July 18, 2012
Chris Jai Centeno
A less than mediocre grade was given to the Toronto Transit Commission by a public transit advocacy group, which released its benchmark report Wednesday on the "lacklustre" performance by the transit system.
TTCriders - an organization founded in late 2009 made up of commuters advocating for the betterment of the TTC - released its State of Public Transit in Toronto report card, aimed at making the transport juggernaut more accountable to the public.
The group, which boasts over 17,000 supporters, evaluated the TTC's performance over five separate goals set up by its members.
Instead of using a letter grade verdict in its report (due to the complex issues the TTC faces), four levels were used to rate the TTC's performance: "On Track", "Delayed", "Derailed", and "Unknown".
Out of its five pressing goals, only expansion had an "On Track" status, environmental stability was "Unknown", accessibility was "Delayed", while both affordability and neighbourhood service levels were "Derailed".
"It's a wakeup call to the transit commission to city council, and the provincial and federal governments that it's going to get a lot worse and that's exactly the opposite of what we need," says Franz Hartmann, executive director for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, a member organization of the TTCriders group.
"While transit expansion is back on track, there is no significant investment in existing services," says Hartmann. "The biggest challenge facing TTC riders are service levels are going down and ridership is going up," he says, adding that the key contributing reason to the current state of the TTC is the lack of funding it receives from the provincial and federal government.
Compared to other transit systems in North America, Toronto's had the highest rate of so-called "fare box ratios", meaning that almost three-quarters of the TTC's cost is paid for by riders' fares. New York City sits at 54 percent, while Chicago's ratios are at a comfortable 40 percent.
"It's time we had an adult conversation about funding," says Hartmann, "The transit system is an important investment in the economic, environmental and social well-being of Toronto."
Hartmann adds that on record heat days such as this week in the GTA, an important way to deal with climate change is by getting people out of their cars.
"We need a transit system that is working the way it should be."
The group promises to continue monitoring the TTC year round.
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