What would you do with an extra 32?
That’s the question advocacy group the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance is asking residents beginning today with the launch of a media campaign in favour of better regional transit. The group is calling on commuters to weigh in on what they’d do with an extra 32 minutes each day, the time it says would be saved on commuting if the province’s $50-billion Big Move transportation plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is completed.
Not completing the Big Move, the group argues, would push the average commute time from 77 to 109 minutes - a loss of 32 minutes - and continue to cost the regional economy billions of dollars in lost productivity.
“Our message to the people of the GTHA is have your say in how you would benefit from moving across the region more easily,” said CivicAction’s CEO Mitzie Hunter at a media event in downtown Toronto promoting the campaign.
“Tell us, what would you do with 32 extra minutes per day?”
Hunter said the province needs to be held accountable by the public to fully implement the Big Move, of which only 20 per cent has been funded.
“We want residents of the region to imagine what it would be like with a better transportation system,” said Hunter, who was accompanied by CivicAction chair John Tory and many of the group’s specially appointed regional transit “champions” – individuals chosen by CivicAction to advocate for better transit.
To promote the campaign, CivicAction has created a website which invites individuals to share how they would benefit from a shorter commute.
The group has also produced a special video clip which it screened at Wednesday morning’s press conference, and asked Twitter users how they would make use of the 32 extra minutes.
• “I would spend more time with my family and volunteer in my community,” tweeted @henrjose (Joe Henry).
• “With an extra 32 mins a day I’d like to say that I’d do housework (but it’s more likely I’d walk my dog longer),” wrote @rspring (Rebecca Spring).
The fall campaign is the first phase of CivicAction’s strategy to bring more awareness for transit.
Tory said the next step would be to convince residents of the increased costs they’ll have to shell out to complete the Big Move.
“We think it’s better to establish the need first that there is a congestion crisis,” he said after the press conference. “Then we can move to the question of what we are willing to do to make sure new transit gets built.”
He said the group would continue to pursue a regional focus and avoid advocating on what mode of transit is best.
“We’re not going to get involved in the subway versus LRT argument,” said Tory.
“We’re more interested in getting people to face up to the issues and decide on priorities and how to pay for them. If we can achieve that, it would be a constructive use of our time.”
Hunter said she expects phase two of the campaign will launch sometime in the winter.
For more information, visit www.your32.com