July 18, 2012
An advocacy group for transit riders has issued a “wake up call” report card to the TTC, urging it to do better on a variety of fronts, from the cost of a ticket to ride, to accessible and reliable service. “The good news is that transit expansion is back on track,” said Franz Hartmann, executive director of Toronto Environmental Alliance, a member of the group TTCriders. “However the bad news is that fares keep going up while service levels keeps going down.”
Here is how TTC fared on its first report card from TTCriders:
Creating affordable fares: TTCriders says the TTC is “derailed” because the its fares cover a higher percentage of operating costs than fares in any other major city in North America.
Expanding to all corners of the city as fast possible: Here, the transit authority is “on track,” according to TTCriders, with talk recently turning to how the city may help fund further construction. TTC Chair Karen Stintz and vice chair Glenn De Baeremaeker recently floated the idea of a property tax hike dedicated to transit, which got a cool reception from councillors on both side of the political spectrum and has since been put off until the fall for discussion.
Making public transit fully accessible: TTCriders says it is taking too long to make the system truly accessible, so in this category it handed the TTC a “delayed.”
Providing frequent service: Derailed, again. “Service levels that connect our neighbourhoods are worsening,” says TTCriders, which wants the TTC to add service so that riders are not paying more for less.
Environmental sustainability: For that the status is unknown, says Mr. Hartman, because the TTC has not released information about how using public transit reduces greenhouse gases and other smog emissions.
Mr. Hartmann says the main reason behind these poor marks is lack of funding. He lays much of the blame at the feet of the provincial and federal governments because they have not provided “real” financial support for the TTC. Therefore, it’s those upper levels of government that the transit agency has to lobby for more cash, and if there is no money, then they should raise taxes, he said. “Ultimately, it’s going to come from Torontonians because they are the ones who are going to benefit from this. We either continue with major traffic congestion that we know is having a dramatically negative impact on the local economy and which also leads to a huge amount of pollution, which kills people, or we deal with transit. And if we deal with transit, somebody has got to pay for it, and that means the public has got to come to the table,” he said. The report card not based on transit users’ opinions, rather a review of public information.
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