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Don’t even think of privatizing TTC, coalition warns candidates - Toronto Star

Don’t even think of privatizing TTC, coalition warns candidates

September 20, 2010
Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter
Toronto Star

A new ad campaign and website is trying to warn Toronto’s mayoral candidates off the idea of privatizing the TTC.

A group called the Public Transit Coalition has spent $500,000 donated by the TTC workers’ union to warn of the disastrous consequences to cities that privatize their transit systems.

The campaign, which will include television and newspaper ads, touts service cuts, fare increases and the drain on taxpayers experienced in cities “like Toronto,” such as London, England; Melbourne, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; and Vancouver.

“We want to keep the TTC public, and nothing would make us happier than to have five mayoral candidates agreeing to that. It’s not to support a candidate — it’s to support an idea that we know makes sense,” said Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, who is also a spokesman for the Public Transit Coalition.

“This is not a union issue, it’s a public issue,” said Bob Kinnear, president of the 10,000-member transit workers’ union.

The Amalgamated Transit Union put up the money for the campaign because it believes public transit is in the best interest of the city, not because it is afraid of facing a private employer in negotiations.

“We can deal with whoever is on the other side of the bargaining table,” said Kinnear.

The coalition wasn’t specific about which candidates’ plans it hopes to thwart, although the group was initially formed around Mayor David Miller’s fight to save his Transit City streetcar plan from being cut by the province.

Neither Hartmann nor Kinnear said their organizations were endorsing Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone’s mayoral bid or that of any other candidate.

Pantalone is the only candidate among the frontrunners who has explicitly opposed privatization and come out in strong support of Transit City, although elements of the plan exist in other platforms, including George Smitherman’s.

Clear frontrunner Rob Ford has said he would cut some existing streetcar routes and the Transit City plan.

“Public-private partnership,” or “P3” is just the latest term being used to sell people on privatization, says the campaign video narrated by actor Eric Peterson.

“When public-private partnerships have been talked about, it’s about building and operating,” Hartmann said. The coalition, he said, isn’t arguing with the common practice of hiring private-sector firms to construct public transit systems. “We’re talking about where you have private-sector financing, private-sector operation and private-sector building. Those are the ideas of public-private partnerships that have been floated by some of the candidates.”

As originally published here:  http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/transportation/article/863722--don-t-even-think-of-privatizing-ttc-coalition-warns-candidates?bn=1

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