TTC board approves shutting down Scarborough RT in 2023

By Michael Ranger

The TTC board has voted to approve taking the Scarborough RT off-line in 2023 and replace it with buses until a new subway extension is completed.

A detailed, 35-page report, released last week, recommended shutting down the SRT, which has been operating since 1985.

The report concluded that the best thing to do for reliable transit, and to keep costs down, would be to stop running the SRT in 2023, and move to all-bus transit for all of Scarborough for the following seven years.

Councillor Brad Bradford who works on the board says a rapid bus option will be a good substitute in the interim.

“We’re definitely going to have to make sure that we have all the nuts and bolts in place,” says Bradford. “So that these bus routes function to move people around as quickly as possible and that we are prioritizing transit.”

TTC spokesperson, Stuart Green said last week that “the RT is not going to be reliable beyond 2023 — we’ve spent a lot of money keeping it going to this point already, and to keep it going until 2030 would be another half a billion dollars.”

The Scarborough Transit Action, a grassroots volunteer organization that speaks up for transit riders in Scarborough, says Premier Doug Ford and Mayor John Tory “owe it to Scarborough” to replace SRT with a bus lane and move forward with the Eglinton East LRT.

“If we don’t order more buses ASAP, service levels across Scarborough and the rest of Toronto will suffer when the SRT is shut down,” said Zain Khurram of Scarborough Transit Action.

Officials are now left with two bus replacement options in the wake of the decision.

The first option would see new buses added to the fleet when the rapid RT expires in 2023 and the second option would use buses within the current fleet until 2026 before switching over to new buses until the subway extension.

The decision on the fate of the SRT came the same day the federal government announced they will provide nearly $15 billion for public-transit projects across the country. Most of that money won’t arrive until later in the decade.

A permanent public transit fund of $3 billion dollars a year will begin in 2026-27.

Toronto mayor John Tory says he expects the commitment from Ottawa will show a tremendous impact on the city’s public transit.

“This is great news for Toronto and for our transit system,” said Tory in a statement. “I am confident that Toronto will receive its fair share of funding from this initiative and that it will make a significant positive contribution to our economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19.”

A new report released on Wednesday highlights how the TTC has struggled to attract customers during the pandemic and how ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft have drastically affected costs resulting in the TTC losing more than $74-million in revenue in 2019.


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