TORONTO, ONTARIO – This week, ATU Local 113 is celebrating a century of public ownership and operation of the TTC. Throughout this time, we have faced many historic challenges, including that of the present day. This is a time for bold vision and strong leadership, but instead both the membership and public are left with nothing but unanswered questions.

In 1921, the people of Toronto took over transit due to the failings of private operators. Their refusal to invest in service had left the city disorganized and divided into arbitrary fare zones. Since public adoption, the TTC had become a key to Toronto’s success. This is due to the implementation of strong leadership, smart policies and the expertise and experience of its workers. Despite the lessons of our past, when the Crosstown enters service it will mark the return of privately-operated transit to Toronto – for the first time in 100 years.

“There are decisions being made in the near future about fares and service that will fundamentally transform transit in Toronto,” said Local 113 President Carlos Santos. “Riders have a right to know where our leaders stand and what their vision is for the TTC’s next 100 years.”

A flat, city-wide fare and free movement between TTC vehicles is one of the TTC’s key strengths. Right now, the TTC is exploring replacing a single fare with fares by time of day, zone, distance, or vehicle mode. Ending the single fare and breaking apart the network could make transit less appealing to the public, reduce equity, and jeopardize the City’s goals for sustainability and inclusion.

“Without strong leadership, this anniversary could mark the beginning of the end of the line for the TTC as a public service,” says Santos.

ATU Local 113 believes our membership and the public have the right to have their questions answered. 

We ask the following of the Mayor and TTC Leadership:

Will you oppose a fare policy that breaks the transit system apart, whether by time, zone, or vehicle type?

The subsidy per ride in Toronto is far lower – and service levels much higher – than in the 905. The TTC is pursuing regional fare integration which, without a significant regional operating subsidy, could raise fares or reduce service in Toronto.  

Prior to exploring fare and service integration, did you require a regional operating subsidy to offset lost TTC revenue?

The PRESTO fare collection system cost the public hundreds of millions of dollars, did not work as promised, and uses out-of-date technology. The only thing it has done well is generate HUGE profits for PRIVATE companies. Now, the TTC is looking at renewing its contract with PRESTO.

Will you require the TTC’s fare collection be kept under direct public control through the City?

The TTC is able to offer high service levels across the city because it is one network. If we separate routes from each other, riders in harder to serve areas will see their service plummet and transfers will become more challenging. Right now, the TTC is working with the Ford government to explore changes to the City of Toronto Act that would allow other operators to run TTC routes.

Where do you stand on allowing other service providers to operate TTC routes?

Toronto City Council has twice passed resolutions pledging to keep transit public, declaring that “the City of Toronto is committed to ensuring that transit in the City of Toronto remains public and that it is operated and maintained by the TTC.” Against Council direction, the TTC is contracting out core services such as station cleaning and vehicle maintenance. This means that workers without access to adequate paid sick days have worked at TTC locations throughout the pandemic. These careers once offered a path out of poverty but have now become dead-end jobs.

Will you respect Council’s directions and protect the TTC as a public service?

Mayor Tory and TTC CEO Rick Leary take pride in their management abilities. Why, then, are they constantly making decisions that increase the cost to riders while reducing their services? We believe that Toronto deserves safe, reliable, and affordable public transit that allows riders to move freely throughout the city. This requires public oversight and principled governance.  

It’s time for the Mayor and TTC Leadership to tell us where they stand.

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