Anti-Black Racism in Toronto’s Transit System and Institutions

Anti-black racism is deeply ingrained in Toronto’s systems and institutions including health, education, policing and the employment market. Our transit system is no exception. Whether it’s the inferior TTC service in Toronto’s inner suburbs where most Black Torontonians reside or the disproportionate targeting of Black transit riders by TTC fare inspectors, the mobility inequities faced by Black Torontonians are a disgrace to our city and must be dismantled.

To dismantle these mobility inequities, Torontonians must accept that anti-black racism exists, either consciously or unconsciously, in how and for whom we plan transit. Consider that 9 out of 10 TTC board members and 12 out of 13 Metrolinx board members are white. Not one Black person sits on these boards nor is there a Black member of their senior executive teams (24 people in total). It’s no surprise therefore that the needs of Black Scarborough residents were ignored, devalued and/or dismissed when transit plans were developed for Scarborough. How else does one explain such enthusiastic support for the $6 billion Scarborough subway whose ballooning costs effectively defunded  badly needed rapid transit to Eglinton East, Scarborough Village, West Hill, Highland Creek, Morningside and Malvern? All of these neighborhoods have among the highest concentrations of Black residents in Scarborough.

The TTC’s response to COVID-19 has only amplified the mobility inequities faced by Black Torontonians. To address falling ridership caused by the pandemic (a loss of about $92 million per month) the TTC  cut service levels by 16 per cent and laid off 1,200 TTC employees. Yet, not one fare inspector was laid off despite the TTC’s suspension of fare enforcements during the pandemic. In fact, the TTC has hired 20 more fare inspectors for October with another 30 slated to come at a later date. Needless to say, anti-black racism will not be purged from the TTC if Black Torontonians going to work, shopping for groceries or attending medical appointments are forced to deal with even more fare enforcement officers. Rather, Black Torontonians, like all Torontonians, want more frequent and less crowded buses to practice social distancing, lower fares and the permanent end of fare enforcement.

The overwhelming whiteness of the decision-making apparatus at Metrolinx and the TTC, coupled with the total absence of Black voices, experiences or knowledge in their decision-making process renders their transit “vision”, and subsequent funding priorities, unable, incapable or simply uninterested in addressing the mobility needs of Black Torontonians. If Toronto is truly committed to dismantling the anti-black racism in our transit system, action not platitudes, is needed. Action is holding Metrolinx accountable for dismissing the needs of Scarborough’s Black residents to justify building the Scarborough subway and reallocating scarce TTC funding away from over-policing Black Torontonians towards improving bus service levels in Toronto’s inner suburbs. Anything less is just empty platitudes.

 

COVID-19 Requires a Reset of Scarborough’s Subway Plan

The province should suspend the bidding process for the Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE).  Existing and future financial  cuts to the TTC, and new social distancing requirements due to COVID-19, call for an urgent rethink of all of Scarborough’s – and Toronto’s – transit plans. Now that we recognize the importance of our “essential workers” and that the majority need to get to places in Scarborough, we can no longer afford a $6-billion, overbuild to downtown, if we ever could.

Touted as a replacement for the Scarborough RT (Line 3), which has already exceeded its design lifetime, the three-stop SSE will travel from Kennedy station to Sheppard East and McCowan.

According to a recently released independent study by the Residential Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, deep tunneling in subway construction is a major contributor to the ballooning costs of building transit in Toronto. Public delivery of the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension was taken away from the TTC and handed to a private engineering firm because of $400 million in cost overruns. With several stations seven stories underground, the overall project cost reached $383.7 million per km.  Yet if built, stations on the SSE  will be even deeper, and the overall costs of this privately financed extension of the Bloor/Danforth line are estimated to be almost double, at $723.7 million per km.

Delivered by the province, but operated and maintained by the TTC,  requests for qualifications to  design, build and finance the tunnel portion of the project were posted on Merx on March 6, prior to Premier Ford announcing a state of emergency. The closing date for bids is May 29, 2020.

COVID-19 has reminded us we urgently need to prioritize our essential front line workers, many of whom are low income and racialized, with no other option but the TTC. Most of these riders travel  along Finch, Sheppard, Lawrence, Ellesmere and Eglinton East. The SSE won’t improve their commute and it’s ballooning price tag has eliminated funding for a much needed LRT network.

