By Michael Linennen
Crowded bus stops, infrequent services, long waiting times, being pushed by backpacks on the bus. These are only some of the things that Centennial College student has to put up with when they are riding on the TTC.
Ravneet Kaur, the president of Centennial College Student Association, said it is often that students will have to wait for another bus due to the infrequent bus services. Kaur said she has waited for more than 40 minutes to get on to the bus.
“I have heard from students that they have missed their assignments in the morning when they are coming to school because the buses are so packed that they would just pass by. And it’s just so packed that you cannot just get on to the bus, and they have to wait for like another two buses to come.”
After Kaur told the college about the situation, they have filed a complaint to the TTC. The TTC responded by adding longer buses for the 134 route during rush hour.
“I’ve (seen) the 134C. They started the bigger buses, which over time I didn’t see them after, so I don’t know if they are still doing it,” Kaur said. “But 102A buses are way too infrequent.”
The short-term goal for Kaur is to increase the amount of bus service. In the long run, she would like to start the conversation on having a GTA UPASS.
UPASS is a low-cost transit pass that let students ride unlimited on the public transit system for the academic year. Some of the universities across Canada have been doing this, such as McMaster University and Guelph University.
Kaur said the student association will be working with the University of Toronto Scarborough to do surveys on public transit with the students once the strike is over.
“So at least we will have some data and we can lobby our local MPP, the governments,” Kaur said.
Brenda Thompson, the Co-chair of Scarborough Transit Action said UPASS is definitely possible. However, there might be some challenges, and students will need to get their voices heard.
“It’s definitely possible. But do they (TTC) have the political will to do that? And it might take a huge turnout of students when they are discussing in their budget meetings. Certainly, they can definitely implement things like that,” Thompson said. “But unfortunately, things like that don’t happen unless people get organized and get mobilized and they start to put some pressure on the politicians.”
Thompson suggested that the students should organize a transit advocacy group on campus so they can advocate for their own specific needs.
“The needs of students are often quite different from the needs of transit riders who live and work in Toronto. Some students are coming from outside of Toronto, some students need to go from one campus to another, and so they need to have a voice so that the TTC understands what their special sort of particular needs are,” Thompson said. “I would also urge students to get in touch with the student union.”