On March 12, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) held its monthly Board of Directors (BOD) meeting to discuss future transit proposals and passing the torch to the candidates recently elected for the 2024–2025 academic year. 

Members also put forward a motion to change the interim president role during the upcoming Winter General Meeting (WGM) on March 25. 

Transit update 

During the meeting, executive members gave an update on the SCSU’s advocacy for better transit. They presented a report outlining the effects that the Line 3 closure has had on Scarborough’s transit system. 

In July 2023, Line 3 — which ran from Kennedy to Scarborough Centre — experienced a train derailment, leading the TTC to permanently close the line in August. The City’s temporary busway replacement has faced delays and hurdles, and the TTC expects to complete it in 2027.

The SCSU found that according to public data from Uber, Uber trips in Scarborough had increased 72 per cent more than they increased in Toronto since the Line 3 closure, with trips to and from Kennedy station growing by 29 per cent. 

The report also discusses other problems plaguing the current transit system, including limited route options, long wait times, and Scarborough’s aging and crowded transit infrastructure. 

The SCSU hopes to present this project to the TTC Chair and City Councilor for Scarborough North, Jamaal Myers. They have not yet set a date to do so. 

“We’ve come up with different strategies, short term and long term, in terms of… ameliorating the situation on our campus, but also for the broader community,” SCSU Vice President (VP) External Khadidja Roble told The Varsity

The short-term proposals include installing heated bus shelters along busy bus routes, up-to-date Presto machines, and digital signage showing estimated times between buses. The union also hopes to push the city to implement a pedestrian scramble, which would allow people to cross the street diagonally, at the intersection of Ellesmere and Military Trail. 

In the long term, the SCSU hopes to advocate for a shuttle bus that would travel directly from Kennedy Station to UTSC, for increased service on the 905 bus route — which runs from Morrish and Ellesmere to Kennedy Station.

However, Akaash Palaparthy, SCSU VP operations, noted that these changes won’t happen overnight. “There’s a lot of legal and administrative barriers that we need to cross. That’s why it’s a four to eight month timeline.” 

The union also has continued to advocate for a universal transit pass, or ‘U-pass’ — a pass that would provide UTSC students with free or discounted public transit trips. In a recent Instagram post, SCSU highlighted a petition for the U-pass, which currently has over 400 signatures. 

Roble is also hopeful that the next wave of executives will continue her transit advocacy, but is unsure of when a U-pass will be implemented at UTSC. “My estimates are not… they can’t be taken seriously. But I would hopefully say maybe the next two to three years,” she said. 

Passing the torch 

Amrith David, president of the SCSU, proposed a motion to the board for students to consider at the WGM. Currently, the VP academics and university affairs (AUA) takes on the interim president role if the president steps down. The motion would have the VP operations receive the role instead. 

David served as VP AUA for the 2022–2023 school year and became interim president after Michael Sobowale resigned, citing personal circumstances in 2023. David told The Varsity that juggling VP AUA and interim president was “a lot.” 

“The VP operations role and the president role also align in various ways. It makes more sense for the VP operations to actually be the interim president,” said David. 

The board approved adding David’s motion to the agenda for the WGM.

David also mentioned that the current executive is hoping to smooth the transition period for the incoming executives recently elected. “The goal is to make sure that [the new executive team] don’t start from scratch… they’re just continuing the work so that they get some long-lasting changes for UTSC.” 

Palaparthy also highlighted how one of the biggest problems with working in a student union is that every year a new team tries to do new things while disregarding past members’ work. 

“I’m sure their visions aligned with us in terms of introducing the changes… but we’re pretty insistent upon them continuing on the work that we have already started,” said Palaparthy.

The SCSU must approve the incoming candidates during its April BOD meeting, for which the union has not yet set a date. All elected and approved candidates will begin their terms on May 1.