Scarborough deserves rapid transit now!

July 2013 Update:

TEA Transit Statement

Transit expansion plans for Scarborough are once again up in the air. This is very unfortunate given how urgently Scarborough residents need new rapid transit lines that are integrated into a city-wide network.

TEA has been calling for rapid transit expansion into Scarborough for over 16 years. We support the Light Rail Transit (LRT) plan adopted by Council in early 2012 and are open to improving new service to Scarborough as long as the improvements are funded (through new tax dollars not already earmarked to existing transit expansion plans) and won’t add unnecessary delays to getting the new lines operating.

On Wednesday July 18th 2013, Toronto City Council agreed to move forward with a new subway line, after a heated debate on the merits and drawbacks of the LRT and subway options (see the City staff report, especially pages 15-17).

Councillors supporting subways as well as Councillors supporting LRTs had compelling arguments about why their preferred option was better for transit users travelling to and within Scarborough. While they differed on subways or LRTs, almost all Councillors agreed a switch to a subway should only happen if the province and federal governments contributed to the higher costs of the subway and only if no money was taken from the other rapid transit expansion plan for Scarborough, the Sheppard LRT.

To date, it’s unclear whether these conditions will be met. The longer this uncertainty continues, the more likely it is that transit expansion slated for Scarborough will be delayed and possibly not happen. This is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, it looks increasingly as if Scarborough transit expansion has become a political football used to get votes instead of getting the transit built that Scarborough residents deserve.  This is a recipe for exactly the sort of delays we can’t afford.

TEA will continue calling on all governments to move quickly to get more and better rapid transit into Scarborough. The Sheppard LRT must be built as soon as possible. The Scarborough RT must be replaced and it must happen as soon as possible, either with a new subway or LRT. Both options will serve Scarborough well.  Now we need governments to decide quickly which one to move forward with. Because transit users in Scarborough and the rest of Toronto deserve better transit, now.

Recent history of actions for rapid transit in Scarborough

On March 21st 2012, City Council voted on how long people in Scarborough will remain stuck on a bus. The choice couldn’t be simpler: a Light Rapid Transit line that is fully funded and can be finished in 4 years, or the promise of subways without a plan, without any money, which will guarantee that people will be stuck on crowded buses for decades to come.

To help Torontonians learn more about what’s at stake, TEA created a flyer to summarize the key issues.