Transit remains a key issue in Toronto's municipal election and the TTC is at the centre of it.

TTC service still top of mind for candidates and commuters

Shaun Cleaver uses the Toronto Transit Commission regularly to get to his classes. He’s a graduate student at the University of Toronto and feels frustrated by the TTC’s services and costs to users.

“I joined TTC Riders, which essentially exists to advocate for improved transit in Toronto,” including, he said, “increasing the service that we have and at least holding if not reducing the fares we pay. … One thing I do well is follow trails of information. … The biggest role I play so far is to bring (facts) to the table and allow our discussions to be more informed.”

On that front, Cleaver endorses a Sept. 5, 2014, Pembina Institute study, entitled Fast Cities, which compared Toronto with four other major Canadian cities over the last two decades. The Ontario director for Pembina, Cherise Burda said despite the TTC’s strengths, city transit services fall short.

“The good news is that Toronto has the most (rapid transit) infrastructure of all the cities. Toronto also has the highest ridership. We have a really strong transit culture,” she said. “The bad news is that it’s not keeping up to ridership and it’s not keeping up to population growth.”

The report indicated that Toronto has the highest number of per capita rapid transit trips a year of any of the cities surveyed – 133. In terms of kilometres of track, however, Toronto has built less than half the rapid transit that Vancouver has, over the last 20 years, and less than a third that Calgary has, in the last 10 years.

Alex Mazer is running for Toronto city council in Ward 18 (Davenport) in the Oct. 27 municipal election. He wants to revisit the axed plan for a Scarborough LRT, which he feels will address the commuter problem of vehicle bunching on busy transit routes.

“It’s critical that we do it. It’s also critical that we do it based on evidence, not based on political slogans and political ideology,” he said.

Mazer recognized it will take more money than is currently budgeted. He’s a co-founder of Better Budget TO, which believes in long-term, transparent budgeting and proposes giving citizens a more active role in the process.

“I know from my own experience in public policy that a lot of things come down to the budget. We have the policies, but if we don’t have the money than things don’t happen.”

Cleaver just hopes such issues are resolved soon enough to get him to his classes faster and more economically.