Like its predecessors, the Metrolinx business case failed to conduct a level-field comparison with other, less-expensive options.  Instead, Metrolinx apparently chose to go along with Premier Ford’s promise to build a subway as a monument to his late brother Rob, as its basis for recommending approval. We cannot afford to continue with this chronic politicization of transit infrastructure, which inevitably leads to repeated delays, arbitrary changes and cancellations, and escalating costs.

Reliant on fares for 67% of its operating revenue, the TTC stands to lose up to $439 million in 2020 alone, due to an 80% drop in transit use during COVID-19. Cuts to bus service including an elimination of all but two express routes, have already begun. So far there has been no promise of emergency municipal transit operations funding from either the provincial or federal government.  Without an adequately funded feeder bus system, more people will resort to driving and the SSE will see even fewer riders.

But if the Ford government suspends the process now, it would allow for a complete reset and reconsideration of Toronto’s transit plans, to effectively address the real challenges and priorities that have been starkly illustrated by COVID-19.

If surface rapid transit such as LRT or BRT were to be honestly considered for providing a much-needed and more cost-effective comprehensive transit network, as part of an overall redesign of our streets, then we would be able to offer many more Scarborough residents multiple options to get them to where they need to go.

“Surface transit would prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders with wider sidewalks, bike lanes and signal priority . But suburban subways will keep our arterial roads as high-speed death traps for pedestrians and cyclists, while leaving buses crowded and bogged down in traffic,” says Scarborough Transit Action’s Richard Hennick, who was for many years a regular bike/TTC commuter between southwest Scarborough and his job in Markham.

Budget 2020: We Need New Revenue Tools To Address Scarborough’s Looming Transit Crisis

Scarborough has two out of three of the highest bus ridership corridors in Toronto. Usually when bus routes are heavily used we replace them with higher capacity transit like Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), streetcar, LRT or subway.  Instead, our politicians have wasted ten years arguing over a replacement for the aging Scarborough RT (SRT). It will be at least ten more years before a subway extends east of Kennedy station.  But a three-stop subway is not a network and Scarborough doesn’t end at McCowan and Sheppard East.

Our buses are already full and the Scarborough RT is on its last legs. What will happen to the  35,000 daily SRT riders who will lose this rapid transit service with the inevitability of winter icing and a permanent break down of the RT?  What about the residents near Lawrence, Midland and Ellesmere stations who will lose their rapid transit access when Ford’s $5.5 billion, three-stop subway replaces the SRT in 2030? What about connecting our Priority Neighbourhoods and campuses?

We need an affordable, fast, convenient rapid transit network including the Eglinton East and Sheppard East LRTs, to get us where we need to go now and a prioritized bus network while we’re waiting for new lines to be built.

The 2020 TTC Capital and Operating Budget fails to address Scarborough’s looming transit crisis:

  • No funding for the Eglinton East LRT. 
  • The TTC will study bus priority along Finch East, Eglinton East and Lawrence East but this doesn’t include Sheppard East and there is no money for bus only lanes, priority signalling and queue jump lanes this year.
  • A ten cent fare increase but this only improves service on two bus routes in Scarborough: 39/939 Finch East and 86/986 Scarborough along Eglinton East.
  • $18.2 million  to study extending the life of the SRT but no money for full time, prioritized bus service when the SRT breaks down for good.
  • No funding to make Warden station accessible.

Mayor Tory is to be commended for introducing an 8% increase to the City Building Fund. But most of the $6.6-billion generated will go toward housing and maintenance of our existing subway system.  We need new revenue tools to fund the TTC.  A 2016, KPMG study says that under the City of Toronto Act, we can generate  $350 million a year with a $1.00  Parking Levy. Deputy Mayor Ana Bailao (Toronto Davenport), is advocating for a vacant home tax and an increase to the municipal land transfer tax on luxury homes.  What revenue tools will Scarborough councillors support to address our transit deficit?

tell our politicians ‘Scarborough deserves better’ at these city budget consultations:

January 20, 2020

  • Toronto City Hall, Committee Room 1; 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards
  • Scarborough Civic Centre, Council Chamber; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards

January 21, 2020

  • Etobicoke Civic Centre, Council Chamber; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards
  • North York Civic Centre, Council Chamber; 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. onwards

Sign up to speak here

Download our 2020 Budget Deputation Workbook

MORE 2020 City Budget events in Scarborough where you can have your say:

2019 was a pivotal year for transit in Scarborough!

 

Agnes Thompson, Local Champion

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. 

