Commuter students react to new TTC Line 1 extension

Six new subway stations added, bringing TTC into York region

Commuter students react to new TTC Line 1 extension

 

With the TTC’s Line 1 extension now open, students commuting from the York region are looking at shorter commutes and cheaper fares going into the winter semester. Opened on December 17, 2017, the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) subway zone extends 8.6 kilometres between Sheppard West station to the new Vaughan Metropolitan Centre station, with five new stations in between.

The TYSSE allows students living in the York region a more affordable commute to the St. George campus.

The TYSSE has been in operation since the end of the fall semester.

Anne Boucher, the University of Toronto Students’ Union Vice-President External, is excited about the opportunities the extension offers students. She commented on the decreased travel time for many students, writing that “students travelling from Vaughan Metropolitan Centre can now get to campus in 40 minutes, compared to the usual 90+ minute commute.”

Benefits of the increased TTC services are not exclusive to students who live in the York region; the new stations open up easier access to places and activities north of downtown.

In addition, Downsview Park station allows much easier access to Downsview Park, a favourite summer spot for music festivals, than was previously possible.

Duke Ogunsuyi, a student who commutes from North York, had the opportunity to test the benefits of the subway extension. Ogunsuyi is pleased with the financial benefits of the new service, saying the extension offers “a cheaper mode of transportation to get to campus.” Students would likely have taken the GO Train otherwise, which is more expensive.

Ogunsuyi is also pleased with how the extension has managed to connect other methods of transport, such as certain York Regional Transit/Viva and Brampton’s Züm bus routes, which connect to the York University, Pioneer Village, and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre TTC stations.

Another student commuter, Danyal Uni, from Richmond Hill, explained that prior to the extension, his commute home took about two hours. While Uni has only had the opportunity to use the extended TTC services once over the holidays, he said that it will allow him to save money and optimize his travel time. “I am planning to use it everyday during the second semester.”

Toronto City Council moves forward with Scarborough transit plans

SCSU, UTSC admin supportive of decision

Toronto City Council moves forward with Scarborough transit plans

On July 13, Toronto City Council arrived at a verdict regarding recent transit proposals. It voted to move ahead with the one-stop extension of the Bloor-Danforth line from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Town Centre, and the 17-stop Eglinton East Crosstown LRT to UTSC; it rejected the seven-stop LRT from Kennedy Station to Sheppard Avenue.

The Eglinton East LRT. VANESSA WANG/THE VARSITY

The Eglinton East LRT.
VANESSA WANG/THE VARSITY

This decision concludes debates concerning the finances and the practicality of the differing potential systems.

Recent estimates show that the City is short on funding to build the $3.1 billion one-stop subway and the $1.7 billion Eglinton East Crosstown LRT, which have both undergone rising anticipated construction costs.

Subway vs. LRT

A comparison of the one-stop subway and the seven-stop LRT plans. VANESSA WANG/THE VARSITY

A comparison of the one-stop subway and the seven-stop LRT plans.
VANESSA WANG/THE VARSITY

Several city councillors opposed Mayor John Tory’s subway-centric approach, instead opting for the seven-stop LRT plan.

Ward 22 Councillor Josh Matlow brought forward a motion to replace the one-stop subway with the seven-stop LRT plan. The cost estimates for this proposal were similar to those of the one-stop subway.

The seven-stop LRT had a funding commitment for $1.5 billion from the province in 2010. The initial project was replaced by former Mayor Rob Ford’s three-stop subway strategy; those plans were modified again this year by Mayor Tory’s one-stop subway proposal.

At the council meeting, Matlow committed to “providing transit to as many people as possible in Scarborough and across the city.” He believed the 7-stop LRT, coupled with the Eglinton East Crosstown would “provide more service to more people and use dollars more wisely.”

Matlow told reporters during the meeting that his proposed seven-stop LRT would give Scarborough residents easier access to “virtually every major institution” in the district, including Centennial College, the Civic Centre, and the UTSC.

Matlow’s seven-stop LRT motion was defeated with 16 votes in favour and 27 against.

Reaction from UTSC

Sitharsana Srithas, vice-president, external of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), called the vote in favor of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT a “massive victory for both Scarborough residents and UTSC students.”

“The Eglinton East LRT will be immensely valuable in connecting UTSC to the rest of the city. As a student, I can see this expansion allowing students to now have better access and more opportunities to take courses at the downtown campus,” Srithas said. “I hope the City stays committed to the Eglinton East LRT.”

Srithas also mentioned that in 2010, UTSC students voted in favour of a levy to contribute to the construction of the Toronto Pan Am Centre in the hopes of prompting rapid transit construction to UTSC.

Srithas continued, “As both a student representative and as a student of UTSC, I don’t want another cohorts of students to lose out on rapid transit in Scarborough because of the failure of the City to act on its promises.”

UTSC vice-president and principal Bruce Kidd also praised the decision. In a blog post, he wrote, “The decision this week by Toronto City Council to move ahead with the subway between Kennedy Station and Scarborough Town Centre and to extend the Eglinton LRT is great news. We at U of T Scarborough are very excited about the benefits this will bring to our campus, to the Scarborough community, and to Torontonians across the city.”

Kidd, in conjunction with four other Scarborough community leaders, penned an open letter ahead of the council meeting, urging councillors to move forward with the transit plans.

The future

Council also voted in favour of appointing third-party transit construction and cost-estimation experts to weigh in on the overall process.

Motions passed at the meeting included requests to consider additional transit projects, including extending the Sheppard Line to Scarborough, and the Bloor-Danforth Line to Sherway Gardens.