This op-ed appeared on Toronto Storeys on October 1, 2018
The date of Toronto’s municipal election is now hurtling towards us. Unfortunately, Bill 5 eclipsed an important window of time for effective campaigning, and now Torontonians are scrambling to learn about their new wards and candidates’ positions. Let’s look at some reasons transportation is a key election issue.
Our city is growing increasingly unaffordable, and yet the highest percentage of lower-income workers live furthest away from decent jobs in sales and service. This ties these workers to long, draining commutes downtown. In north east Scarborough, 79% of trips downtown are by transit, and from north Etobicoke, 83% get downtown by transit. But these areas are the least served by transit than anywhere else in the city. Trips are made by bus, often with many transfers.
Because the past two mayors and council have prioritized a $3.6 billion one-stop Scarborough subway (whose terminus is a mall), rapid transit is not being built to the communities that need it most. Had Rob Ford not quashed the light-rail transit lines (LRTs) proposed by David Miller’s Transit City plan that were to reach these suburban corners of the city, they would have been built or nearing completion today. It is a political shame that these outer regions of the GTA remain so poorly underserved by public transit and haven’t seen those LRTs.