How will you vote in Scarborough to improve public transit in the area? | Opinion

Did you know the Scarborough Rapid Transit line will close in 2023?

Many Scarborough residents are still unaware of this. We will take replacement buses for at least seven years until the metro extension opens in 2030.

Hundreds of thousands of Torontonians rely on buses every day to get to school, work and important activities. Low-income racialized people and essential workers have been most reliant on buses during the pandemic.

That’s why sustainable funding to improve bus service is now a key election issue in Scarborough. Better public transit will contribute to an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

All parties have committed to more frequent service, but not to the same level of sustainable funding.

The Green Party and NDP promise to restore 50% operating subsidies for transit agencies, paying about $380 million a year to the TTC alone. The Liberal Party promised $375 million a year for the entire province.

Premier Doug Ford’s 2022 provincial budget included emergency financial support, but the Progressive Conservative Party did not commit to providing ongoing funding.

The Green Party is proposing to triple the number of dedicated bus lanes by 2025. The NDP has pledged to guarantee service of 10 minutes or less on major bus routes and will help build more dedicated bus lanes and a dedicated bus lane in the disused Scarborough RT corridor.

The Progressive Conservative transportation plan includes a frequent service target during peak periods, but no funding has been committed.

There are seven GO stations in Scarborough, but many people choose to take the TTC only, which takes longer. Why? Paying two tickets is not affordable.

We understand the value of fare integration to support affordable transit, as one of us is a student commuting between Durham and Toronto.

The Green and Liberal parties have alluded to some form of rate integration, without too many details. In March, the Progressive Conservatives implemented free transfer to and from local transit in the GTA when connecting with GO Transit, but the TTC was left out. The NDP has proposed a two-hour window where a flat rate can be used for transit between any GTA agency and within Toronto.

Some parties are promising further tariff reductions. The Liberals have championed a flat $1 fare and monthly passes capped at $40 for all public transit through 2024.

The Green Party has pledged to cut tariffs in half for at least three months. The NDP has pledged to extend a TTC rebate (known as the Fair Pass program) to all low-income workers.

Scarborough does not stop at McCowan Road, but currently funded rapid transit plans do stop there. As North East Scarborough and Durham residents we know how difficult it is to get around East Scarborough. The Eglinton East Light Rail Transit line would connect Kennedy Station to the University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus and terminate in Malvern, providing better access to education and connecting underserved neighborhood improvement areas. Toronto allocated $1.2 billion for the line; it now requires provincial and federal funding. The NDP and Liberal Party platforms are committing to funding the Eglinton East LRT, but the Progressive Conservative Party has yet to commit.

How will you vote to improve public transit in Scarborough?

Elahveyini Veemharaj Aswaththaman is a resident of Scarborough. August Pantitlán Puranauth lives in Durham. Both are members of the transit advocacy group TTCriders.

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