Photo by Andrew Louis/Torontoist.
“How many buses did it take you to get here?”
This was one of a series of questions posed to attendees of last night’s Public Transit Coalition launch at City Hall, an event aptly titled Save Transit City. The robustly attended public protest rallied against Premier Dalton McGuinty’s four-billion-dollar funding cut to Toronto’s Transit City projects—cuts that threaten a long-term delay or, quite possibly, the end of much of Transit City entirely.
Dissatisfaction with the city’s current transit model bubbled within the council chambers, and LRT—Light Rail Transit—was the catchphrase of the evening. According to the Public Transit Coalition’s website: “Every neighbourhood has a right to excellent, accessible public transit service. In Toronto this means that the Transit City Light Rail plan needs to be completed.” (This is paralleled in the pledge they asked the public, and are now asking politicians as well, to sign: “I agree that the TTC must be kept public, be properly funded by all levels of Government, and that the Transit City Light Rail plan be completed by 2020.”)
Barbara Stone, president of the Weston-Mt. Dennis Community Association, expressed frustration that the Eglinton Crosstown line, which has been under discussion since the mid-1980s and was slated to run the approximately thirty-three kilometres between Kennedy Station and Pearson Airport, might never come to fruition. Building and operating the route has the potential to revitalize her neighbourhood and many others by creating jobs, encouraging an influx of new customers to local businesses, and improving access to the city’s core.
As pointed out by Ashwin Balamohan,Toronto District School Board trustee candidate for Scarborough East, while the wealthier populations of Toronto are—at least generally speaking—adequately served by the city’s existing public transit routes, lower-income communities located further from the downtown core face long commutes and restricted job access, which in turn leads to a sense of political disengagement. “The provincial government needs to be shown that you can’t divide Torontonians against each other,” said Balamohan, to vigorous applause. These sentiments were echoed by Mayor David Miller, whose cameo appearance closed the event.
While the future of Transit City remains unclear, those interested in signing the pledge to save Transit City are encouraged to do so through Public Transit Coalition’s website.