Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak’s plan to have the province take over Toronto’s subways is nothing less than theft of Toronto’s most valuable infrastructure, paid for by Torontonians over the past 60 years, says Bob Kinnear, President of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, which represents 10,000 TTC workers.
“It would be a financial disaster for the TTC,” says Kinnear. “The subway is the only profitable part of our transit system and it supports the bus and streetcar surface routes that feed into it.
“Take away the subway revenue without giving it back to the TTC and you would either lose over a hundred surface routes or have to increase bus and streetcar fares to outrageous levels. It would be the end of the TTC. Hundreds of thousands who rely on surface vehicles would be stranded.”
Kinnear also questioned Hudak’s promise that taking over all rail transit and major highways wouldn’t cost taxpayers a cent, which means the money would have to come from the private sector.
“This sounds like Rob Ford’s ridiculous promise that the completion of the Sheppard subway would be financed entirely by business,” said Kinnear. “We haven’t seen a nickel of that mythical money and neither would we under Hudak’s plan. Privatization of urban transit simply doesn’t work unless it is accompanied by large taxpayer subsidies, as in York Region, where public subsidies are an astonishing $5.11 per ride, most of which goes to the European-based companies that run the system.”
In Toronto, public subsidies of the TTC are about 90 cents per ride.
“No one who uses transit in Toronto should vote for Hudak,” says Kinnear. “He either doesn’t know what he’s talking about or he is channeling Mike Harris, who hated and financially crippled Toronto. In fact, it was Harris who filled in the partially-completed Eglinton subway in the 1995. Had it not been for that pointless false economy, we would have had a rapid transit system from Eglinton West to the airport years ago.
“As for the 96,000 jobs Hudak’s plan would supposedly create, I can’t wait to see how that number was arrived at because it makes no sense,” says Kinnear. “It is more than seven times the number of people who now run the TTC, including management. Even if you count all the construction jobs from the proposed East-West relief line, you don’t come anywhere close to 96,000.
“Hudak might have been a competent manager at Wal-Mart but we can’t afford to let him anywhere near our transit system.”