arlier this week the transit advocacy group TTC Riders held a well attended transit forum to discuss the front running mayoral candidates’ transit policy. About 100 people joined the forum, which was held at the Cecil Community Centre on Cecil Street at Spadina Ave.
The Hoser asked five TTC users who deeply care about improving Toronto’s transit system:
What major change within the TTC do you hope will be brought on by the next mayor of Toronto?
Here’s what they said.
David Meyers, senior manager with the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto
I think we need a TTC that centres people who don't have a lot of access to getting around our city. A lot of folks who have affordability issues can't afford to drive, but need to navigate the city like everybody else. It needs to be affordable and accessible for seniors, people with disabilities or racialized folks, depending on their needs.
A lot of folks are shift workers who work at night in factories, or that sort of thing. They need a safe service at night, where they're not threatened or afraid. A lot of racialized women work late at night and they come home at night waiting 30 minutes for a ride, you know, in Scarborough or in North Etobicoke, and they're unsafe.
So we need a mayor who believes in investing in transit, and invests in people who need transit the most.
Chloe Tangpongpursh, temporary community planner with TTC Riders
The next mayor of Toronto needs to be a transit champion and needs to recognize the lifeline that transit is for this city, and how essential it is for people to get around. For people like myself — it’s our only option. It is our way to access the city and it's our way of having freedom in this city. And if our elected officials don't recognize that, then it really leads to a disconnect.
Right now, we don't see the TTC as a priority in the city's budget, and we need the next mayor to champion a pro-TTC budget.
Like, I live on Line One, and now the service cuts have hit Line One, and, you know, it’s one of North America's busiest subway lines. It is the TTC’s busiest subway line, and to think that reducing service on it is the right move is frankly extremely incorrect.
It can lead to what I really fear the most: a ‘transit death spiral,’ where, essentially, higher fares and lower services lead to lower ridership, which leads to lower revenue, which just gives our elected officials more excuses to slash service.
And it's really important that we hold our elected officials to account and that we vote in this election, and that transit users are a prominent voting bloc and transit becomes a wedge issue. Because we can't afford to lose the TTC.
Zain Khurram, Transit Lead for the Toronto Youth Cabinet
I come from northeast Scarborough, and the main transit line that I use, and a lot of others use, is the Scarborough RT Line Three, and it has been severely neglected. We've had political debates for decades now on what to do with Scarborough RT, and I just want to see action take place, right?
It's about investing in service where it actually matters. Of course, all bus routes across the city matter. Different types of people use them every single day. Bus routes, subways, streetcar routes.
We shouldn't be taking away service, especially when we're living in a time where we're just getting out of a pandemic. Cutting services and increasing fares is not a way to welcome back transit riders to the TTC.
So really, I want to see a Toronto that invites people to public transit, and that helps create public transit riders for life, where people don't need a reason to use a car, that they can, you know, rely on their local bus route or subway line.
Jennifer Griffiths, Wheel-Trans user
I would love to see Wheel Trans Family of Services be completely abolished.
The reason: we're all adults. We can decide how and when we take wheel trans versus public transit. And if some of us want door to door transportation 24/7 — so be it. If some of us want to mix and match the two — good.
We're adults, treat us like adults. Stop whining that this is an expense of the taxpayers. Newsflash, we all pay taxes, whether it's through our home ownership, or through our greedy landlords, if they're doing what they're supposed to do, they'll be taking a portion of our taxes and putting it towards their property.
Editor's note: according to the TTC’s website, a Family of Services trip is a “combination of Wheel-Trans vehicles and accessible conventional transit for all or part of a customer’s journey.” Often, Wheel-Trans users are told to take the bus and/or subway for part of their transit journey, which creates barriers for those who have a hard time using public transit.
Caitlin Chan, TTC User
So I identify as a woman, specifically a woman of colour, and I've had a lot of uncomfortable experiences with, like, sexual harassment and things like that on transit. But having an increased police presence, for me, won't make me feel safer as a woman.
Having dealt with the police in university, having dealt with sexual assault on campus when I was an undergrad, and seeing the ways in which [the police] reacted to sexualized violence, it's very clear that there's a disconnect between that type of action, or like, inaction on their part and victim blaming, and like no real intervention on their end.
[Introducing] cellular service [to the TTC], where you can be like ‘I'm on the phone and I'm talking to my friend’ can act as a mediated form of like, ‘I am not a person who is alone.’ Even if I’m alone on transit and I’m making that call up, it can make me feel safer, especially on the subway, because it gives you that extra layer of protection.