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What is the worst place in Toronto for public transit?

Posted by Chris Bateman / March 15, 2014

kipling stationWith an election coming up and every candidate eager to please, the Downtown Relief Line is once again at the forefront of the transit conversation in Toronto. What isn't getting as much attention, however, are the parts of the city that are chronically under served by all forms of public transit.

According to the results of a study released earlier this week by Walk Score, a research group that grades neighbourhoods all over the world on how easy it is to do errands on foot and access transit, the worst place to be without a car in Toronto is Markland Wood, an area west of Hwy. 427 between Burnhamthorpe Road and Dundas Street West in Etobicoke

The neighbourhood ranked dead last in Toronto with a score of 49 out of 100 - 9 points less than Etobicoke West Mall, the second worst area just to the north. The bottom four in the Walk Score list are all in western Etobicoke, tucked between Etobicoke Creek and Hwy. 427.

Parts of Markland Wood are relatively close to rapid transit. There's a walk involved, but Kipling station is just to the east and there are bus routes along the West Mall, East Mall, Bloor, and Burnhamthorpe that connect to the subway.

I've been trying to pinpoint the absolute worst place for transit in Toronto for a while and Markland Wood wasn't on my radar. My chief suspect has always been Rexdale in the extreme northwest corner of the city where streetcars and subways are entirely absent.

Near Steeles and Kipling, it's more than 13 kms - 20 mins by car, an hour by bus, or almost three hours on foot - to the nearest subway station at Downsview, and from there it takes another 30 minutes to get downtown, assuming that's the intended destination.

Walk Score gave Rexdale-Kipling a "good" transit score of 65 out of 100, ranking it 13th from bottom overall, but only a few bus routes penetrate close to the winding streets of detached homes near where the Humber River breaks the city limits.

South of the 401 but still in Rexdale, the area surrounding the high-rise towers on Dixon Road are also only served by bus. Both locations are on the city's list of Neighbourhood Improvement Areas, the new name for priority neighborhoods.

To make matters worse, the Kipling, Islington, and Royal York buses that service both of these areas are below the city-wide average in terms of punctuality and quality of service rankings released by the TTC.

The only improvement on the horizon for Rexdale and its surrounding neighbourhoods is the 11 km Finch West LRT line that, should it ever get built, will run from Humber College to Finch West station when the Spadina line extension opens later this decade.

There are no transit upgrades planned between the 401 and the extreme west end of the Bloor-Danforth line.

What do you think? Can you come up with a worse part of the city for public transit?

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Bryan Bonnici/blogTO Flickr pool.



Aaron / March 15, 2014 at 02:26 am
Anywhere above ground.
Mar / March 15, 2014 at 09:09 am
What a bloody idiot!^
David Pylyp / March 15, 2014 at 09:17 am
Totally agree about the lack of adequate TTC coverage in neighbourhoods west of the Kipling and Islington transit hubs, yet Markland Wood continues to be one of the most desired fully treed canopy neighbourhoods with mature full size detached and bungalow homes.

I never considered Markland the suburbs, I guess the author prefers the inner city hustle and bustle, coffee baristas and genuinely polite people you meet and greet on the streets of Toronto

David Pylyp
Andrew L. / March 15, 2014 at 09:37 am
Let me share a story about the state of public transit in this city. I live near Birchmount and 401, it takes me an hour and a half to get to Kipling and Lake Shore (a distance of ~37km) by bus, subway, and bus. Not bad, right? It took me the same amount of time to get from Birchmount and 401 to Victoria Park and McNicoll (a distance of ~6 km) by transferring between buses north to Sheppard, west to Victoria Park, and north to McNicoll. If you have to travel anywhere only by bus (a) outside of the core and (b) outside of rush hours, you are royally screwed in this city.

tl;dr: A 37 km trip on the TTC across the city takes an hour and a half. A 6 km trip in Scarborough takes the same amount of time.
Will / March 15, 2014 at 09:58 am
Ttc sucks and Toronto sucks. End of story. Have a nice day.
In a drunken stupor / March 15, 2014 at 10:27 am
People want subways, subways...of course I'll continue to tool around the city drunk in my Escalade. Anyone know where I can score some crack?
Parker / March 15, 2014 at 10:50 am
Ironic that the Fords are so concerned about the Scarborough subway when their constituencies are lacking decent TTC services right now.
Justin replying to a comment from Will / March 15, 2014 at 11:01 am
Don't let the door hit you on your way out.
Frank By Nature / March 15, 2014 at 11:08 am
What this article is telling us is that Etobicoke is under served by the TTC. And yet, in spite of the fact that the Fords are so beloved by their constituents in Rexdale, Rob & Doug are busier drumming up votes for a wasteful gravy train to Scarborough than they are interested in improving the transit facility for the folks living in their political backyard.

