There were a few wins, some major setbacks, but by the end of 2019, the call for a reliable and affordable rapid transit network in Scarborough was louder than ever.
In February, Scarborough Transit Action and Connect Sheppard East (LRT Network Coalition) conducted a transit workshop at the East Scarborough Storefront. Residents support the Eglinton East LRT. They also want to see better service on the 54 Lawrence East bus.
In April, the Ford government opted for a three-stop subway and broke its 2018 election promise to build the Eglinton East LRT. Scarborough residents were not happy. We hosted a town hall with Scarborough Civic Action Network and U of T Scarborough Campus Student Union at the Mid-Scarborough Hub. It was packed. Mayor Tory confirmed there was no city money for the EELRT either.
Riding a wave of public frustration, TTCriders and the LRT Network Coalition led a “March for the LRT to Malvern”. Starting at Malvern Town Centre, transit advocates walked to Scarborough Rouge MPP Vijay Thanigasalam’s office demanding that the Ford gov’t reconsider its decision. In August, we talked to thousands of residents at Scarborough Rotary RibFest who understood and supported connecting our under served neighbourhoods via the Eglinton East LRT.
We also took our message to the Chinese Canadian National Council at Dorset Park Community Hub. Jamaal Myers of STA and TTCriders Executive Director, Shelagh Pizey-Allen gave an overview of issues facing transit riders in Scarborough including: TTC token phase-out, Low Income Pass, SRT breakdowns and delays to new transit infrastructure.
It was a big win for transit activists when the Ford government backed down on the subway upload. But Toronto would be on its own with a $33-billion backlog in maintenance and state of good repair.
The only money leftover from the province’s transit deal was the $1.2375 billion Scarborough subway levy. Faced with these mounting financial pressures, Mayor Tory initiated an 8% increase to the City Building Fund levy which will provide an additional $6.6 billion for transit and housing infrastructure. Some of this money will go toward the TTC’s state of good repair and if we push for it, the Scarborough Subway Levy could cover half of the $2.0 billion cost of the EELRT.
We also participated in the TTC’s Five-Year Service Plan public consultation workshop in Scarborough. 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.
- Register on facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Read about our vision for Bus Rapid Transit and bus only lanes.
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Thank you for all your support! Happy New Year!