TTC service cuts to affect marginalized areas in Toronto the most, TMU report says

اخبار العرب-كندا 24: السبت 25 مارس 2023 05:05 مساءً

Raktim Mitra, an associate professor of urban planning at TMU and one of the authors of the report, says public transit is a 'critical piece of public infrastructure' for marginalized areas in Toronto and service cuts are expected to hit them the hardest. (CBC - image credit)

Raktim Mitra, an associate professor of urban planning at TMU and one of the authors of the report, says public transit is a 'critical piece of public infrastructure' for marginalized areas in Toronto and service cuts are expected to hit them the hardest. (CBC - image credit)

TTC service cuts that begin on Sunday will likely have the greatest impact on Toronto's most marginalized neighbourhoods, according to a new report from Toronto Metropolitan University.

The report, 2023 TTC Service Changes and Transit Equity in Toronto, released this week, says the majority of routes that will see cuts of 10 per cent or more in service frequency and reliability run through areas of high concentrations of marginalized people.

Marginalized communities include people with lower income, people precariously employed, new immigrants, older and younger people who rely on public transit to get around, and people for whom public transit is not a choice.

"These neighbourhoods may not generate the highest amounts of public transit trips, but residents in these neighbourhoods may be more dependent on public transit for their everyday needs compared to other parts of the city," the report says.

"The proposed service changes by the TTC will likely make these neighbourhoods more mobility poor, creating additional barriers to the residents' participation in employment, education, and society in general."

According to the TTC, the next phase of its "service adjustments" will affect 39 routes in all — 36 bus routes, two subway routes and one streetcar route. While the cuts mean some routes will have both longer and shorter wait times during the day, 15 routes will see longer wait times only. The 39 routes that will undergo service changes make up 20 per cent of the TTC's routes.

Of the 39 routes, the report says the majority will experience an increase in wait times. And it says the TTC, because its service cuts will likely affect marginalized people the most, is failing to create what it calls a "just" transportation system in Toronto.

"Reliable and efficient public transportation is a critical public infrastructure for equity-deserving population groups. At a time when all levels of the government are committing to address affordability and inequality, the proposed TTC service cuts are not justified," the report says.

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"More broadly, a robust public transportation infrastructure is critical in achieving a sustainable, healthier, and prosperous future."

Katherine Holland/CBC

Katherine Holland/CBC

Raktim Mitra, an associate professor of urban planning at TMU and one of the authors of the report, told CBC Toronto on Friday that researchers mapped the routes to be affected in relation to areas where there are concentrations of material deprivation, older and younger people, and ethnic groups.

Mitra said the service cuts are not necessarily in areas where there is high transit ridership, but they are in areas that are home to people who rely on public transit.

"When we look at these new proposals for service cuts, they don't necessarily affect the pockets within the city that see a very high transit ridership. But then, most of the marginalized people, they don't live in those pockets within the city. They live in the suburbs that are more affordable," he said.

"And while their overall number of transit trips may not be very high, they really depend on public transit to participate in their everyday lives," he added.

"Many of these people don't work nine to five jobs so the relevance of peak hour transit service is not as important to them. Instead, they rely on public transit to participate in whatever precarious jobs that they have to go to, to go and see their friends, to go and participate in various social activities.

"For them, public transit is a critical piece of public infrastructure, whereas for many others in the city, public transportation may be a choice."

TTC says it's taking 'balanced' approach to changes

Mitra said the researchers think the TTC made "some simplistic assumptions" about transit equity because it seemed to have focused only on neighbourhood improvement areas of Toronto. But he said the makeup of the city is more complex than that.

He said there are pockets of "severe marginalization and poverty" in areas that are not necessarily designated as neighbourhood improvement areas.

"In their simplistic approach to addressing equity, we feel that the TTC may have overlooked these pockets within the city."

The TTC, for its part, said the transit agency made tough decisions about service cuts with transit equity in mind.

"We absolutely understand that our customers want reliable and frequent service, which is why we've committed to protecting service on the busiest routes at the busiest times of day, particularly in priority neighbourhoods where we know people are more reliant on transit. And we are doing that in a balanced and equitable way across the entire city." 

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