March to Malvern

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.

Sarah Mohamed and president Chemi Llhamo – Scarborough Campus Student Union

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.

bus only routes

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 info@scarboroughtransitaction.ca
  • Read about our vision for Bus Rapid Transit and bus only lanes.

Can’t make it to our meetings? Please consider making a donation.

Thank you for all your support!  Happy New Year!

Scarborough’s needs Bus Rapid Transit, bus only lanes, now!

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.
UPDATE DECEMBER 16, 2019

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 info@scarboroughtransitaction.ca

Fordnation’s allies on Toronto council throw Scarborough transit riders under the bus, again

In an alternate universe, $5.5-billion could buy a 50-stop light rail network serving most of Scarborough. Instead, Doug Ford will push forward the replacement of the Scarborough RT to 2030 with three subway stops for 11,000 new riders.

The majority of Scarborough community organizations applauded the Toronto-Ontario transit plan which would see the province take sole ownership and fund this three-stop subway. Many called on Toronto council  to build the Eglinton East and Sheppard East LRTs as well. At the Executive Committee meeting on October 23rd, Mayor Tory repeatedly “reminded” Scarborough deputants here, here and here that the $1.2375 billion Scarborough Subway levy could now be put toward the Eglinton East LRT (EELRT). 

However, under “Funding for State of Good Repair Needs and Transit Expansion” of the City Manager’s report this money has already been prioritized for state of good repair by the Ford government and the EELRT and Waterfront LRT are left fighting over the scraps:

 The Province would also consider the redirection of these funds to investment in other transit expansion priorities identified by Council, based on a fully developed business case, and subject to credible progress to the relief of the state of good repair backlog in the subway system.

We have been down this road before. In 2016 and 2018, Mayor Tory promised to fund the Eglinton East LRT, only to knock it off the priority list in favour of the one-stop Scarborough Subway, SmartTrack, Relief Line and TTC state of good repair. There is a $33.5 billion backlog in maintenance hanging over Toronto’s subway system. Google’s sister company Sidewalk Labs is demanding funding for the Waterfront LRT. Why would an LRT to Scarborough’s under served neighbourhoods suddenly be more worthy now?  

Which Scarborough councillors will fight for the EELRT? With the exception of Scarborough Guildwood councillor Paul Ainslie, they have only come together in the past to support a subway. 

Scarborough Rouge councillor Jennifer McKelvie got council to support extending the EELRT to Malvern but she declined to put forward a motion to allocate the freed up Scarborough subway levy toward this line. She also supports the Scarborough subway and voted for Scarborough Agincourt councillor Karygiannis’s motion to look at extending the Sheppard subway in the next city budget. Does she realize this extension can now compete with the EELRT for funding priority?

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.EX9.1

Ainslie, doesn’t believe the EELRT should extend beyond U of T Scarborough.  All the more reason to push for the Sheppard East LRT to connect Malvern. But don’t hold your breath. At least councillor Ainslie didn’t vote for Karygiannis’s Sheppard extension.

Scarborough North Councillor Cynthia Lai says LRTs are bad for business. As mentioned,  Karygiannis is laser focussed on extending the Sheppard subway to Sheppard East and McCowan. He’ll probably continue to work behind the scenes now that he has been thrown off council. 

Scarborough Southwest Councillor Gary Crawford’s ward has three Neighbourhood Improvement Areas along the EELRT route, but the fact that less than 50% of his constituents in Scarborough Village have a driver’s licence doesn’t keep him up at night.  All he knows is an LRT would never entice him out of his car. And despite Ainslie’s attempt to ensure sufficient intensification to guarantee ridership on the Eglinton East LRT route, Crawford convinced a majority on Council (including EELRT supporter Jennifer McKelvie) to vote in favour of an application to build low-density townhomes at the corner of Eglinton Avenue East and Danforth Road.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.SC8.4

Scarborough Centre councillor Michael Thompson, has always supported the subway option to replace the Scarborogh RT even though his constituents will lose all but the Scarborough Town Centre stop. He neglected to put forward a motion to ensure there was enough bus service if (or when)  the SRT breaks down before 2026. That was left to “latte sipping, downtown councillor” Mike Layton.

http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2019.EX9.1

If we continue to put our faith in politicians who hang their hopes on a few subway stops, we will never have a cost effective network for all of Scarborough. We will continue to waste another ten, twenty years, we don’t have. A surface LRT network is our best bet against Climate Change, pedestrian fatalities and the economic marginalization of minorities which make up the majority of residents in Scarborough. It’s now or never.

