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Summiteers talk transit

But they don’t all take it to meeting

Only 25 firms in Metropass plan


Nearly everyone at Toronto’s Smog Summit talked about transit yesterday, but not everyone took it.

Mayor David Miller took the subway to the summit at city hall. He flashed his Metropass when asked.

Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone drove his car, though he said he takes transit about three days out of five.

Ontario’s environment minister, Leona Dombrowsky, drove to the summit in her hybrid car.

York Region Councillor Mario Ferri drove, as did York Region colleague Joyce Frustaglio, Caledon’s Annette Groves and Oakville’s Janice Wright.

York Region Councillor Brenda Hogg drove to the Finch subway station from Richmond Hill and took the train from there (after almost failing to get into the parking lot because she lacked loonies and toonies.)

Markham’s Jim Jones took GO Transit, as did Pat Perkins of Whitby and Colleen Jordan of Ajax.

Miller told the meeting that starting this fall, Toronto will offer employees discounted Metropasses for the Toronto Transit Commission and challenged more employers in the city to do the same.

Under the plan, the TTC sells employers discounted Metropasses, if the employer commits to purchasing a minimum of 50 passes a month for a year. Employees can save up to $11.75 a month.

Miller said only 25 businesses and institutions in the city are offering the discount passes — and that’s not enough.

“We should have hundreds of partners,” he said.

Mayor John Gray of Oshawa and several other 905 politicians broached the delicate notion of a single transit system for Greater Toronto.

But despite the presence of all three levels of government at the summit, there was no discussion about the difficult question of how it would be funded and controlled.

Miller made it clear when questioned afterward that he doesn’t want to develop a Greater Toronto transit system at the expense of the TTC.

“If there is to be one, it has to respect that fact that nine out of 10 transit riders ride the TTC, and it has to respect the fact that Toronto’s half the population,” Miller told reporters. “That’s essential.”

But Miller said the summit serves a useful purpose by bringing politicians together and forcing them to set new goals.

Keith Stewart of the Toronto Environmental Alliance said that despite annual smog summits dating back to 2000, the city’s air seems as dirty as ever to most people.

The summit was reduced to “celebrating the fact that things aren’t getting worse,” he said.