Monday, Jan 19
The union that represents 10,000 Toronto Transit Commission operating and maintenance staff tentatively welcomes today’s announcement of city transit service improvements but says the measures being taken are too modest to make the kind of difference Torontonians want and that transit users are unfortunately once again being asked to bear the burden of years of TTC underfunding
“We were led to believe that the Mayor was making a major funding announcement,” said Bob Kinnear, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113.
“The 10-cent fare increase is not really ‘funding,’ it’s another tax on transit users who already pay more to run their system than anywhere else in North America.
“Why are the transit users the only ones who have to pay more to relieve congestion on the roads? They are already doing their part. The TTC is the least-subsidized transit system in North America. How about the people who don’t take transit but benefit from it because there’s more room on the roads for their cars. They have to step up to the plate as well. We can’t keep going back to transit users to make life easier for car users.
“If Mayor Tory is going to break an election promise on transit fares, why not break another one on taxes to properly fund more transit?
“To be clear, we fully endorse all the announced service improvements,” said Kinnear. “But riders are going to be very disappointed if they think these proposed enhancements alone are going to represent a meaningful recovery from the years of underfunding the TTC.”
Local 113 issued its own report on Toronto’s transit future last November, which calls for substantially more funding, particularly for more vehicles, than Mayor Tory’s plans.
“The additional money proposed for more buses is less than half of what is needed to make a noticeable difference in service levels.”
Kinnear said that the union’s proposals, found at TorontoTransitFuture.ca, are more in line with what transit riders want to see happen.
“We’re out there every hour of every day with passengers and I’m telling you these proposals are not going to meet their expectations. We need far more buses than are being proposed and many more streetcars. We need more investment in maintenance, which will actually save money, and we need a lot more space to put all these new vehicles. Right now, our garages are full.”
“Of course we’ll take anything we can get but Mayor Tory is being too cautious because he doesn’t want to rile up the people who don’t use transit by proposing even a tiny tax increase; that’s too bad.
Kinnear also wondered where the provincial and federal governments fit into the plan.
“I kept waiting to hear that the Mayor was going to make sustainable Federal funding for transit an election issue this year but he didn’t do that now so he probably won’t ever. That’s really disappointing, especially from someone who campaigned on the premise that he could work better with upper levels of government to get Toronto back some of the billions and billions of dollars we send to Ottawa and Queen’s Park.”
“2015 should be the transit election year for Toronto but it now looks like it’s going to be another year of letting the Conservatives in Ottawa and the Liberal at Queen’s Park off the hook for adequate transit operational funding.”
“Read our report,” said Kinnear, “the one that Mr. Tory praised the day it was issued, before he took office. You’ll see how a comprehensive vision of a better future for transit looks compared to these baby steps being taken because of the chronic failure of senior governments and the tax phobia of people who can afford a bit more to make our city a lot more liveable.”