You know, maybe if Doug Ford was a little less concerned with posing for a photo with Kevin Spacey and a bit more engaged with his ward, he 'd be on the phone with Andy Byford and pressuring TTC chief to get some service bussed into his neighbourhood.
Ed / March 15, 2014 at 11:08 am
It's simplistic using WalkScore. You can live right beside a bus stop, but if that's say in Claireville up by Albion and Steeles, it's still a long bus ride to anywhere. The Markland Wood people could have walked to someplace useful by then, or anyway the subway.

The comment about travel from Kipling and Steeles is wrong, and shows the problem with analyzing everything by "get to a subway". You don't want to go to Downsview station, it's a waste.

myttc.ca says it's 71 minutes from Kipling and Steeles to Yonge and Bloor, using 45 Kipling and the Bloor-Danforth line. ttc.ca says it's 65 minutes for the same trip, using 60 Steeles West and Yonge line. Hardly "an hour by bus to Downsview", eh? By the way, the trip to Downsview is quoted at 40 minutes by myttc.ca and 47 minutes by ttc.ca. All these have been recalculated with "leaving now" (Saturday morning), so they can vary.

By the way, if you are at Martin Grove and Steeles, you can actually get to Boor/Yonge faster. Take the 191 Highway 27 express, no problem!

sen / March 15, 2014 at 11:31 am
I don't get it. I used to live near Markland Wood,it is right on the Mississauga/Etobicoke Border. The 49 Bus takes you to Kipling station in 10 minutes.
Junction Jim / March 15, 2014 at 11:46 am
There is so much talk about the Scarborough Subway and Eglinton LRT, but for some reason Etobicoke is often forgotten. The Eglinton LRT stops pretty much at Etobicoke's door leaving a huge disconnect to the western half of the city.

Perhaps our new city council will relook at the crosstown LRT as a solution to the RT replacement and pressure Metrolinx to extend it from the Mississauga transit hub all the way through to Sheppard West.
Elle Em / March 15, 2014 at 12:10 pm
This city needed more subways 20 years ago... however, I do hope the LRT goes through more than just the Scarborough and Eglinton. More public transit of any kind is a big plus.
Rob replying to a comment from Junction Jim / March 15, 2014 at 12:17 pm
Etobicoke is not forgotten, northern Etobicoke is forgotten. Etobicoke has a subway line and streetcar that goes fairly deep into the former borough.

What's different between Etobicoke and Scarborough is population. Scarborough has about 270,000 more people than Etobicoke.
MC / March 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm
Queen & King Street. Try using Queen or King streetcar during rush hour and you'll wait forever for a packed streetcar where you'll be coughed on and grinded on by half the population of the city. But of course, it more important to put funds towards 2 subway stops that might not reach full capacity rather than to address the downtown relief line that should have been completed years ago.
V. Secret replying to a comment from Justin / March 15, 2014 at 01:38 pm
There's nothing to be proud of, Toronto is a piece of trash hole. Torontidiot!
Danny replying to a comment from V. Secret / March 15, 2014 at 02:08 pm
If you're going to be a juvenile troll, at least try to have your attempts at insults make sense. "Torontidiot" isn't even a clever play on words.
Austin replying to a comment from Ed / March 15, 2014 at 02:19 pm
Albion and Steeles is mostly an Industrial area and not that many people live there. It would have been better to have used a area that is residential as an examples
Austin / March 15, 2014 at 02:20 pm
Based on your definition of Markland Wood, I live in Markland Wood but I actually live in Bloordale Gardens which is West of the 427, East of Elmcrest Creek, South of Burnhamthorpe and North of Dundas.

"Parts of Markland Wood are relatively close to rapid transit. There's a walk involved, but Kipling station is just to the east and there are bus routes along the West Mall, East Mall, Bloor, and Burnhamthorpe that connect to the subway."

That's BS

The walk to Kipling Station from Markland Wood is 45 minutes, the bus on West Mall is a 15 minute walk and apparently every 8 minutes during rush which actually is every 25 minutes with 3 buses coming at once.

The bus on East Mall is a 20 minute walk and another 15 minute bus ride, assuming one will come because the buses ALWAYS bunch and you end up waiting for 40 minutes.

The Bloor bus is good at every 10 minutes at rush but it goes down to every 30 minutes after 10pm and all day Saturday and Sunday.

The Burnhamthorpe bus is every 15 minutes at rush, every half hour after 9pm, every 20 minutes on Saturday before 7pm and it turns to every half hour, and is every 20 minutes on Sunday before 6pm and it turns to every half hour after that.

It's always easier to go to Mississauga on Bloor or Burnhamthorpe than it is to get to Kipling to go downtown.

