I am beginning to wonder whether we should just get rid of the TTC and City Council, including the Mayor, and just appoint the members of the Budget Advisory Committee as transit dictators for life.
Once again, a proposal by the TTC to buy new streetcars rather than rebuilding all of the CLRV fleet failed at BAC yesterday by a vote of 4 to 2.
The argument against new streetcars turns on the question of the City’s debt load and the fact that a new streetcar fleet moves spending from the “out” years (distant future, beyond the stale-date of BAC members) to the “in” years where it must compete for room with many other projects (including that little subway extension I have written so much about).
City Council and Mayor Miller need to understand some very important facts if they do not find a way to reverse this policy:
- There are no spare vehicles with which to improve service despite an ongoing 3% increase in demand on the system.
- There are no vehicles with which to expand the system.
- There will be no accessible streetcars with which to run a World’s Fair shuttle. Maybe this will be another possible application for Swan Boats (for which see the “Fantasy” section of this site).
- The streetcar system will not be fully accessible until almost the last possible date before this would be fully mandated in the mid 2020’s.
- We may have to close at least one streetcar line to get enough vehicles to run the rest of the system.
There is no question that Toronto has some serious budgeting problems, but Council has its head in the sand if it thinks we can keep putting off significant transit expenditures like this.
My challenge to Mayor Miller is this: Make this happen, and make it happen before your re-election.