Last month TTCriders, the United Way Jane-Finch Action for Neighbourhood Change committee and the Toronto Environmental Alliance met at the North York Civic Centre to discuss how residents of Jane and Finch and surrounding neighbourhoods feel about public transit. We decided that the best way to engage Jane and Finch residents was to host an information session to explain a little bit about the history around public transit in Toronto and how it relates to present and future transit service. Our goal was to use this information session as a starting point to have a dialogue with the community about what we as citizens can do to shape the future of public transit in Toronto.
Last Friday March 14th TTCriders held its information session at Brookview Middle School. From the very beginning it was clear that residents need better service, lower fares and barrier-free transit. Here are just some of the suggestions we heard from people on how the TTC can really become the better way:
- Long waits for the bus are unacceptable in a neighbourhood that has one of the highest ridership numbers in the Toronto. More buses must be put on the road. The government needs to fund this.
- More morning express service between 6am-9am and 3pm-6pm is needed. Our transit system does not reflect the needs of many Torontonians that work late shifts or start a very early work day. If someone needs to make a hospital visit, the cost of an ambulance or a taxi is prohibitive to many Torontonians but few options exist for public transit to fill the void. Similarly, parents of children going to school outside of the neighbourhood are rightfully worried when they do not arrive home within a reasonable time after school. Often kids are stuck on the congested streets on a bus or have to wait for several crowded buses to go by before they can get on to one. Faster express service during early hours and after-school hours would go a long way in making sure people arrive at their destination safe and on time.
- Buses and other surface transit vehicles need to have their own right of way as well as signal priority to reduce the amount of time they sit in traffic.
- People cannot afford to pay the full cost to take TTC. Plain and simple. Its time all levels of government contribute the funding necessary to make the TTC cheaper to ride because fares are currently much too expensive. On that note:
- Torontonians need a cheaper seniors pass, a pass for low-income earners and people on ODSP
- Time-based transfers would go a long way in saving people money. Currently riders that leave surface transit to run errands/attend appointments are subject to a complex series of rules on where they must go to get back on to transit without having to pay twice. More often then not, they end up having to pay again.
- Elevators and escalators are often not in working order at many transit stations and not all stations are accessible to the elderly, people with disabilities and people with infants. Escalators and elevators need to be present and in good working order at all stations. Because the Province has mandated that the TTC become compliant with the Accessibility of Ontarians with Disibilities Act (AODA), the province should also be helping the City and the TTC pay for repairs and upgrades on an on-going basis.
At the end of the session, residents were given folders with stats on how fares have increased faster than inflation and information on how to contact their local MP, MPP and City councilors. With both provincial and municipal elections fast approaching, Jane and Finch residents will undoubtedly make their feelings known to their elected officials.
It is very clear that people at Jane and Finch have echoed concerns from residents across the city about public transit. While each neighbourhood has its own complexities and challenges, all TTC riders can agree that service needs to improve and the TTC needs to become more affordable and accessible. This won’t be possible without dedicated funding from all levels of government.
TTCriders was honoured to have hosted this session in partnership with the Jane-Finch Action for Neighbourhood Change. We look forward to publishing all of the findings in a report that will be sent to local politicians within the next few weeks.
In the meantime, whether you are from Scarborough or Jane and Finch, we encourage you to come out to our rally on Friday March 28th at noon to show Toronto that we don’t deserve to be squished into a bus like sardines. We will be meeting at Queens Park subway station on the street level on the SW corner of College St. and University Ave
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.