The Bloor Night Bus is more frequent than the Bloor bus but it only goes to Bloor and West Mall which leaves a 15 minute walk to get to Markland Wood.
Torontidiot / March 15, 2014 at 02:30 pm
WHO CARES! Toronto just won the awards for best transit system in Canada. So there's a few corners of the city that you can't get to at 4am - who cares./]
Ashley replying to a comment from MC / March 15, 2014 at 02:40 pm
So true! It's a daily occurrence to have to miss at least two streetcars because they are over capacity and the driver won't let anyone else on. I feel like they need to focus on getting things to run more smoothly downtown. It would be nice if they put a bus route along Front street as well which I'm sure would help relieve the King route.
Simon Tarses / March 15, 2014 at 02:49 pm
'The bus on East Mall is a 20 minute walk and another 15 minute bus ride, assuming one will come because the buses ALWAYS bunch and you end up waiting for 40 minutes.'

This is exactly why we need LRT through the core of Toronto, and most of the places that were to be served by Transit City (hell, we just need all of Transit City built AS IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE.)
Ed / March 15, 2014 at 03:13 pm
There are actual inhabited houses that were part of the old village of Claireville up at Steeles and Albion. Not many, but that was the most remote part of the west side of the city that I could think of (your only bus is a branch of the Royal York). You don't have to go much further southeast to be able to catch the Highway 27 express.

The most distant parts of the city from Bloor-Yonge are surely in northeastern Scarborough. I wasn't going to go there!
Candice / March 15, 2014 at 04:02 pm
Growing up I lived north of Rexdale and YES it was not fun coming into the city. An hour on a bus, then at least another 30 to get into the city. Not fun at all! :(
Moaz Ahmad / March 15, 2014 at 05:18 pm
Transit service in Markland Wood and Etobicoke-York Mall isn't great for TTC users ... too bad Mississauga buses (which pass by more frequently than the TTC buses) are not able to pick up TTC passengers and bring them to Islington Station...it's completely unfair to those TTC passengers to force them to wait for the 49 or 50 while Mississauga buses pass every few minutes.
CW / March 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm
A privatized TTC would never build a subway into Scarborough.

I almost wish they were privatized so that they would drop these useless suburban routes and focus on the downtown areas that would make them money.
Lance / March 16, 2014 at 01:25 am
People say that Toronto shouldn't have more subways. It's a joke how little subway coverage Toronto has. For a city the size of Toronto, it takes forever to get anywhere on surface routes. The solution of putting my streetcars/lrt is not a solution. More gridlock is not going to help anything. As it is, most of the main streetcar routes end up getting bunched up so it's like a snail train of 3-6 of them in the. Great for a conga line, not great when you need to get somewhere. Any other world class city of the size of Toronto has IMHO much greater subway presence.
CW / March 16, 2014 at 01:26 am
To the author,

I live near Kipling on Steeles, the closest subway station is not Downsview, it's Kipling Station.

The 45 runs express on weekdays from Kipling subway to steeles under forty five minutes.

Shey / March 16, 2014 at 01:51 am
Having lived in Rexdale, and other areas of the city, Rexdale has to be the absolute worst. The density and distance from everything is makes it test of your patience and Downtown seems like a world away.

Even if you've never lived in Rexdale, common sense will tell you that living in the North West puts you furthest away from subways and streetcars in Toronto -- that coupled with the density makes it a mission to get anywhere outside of Rexdale.

Markland Woods?? Are you kidding me? My wife works in that area. How many people in that area actually need/want to take the bus. Plus they are so close to subway and there are actually bus lines. Once you can get on a subway, you can get anywhere in the city in a reasonable amount of time.

Well, anywhere except Rexdale.
josh replying to a comment from Mar / March 16, 2014 at 02:36 am
Haha I couldn't agree more with you MAR. Streetcars are fantastic, they show off the streets cape and are fantastic way to commute, travel and explore the city. If there were more streetcars and less left hand turns or cars parking on the right shoulder this city would be a lot better place of everyone.
C Man / March 16, 2014 at 12:55 pm
I feel as though I am a major authority on this subject, as I have had no choices on many occasions but to walk. I live in the Royal York and Dundas area, great area to live in, but HORRIBLE for transit. Where do we start? The 30 Lambton bus which runs every new decade? The Royal York 73 buses that despite it's very long route, doesn't arrive nearly as often as the Royal York south 76 buses do, and they only run from Royal York station to the lakeshoee road area. Or how about the Shorncliffe buses that run from Kipling to Sherway Gardens? I almost froze to death this winter waiting for one to get back to kipling from the mall. Or how about the fact that if you want to get from The West Mall and Queensway to Dundas and West Mall, you have to walk, because there is not a single route that passes this lengthy stretch of road. If they wanted to give the TTC an enema, they should stick the hose in south central etobicoke.
BB ON / March 16, 2014 at 05:54 pm
Hey there. I'm the photographer of the article photo there and coincidentally, I've lived in Markland most of my entire life. I also use public transit!