 

The Death of Rapid Transit in Scarborough

Overcrowded 54 Lawrence East bus during off-peak hours

Up until a few days ago, the  province was poised to take over the existing subway system and new transit infrastructure delivery from the TTC. At first glance, this appears to be a good thing. It is much easier for the province to generate revenue for the TTC’s $33.5 billion backlog in maintenance and state-of-good-repair. It is also much easier for the province to generate revenue for new transit infrastructure.

However, there is no agreement between the city and the province on what to build. Here’s a comparison of  Mayor Tory and Premier Ford’s transit priorities:

TORONTO’S PRIORITY TRANSIT PROJECTS

Mayor Tory and Council

Premier Doug Ford

One-stop Scarborough subway to Scarborough Town Centre Three-stop Scarborough subway to McCowan and Sheppard
Relief Line South (Pape to Queen) Ontario Line from Science Centre to Exhibition
Bloor-Yonge station improvements Yonge subway extension to Richmond Hill
SmartTrack stations Eglinton Crosstown West Extension

 

Instead of the city’s plan for one stop by 2026 for $4 billion, the province would replace the five-stop Scarborough RT with a three-stop subway by 2030 for $5.5 billion. Aside from more delays, this looks like a win-win for Scarborough.

 

Closer examination indicates the province is not prioritizing the Scarborough subway or rapid transit to Scarborough’s underserved neighbourhoods and campuses, nor is it addressing the backlog in subway repairs. The main priority for the province is the Ontario Line.

 

    • Eglinton East LRT to UTSC has been dropped from the city’s and the province’s priority list. Both John Tory and Doug Ford reneged on a 2018 election promise to build this line.  
    • The province released an Initial Business Case (IBC) for the Ontario Line and has prioritized an Alternative Funding and Procurement “read: privatization” bidding process  to start in the spring of 2020.  Contract negotiations for the Scarborough Subway Extension, on the other hand, won’t begin until the Winter of 2021, after the bidding process for the Yonge Extension to Richmond Hill has already begun.
    • Instead of joining with the city and federal government to fund subway improvements the Ford government announced $1.1 billion in cuts to the TTC.

 

Although Mr. Ford has stated the province will put up all the money for the $11 billion Ontario Line if it has to, the province only has $11.2 billion to contribute toward $28.5 billion worth of rapid transit . Without municipal and federal contributions the province is severely limited. Clearly, he needs all three levels of government to buy into his plan. 

The premier just announced he would drop the subway upload if Tory agrees to help fund the Ontario Line. We’ll find out what city staff think about this proposal on October 23rd when a report goes to the Mayor’s Executive. 

Stepping away from the subway upload is a big deal.  But the mayor shouldn’t have to go along with transit plan(s) that don’t make sense to avoid an upload. And Bill 107, Getting Ontario Moving Act  which passed earlier this May,  is about more than just who owns our subway system. It prevents the city from going ahead with new rapid transit lines near provincial ones. It allows the province to confiscate TTC assets without compensation. We would still lose the ability to decide what and where to build new transit lines and whether to deliver these new lines publicly or privately.  Unless the province adopts a more cooperative approach, we should remain vigilant about protecting our ability to make decisions at the local level and keep the TTC public.

Hole in floor of ScarboroughRT vehicle

In the meantime, will anything will be built in Scarborough or are we better off preparing for the inevitable demise of the Scarborough RT and its replacement with buses? 

Part Two – Privatization of  the TTC 

HANDS OF OUR TTC! Where’s the Eglinton East LRT?

 

Bill 107 Getting Ontario Moving Act was passed in the legislature at Queens Park on June 4, 2019. The province has now taken “Sole Responsibility” for four Toronto transit projects: Ontario Line (formerly Relief Line), an extension of the Yonge Line to Richmond Hill and a three-stop Scarborough Subway. It prevents the city from planning or building transit projects that are similar or near to projects the province is building. And it does not require the province to compensate the city for any assets it expropriates from the TTC.

At the very least, the premier’s plan will disrupt existing transit projects that are already underway in Toronto. The city’s priorities included a one-stop Scarborough subway, Relief Line, SmartTrack and Bloor-Yonge capacity improvement.

And unless there is a loud public outcry, the Ford government will pass legislation to take over our existing subway system after the return of the legislature on October 28th, 2019.

