(Photos: Kelly Roche/QEW South Post)
BY KELLY ROCHE
Nim Savage is all about alternate modes of transportation, such as walking and cycling — to the dismay of her husband, who’s urging her to drive.
“I don’t want to. I’m fine the way I am and the way that I commute,” said Savage, adding her husband is “still old school.”
The Huron Park area resident took the bus to the Living Arts Centre Monday for the city’s first transportation summit, Mississauga Moves.
Savage was one of about 300 people attending the event, where traffic engineering veteran Nick Poulos was talking congestion.
“We have to put more people closer to more transit,” said Poulos.
Take, for instance, the Port Credit GO station.
Fifty-seven per cent of all trips to the station are made by car, which are then parked, according to Poulos, while 28 to 30 per cent of all trips are on foot.
“People have made a conscious decision to say ‘I can live here and have a high quality of life and get to my place of employment, which is no doubt, downtown Toronto, and I can get back – and I can do it in 30 minutes – and my life is heaven,” Poulos said.
“If that doesn’t give people the confidence to say ‘I can plan future communities like that,’ I don’t know what is.”
And there’s always a smartphone to help with uncertainties.
That’s what Gridlock Sam, or Samuel Schwartz, a leading American transportation expert, noted.
Technology unlocks “the mysteries of transit,” said Schwartz.
Any young person today, he said, will figure out how to move about foreign cities by using their cellphone.
One of the biggest barriers in getting people out of their cars and onto transit, Schwartz said, is that “drivers don’t know how to use transit … so the younger generation doesn’t have that (issue).”
Jeffray Beltran said he’s been riding the bus his “whole life” and is saving up for a car.
The Clarkson resident, 25, said Route 29 is “too slow, and not on time,” and he’ll spend two hours waiting for a bus in the winter.
He’s excited, though, about light rail – calling it beautiful, sustainable, and eco-friendly – and said he wants LRT connecting to Pearson Airport.
“It makes it more convenient,” said Beltran.
“As a traveler, you get to a destination after a long flight, you want to have those options.”
Mayor Bonnie Crombie called the event “civic engagement at its finest,” noting she was impressed by the turnout.
“We will never be able to build enough roads to accommodate every family owning a car. That’s a reality,” said Crombie, adding we need to get cars off the road “for a whole host of reasons, including our productivity,” and the environment.
The results of the summit will shape Mississauga’s transit priorities over the next 25 years; more public input is expected to be gathered by the city for the development of its transportation master plan next year.