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Students gather at Scarborough Centre Station to protest shutdown of rapid transit line

SCSU president, vice president external give speeches at rally
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Students protesting rapid transit line closure. CHRIS ZDRAVKO/THE VARSITY
Students protesting rapid transit line closure. CHRIS ZDRAVKO/THE VARSITY

On February 2, a group of protesters gathered at Scarborough Centre Station to spread the word about and speak up against the shutdown of the Scarborough Rapid Transit system (SRT). 

The decision to shut down the SRT was made in February 2021, and is supposed to take effect in 2023. The plans include replacing the SRT with shuttle buses, then ultimately opening a subway replacement for the SRT in 2030. The plan to close the SRT, also known as the TTC’s Line 3, will have implications for Scarborough and regular Line 3 users who may have more complex commuting routes via the replacement buses. The transit routes of many UTSC students may also be affected by this change.

Protesters at the event spoke out about how Scarborough has frequently been neglected in terms of transit development. The Scarborough Students’ Union (SCSU) executives also attended the event, emphasizing similar concerns.

Sarah Abdillahi, the president of the SCSU, explained that many buses are overcrowded, which can prove harmful during a pandemic. “Now, the underfunding and the neglect of public transit is putting the lives of the most marginalized people at risk, with overcrowded buses that make it impossible for any of us to rely on public transit to practice social distancing while getting to where we need to go,” she said. 

According to surveys done by TTCriders, an organization focused on the improvement of public transit in Toronto, 63 per cent of Scarborough residents were unaware of the city’s plans to close Line 3. Of the survey respondents, 76 per cent also believe that bus lanes should be implemented in Scarborough so that buses are not impacted by traffic.

In an interview with The Varsity, Zain Khurram, a member of TTCriders, spoke on behalf of the organization regarding Scarborough’s public transit issue. “Scarborough has always been neglected in terms of transit expansion. Places like North York, Etobicoke, [and] even York Region [are] getting new subways. Where is Scarborough in this equation? It is like we have been cancelled out,” said Khurram.

TTCriders has made a few recommendations on how the city can help the lives of people in Scarborough from a transit perspective. They recommended adding a cycling track in the SRT corridor, funding the Eglinton East Light Rail Transit, expanding the SRT network, providing free transfers between TTC transit and GO, and more.

Designated bike lanes are in high demand in Scarborough. They can lessen the amount of traffic on the roads and allow for more options when it comes to transportation for citizens. 

Kevin Rupasinghe, the campaigns manager of Cycle Toronto, spoke on ways in which transit could be improved in Scarborough if the SRT closes. Rupasinghe said, “I think residents of Scarborough will be left without options to get around safely when the SRT does shut down. What we really need to see in addition to transit priority measures is adding safe places for people to walk and cycle.”