TTCRiders unite to fight for transit

Lobby group meets to discuss service cuts, high costs

Transit users from across the city came out to discuss bus route cuts, rising TTC fares and insufficient public service at the late-June inaugural meeting of TTCRiders, a new transit lobby group.

The organization, which had previously met as an ad hoc group, got its start earlier this year in response to the city’s plan to cut service on 42 bus routes.

Walied Khogali, one of the meeting’s coordinators, referred to that as an important moment for the group.

“We had more than 100 people turn up at city hall (in February) saying, ‘no we don’t want these bus cuts,’” said Khogali. “And that’s when we realized that there’s a lot of us out there and we’re really put off by how they’re treating us.”

The first meeting focused primarily on recruiting membership and volunteers. TTCRider’s organizers, Preethy Sivakumar and Jamie Kirkpatrick, spoke about the need for more awareness via door-to-door canvassing, petitioning and phone calls to councillors and the mayor.

“As individuals, we might not be able to do a lot,” said Sivakumar. “But as a collective, we can achieve a lot.”

Kirkpatrick compared the treatment of TTC riders in Toronto to those in other big cities, noting that residents pay the highest operating costs in the continent.

“Over 70 percent of the cost to run the TTC comes out of our pockets,” said Kirkpatrick, a campaigner with the Toronto Environmental Alliance. “We don’t have the best transit system in North America, but we sure do pay the most for it.”

According to Kirkpatrick, subway riders in New York City only pay 50 percent of the operating costs due to government subsidies.

“I heard that the NDP says that if elected they will return to a 50/50 fare split between the province and municipalities,” he said. “But we’d like to see all the parties recognize how important transit is to us and how it affects the lives of everyday individuals and families.”

The meeting’s 50 attendees clapped and nodded in agreement as they listed their own grievances with the TTC, which included lengthy delays, inaudible announcements, pollution and lack of consistent public funding.

No follow-up meeting has been announced but organizers say they will be working at continuing to build the membership over the next few months.


About this article:

By: Farhana Uddin
Posted: Jul 6 2011 3:01 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto
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