Transit debate falls flat for students

by | Oct 3, 2018 | Headlines, News

Bailey Nantais
News Reporter

Many Humber students have an incredibly long commute that can prevent them from doing other essential activities.

A mayoral debate on transit was held at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus last Wednesday that excluded incumbent John Tory outlined the issues  — including fares and service plans — facing transit in Canada’s largest city.

Saron Gebresellassi, a lawyer running for mayor, said she wants free transit for all, saying it is a right similar to health and education.

“My position is it is entirely realistic to have free transit,” she said.

“I would like to see the City of Toronto become the first metropolis in the country to implement a free transit system,” Gebresellassi said. “It’s really political will and believing transit is a right.”

Environmental activist Sarah Climenhaga said she also believes in free transit, but would like to start with seniors.

“I think we’ve seen how well free transit for children has worked. Now it’s time to have free transit for seniors,” she said.

Jennifer Keesmaat, Tory’s most significant competitor, said transit in Toronto should include a broader perspective that goes beyond the city’s borders.

“We need to work with the mayors to provide inter-municipal fare coordination so that you’re not paying twice from the City of Toronto to Mississauga or to Vaughan or to Oshawa,” she said. “It should be a consistent fare that makes it affordable for students.”

That would help the many Humber students who don’t live in Toronto.

Humber Research Analysis student Bankti Pathak says she is sick of her long commute.

Pathak said her commute to Lakeshore campus from Scarborough takes an hour and 45 minutes, and it’s worse in the winter time.

“I’m planning to move to Etobicoke because during the winter, when it’s snowy, they’re always running late,” she said. “In the winter it takes probably two hours each way, and four hours commuting is such a waste of time.”

If Pathak has only one class a day, she will be spending more time on the bus than in the classroom.

She isn’t the only one thinking about moving for shorter commute times. Lea Williamson, a 19-year-old Cosmetic Management student, moved into residence despite being from Brampton.

Her hour and 45-minute commute time wasn’t worth it.

“I work and go to school at Humber, so it taking me nearly two hours to get here just doesn’t work,” Williamson said.

She and Pathak were disappointed Tory didn’t attend the TTC debate on Wednesday.

“It’s disappointing, for sure. He should care a bit more.” Pathak said.

Williamson said it was cowardly and unprofessional. It shows a lack of concern for the people of Toronto.
   The Forum Poll survey on released Sept. 25 found that nearly three-quarters of 944 Toronto, about 70 per cent, of voters said they have transit concerns. The two biggest issues were not enough subway lines and overcrowding. Other concerns were unreliable service, the cost of fares, and not enough bus routes.

The poll also found Tory in the lead with 56 per cent support, double of Keesmat’s 28 per cent support.