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Provincial takeover of TTC cost proposed

Panel reviewing city finances advised to upload services with `regional implications’

Feb 08, 2008 04:30 AM
Tess Kalinowski
Vanessa Lu staff Reporters

Toronto should consider letting the province take over the cost of the subway system and other TTC services with “regional implications.”

That’s the advice Ontario’s transportation planning chief, Metrolinx chair Rob MacIsaac, has given a six-member independent panel reviewing the city’s finances.

“My advice was that Metrolinx did represent an opportunity for the city in terms of uploading some services that had regional implications,” he told the Star yesterday.

While MacIsaac said he was referring to a provincial takeover of the costs of operating and building subways, not actually running them, such a move is likely to come with strings “in terms of expectations of quality and quantity of service - better quality, better connectivity, more seamless service,” he said.

“The Yonge line is the busiest transit line in the country. There are lots of folks who need that line to be working well,” he said.

MacIsaac met privately with two members of the city panel, including chair Blake Hutcheson, before Christmas, but stressed he hadn’t spoken to any of them since and didn’t know what they would recommend. The volunteer group, which holds its final meeting today, was asked to assess the city’s financial performance. It may deliver its report and recommendations as early as next week.

Mayor David Miller announced the independent review of the city’s finances last October on the eve of the crucial vote on a land transfer tax.

While the subway has the most potential as a regional resource, MacIsaac said other possibilities include the planned Transit City streetcar lines, where they extend to Toronto’s borders.

Metrolinx, officially the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, was formed by Queen’s Park last year to create a transportation plan for the GTA. “We need to identify a regional network of both transit routes and perhaps roads and make some recommendations around those assets in terms of our investment strategy going forward,” said MacIsaac.