Saturday, 7 March 2015

Abolish the TTC Monopoly on Public Mass Transit in Toronto, Because Competition is "The Better Way"

If you use the TTC on a regular basis, or know someone who does, you're very familiar with the usual complaints about Toronto's public transit provider.  The overcrowded buses, streetcars and subways, the frequent delays, the equipment breakdowns, the surly employees that would sooner step on your face than look at you, the increasing the lack of service in many areas, the...well, you get the idea.  It seems that the TTC is always in the news for the wrong reasons.  The most recent reason: cost overruns.  It has been reported that the TTC's long-anticipated Spadina subway extension now has up to $400 million in cost overruns.  Yikes!  Four hundred million dollars!?  Wait a minute, why am I so surprised?  It's not like this hasn't happened before.  Remember the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way disaster?  I'm sure you do, especially if you happen to be one of those unfortunate souls who lost their business during the project's construction.  As I remember, the whole thing was supposed to cost $60 million, but that eventually ballooned to more than $100 million.  Now I understand that there are almost always unexpected costs that come with big projects, but this is just ridiculous, and Mayor John Tory, whom I supported in the last municipal election, agrees with me.  So what's he going to do about it?  Well, I hope he does something, because Torontonians deserve better.  They deserve more accountability when it comes to how the TTC uses their tax dollars.  Unfortunately, however, when it comes to the TTC, accountability is very hard to come by.  And why should it be?  The TTC doesn't face any competition, so there's little incentive to do better, and this I think is public transit's biggest problem.

For those of you who don't know, the TTC by law has a monopoly on public transit within the City of Toronto.  That means that for many Torontonians, the TTC isn't "the better way", it's the only way, and I think this has to change.  If Mayor John Tory really wants to fix the TTC, he should call for the immediate abolition of its monopoly on public mass transit in Toronto.  If this were to happen, Torontonians would no longer be at the mercy of the TTC, because private interests could provide alternatives to the overcrowded and underfunded public system.  Imagine, for example, not having to wait for the TTC to build a new subway route, because a private company has offered to build one at no cost to the taxpayers since it stands to make a substantial profit from it in the long run.  Believe me, I would love for a private firm to come and build a subway down a busy street, like Bathurst or King, as I'm sure many other people would.  And if you happen to live in a part of the city that is grossly under-served by the TTC, you can bet money that a private concern would come and fill in the gap left by the public transit provider, because they know that there's profit to be had.

Now I can already hear some of the naysayers telling me that this will never work because there won't be seamless movement between the TTC system and the systems owned by private interests.  This is a load of nonsense, because the technology exists to provide seamless movement between two or more systems.  Transit users will be able to transfer between a TTC-owned bus, streetcar or subway route to those owned by private interests as easily as someone driving on HWY 400 gets onto the privately-owned HWY 407.  It's not rocket science.  And the fact of the matter is that those who oppose allowing the private sector to provide alternative mass transportation to Torontonians aren't really concerned about the average commuter; they're concerned about protecting the jobs of unionized TTC workers, who are some of the same people who, as I said, would sooner step on a TTC user's face than look at them.  The reality is that without competition, there will never be meaningful accountability at the TTC.  I'm hoping that folks like the mayor and other elected officials at City Hall and the Province of Ontario will acknowledge this reality and work to remove the TTC's shackles from the city's public transit users so that they can finally choose what they believe is "the better way".   

No comments:

Post a Comment