s heavy clouds dimmed the evening light, a crowd gathered in the Ellesmere RT Station parking lot on Wednesday to bid farewell to the Scarborough RT. 

Some wore black and carried flowers. Candles were placed on the asphalt. Attendees were offered the opportunity to write a goodbye note to the RT and tie it to the railing of Ellesmere Station.

Jamaal Myers, councillor for Ward 23 Scarborough North and new chair of the TTC, attends the “Goodbye to Scarborough RT” rally in Scarborough on August 23, 2023. Photo by Laura Proctor

Jamaal Myers, city councillor for Scarborough North and newly appointed chair of the TTC board, was in attendance and wrote his own note for the Scarborough RT: “gone but never forgotten.” Coun. Myers told CP24 last week that he is “operating under the assumption that the SRT line… will not be operating again because of the expense to fix it.”

The event’s MC Lubaba Gemma, alongside other speakers, spoke about her frustrations that Scarborough seems to get overlooked when it comes to their transit needs. “During the height of the pandemic, my own mom was working in person regularly along with her co-workers. Hundreds of people working in person during the lockdown. So many folks in Scarborough can relate to that. So many people took the 54 bus, which was constantly packed, even during the lockdown period.”

An attendee holds a “rest in power LRT” sign at the “Goodbye to Scarborough RT” rally in Scarborough on August 23, 2023. Photo by Laura Proctor

The rally was organized by TTC Riders, a volunteer-led organization of transit riders who advocate for the TTC to be affordable, accessible, and reliable for all its users. 

TTC Riders has been calling for urgent solutions to the closure of the Scarborough RT, including installation of bus-only lanes and traffic signal priority for the replacement shuttle buses; fast-tracking of a busway in the decommissioned RT corridor; and an independent investigation and report on underfunded TTC maintenance needs.

MPP Andrea Hazell speaks at the “Goodbye to Scarborough RT” rally in Scarborough on August 23, 2023. Photo by Laura Proctor

Many attendees called for the provincial government to provide more funding to support Scarborough’s transit at this time. According to the group, Conservative MPPs were invited by TTC Riders, but none were in attendance. Andrea Hazell, MPP for Scarborough—Guildwood and Doly Begum, MPP for Scarborough Southwest, both spoke at the rally.

“The RT has been decommissioned without a real plan. Shameful. Shame on Doug Ford and his entire government for leaving Scarborough behind every single time,” said MPP Begum.

Khasir Hean, a volunteer with TTC Riders since 2021, spoke with The Hoser about what the RT’s closure will mean for Scarborough residents’ commutes. “What I think is important for people to know is with the RT closing, a lot of Scarborough residents are going to be left stranded, using the shuttle buses, which are at least twice as slow.”

Farewell notes are left for the Scarborough RT at the “Goodbye to Scarborough RT” rally in Scarborough on August 23, 2023. Photo by Laura Proctor

Zain Khurram, Transit Lead for the Toronto Youth Cabinet and a Scarborough resident, has been directly impacted by the closure of the Scarborough RT. Because of now having to resort to other buses and other routes, his commute to work takes him an hour in the morning and an hour-and-a-half in the evening. 

Khurram believes there are clear ways to address increased commute times. 

“Today [to attend the rally], I took an express bus. The express bus utilizes the Eglinton east busway, and I find that to be a massive improvement. It really goes a long way to showing how we can enhance transit in Scarborough. We don’t have to create massive subways, it can be as simple as adding paint to a road.”

The stairs to the LRT at Kennedy station are blocked off due to the train’s derailment. Shuttle buses are running in its place. August 23, 2023. Photo by Laura Proctor

The Scarborough subway extension project to replace the RT is not expected to be completed until 2030.

Thursday morning, the Toronto Transit Commission officially confirmed that line 3 will not reopen. The Scarborough RT has been laid to rest.

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Aug 24, 2023
Local News
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