South and Central Etobicoke – Transit Town Hall Meeting – October 17, 2018 – Martin Luther Church, Mimico
What we heard from residents
Melissa Graham (accessibility), Muhammad Azam (affordability), David Meurer (reliability and service), and Vincent Puhakka (privatization) are residents and transit users in Etobicoke who spoke about key issues and solutions.
- Include accessibility and affordability issues at the beginning of the transit planning process rather than tacking it at the end as an afterthought. (For example, the new wider Presto gates meant for transit users with accessibility issues are being used by the general public, which is responsible at times for long line-ups.)
- The existing 501 streetcar is not suited for individuals with accessibility issues. Since accessible transit service is not available in South Etobicoke, it is recommended that TTC introduce kneeling buses on off-peak hours (and/or newer model streetcars).
- A problem with Wheel Trans is not being given enough time to meet the driver when your ride arrives
- Transit is the lifeline for any community, but the TTC is becoming unaffordable for working people in our city.
- Affordability, like accessibility issues, should be addressed at the beginning of the planning process rather than the end.
- The introduction of Presto has created many barriers: For example, the Presto card itself is expensive at $6.00 per card and not everyone can afford to load a minimum of $10.00. You need to visit Shoppers to get a card, if you don’t have internet or a credit card to load online. People have concerns about privacy, and the system is unreliable.
- Social agencies often offer tokens to clients who need to access the transit system for work or medical appointments. The Presto Card system will make this difficult.
- The Fair Pass program is very valuable, but many residents still do not know about the program, and the discounts need to be deeper. [Note: the Fair Pass program provides a $1 discount on single fares and $30.75 discount on monthly passes for people who receive OW and ODSP, and future phases will extend , but these phases are not yet funded]
- The 2-hour transfer on Presto is a great initiative, now we need to integrate it with other municipalities.
Reliability & Better service
- Reliability issues include overcrowding, bunching of streetcars and buses, the termination of the 508 route and 501 through service (through Humber Loop).
- An affordable co-fare between GO and TTC is needed, but fare-by-distance would seriously penalize the residents (often lower-income) living in the inner suburbs.
- The Waterfront LRT will deliver service reliability and improved travel times that the area needs and protect transit service from the effects of running in mixed traffic (collisions, congestion, construction).
- South Etobicoke Transit Action Committee believes there is suppressed demand: there are people who want use transit regularly but can’t because it’s not reliable enough.
- The unified transit system in Toronto offers the same fare for travel around the city.
- The uploading of the subway to the province opens the door to the possibility of privatization; followed by increasing costs and disparity in prices throughout.
- Fair fare integration with neighbouring transit system is vital.
What we heard from candidates
All candidates spoke about the need for better transit service and most were in agreement about several key issues: Waterfront LRT must be prioritized, accessible transit is needed in the area, support for Park Lawn GO station, and concern about the phase out of tokens. All candidates, with the exception of Peggy Moulder, said that they oppose the province’s plan to upload the subway, and oppose a single-stop subway in Scarborough for over $3.5 billion: that funding should be reallocated to other rapid transit priorities.
Pamela Gough (Ward 3)
Says that we need to invest in transit to make it the first choice for commuting and supports transit-oriented development. Opens with quote from Enrique Penalosa, Mayor of Bogota: “A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.” Fundamental problem with Wheel Trans and TTC service is funding, would work with other levels of government to secure funding. Suggests improvements like re-establishing 508 service. (View Pamela Gough’s transit policy online)
Peggy Moulder (Ward 3)
Wants to establish Resident Community Boards, which she says would ensure community voices heard at City Hall. Emphasizes need to listen to transit riders about what the issues are, such as drivers not waiting for Wheel Trans clients. Peggy Moulder says there is waste at City Hall that can be cut. Proposing re-routing the Scarborough subway to save tunnelling costs. (View Peggy Moulder’s transit policy online)
Amber Morley (Ward 3)
Says that as a former staff to John Campbell and Peter Milczyn, she is knowledgeable about transit issues and would seek appointment to the TTC Board. Wants to champion Waterfront LRT and bump it up on the list of city transit priorities. Wants to re-establish long 501 ride from Long Branch to Scarborough. (View Amber Morley’s transit policy online)
Erica Kelly (Ward 2)
Wants to champion better fare integration with neighboring municipalities, and better transit options in Etobicoke Centre including improvements to North-South routes. Kelly says that a short drive in her neighbourhood would take an hour by TTC because of long waits – need to improve transit so that more people can take it. Wants to accelerate Eglinton West LRT but not overspend on tunnelling, and wants it to serve communities west of Martin Grove. (View Erica Kelly’s transit policy online)
Iain Davis (Ward 3)
Wants to introduce free transit for seniors in off-peak hours. Says Humber Bay Shores is over developed but the benefits are not staying in Etobicoke. Says that a development charge fund should be reinvested in putting it into transit in Etobicoke. (View Iain Davis’ transit policy online)
Two candidates did not attend but provided written statements.
Mark Grimes (Ward 3)
Michael Julihen (Ward 3)
Following the community speaker and candidate statement, questions were submitted in writing by attendees and posed by the moderator to the candidates to respond to.
- Summarizing how candidates would improve transit service in the short-term, before larger infrastructure projects can be completed;
- How candidates proposed to ensure that rapid transit is built as soon as possible and that transit improvements for south Etobicoke are prioritized by city council and to explain the cause of delays;
- Residents expressed frustrations with Wheel-Trans service and asked the candidates how they proposed to resolve the problems;
- Candidates were asked how they would improve accessibility at subway stations and on surface routes;
- Candidates were asked if they would commit to cancelling the 1-Stop Scarborough Subway and returning to a Scarborough LRT instead;
- Candidates were asked if they would commit to preserving the token and/or non-Presto, cash-based fare payment option;
- Residents communicated concerns with low frequency, poor reliability bus routes such as the 112 West Mall and 80 Queensway;
- Candidates to speak about their experience of other transit systems for comparison purposes.