Transit report card gives TTC mostly failing grades - Toronto Star

July 18, 2012
David Rider, Urban Affairs Bureau Chief
Toronto Star

A transit advocacy group is giving the TTC a rough ride in its first report card on the system’s performance.

TTCriders, formed by members of environmental, labour and community organizations, ranked the TTC’s performance in the past year.

The report card released Tuesday says:

• TTC fares cover a higher percentage of operating costs than for any other North American system. Funding must come from other sources. Grade: Derailed.
• Transit expansion and how to fund it has been the subject of serious discussions since June. Grade: On track.
• TTC accessibility for disabled riders is taking too long to implement. Grade: Delayed.
• Service levels were cut in council’s 2012 austerity budget while fares were hiked. Grade: Derailed.
• Environmental benefits of public transit are known — reducing greenhouse gas emission and other smog emissions — but the TTC doesn’t publish reports to promote those benefits. Grade: Unknown.
TTCriders spokesman Franz Hartmann acknowledged huge sums of cash are needed to modernize and expand what is widely acknowledged as a stunted, outdated system.

He called on Ottawa, the Ontario government, and Toronto council to have an “adult conversation” about how to fund improvements. Torontonians are willing to pay higher taxes for a much-improved system, he said.

Work has started on the first of four provincially funded light rail lines. The province says all will be finished by 2020.

But the recent “OneCity” plan from TTC chair Karen Stintz and vice-chair Glenn De Baeremaeker to dramatically expand the system, funded by property taxes and potentially senior governments, crashed amid the kind of power struggles that have also included the provincial Metrolinx agency.

While Mayor Rob Ford would normally be Premier Dalton McGuinty’s main contact on transit issues, the mayor and his subway-centric vision are at odds with the will of a majority of councillors.

After the province and the city look at ways to fund transit expansion this fall, Hartmann said, the TTC should ultimately decide what gets built.

On Tuesday the TTC was giving itself better grades, for customer service at least, in a daily report that launched online earlier this month.

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