Markland is roughly circle shaped, and is surrounded on the west and south by a golf course. The 49 cuts through it and for the northern part, it's a short walk to the 50. From where I live I'm lucky enough to have a choice on which one I can take, which is really nice if I've just missed one of them. It's also serviced by the Miway 3 and 20/26/76. Frequencies are ~15 minutes during the day, but drop to really awful at night (30 minutes). In my own subjective experience, it doesn't stand out as particularly bad given some of the other bus routes I've used.

Though, what's bad about Markland is how hard it is to cross the golf course, which is probably on purpose. If you're on a bike and want to go south to Dundas, you have to detour via Neilson.

The worst for me is anything served by the 80 Queensway. Lakeshore between Parkside and Strachan is also total garbage.
Al replying to a comment from Will / March 17, 2014 at 09:05 am
Totally agree! Don't forget TTC=Take The Car
Al replying to a comment from Will / March 17, 2014 at 09:08 am
Totally agree! Don't forget TTC=Take The Car. Only in toronto for work, as soon as a vacation hits, I'm out!
selene cusping replying to a comment from Austin / October 10, 2014 at 09:43 pm
What the ???? I lived at Albion and Martin Grove for years. It is definitely a residential area: always has been since the suburbs were opened in the 1950s and 60s. I don't know what part of the area you are familiar with - there are industrial areas - but to even suggest that there's nothing else shows how seriously blind you are.
Thor / October 10, 2014 at 09:49 pm
Yes. North Etobicoke is about the worst for transit in Toronto. So, what did the people in North Etobicoke do in 2010? They voted for the one person for mayor who was promising to cancel the Transit City plan (that would bring rapid transit to North Etobicoke), the one person who was AGAINST improving (through realistic plans) transit in North Etobicoke. It will be interesting to see if they vote for Rob & Doug again - against improving their transit situation.
mark / October 10, 2014 at 10:48 pm
The reason why the area is underserved is the lack of interconnectivity with the Mississauga, York region and Brampton transit services, of which, all come close to meeting in these areas. Want to improve transit? Merge these transit authorities into one. The other part that limits the ability for transit to work in this area is the giant roadblock called Pearson. Most routes aren't designed to flow around it, so the density of routes is lower as a result. Ideally a subway or rapid transit needs to be created on a north-south axis through here to connect the ends of the eglinton crosstown and the proposed Finch west LRT. it would increase ridership on all lines by connecting more people to the ends of each line, rather than have ridership tail off as each train reaches the end of the tracks. I think either Kipling or Jane would be suitable for this kind of route, preferably both, with a future parallel that would extend along dufferin towards any relief line.

That being said, these particular areas are predominantly car centric areas. Not a lot of built-up density here.
Ashley Fitzgerald / October 10, 2014 at 11:30 pm
I live in Etobicoke at Kipling and Horner. By car it takes me 15 min to get into downtown Toronto with no traffic and on average 25 min. By bus then subway it takes me anywhere from 60 minutes to goodness knows how long. I live two blocks from a bus stop but that bus is so unpredictable (even during rush hour) and is such a milk run that I usually have to walk 30 minutes to the Kipling bus if I want to get a bus that runs with any reliability outside of rush hour. If I miss the bus nearest to my house, the wait until another one comes is usually 30-45 min. This is ridiculous. If I wanted to get to another part of Etobicoke via bus it would be as time-consuming as driving to Waterloo or London. Trust me, I've timed it, I've done it all. This is ridiculous. I really wish that someone would remember that Etobicoke has residents who need reliable, efficient public transit too. I don't think any of the downtown dwelling candidates get that and Ford's ambitious plan will take too long. John Tory himself lives in a condo on Prince Arthur Avenue a 2 min walk from St. George Station. Olivia Chow also lives downtown and is central enough that she actually can bike anywhere. Doug Ford isn't going to be able to build subways fast enough for us. Can't one of these candidates actually present a plan that works for us right now?
Ashley Fitzgerald replying to a comment from CW / October 10, 2014 at 11:36 pm
This is one of the most egotistical comments I have seen in a long while. Guess what? A lot of the people who work downtown are commuting in from not just the suburbs but the countryside. This city wouldn't function without their labour. People with real jobs and families who power this economy tend to live in real houses rather than in shared, rented downtown flats.
Bell the Cat / October 11, 2014 at 04:03 pm
Brown's Line midway between the Lakeshore and the 427. Buses every hour or (it seems) going millions of miles to the Kipling subway and then to downtown. Take several books.
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