Surviving Scarborough Rapid Transit Closure: Riders Call on City and Province to Act Before 2023
Many people still don’t know that a rapid transit (RT) line through Scarborough will be closed soon.
What happens to them when they do?
Scarborough Rapid Transit’s old blue cars in 2023 will go from Kennedy Station to McCowan Road for the last time and passengers will begin to make the journey by bus, the promises of a completed metro extension still in the memories of some.
âPoliticians rely on people who don’t know who to blame,â TTCriders’ Shelagh Pizey-Allen told RT’s Scarborough Center station last month.
Transit users, many of them college students, are struggling to avoid what Pizey-Allen calls “the worst-case scenario” – shuttles running in mixed traffic around the metro construction for seven years or more .
Pizey-Allen was at the entrance to the station with high school students Derek Song and Zain Khurram, two of the volunteers who interviewed 290 people this fall at RT stations and at busy Scarborough intersections.
Two in three respondents – 64% – were unaware that the RT would close in 2023.
Many “were shocked to learn that it was shutting down,” Khurram recalls.
Song said that many of Malvern’s friends rely on the line; its loss will lengthen their travel time and be “a huge burden on low-income families,” he said.
TTCriders will soon publish a report mentioning other survey results: public transport users support the reserved bus lanes along the RT right-of-way and the vast majority (91%) support maintaining the RT corridor for buses, bicycles and other green infrastructure.
The TTC said it was considering whether to run shuttles with new buses from 2023 to 2030 or use its current fleet from 2023 to 2026, adding new buses in 2027.
Changes in signal schedules, designation of bus lanes and, “in the medium term,” reserved queue lanes and signal priority could speed up bus journeys from Scarborough Center to Kennedy, the report reported. public transport company in February.
Stuart Green, a spokesperson, confirmed that the TTC is also considering implementing a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route in the hallway, but TTC staff said that option was not possible before 2025.
For a competition, Rajpreet Sidhu, recent UTSC (University of Toronto Scarborough Campus) graduate, left, and students Neil Patel and Anika Munir analyzed options to help users of the Scarborough Rapid Transit line after its closing in 2023. (Photos by Anika Munir)
Public transport advocates aren’t the only ones seeking to resolve the RT shutdown issue.
For a competition, Anika Munir and Neil Patel, students at the University of Toronto in Scarborough, and recent graduate Rajpreet Sidhu, teamed up to research and advocate for three improvements to help riders: BRT, dedicated bus lanes and integration of the TTC into GO Transit.
Each studied an option. Everyone thinks that the integration with GO Transit is the most efficient.
âWe thought about it like we were the planners,â Munir said.
âAs UTSC students, often our voices are not heard. We want this to be heard.
Munir said some people might be mad at the reserved bus lanes, but the red-painted Eglinton East priority road from Kennedy to UTSC is one of the TTC’s busiest for buses, even during a pandemic. Priority lanes save passengers six minutes, she said.
For Sidhu, getting RT passengers on slower shuttles is part of Scarborough’s “intentional marginalization”.
âWe just don’t have enough buses for the number of people they have to transfer,â she said.
Many UTSC students cannot afford a car. So do others who use the aging RT, which the city had once planned to replace with a longer light rail line.
The line might have reached Malvern by now, but the LRT option seems to be gone forever, traded for the Bloor-Danforth metro extension which paved the way this year.
An SRT train is heading for McCowan station. The aging Scarborough Rapid Transit line, in service since 1985, will close permanently in 2023. (Metroland file photo)
The UTSC team believe one of its three alternatives would improve the lives of RT riders after the shutdown, but Patel said integrating the province’s TTC and GO Transit by subsidizing free transfers between them (which TTCriders also supports) is the most effective way to reduce travel. times in Scarborough, if only the province would agree.
âIt’s something that can be done very simply, it’s very fast and cost effective,â he said. “There aren’t many negatives attached to this alternative.”
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Scarborough rapid transit riders are expected to take buses around the route after 2023. Journalist Mike Adler looked at measures, simple or not, that transit users say common, would mitigate the effects of the closure.