July 18, 2012
City Hall Bureau Chief
TORONTO - The TTC is doing the best with what they have, chairman Karen Stintz stressed Wednesday.
Stintz made the comments in the wake of the transit advocacy group TTCriders giving the TTC a failing grade when it comes to its own performance.
“The good news is that transit expansion is back on track,” Franz Hartmann, of TTCriders and the Toronto Environmental Alliance, said. “However the bad news is that fares keep going up while service levels keep going down.”
“If the TTC was a student, this report card would be a wake-up call with a very clear message — you must do better.”
The group rated the TTC on five goals: Creating affordable fares, expanding transit to all corners of the city as fast as possible, making public transit fully accessible, providing frequent service, and moving towards environmental sustainability.
Hartmann said the TTC is “derailed” when it comes to fair and affordable fares and providing frequent service that connects neighbourhoods.
The report card argues the TTC is on track when it comes to building a modern, fast transit system but delayed in making transit fully accessible. TTC officials are “missing an opportunity” to promote the environmental benefits of public transit by not publishing reports showing how transit reduces pollution, the group claims.
“The report card makes it clear that the TTC is not on track to building a public transit system that properly serves the needs of transit users and the key reason for this is lack of investment in maintaining and improving existing public transit services,” Hartmann said.
He called for an “adult conversation” about funding to maintain and improve the existing transit system.
“If we’re going to deal with transit, somebody’s got to pay for it,” Hartmann said.
He said “first and foremost” the provincial and federal government need to come to the table.
If those governments cry poor, “you’re going to have to raise taxes.”
Hartmann said transit users are “already paying way more than they should” when it comes to transit.
Stintz disagreed the TTC deserved a failing grade from the group.
“The TTC has done a lot to improve customer service over the past 12 months,” she told the Sun Wednesday.
She pointed to the implementation of the PRESTO fare card, the request for proposals to install cell service in subway stations, the push to get council to confirm the four light-rail lines, and the new focus on customer service.
“I think people are seeing improvements in the system from cleaning to washrooms,” she said.
“We did have some budgetary reductions and we’re managing through them and we won’t have anymore this year.”
Stintz said while the TTC may have a fare increase in 2013, the commitment was to keep that increase in line with inflation.
“We don’t know that there will be (a fare increase) but it won’t be more than inflation,” she said.
While she said she would welcome more investment from the province and the feds for transit, Stintz said it’s unfair to suggest the TTC hasn’t made gains in key areas to improve customer service.
“We could always do more with more money but that’s not the reality that any level of government is confronted with,” she said. “We need to now say we need to do the best with what we have and I think we are.”
See the original article at: