How will you vote in Scarborough to get the area better transit? | Opinion

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

Many Scarborough residents are still not aware of this. We will be taking replacement buses for at least seven years until the subway extension opens in 2030.

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

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

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

The Green Party and NDP promise to bring back 50 per cent operating subsidies for transit agencies, flowing about $380 million per year to the TTC alone. The Liberal party has promised $375 million per year for the entire province.

Premier Doug Ford’s 2022 provincial budget included emergency funding support, but the Progressive Conservative party has not committed to ongoing funding.

The Green Party proposes tripling the number of bus lanes by 2025. The NDP has committed to a 10-minute or less service guarantee on core bus routes and will help build more bus lanes and a busway in the decommissioned Scarborough RT corridor.

The Progressive Conservatives’ transportation plan includes a frequent service goal during peak periods, but no funding has been committed.

There are seven GO stations in Scarborough, yet many people opt to only ride the TTC, which takes longer. why? Paying two fares is not affordable.

We understand the value of fare integration in supporting affordable transit, as one of us is a student who commutes between Durham and Toronto.

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

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

The Green Party has committed to slashing fares in half for at least three months. The NDP has committed to expanding a TTC discount (known as the Fair Pass program) to all low-income workers.

Scarborough does not end at McCowan Road, but current funded rapid transit plans stop there. As residents of northeastern Scarborough and Durham, we know how hard it is to get around the east end of Scarborough. The Eglinton East Light Rail Transit line would connect Kennedy Station to the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus and end in Malvern, unlocking better access to education and connecting underserved Neighborhood Improvement Areas. Toronto has allocated $1.2 billion for the line; now provincial and federal funding is needed. The NDP and Liberal party platforms commit to funding the Eglinton East LRT but the Progressive Conservative party has yet to commit.

How will you vote to improve transit in Scarborough?

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

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