Transit advocacy group saving MPPs a seat on the TTC

TTC Riders, a transit advocacy group, is “saving a seat” for MPPs to experience transit first-hand. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Travis Kingdon
Transportation Reporter

The TTC Riders have saved you a seat.

The transit advocacy group is currently running a campaign called “saved you a seat.” The group is inviting Toronto area MPPs to take up their challenge and ride transit for a week instead of using their personal vehicles.

The group launched the campaign April 1.

“We felt that asking elected officials to ride the TTC for a week would inspire them to properly fund transit” said Jessica Bell, Executive Director of TTCriders. Elected officials are responsible for the service but many don’t use the TTC, she said.

The Provincial government used to match Toronto’s contribution to the TTC, but it doesn’t do that anymore, she said.

“Maybe if they (MPPs) rode the TTC more often, they’d be more inspired to do the right thing and give Toronto better transit,” said Bell.

Students at Humber College are well aware of the frustrations that can come with riding transit every day.

“Occasionally I have to run for the bus, they (the drivers) see you, but they just drive away,” said Daniela Vivas-Laguna a final-year architecture student at Humber College.

“Politicians have no need to take transit,” said Kristen Medina, a final-year architecture student at Humber College. She understands why politicians take their personal vehicles to work instead of the TTC, they don’t really have any use for the services, she said.

For many politicians using a car is still more convenient in the city than riding the TTC, said Bell.

“It would be nice to see them experiencing the same things as us on the day-to-day, the pros and cons,” Medina said. When a person walks a mile in someone else’s shoes they are more likely to help solve the issues that the person faces, she said.

“We often hear elected officials say ‘look, we’re too busy, we’re too important to catch the TTC because we have really busy lives’,” said Bell.

“Our message to our elected officials is that there are a lot of people in this city who are extremely busy and our time matters too,” she said.

So far, the only three MPPs have agreed to take the challenge; Peter Tabuns, Cheri Di Novo and Arthur Potts.

As a part of the campaign, the advocacy group is having a day of action on April 27. The group will be out canvassing at transit stops around the city for better transit service.

“We’re asking transit riders to join us at streetcar, subways and bus stops near elected officials’ offices,” said Bell. TTCriders will be encouraging transit riders to contact their MPP and ask for better service on the TTC.

The last time the group canvassed, they had representatives at over 40 transit stops across the city, and they expect the same turnout this time, said Bell.

One of the canvassing areas will be subway stop nearest to Kathleen Wynne’s house, she said.

“We’re going to save her a seat so she can talk to riders and experience the TTC with us as she travels to Queen’s Park with us,” said Bell.

With the Provincial budget set to come later this month, the TTCriders message is clear.

“Do the right thing this May, fairly fund transit,” said Bell.

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