Subways, buses, light rail: How Scarborough transit riders see their system, and what needs to change

With so much at stake at the political level, Scarborough transit riders are buzzing about the challenges facing the transit system and what to do next — so CBC Toronto hit the rails to hear their thoughts.

CBC Toronto hit the rails to hear what riders want amid ongoing political debate

Scarborough RT service will be replaced with buses until the Scarborough Subway Extension is complete in 2030. A new report is pushing for buses to run on a dedicated right-of-way. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

The future of transit in Scarborough is at a crossroads.

Years ago, a light rail plan for Toronto's suburbs was fully funded by the province, then rejected by council in favour of a subway. In 2017, councillors officially greenlit a one-stop extension, but less than two years later, the provincial government is pushing for a three-stop subway instead while planning to take over the city's entire subway system.

Amid the back-and-forth, the aging Line 3 — the Scarborough RT — is already past its expected lifespan.

With so much at stake at the political level, Scarborough transit riders are also buzzing about the challenges facing the transit system and what to do next — so CBC Toronto hit the rails to hear their thoughts.

Jesus Albert Melendez, works in finance

"I'm usually in the Scarborough area, so I take the subway here, and coming from the Morningside area then typically the bus lines there. I kind of find [the RT] undependable to be honest, and I think they need to replace that — hopefully soon.

I know they've been talking about a Scarborough subway. I don't really see the timeline for that. Even some sort of light rail system would be a good replacement."

Jesus Albert Melendez. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

Maria Gratton, University of Toronto Scarborough student

"In general, I use transit, like, four times a day. Probably twice for Scarborough.

I kind of wish the Scarborough RT was extended a little bit further into the Scarborough-to-Markham area. There's only two buses to get to the Scarborough campus. I feel like it would make it easier for students.

And just in general, it's really hard to get to some community centres; you have to go to some random station, find a bus that comes every 30 minutes. It's quite challenging to get to certain places."

Maria Gratton. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

Racquel Adams, day care teacher, with her daughter Moetisha

"We need faster service; it's not convenient at all. On the subway, I usually take it every day for work. You have all these delays. Sometimes the bus drivers don't show up, sometimes the train drivers. Next thing you know, there's no trains, and you don't know what's going on.

And when they don't tell you what's going on during delays, that's what gets everybody frustrated ... [A new subway] won't make much of an improvement to me. You need more workers too, and more drivers. They need more people working for the TTC."

Racquel Adams, right, her daughter Moetisha, left. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

Rowland Thomas, retiree

"I think subways are probably more what's needed in this place — for speed and ease. And I think three stops.

I mean, one stop doesn't serve the purpose, just from point A to point B. You want A, B, and C."

Rowland Thomas. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

Barbara Osmond, off work due to a back injury

"Everybody's always getting pushed around. I'd like more care for elder people, people who are pregnant.

I think a [subway would help]. That would be nice to get places faster, than waiting for it in the cold. On the buses during rush hour — it would be nice if there were more subways at that time."

Barbara Osmond. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

Vincent Colmenar, IT technologist

"It takes me about 45 minutes from here to where I need to be downtown for work. I only started taking the [Scarborough RT] recently compared to five, 10 years ago; it's improved a lot.

It would be nice to have a single-stop line that connects here to Kennedy directly, instead of hopping on a train, then transferring to the Kennedy line.

Realistically, it takes 10 minutes off my day, but that's 10 minutes of a commute and every minute counts. That would be ideal for me as a Scarborough resident."

Vincent Colmenar. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

Bruce McRae, self-employed bookkeeper

"Sometimes I come out here and take the bus out to Morningside, visiting my mom. It's always pretty enjoyable; I don't have a lot of complaints about the TTC. There's the odd breakdown but it never seems to be that onerous.

I don't know if a [subway] would be helpful or not, but I want them to do a case study and see what is best, and take it out of the political arena — and make it based on transit usage and what makes economic sense, not looking at votes, which seems to be the way it's been done lately."

Bruce McCrae. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

Interviews have been edited and condensed.


Lauren Pelley

Senior Health & Medical Reporter

Lauren Pelley covers health and medical science for CBC News, including the global spread of infectious diseases, Canadian health policy, and pandemic preparedness. Her 2020 investigation into COVID-19 infections among health-care workers won best in-depth series at the RNAO Media Awards. Contact her at:


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