With parking at Erindale becoming less affordable as the years pass, transit and carpooling are musts for many UTM students in their campus commute.
According to Erindale’s student leaders, however, this alone won’t solve Erindale’s transit problems, and they’re working to provide their own solutions.
“Most Erindale Students see transit as something that needs improvement,” said Ryan Singh, a member of the parking and transportation committee, and chair of Student Leaders at Mississauga (SLAM), a coalition of every student union on campus.
With only three bus routes that reach campus, long-distance commuters struggle to find ways to make it to campus.
“We do realize that a lot of students come from far away and that is our next big issue,” said Singh. He emphasizes that where Erindale’s administration has done little to solve the problem, the student committee has made remarkable strides in championing students’ access to transit.
“We have successfully negotiated increased service hours for some of the routes to as late as midnight,” said Singh, an improvement for students who are cramming late into the night during exam periods. There is also a bus that has started arriving from Brampton that goes to the Port Credit Go station with very few stops in between.
The City of Mississauga has also offered UTM an opportunity to add three buses to their service to campus in any way they choose, which could take the form of adding another route, or giving existing routes more buses.
Other issues the committee is working on include lobbying Go Transit to make a stop at the campus, improved bike lanes, and a more comprehensive bike sharing program at UTM.
Perhaps the biggest step forward has been the U Pass initiative, which means that students who regularly take Mississauga transit could look at a yearly pass as early as the 2006 school year.
The city is making its own improvements, such as the Smart Commute program launched recently at UTM. The program allows commuters to carpool with others to a common destination by running a ridesharing program on their website that matches drivers to passengers. The site, www.smartcommute.ca, was launched with praises from Harinder Takhar, Ontario minister of transportation, and Mississauga’s mayor, Hazel McCallion. Congestion costs Mississauga’s economy over two billion dollars every year.
“There are over 7,000 cars on [highway] 403 everyday with only the driver in the car, which means 21,000 empty seats,” said Takhar. The government is also working on many incentives for would-be carpoolers, including carpool lanes, already under construction on major highways, and car pool lots.
The program has attracted over one hundred registrants since the site was launched.