The TTC is the third largest and the least funded transit system in North America. Seventy percent of the $1.5 billion needed to move 1.7 million riders a day, comes from fares. The remaining thirty percent is from municipal property taxes. The Wynne government  contributed about $90 million from the gas tax but the Ford government essentially cut what amounts to $1.1 billion over ten years in spite of the TTC’s $33.5 billion backlog in maintenance and state of good repair.  

Provincial cuts from the mid-nineties and Mayor Tory’s reluctance to raise property taxes has made breakdowns and delays the new normal of “the better way”. Uploading by the province will not solve this crisis. We would be giving up local control of a complex transit system of buses, streetcars and subways that are integrated to get people where they need to go. A provincial takeover could break the system apart and separate subways and LRTs from streetcars and buses. How long before we are charged an extra fare to go from a TTC bus to the Metrolinx Scarborough Subway?

Ten years of flip flopping and we still don’t have a construction start date for the Scarborough Subway. If the city was in charge it would have started this year and be complete in 2026. With Bill 107 it will be delayed again. Ford claims his three-stop subway will be up and running by 2030. Will the Scarborough RT still be running by then?

Former mayor John Sewell and TTCriders Robyn Vilde spoke to the city’s review of Bill 107 at the Mayor’s Executive Committee meeting on June 6th.

You can watch their deputations here.

John Sewell urged Mayor Tory to refuse to hand over any assets to the province. “Governments should never have the ability to take away the property of others without compensation and without legal recourse… The proper response of the city is to refuse to provide to the province whatever it demands…. You should force the province and or Metrolinx to take the city and or the TTC to court…. I suspect the courts will be very reluctant to [rule in favour] of such an odious act.”

Robyn Vilde raised concerns that the Waterfront and Eglinton East LRTs were missing from the province’s plan.

Eglinton East LRT is mentioned but only in relation to how it would impact or be impacted by additional Scarborough subway stations:

 

The proposed multiple-stop Line 2 East Extension could potentially change the demand

for the Eglinton East LRT (particularly if a fourth station is built at Eglinton/Brimley). The

extension may also impact the design of how the Eglinton East LRT connects to the rest

of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT at Kennedy Station. Further, the Province’s future

direction for rapid transit along Sheppard Avenue East could impact aspects of the

Eglinton East LRT design. Travel demand modelling is being undertaken to analyze the

impacts to demand in the Eglinton East corridor.

 

The city is now proposing a fourth station at Eglinton and Brimley for the Scarborough subway. More analysis to accommodate three or four subway stops pushes the Eglinton East LRT  further down the list.

On the other hand, Toronto Council still has to decide if it will endorse the province’s plan to the extent that it is willing to request federal funding.

Toronto’s endorsement of the additional Provincial transit priorities for ICIP PTIF2* is subject to the completion of the above-noted assessment. Staff will report results to City Council when completed, anticipated in September or October 2019.

So far, talks between the federal government and the province about money have been stalled by the federal government’s demand for more information.

Both levels of government need to come together to properly fund day-to-day operations and maintenance of the TTC. And politicians need to stop changing transit plans with every election.  Were it not for Rob Ford’s replacement of Transit City with “subways, subways, subways” we would be riding a seven-stop LRT this year, instead of the ailing Scarborough RT. The Sheppard East LRT to Malvern would be up and running and construction of the Eglinton East LRT to University of Toronto Scarborough Campus would be underway.

*Canada Infrastructure Plan – Public Transit Infrastructure Fund Phase 2

HAVE YOUR SAY

The city has set up a 14-member expert advisory panel and there will be public information meetings to give residents an opportunity to review the province’s plan.

The meeting in Scarborough is Saturday, June 22, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive.

You can get more information about the city’s review here

Register with TTCriders here

Transit Review  survey and TTCriders cheat sheet

No money for the Eglinton East LRT. NOW WHAT?

What’s that loud sucking noise? That’s the $4 billion Scarborough Subway Extension (SSE) soaking up all the rapid transit money for Scarborough. Had the SSE been judged on cost-effectiveness, we might not be poised to spend $4 billion on a one-stop subway that will carry only 31,000 riders a day.

Taken from www.citybuildinginstitute.ca/2019/04/03/king-street-by-the-numbers

 

And had rapid transit to underserved neighbourhoods and campuses been a top priority, there would be enough money for the much-needed Eglinton East LRT (EELRT) from Kennedy to Malvern.

