CodeRedTO welcomes the transparency of today’s release of the Terms of Reference for the Province’s discussions with the city regarding the TTC. The complexity of the document is a good indication of the complexity of this proposal. Disassembling the integrated TTC network would be a multi-year project without a guaranteed benefit, and serious concerns remain unaddressed in this document.
The city and province agreed in their problem statement that there is a need for a “long-term, sustainable, predictable funding model.” However, the allowable options do not include simply improving funding for transit, as has been universally supported over the last decade by BIAs, Boards of Trade, transit riders, transportation planners and researchers.
Transfer of ownership is not necessary to fund operations or capital expansion. We encourage the province to consider creating new dedicated revenue streams, as we see in almost all other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States. We know this is a factor in transit success and sustainability. We fear these discussions will needlessly complicate the situation and distract from the real problem.
The TTC is the largest, most integrated transit system in the region. It carries more riders than GO transit and all other municipalities’ systems put together. Toronto has the best mode share for public transit in the region. There are options under consideration that would reduce the TTC’s integration. While it has to role to play for commuters from outside the city, the vast majority of the TTC’s riders are Toronto residents. It is an essential component of the city’s economy. Any alterations to its structure should be approached with caution and should be accompanied by a compelling and public rationale.
Accountability and transparency are also listed as a principle, but this is not supported elsewhere in the document. The assumption of planning, data storage, committee structure, and decisions are all oriented toward the provincial ministry and Metrolinx, neither of which has any electoral accountability to the City of Toronto, nor any legal requirements for transparency and open decision-making. We would like to see city agencies directly involved, as it is difficult to assess this principle from the other side of a closed door.
The overriding situation remains that a forced disassembly of the TTC’s integrated system would be a multi-year, complex project with no guaranteed solution on what the province agrees is a key problem: long-term, sustainable, predictable funding. It is imperative that any discussions address this gap.