Friday, 20 July 2007

Bus tickets in Montreal, bus and subway cuts in Toronto

For each ticket you buy for the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal in August, you’ll get two bus-and-Metro tickets also. The plan was announced this week, in part because parking is very limited at the Uniprix Stadium in Parc Jarry, where the tournament is held. But also tournament organizers are trying to brand themselves green in other ways. They announced lots of recycling, use of paper made with post-consumer waste, and recuperation of tennis balls for distribution later to Montreal-area schools, too.

Building professional sports facilities in the center of cities is a risky business. Often they use space in already existing parks, as this tennis facility does, with the accompanying decrease in land available more informal--and cheaper--recreation and leisure. Where a facility is built from scratch, the parking lots deemed to be necessary can produce a cordon of waste land around a bulding that is used at most 50 or 60 times a year.

The up side with the Rogers Cup this year is that by encouraging tennis fans to use the bus and Metro some will be won over to public transit in the rest of their lives because they'll see what a breeze it can be to use it.

This only works, of course, when public transit is reliable and nearby, which is the case for Parc Jarry and--for the moment--the Montreal transit system. It won't work where transit doesn't work. One of the more discouraging bits of news on this front this summer comes out of Toronto where the Toronto Transit Commission will meet today to discuss cutting bus service and actually shutting down the Sheppard subway line, used by 40,000 people a day. Early in the week the Toronto city council turned down two new tax proposals and city treasury officials subsequently told the TTC to slash $30-million from its $1.1-billion budget this year, and $100-million from next year.

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