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Little zeal for uploading TTC

Voices

Reaction to the provincial government’s plan for one transportation agency:

“I don’t think that’s the right way to go. It becomes much too large an agency.” York Region chair Bill Fisch

“I don’t see what the advantage is. Each (transit system) is well run in themselves.” Halton Region chair Gary Carr

“The Premier also said that he wouldn’t do anything unless the city wanted to do it. We don’t.” Toronto Mayor David Miller

Mayor Miller and board members of Metrolinx cool to premier’s suggestion that province take over

Feb 16, 2008 04:30 AM
Tess Kalinowski
Kerry Gillespie
Staff reporters

Premier Dalton McGuinty may think that one transportation agency is the better way to offer “seamless” transit in the Toronto region.

But some Metrolinx board members, who would be responsible for running such a mega-system, say they have no interest in a takeover of the TTC’s operations or any other municipal transit authority.

Around the region yesterday, McGuinty’s suggestion that the TTC be integrated into Metrolinx, the provincial GTA transportation planning agency, remained open to broad interpretation.

“I don’t think that’s the right way to go. It becomes much too large an agency,” said York Region chair Bill Fisch, one of nine municipal politicians who sit on the 11-member Metrolinx board.

“Rapid transit corridors, like subways, may need to be worked in a different way,” but that’s 10 to 20 years from now, he said.

There’s simply too much to do in terms of expanding transit services to haggle over amalgamating operations now, said Halton Region chair Gary Carr, another board member. The role of Metrolinx is to decide how to administer provincial money, he stressed.

“I don’t see what the advantage is. Each (transit system) is well run in themselves. I think the TTC can make the right decisions in an integrated transit system,” he said.

Toronto Mayor David Miller flatly rejects the premier’s suggestion to fold TTC into Metrolinx.

“The premier also said that he wouldn’t do anything unless the city wanted to do it. We don’t,” he said yesterday. “The Toronto Transit Commission is probably the best transit agency in North America. It’s most efficient by far. Its only challenge has been sustained permanent funding. It’s not a governance issue at all.

“As far as I’m concerned that’s the end of it,” said Miller.

Asked why a regional transit authority wasn’t a good idea, TTC chair Adam Giambrone called the question unfair. “Why is it a good idea?” he asked.

About 80 per cent of regional transit riders, including GO patrons, already use the TTC, he said. “If you have limited funds you focus on high-density routes. Most of those are in Toronto,” Giambrone said, adding that GO was the other agency deserving investment.

“We know we’re part of the region. The TTC’s about economic development, it’s about making sure the region is competitive,” said Giambrone, who cited multiple projects where TTC is already collaborating with other transit authorities, including redeveloping Union, Kipling and Islington stations, extending the subway into York Region and building streetcar lines extending to Toronto’s borders.

“Who runs what and where the money sits … that’s what has to be worked out now,” said Education Minister and Don Valley West MPP Kathleen Wynne.

“The discussion has to include the TTC, it has to include Mississauga Transit, it has to include York Region Transit. We have to look at all of that and figure out how to serve people because we don’t live in isolation from one another,” she said.

Michael Bryant, MPP for St. Paul’s, supports uploading the cost of the TTC, “while keeping it locally run.”

“The better way has got to be seamless service with sustainable funding from a progressive income tax base, rather than through the fare box and property taxes. But I look forward to speaking with the mayor about his concerns,” he said.

Files from Vanessa Lu and Rob Ferguson




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