Last week the Mohawk College Transit terminal opened on the northeast corner of the campus, and I must say that it has really improved access for students (like myself, for the next month) using Hamilton Street Railway to get to class. But, there are some issues that are worth mentioning, and they go to show that improving transit isn't just about putting more buses on the road. Sometimes, making something transit adjacent doesn't necessarily make it transit oriented.
The new transit terminal consolidates bus services into one convenient location, where previously someone on campus had to choose between three different boarding locations - each with their own issues. The stop on Fennell Avenue in front of the library only served the 33 SANATORIUM route, so waiting there generally meant that you would get a seat on the bus, but it meant the longest waits. The stop previously known as the South Entrance Loop was served by three routes (20 A-LINE EXPRESS, the 21 UPPER KENILWORTH and 35 COLLEGE) and had indoor waiting available, but it always seemed that the 21 and the 35 ran together. That meant long gaps between departures of any kind in the evening. Finally, the stop at West 5th Street and Fennell Avenue was where all the routes converged, but during the daytime it meant trying to get onto buses that had already loaded. Also, that stop is not very well lit, and it's adjacent to the vacant Auchmar mansion - so it's not the best place to user after dark. The new terminal places all of the routes together, has indoor waiting, is well lit, and has plenty of shelters. Overall, it's a great facility and a great addition to campus. So why do I have problems with it?
First of all, closest entrance to the terminal is not a main entrance by an means. In fact, the closest entrance leads to the J-Wing, which wasn't designed for through pedestrian volumes.
As a result, the primary entrance to the College is not what the building architect had envisioned. From a practical standpoint, this means the possibility of pedestrian congestion in the hallways. From a design aesthetic standpoint, this means that a visitor arriving by transit (the preferred mode, officially anyway), isn't given the best first impression of the campus.
The other issue I have with the terminal is the path between the on-street 35 COLLEGE stop and the rest of the facility. Since the 35 continues south along West 5th Street, the decision was made to have that route stop on the street rather than enter the terminal. Connecting passengers only have a short walk, but because of the grade difference the pedestrian path was designed with switchbacks.
My observations are that seemingly able-bodied pedestrians do not follow the path, and as a result I suspect the freshly laid sod will have a lifespan measured in days. Perhaps a design like the one near the library, where stairs and ramps are integrated into one structure, would have provided access without having to worry about replacing grass every few months.
All in all, I think that this facility has made the experience of using transit at Mohawk better. As Thursday night is my late night on campus, I previously had to check the schedule before the lecture was over to see which I direction I needed to run in order to make my connection at Hamilton GO Centre. No more. Now there is only one direction that I'll need to run in. Unfortunately, the added convenience doesn't change the design issues that I've tried to highlight. They're probably outweighed by the added convenience, but they are proof that putting something adjacent to transit doesn't truly make it oriented to transit.