Today in the Toronto Sun, ATU Local 113 President Carlos Santos outlines empty transit promises made by Premier Doug Ford, which has already set the City of Toronto back. Read to get his latest thoughts on the province’s TTC Subway takeover.
Never missing an opportunity, Premier Doug Ford loves to remind us his government is “for the people.”
But as the City of Toronto begins consulting the public on the province’s takeover of TTC subways and the complete redrawing of Toronto’s public transit map, we are left to wonder which people is Doug Ford actually for?
The premier is certainly not for the people who have the most at stake: The nearly 2 million daily TTC riders and the nearly 12,000 workers who operate and maintain Toronto’s buses, Wheel-Trans vehicles, streetcars and subways.
Yet, Ford is asking TTC riders and workers to trust him when he says his government knows best and will deliver “subways, subways, subways” faster, cheaper and better.
Sounds good, but when you look behind the slogans, there is nothing but empty promises that will set transit back years — hurting riders, workers and all of Toronto.
The Ford government claims the province can build new subway lines faster. However, when Ford made his surprise announcement in April of a $28.5-billion transit expansion, he blew up existing plans.
His go-it-alone approach brought an abrupt halt to existing planning for the Relief Line, causing further delays with diverting traffic from the overcrowded Line 1.
His transit plan also leaves in doubt the proposed Eglinton East LRT that would serve tens of thousands of riders in Scarborough and the Waterfront LRT in the booming, transit-starved downtown area.
If more transit delays sound familiar, it is because we have all seen this bad movie before.
The last time a Ford administration (with late mayor Rob Ford in charge) steamrolled into transit planning nearly a decade ago, we saw the fully-funded Transit City expansion plan cancelled in favour of building new subways.
We all know how that movie ended: Promises made, promises broken. Fast forward to 2019 and Torontonians are still paying the price with none of those promised subways.
The Doug Ford government claims the province can deliver expanded transit cheaper and on budget, largely through private-public-partnerships. A recent Ontario auditor general’s report raises serious questions about the true cost of alternative financing and procurement (AFP), a form of P3.
Metrolinx, a provincial agency, contracted out the building of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to a consortium of private corporations.
In her report released in December 2018, Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk criticized Metrolinx for not transferring project risks to the private consortium in a proper way, costing taxpayers an additional $237 million to keep the transit project on track when construction began to fall behind schedule.
Ford promises to build his Ontario Line using unspecified “alternative delivery methods,” whatever that means. One thing is for sure: if the Ford government contracts out the building and maintenance of new lines to private corporations, taxpayers can expect to pay more.
The third sales pitch we hear from the Ford government is that the province can create a better transit experience.
This is hard to believe when the provincial takeover of TTC subways will break apart our integrated system. The concern is Doug Ford could handover Toronto’s subway system to his developer friends, setting the stage for privatization and increases to subway fares, separate from TTC buses and streetcars.
With the federal government rejecting Ontario’s funding demands because of the significant lack of details about Ford’s half-baked transit proposals, there is still time to stop the madness.
The city must withhold funding until the province is willing to work with all partners to build transit that works for the people who matter most: Riders and workers.