“Scarborough always gets the short end of the stick”: How commuters feel about TTC service cuts

“Scarborough always gets the short end of the stick”: How commuters feel about TTC service cuts

We asked transit users at Kennedy Station what they think about the changes to bus routes

This weekend, as part of Toronto’s latest budget, the TTC will make service cuts to 35 transit routes across the city. The idea is to reallocate resources and increase service along some of Toronto’s busiest routes, which sounds great, except that it will cause major delays elsewhere. The most significant cuts will be happening in Scarborough, an area already plagued by service lags, cancellations and overcrowding. We visited Kennedy Station, a Scarborough transit hub where several bus routes will be affected, to hear what commuters had to say.

Robin Dolby, 61, retired nanny

“I live at McCowan and Eglinton. I ride the bus every day to and from doctor’s appointments. Usually, I need to go downtown to St. Mike’s hospital, which takes 45 minutes to an hour. I always give myself an hour and a half for the trip, expecting delays. I’m not happy about the latest bus cuts. I feel like Scarborough always gets the short end of the stick. Now, instead of waiting for five minutes, I might have to wait for up to 15. It doesn’t seem safe, standing around alone in the station for that long, especially with the violence happening at transit stations in the city. I could take the subway, but it doesn’t feel safe anymore either. At least when I’m on the bus, I can sit behind the driver. Hopefully the city listens to us and stops the cuts. We have to use our voices. If you don’t speak up, nothing gets done.”

Related: How Torontonians feel about the rise of violence on the TTC

Ismael Brezier, 19, student at Seneca College

“These cuts are horrible. I take the TTC during the week to get to my classes. Even if I wake up on time, when the buses are delayed, I show up to class extremely late. Toronto is difficult to get around, especially if you don’t have a car. This will only make it worse. They already delayed the Eglinton LRT, which is blocking our streets with construction. Now they’re taking away the buses? It’s the only way to get around Scarborough. I can’t believe it.”

Katelynn Longstreet, 31, homemaker

“I have three kids, and I’m pregnant with my fourth. I ride the bus every day, multiple times a day, taking my kids to the gym or the drop-in centre and going to the grocery store. It takes an hour to get anywhere. Sometimes, we need to wait up to 40 minutes for the bus. I’m already feeling the strain, but these cuts will make life even more stressful. With more delays, depending on my schedule, I won’t have enough time to get all of my errands done. There are other problems at Kennedy Station too. I’ve noticed a lot more people urinating and defecating on the ground. It makes me uncomfortable, especially when I’m here with my kids. I have to keep them close to me. Transit delays will expose us to more risk.”

Chloe Monette, 16, high school student

“These cuts make me upset. I take the bus to school every day. A lot of students need the bus. Because of current delays, I’m late for school 15 per cent of the time. My teachers get mad at me, especially during exams. I tell them it’s not my fault that buses aren’t running on time. With more delays, it’s going to be really bad—I’m going to have to wake up even earlier.”

Regina Akpela, 36, paralegal student at Centennial College

“This is horrible. I take the bus every day. It usually takes me 45 minutes to an hour to get to school. We have tests; the semester is coming to an end. More delays are going to be frustrating and make life more difficult. Not everybody has money for Uber or Lyft or whatever. I think I’ll use alternative routes, taking the bus that runs up Markham Road. It’s not nice, but at least I have other options.”

Meagan McBride, 40, designer

“It seems like they’re always cutting routes in Scarborough. I take the bus at least twice a day, from Scarborough to Queen and Broadview, where my kids go to school. I drop them off in the morning and pick them up later in the day. It takes about 40 minutes each way. There are always service disruptions. Now, I’ll have to give myself even more time. I’m not sure what I can do about it. I might try taking the GO train, because we live close to Guildwood Station. If the GO is more convenient and reliable, then we’ll do that, even though it’s more expensive. At least we’re through the worst of the winter weather, which usually causes the biggest delays.”

Pauline Soule, 54, residential cleaner

“I take the bus every day from my house in Scarborough to work, which is typically at houses in the area. On average, it takes anywhere from half an hour to an hour. With these service cuts, it’s going to take a lot longer, making it more difficult to get to work. Thankfully, to kill time while I wait, I can use my phone, listen to music or read a book. It could be a lot worse.”

Erin Kenney, 55, training to become a jeweller

“It usually takes me an hour to get to class for jewellery training and my doctor’s appointments. These cuts will create spillover and crowding on other buses, which is a serious problem. They’re already full enough. I’m in a wheelchair, and sometimes I have to wait for the second or third bus just because there isn’t enough room for me on board. That’s crazy. We have inadequate transit out in Scarborough anyway. We need more options, not fewer.”

These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.