Four Good Things from the York Region Transit Strike

Today's the last day of strike-level service across the transit system here in York Region. Tomorrow morning most regular weekend routes will be running again, with most of the rest of the system starting up again on Monday. That means for the majority of transit users in the area Monday morning will be a normal commute once again. At last!

In an effort to make up for the inconvenience and expense to residents over the last three months, the Region is allowing riders to board the YRT free-of-charge from tomorrow until the end of March. Not everyone is happy with this, though. Some people are saying the two free months are not compensation enough, while others are calling out the Region for not providing the full benefit to everyone.

Despite these complaints and the sheer aggravation of the last three months for many, I want to try to end things on a positive note. In that spirit I present to you my list of four good things that have come out of the strike for me:

  1. More exercise. I rely on transit to get around—I got rid of my last car a few years ago—so naturally, when the buses aren't running there's usually no option for me but to hoof it. This meant a lot more time spent outside moving my feet, which can only have had a positive effect on my health. It's also expanded my definition of walking distance considerably. And as luck would have it, the gods of winter transit strikes smiled upon us and saw fit to keep the weather unseasonably mild for almost the whole duration, so most of the time I even enjoyed it.

  2. Better knowledge of the transit system. Every single one of the bus routes I normally take wasn't running during the strike, so leaving the neighbourhood meant becoming intimately acquainted with alternate routes that were still available. This turned out to be a great thing, though. I'd never taken the time before to figure out the TTC routes operating here in York Region, but with the strike they became essential for getting in and out of the city. Now I know there are not one but two TTC buses that go by my place and terminate on the subway line. I've also found a more direct route over to Richmond Hill, as well as an express bus to Finch Station that stops just a few blocks from home. So ironically, three months without buses ended up making me a more capable user of the transit system.

  3. Lots of practice blogging. Since the strike started I've written 34 posts about it, including this one. (You can start from the beginning and work your way forwards if you're curious how the whole thing played out.) This has been great practice writing for me, and I hope at least a few others have enjoyed having someone commenting semi-regularly on the events of the strike.

    Of course, blogging about the strike brought another huge benefit as well.

  4. The people I've met. Easily the best part of the last three months has been getting to connect with other transit users in the area: Forrest, Tracy, Michael, Daniel, OP, Alyssa, Alana, Mike (and his many aliases), Erin, Julie, Deborah and everyone else who's commented on my blog, responded to my tweets or written to me about the strike. Thank you all very much. It's been great talking with each of you. Let's get a drink sometime.

What's Next for Me?

For the vast majority of people in the Region the transit strike is over effective tomorrow, and so is my blogging here about the strike. I'll be returning to writing about my normal life as an independent software developer.

However, I don't intend to stop blogging about transit issues here in York Region—I'm just shifting venues to a new site I'm starting, Ride York, where I plan to gather together news and information about the YRT and also explore a few ideas I've had for transit-related applications. If you're a transit user in York Region and have enjoyed reading my posts I hope you'll follow me as @rideyork on Twitter and at the new blog once it's available. I'll update this post later with the details.

Update: The blog is now live! Come visit at Or, if you prefer, subscribe to the RSS feed in your reader.

Again, thank you all for reading and commenting. See you on the bus!

Older: Two Months' Free Travel on York Region Transit