Achieving equity in public transit planning: A critical assessment of Markham, Ontario's Highway 7 rapid transit corridor
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Contrary to other research that critically assesses transit projects using an equity imperative, the primary intent of this research is not only an empirical assessment of physical barriers which contribute to diminished transit access, but also a critical assessment of the policies used to guide the Highway 7 vivaNext Rapidway and land use development across York Region and Markham. A review of broad policy frameworks, I argue, is necessary to begin addressing issues that transit equity experts continuously raise. My research reviews transit equity and social exclusion literature to provide readers with an understanding of how equity can be defined and why appropriate terminology is important when planning transit infrastructure projects. In forming a critical assessment of the Highway 7 rapid transit corridor, I use a political economy framework to examine the growth imperative used in justifying greater density on Highway 7, and the continually changing nature of governing regimes involving both public and private sector actors. With social vulnerability growing in both Markham and York Region, it becomes increasingly relevant to assess policy in order to determine how planning processes could produce more equitable outcomes. Equity should be a key component in planning public transit however, equitable outcomes will become more difficult to achieve if transit continues to be less of a "public" infrastructure, and more of a "private" responsibility.