The TTC’s Five-Year Service Plan and Ten-Year Outlook  report will go to the TTC Commission December, 12 and 16. It calls for bus only lanes and signal priority along  our busiest surface transit routes.  These are  cost effective measures toward increased ridership and shorter travel times. But we should take a  more ambitious approach  to address the needs of transit riders in Scarborough.

It will be at least ten years before the Scarborough subway is built.  Frequent breakdowns of  the aging SRT and no commitment to  build crucial rapid transit like the Sheppard East and Eglinton East LRTs is leaving riders in our under served neighbourhoods behind. 

Two out of three of Toronto’s busiest bus corridors are in Scarborough: Finch East and Eglinton East/Morningside/Meadowvale Urban sprawl and traffic congestion along these routes causes bunching, delays and two-hour travel times. To increase reliability, ridership, reduce traffic congestion and GHG emissions, we  also need  Bus Rapid Transit and bus-only lanes. 

When compared with billion dollar subways and LRTs, Bus Rapid Transit is a quick way to ensure heavily traveled corridors like Eglinton East and Finch East achieve high ridership. When the subway stopped running New York was able to create a BRT lane in 24 hours.  Less expensive than LRT,  the planned 36 km Durham-Scarborough BRT is estimated at $580 million whereas the 15 km Eglinton East LRT would cost $2.0 billion. BRT can also bring much needed redesign to accommodate pedestrian safety, walkability and bike lanes. But rather than eliminate the possibility of LRT in the future, it actually “paves the way” for track to be installed along the existing transit right of way.

We shouldn’t have to wait until 2021 or after for these transit improvements. Montreal already has 55 special transit signals that allow buses to pull out ahead of cars  We need to do more, now. 

Here’s what we would like to see:   

  1. BRT for Eglinton East/Morningside/Meadowvale,  Sheppard East and Finch East corridor.  
  2. Bus transit lanes and signal priority for Eglinton East, Finch East, Sheppard East,  Ellesmere, Lawrence East and Markham Road.  
  3. Mitigate Scarborough RT breakdowns with regular, frequent back-up service and ensure replacement service prioritizes bus transit lanes. 
  4. Expand weekend and week day service on the 54 Lawrence East bus east of Scarborough Golf Club. 
  5. Expansion of pilot service along Kingston Road from Victoria Park to U of T Scarborough to all-day, every 10 minutes. 

 Other service improvements the TTC is recommending that we support: 

  • Permitting Durham Region Transit access to STC bus terminal  
  • Direct express bus service to Highland Creek  
  • 39 Finch East bus stops near schools  (held for further review) 
  • Extending 54 Lawrence East express bus west to Don Mills   
  • Providing more service to connect Lawrence and Ellesmere (around the Morningside Ave area)  
  • Express 68 Warden bus route 
  • Enhancing the Blue Night service in Malvern  
  • Adding the Milliken GO Station stop to the 953 Steeles East Express 
For a list of all service improvements that were considered, see Appendix 2 of TTC 5-Year Service Plan and 10-Year Outlook report.

Our vision for prioritization of bus service along Scarborough’s busiest transit corridors, was tabled at the December TTC Commission meeting. A study of the feasibility of bus only lanes along Eglinton East, Finch East and Lawrence East, was approved. But unless new revenue becomes available, nothing will happen until 2021. We need our buses moving faster, now.

Watch transit advocate Alan Yule’s presentation on creating a bus only lane along Eglinton East, quickly and inexpensively:

The City Building Fund could help pay for a prioritized bus network but we will need to speak up during the city’s 2020 budget hearings in January to make this a reality.

Help us plan our strategy for 2020. Our next meeting is on Monday, January 6th from 6 – 8:00 p.m. at the Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive.

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