What’s next for Toronto’s public transit?
Toronto Transit Commission board member and former Mayor Rob Ford has a point: He’s been a vocal critic of the public transit network he helped create.
The TTC is facing a funding crisis that has caused its fleet to shrink.
Ford has proposed cuts to a number of key services, including its subway, the Gardiner Expressway and the streetcar system.
His plan to cut more than $100 million from the TTC’s operating budget would also see the TTC cut about 6,000 employees, about half of them full-time.
Ford says he’s proposing a $100-a-month cut to TTC employees to help pay for his proposed plan.
But his plan is not backed by any real evidence that he’s actually done what he says he will.
Ford’s budget is based on an outdated, unproven, and unsupported assumption that transit is a monopoly, according to a series of independent audits that Ford himself has cited to support his cuts.
“The TTC has been an excellent service for Toronto, but it is a service with a lot of holes,” Ford said in an interview with the Globe and Mail.
“It has been in a terrible state for many, many years.”
But the TTC, which was set up as a public transit system in the mid-1960s, has had many problems since its creation.
In the 1970s, it was criticized for failing to adequately invest in its fleet, which led to an extensive fleet management system that led to a backlog of about 4,000 vehicles on the TTC.
Ford himself told the Toronto Star in 1991 that the TTC was “the most efficient system in North America,” but in a 1996 article, the Toronto Transit Association said that Ford’s statement was “absolutely wrong.”
Ford also claimed that the system was “failing the TTC.”
But in 2015, the TTC said that the claim was false and that the “system was not operating at capacity.”
The TTC has long maintained that its fleet has grown substantially since the early 1980s and that it’s a better service than the one Ford promised to bring.
The system is also one of the largest in North American.
In 2012, the agency estimated that it has 4,400 vehicles on its streetcars, which the TTC calls “express” buses, and that its buses have a fleet capacity of nearly 2 million kilometres.
“We have more than 6 million people using our system today, and we have a system that has been improving,” said TTC chair Karen Stintz in a recent speech to the TTC board.
“As long as we continue to invest in it, we will have the best transit system on the planet.”
In fact, a 2015 TTC audit said that it “cannot assess” the reliability of the TTC system.
The agency’s audit also found that the cost of the transit system “was higher than it was a decade ago, despite a much higher TTC budget.”
The audit said the TTC had not spent enough on its fleet.
But Ford, a lifelong transit enthusiast, has consistently maintained that he is not interested in the cost or reliability of transit systems.
“I am not a fan of the system,” he told the Globe.
“When it’s operating at 100 per cent capacity, the cars will be in the garage for five hours and then they’ll be back on the street.”
The budget cut, meanwhile, would have the TTC essentially end its own contract with Bombardier, which is also based in Toronto, and would also have the effect of cutting Bombardiers workforce by more than 3,000 jobs.
Bombardiere, which also owns the CSeries jetliner, is one of several companies that Ford has threatened to sue over alleged price-fixing and labour-management violations.
It’s unclear whether Ford has the legal authority to do so, and whether his cuts will have any effect on Bombardieri, which has its own legal problems.
Bombards spokesperson David O’Brien said in a statement that the company “will continue to operate as planned and is committed to the continued success of our business.”
Ford said that he has no plans to sue Bombardini over the TTC cuts, though the TTC has a number other contracts with the company.
Ford also said in his speech to board that he does not believe the TTC should be paying Bombardine to operate the CTrain fleet.
Bombarines fleet “is not competitive with ours and we cannot compete with it,” Ford told the Star in a speech in 2016.
“Our customers want to get around the city, they want to buy goods and services and they want reliable, reliable services.”
In his speech, Ford also defended his cuts, saying “everybody needs to know that the plan we have is working and I am not going to change anything.”