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TTC Service Alignment Plan will impact marginalized areas most

While longer wait times will be felt by all, marginalized communities will be disproportionately affected, say TMU researchers Dr. Raktim Mitra and Tess Peterman.
By: Claire Pfeiffer
March 23, 2023
New research from TransForm Lab

Facing budget pressures due in part to pandemic-era revenue losses, the Toronto Transit Commission recently announced a plan that reduces service across its network as of March 26, 2023. 

Since its proposal, the 2023 TTC Service Alignment Plan has been met with criticism from researchers (external link)  and advocates, who have a host of concerns related to how it could affect congestion, the economy, public health and the environment. Now that the data related to the plan is available (as of February 28), researchers are able to interpret the plan’s specific impacts.

TransForm Lab co-director Dr. Raktim Mitra and researcher Tess Peterman were interested in understanding how the service cuts will affect marginalized populations in the city. So they dug into the data and plotted affected routes in relation to the city’s neighbourhoods and hot-spots of greatest marginalization. They found that the majority of the routes that will experience 10% or greater cuts in terms of frequency and reliability run through areas with high concentrations of deprived groups, where a greater proportion of residents may depend on public transit for their everyday needs.

Speaking of the neighbourhoods identified, Mitra said, “these areas do not presently generate the highest amount of transit trips, but they are already mobility and transit poor. We’re concerned that proposed service changes by TTC will likely worsen travel experience in these areas, creating additional barriers to their residents’ participation in employment, education, and society in general, which is not in keeping with the TTC’s stated equity goals.”

The report published today by TransForm Lab, “2023 TTC Service Changes and Transit Equity in Toronto,” details this latest research by Mitra and Peterman and asks key questions about TTC policy goals. The authors observe that this latest round of service cuts disproportionately affect neighbourhoods that are the most deprived, and could result in further marginalization of these mostly suburban neighbourhoods through reducing geographic accessibility.