An Environmental Assessment for the EELRT was approved in 2009. But the LRT keeps falling off the priority list. Without a commitment of at least $150 million to take it to shovel-readiness, Scarborough residents will remain stuck with inadequate bus service.

On May 7, 2018, Toronto Mayor John Tory promised to extend the Eglinton East LRT to Malvern – in one shot. But a year later, there’s no money. At least, that was the gist of Mayor Tory’s message at our packed Save the Eglinton East LRT town hall on April 10. Scarborough Rouge Councillor Jennifer McKelvie spoke to the urgent need for rapid transit to Malvern. But neither politician tried to add it to Toronto’s transit priorities at the April 17 City Council meeting.

@KingsleyKwok

Here’s what projects are slated for funding:

  • $3.887 billion – Scarborough Subway Extension to STC
  • $3.151 billion – toward $7.2 billion Relief Line South from Pape to Osgoode
  • $1.46 billion – SmartTrack stations
  • $0.5 billion – toward $1.05 billion Bloor-Yonge capacity Improvement

A motion to change that list was made by Toronto St. Paul’s Councillor Josh Matlow. It would have returned to building Scarborough’s original LRT network plan – which included the Scarborough LRT from Kennedy to Sheppard and an extension to Malvern Town Centre, as well as the Eglinton East LRT to U of T’s Scarborough Campus.

The motion did not pass. During a heated exchange around Matlow’s motion, the usual (and disingenuous) rhetoric about “only Scarborough councillors care about Scarborough” erupted.

Don Valley North Councillor Shelley Carroll, who also attended our town hall, had this to say on Twitter:

@shelleycarroll Apr 17

Replying to @shelleycarroll @TransitScarb and 5 others

The people you have been told don’t care about Scarborough, actually care more deeply than you will ever know, how badly you have been misled. We drove every councillor we could right out there to see what was possible. Councillor R Ford declined the invite.

It is important that you understand that once the Scarborough Subway is underway, it will soak up funds for the foreseeable. The EELRT will then be pushed back, & so on. It is very hard to ever forget the moment, the eleventh hour of driving his campaign to kill the LRT that …

…really would have extended a whole loop to Malvern, Rob Ford, learned from Josh Matlow that the LRT he was cancelling so it wouldn’t block car traffic was actually entirely off road and away from cars. Ford cancelled it anyway purely out of embarrassment. Devastating.

 

Notwithstanding Council’s recommendation to seek  “opportunities to accelerate engineering and design of the Eglinton East LRT….if there are cost savings derived from the negotiations with the Provincie related to the subway upload….”, here are some other options to explore:

  1. New federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund money
  2. New municipal revenue tools: an EELRT levy, congestion pricing, vehicle registration tax, etc.
  3. Premier Ford suddenly has a change of heart and decides to keep his 2018 election promise to build the Eglinton East LRT.

The province has announced a $1.1 billion gas tax cut – money promised to the TTC that it had already budgeted for capital repairs. The existing TTC system has a $33.5 billion backlog of needed work on maintenance and state of good repair.

Toronto’s transit priorities list does not include the full cost of the Relief Line South or Yonge Capacity Improvement. Will full funding for these two projects continue to move forward ahead of the Eglinton East LRT?

In light of these financial pressures and competing priorities, what are the odds of obtaining funding for the Eglinton East LRT when Toronto’s Transit Expansion Program comes back to Council on June 18 and 19?

I think we have our answer. Unless Mayor Tory commits to funding at least all the EELRT’s design costs, we should not hold our breath. And the next time a politician talks about building rapid transit to Malvern, we should insist that they ‘show us the money’.

Brenda Thompson

How to get funding for the Eglinton East LRT

“In 2016, Mayor Tory promised to build the Eglinton East LRT (EELRT) as part of Scarborough’s rapid transit network. In 2018, he promised to extend it from University of Toronto Scarborough campus to Malvern Town Centre.

The EELRT is shovel-ready but funding must be approved before construction can begin.

A report will go before the Mayor’s Executive on  April 9th, 2019. It’s our chance to tell Council we need this vital rapid transit line built publicly, now!

We’ve got the talking points and letter writing/speaking template.  Find out who your councillor is and how to contact them here.

Sign up to make a deputation here:  info@scarboroughtransitaction.ca  647-974-2928

Sign our petition to build the Eglinton East LRT.