‘Worst’ bus terminal to get a facelift

By Jeff Todd –

The Elizabeth St. entrance to the Toronto Bus Terminal is getting a face-lift. It needs one. Bus drivers say Toronto has one of the most dangerous stations in Canada.

David Crow, who operates between Ottawa and Toronto, wishes pedestrians would use the designated hallway that leads to the departures lounge. Crow pulls his bus in through Elizabeth St., and day after day, passengers take the short-cut by scurrying in beside him, rushing to make their connections from arrivals across the street.

“This is one of the most dangerous terminals in Canada,” Crow says. “Toronto is the biggest city in Canada, and it has the worst terminal.”

Kyle Rae, councilor Ward 27 – Centre Rosedale, intends to bump up the safety. At a community council meeting last Monday, Rae passed a motion, in partnership with the TTC, which encourages pedestrians to stick to the hallway. Next spring, the city will spend $2000 on guardrails that herd pedestrians towards a painted crosswalk, complete with “foot print” markings that guide you to the hallway entrance.

Unlike other stations, Toronto’s bus terminal has wide-open access to the street. There are also six open ports on the North side from which buses leave.

“It’s worth a try. There’s a real problem with pedestrians coming into conflict with buses. It’s dangerous,” Rae says.

Rae isn’t shocked to hear that bus drivers say the station is a safety concern.

“It doesn’t surprise me given the complexity of having the arrivals and departures separated by a street,” he said. “There’s no integrity to the station.”

Gerry Brown, the senior terminal manager, has struggled with this issue for years. He hopes this new initiative will solve the problem once and for all. Back in the mid 90’s, Brown supported a motion to shut down the traffic flow on this section Elizabeth St. between Dundas Street W. and Edward St. Brown says the plan was nixed when hospitals claimed they needed the street for ambulance service.

“Any place where people are intermingling with buses is a safety concern. I’ll try anything to get people to use the hallway,” Brown says.

Brown insists that nobody has ever been hit. But he credits the bus drivers for that. “I think it’s safe only cause of the professional drivers that use the station,” he says.

But the bus station hasn’t been without incident. Nigel Perkins, a driver who goes between Barrie and Toronto, claims it isn’t just passengers causing the problems. Perkins says only yesterday an intoxicated gentleman staggered into the station. Although Perkins saw him and stopped, the drunken man walked straight into the side of the bus.

“I stopped, and he just walked right into me. Bang!” Perkins recalls.

Perkins muses that, while the new measures may help, you need an air-traffic controller to direct people to where they should be going.

Sarah Carter, who arrived today from Barrie, is one of many to cross Elizabeth St. and walk unknowingly through the restricted area. She missed the hallway entirely.

“It seemed natural to just walk through here,” Carter says, laughing within her furry winter hood. “I think the rail and crosswalk is a good idea. If I saw other people walking along there I’d probably follow them. You know, for my own safety,” she said.