased, not only among those who depend on transit to get around the community, but also among the youngest and those who want to use it informally.

Bondy agrees, especially for those returning to Windsor from larger cities.

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“Even the locals who are younger are more in favor of public transportation,” he said. “Especially for young people who grew up in Windsor-Essex and other car-dependent environments, having a strong public transportation option represents freedom.

“Not having to own a vehicle and pay the costs associated with it represents freedom. Living in an environment where the places you want to go are closer to you and accessible by other means of transport represents a better quality of life ”.

It adds up to a better quality of life, less congestion, and is better for the environment.

It is a step into the city of 15 minutes.

The recent COP26 conference called for the use of public transportation to double by 2030. At this juncture, it is an opportunity for the so-called automotive capital of Canada to shift its focus towards diversifying the economy by putting the pedal to the metal.

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With the city considering another modest $ 16.3 million or 4.8 percent increase for transit in the 2022 budget, advocating for residents and advocacy groups is incredibly important in ensuring that the recommendations of the Transit Master Plan.

Bondy says this should be both capital and operating costs, along with improving hours, services and staffing.

Other cities in southwestern Ontario outside of Toronto have shown that public transportation is popular.

For example, London has improved its system and has seen a higher number of passengers as a result. Kitchener-Waterloo has a light rail system. On the other side of the Atlantic, small cities in Europe with similar populations have subways. Build it and people will come.

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“Many cities around the world around the same size as Windsor have reliable public transportation systems that use all types of people, not just the people who depend on it as their only way of getting around,” Bondy said. “We have so many good examples to follow.”

ATWE continues to seek public participation in its survey, which can be found online at www.activatetransitwindsoressex.ca.

Includes translation for many languages ​​(including Spanish, Arabic, French, Burmese, Persian, Somali, and Chinese) to ensure input from newcomers, international students, and migrant workers, among other residents, can be included.

The ATWE team is looking for participants to dream big, learn from other regions, and improve transit for years to come.

“This is not a ‘made in Windsor’ solution or going elsewhere,” Bondy said. “Good innovation is about applying the lessons of the best and creating something new, taking advantage of local opportunities.”

Here’s to adding to the legacy of public transportation in Windsor-Essex once again.

Sarah Mushtaq is a millennial who writes about race, gender, and life in today’s changing world.

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Reference-windsorstar.com

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