Ride Along with Cheryl Giblon on the Line 1 Extension

By: Samantha Maurice

Toronto is one of the biggest and busiest cities in North America, home to millions of people from all walks of life. For those in the city and the millions of others that live in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), the TTC transit system is the gateway to accessing and moving around downtown Toronto quickly and efficiently. The TTC, and in particular the subway, has been essential to getting people to their homes, workplaces, schools, and everything in between - in short, it’s an integral component of the history of, and how people move in the city. 

Since construction began in 1954, the TTC subway has seen exponential growth in connecting the neighbourhoods of Toronto to the downtown core. The next phase of changes to the subway occurred in 2002, with the construction of Line 4 or the Sheppard Line. The most recent change, extends Line 1 beyond the borders of Toronto and connect residents of York Region, in particular the City of Vaughan to downtown Toronto. This new 8.6 km extension has been in the works for over a decade and has six new stations located in the core areas of York Region, such as the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre and York University. On December 17, 2017, the Line 1 extension officially opened to the public.

The opening of the Line 1 extension is just one change within York Region; more changes will be seen in the coming years, such as the planned 7.4 km Yonge North Subway extension from Finch Station to Highway 7 into Markham and Richmond Hill and the new York University - Markham Campus, which is slated to open its doors in September 2021. With York Region being home to 1.1 million people, the new subway extension will better connect residents to the downtown core and provides them with another sustainable commuting alternative as opposed to driving alone.

As Vaughan resident, the Line 1 extension has an incredible impact on the way others and I in the area choose to commute downtown. While Vaughan has great transit infrastructure, such as the Rutherford GO Station and Viva bus rapid transit, the new subway provides the residents of Vaughan with another alternative to commute sustainably. One individual who has chosen this as an alternative to driving alone is Cheryl Giblon.

I had the opportunity to talk with Cheryl Giblon, the Industry Engagement Manager at York University and Chair of the Richmond Hill Board of Trade, about her experience with using the Line 1 extensions, transit, and PRESTO.

Pictured: Cheryl Giblon

Hi Cheryl, thanks so much for taking the time to sit with me. Firstly, I’d like to start by just having you tell our readers a bit about yourself. What institution do you work for, what is your position, and what does your job entail (i.e. are you at meetings quite frequently, do you travel between offices)? 

Cheryl Giblon: My name is Cheryl Giblon and I work at York University as the Industry Engagement Manager, which means I connect companies to researchers for collaborative research projects. Because I have that role, I’m out meeting with companies all the time. I go from meeting to meeting, some of them are internal. I also manage a space for our entrepreneurs at the accelerator space at the IBM headquarters called IBM Innovation Space-Markham Convergence Centre located at 3600 Steeles Ave E … so I come here a couple times a week usually. I’m generally on the road a lot.

Since you are transferring from location to location quite frequently, what is your main mode of commuting to work? What do you like or dislike about it? 

CG: In general I go by car, but if I go downtown, now that there’s a new subway station at York University, I take that downtown. When I’m driving I can go wherever I need to go in a very direct route and it’s very easy. What I don’t like about driving downtown is the traffic and the parking challenges because I drive a minivan. 

Transit going downtown is fantastic, because that is what transit seems to be built for. The York subway is terrific!

It’s great that you’ve mentioned taking transit, as it leads into my next question. What factored into your decision to use transit and PRESTO to get to your meetings downtown?

CG: I wouldn’t have to drive downtown. I avoid the traffic, parking hassles, and cost. 

And how did you learn about your transit options?

CG: I learned about my transit options through watching the construction of the subway, which is just outside of my office. 

How long and how often do you use transit as a way to get to meetings?

CG: I take the subway once every two or three weeks. I’ve been using it since the beginning of January.

You’ve been taking transit since January, how would you describe your experience with transit (i.e. fare, route, schedule, etc …)?

CG: I love transit, I can sit there, read a book, and get ready for my meetings. I have also seen a lot more ridership since the extensions opening. I think a great next step would be expanding the subway north on Yonge.

Were there any misconceptions or trepidations you had about transit before making the decision to try it?

CG: The one reason I didn’t take transit to get to meetings downtown was because of the lack of availability. 

Being a PRESTO user, what opinions do you have about the experience? (i.e. functionality, friendliness, setting up PRESTO account, reloading, is the PRESTO website easy to navigate, etc …)?

CG: I find it very convenient to have a card available that keeps on topping up, auto-generated, so I don’t have to wonder if I have correct change to pay for transit or whether or not there’s enough to pay for it. I just have to tap it and go. 


Before we conclude this interview, I do have one final question. What would you say to our readers who are interested in trying transit but may have some reservations? 

CG: I think if they have trepidations, there may not be transit that is available to them in a convenient manner. Just give it a go. And it’s nice to have sit back and let someone take care of it. It’s faster because there is no traffic. 

Well readers, what are your thoughts on the new Line 1 subway extension? Let us know in the comment section below about your experience.

Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill would like to thank Cheryl Giblon for her constant support and dedication the program. I can say with certainty, your story will inspire others within the community to try transit as an alternative mode to driving alone. We thank you for welcoming us into your office and taking time out of your busy schedule for the interview. We look forward to hearing more about your transit journey.