Thursday, August 30, 2007

Save our TTC

guitar player on the subwayToday I will narrow my usual global scope to my city of residence: Toronto. As those of you who live here know, our beloved public transportation has been dying a slow death in the past several years. Service has gotten worse, buses and subways more crowded, fares far more costly. I am a die-hard anti-car person, and yet... and yet... lately I've been getting fed up with the TTC ("The Bitter Way"), which as they say, should stand or Take The Car. And now, faced with an ever-worsening budget disaster, the city proposes insane service cuts. Yes, insane. Don't believe me, read about it here, or just look at this map of the proposed cuts.

Oh how far we've come since our naive and hopeful discussions of this

Culture CrossingI won't go into the details of the terrible things that will befall our city if the proposed cuts happen, but consider the congestion now, and then consider it if even 25% more cars were on the road. Those who choose the TTC for their daily commute will simply go back to their cars, because what middle income earner in her right mind would sardine herself with strangers for half an hour twice a day when there's a comfortable air conditioned car ride as an alternative - especially when the sardine rides cost her 50 cents more each day. Those who have no choice but to take the TTC, predominantly school children, poor people, carless people, the elderly, and students, will be screwed. Having no alternative, they will pony up the extra money. For middle class college students, perhaps it means a little less beer or coffee, but for many of the city's poor, it means a little less food in the tummy. This is outrageous in a city with so much wealth.

Although I believe the TTC needs increased public funding, if we must pay higher fares, it is preferable to service cuts. I propose along with the higher fares, a system of subsidized passes and tokens for those of low income. At minimum, the tax credit for bus passes should be refundable, since right now many of those who need it most don't even make enough money to use the credit.

Anyways, the TTC cannot cut service without public consultation, so they have devised a meagre and pitiful survey. However, if you live in Toronto, it is important you take this survey. Fill in the comments, since that is the only real forum to express your opinion.

When you are done, check out this much improved survey at Torontoist.


Mike said...


one of the things I miss most about living in TO, now that I am in Ottawa, is the TTC. It was (at least during the 90's) the best transportation system I have ever used. It took me about 3 weeks to figure out that in Ottawa, a bus simply didn't come by every 5 minutes, like the subway did...

I missed the train that crashed between St Clair West and Dupont but 6 minutes and ended up taking the long way around for other reasons. The city rallied then and it is a great crime that the TTC is being killed.

TomCat said...

In Portland, we have the best public transit system I've ever seen.

jj said...

The Red Rocket rules! I used to curse at it when I lived there, but not until I got out to Vancouver did I realize what bad transit really was. The TTC is awesome!

Red Jenny said...

If you guys saw it now... more often than not the subway or any major bus or streetcar is so full you have to wait for the next one. It is important to time ones' trips to avoid rush hour, since you may have to wait for several subways to go by before you can squeeze onto one.

When I first moved here many years ago I was amazed at the TTC, which had already been severely cut during the Harris years, but it has sadly gotten MUCH worse since then. Torontonians pay 80% of the operating costs from the fare box, an unheard-of figure. There's a major infrastructure deficit from all the years of cuts. Meanwhile the population of Toronto and the GTA is ever-increasing.

Having said that, it is overall an excellent system, that just needs a bit of modernization and, well, not to have to scramble to operate each year.

Here's some recent history the TTC for those interested.

rich1107 said...

I am a fan of this blog from south of the border in dumbfxxxistan, so please excuse the question;) How about using fuel tax revenue toward public transportation...has that been tried?

Chet Scoville said...

I agree that the proposed cuts will be a disaster, but let's not forget why they're happening. They're happening for two reasons:

1. Because the morons in Mike Harris's government decided that they could pretend to balance the provincial books by simply off-loading everything onto the cities, and

2. Because the morons at Toronto City Council, after lobbying the province for years to get extra revenue-raising powers, shrieked in terror and ran away when presented with the first actual chance to use such powers.

We are governed by bloody idiots.

stageleft said...

I have spent my 5 years in Ottawa car-less, but each and every year the fares have gone up and I recently read that they may go up another 20% over the next couple of years - the other day I started the bike and drove downtown, parked at a friends house and did the 20 minute walk to work and saved myself almost $6.00, if I did that for a week I'd save $29.00, for a month $116.00 -- and there's no way that I'd spend $166.00 in gas during that time... essentially they've made it too expensive for me to take transit to work anymore.

Dark Daughta said...

The political parties understand that Toronto's power needs to be crushed. Too many artists, academics, activists, the triple A's that spell trouble, resistance, disaster. Destroy the city's infrastructure and the disidents who rely on the city's smooth functioning to get from one place to another will be so fucking wrapped up with just surviving their day-to-day that they will have no time to resist. Gut the city, gut one area of concentrated, left leaning resistance. All this to say, we don't have a car, but we're going to buy one second hand. We'd dearly like to share with others, but as the strangle hold tightens, people we thought would ally with us have become more "Me" centered. Last night papi and I were talking about how best to weather what will come. I threw up my hands and said I didn't know. My big plan right now looks like a long term one. Do like they did in the old days - have a few more children, take really good care of them, instill them with a love of their family and move as a power block. That's nuclear. That's sad. Options seem so limited. But that's the point of the strangle hold on the city.