Today (July 30) on CBC’s Metro Morning, Richard Soberman and David Gunn were interviewed about the proposal to close the Sheppard Subway. In the same broadcast, on the news, we heard a real estate developer whose dreams of selling new condos on Sheppard were threatened by the loss of a significant marketing tool, the subway.
Soberman and Gunn practically fell over each other talking about how crazy the idea is, but sadly, the conversation never went beyond the Sheppard line to the wider issue of TTC service quality. Even though that subway proposal only represents 10% of the total “savings” to be found in the TTC budget, it gets all of the air time, all of the ink. Where is the coverage about all the service cuts on bus and streetcar routes? About the new services that will never see the light of day?
What pains me most is the total absence of anyone “official” from Council talking about how these cuts (a) are a terrible idea and (b) don’t have to happen. I’m a Miller supporter, but the Mayor has been conspicuously absent along with TTC Chair Adam Giambrone. This leaves the media field open to doom-and-gloom coverage.
If this goes on very long, the TTC cuts become real, if only in people’s minds, because that’s all we will be hearing. The great promises of better transit will just be a memory, if that. Transit City and MoveOntario will just be two more grand announcements of better days for transit that went absolutely nowhere because this city hasn’t got the guts to pay its way.
Next winter, while you wait for a bus that is late and packed, remember all those speeches about “living within our means” and “government waste”.
This is not a question of “if the money can be found” — not finding the money to expand and improve the TTC is really not an option as anyone reading recent studies of the GTA’s transit needs will know. Building our future transit network needs long-term dedication to funding.
Often we hear about how Queen’s Park or Ottawa won’t create a dedicated funding stream for transit (or various other municipal services), but Toronto is just as bad. One year Council will agree to a certain funding level, but the moment some uppity constituent demands lower taxes, the TTC is one of the first to lose its funding.
Being pro-transit isn’t something you do on alternate Thursdays, it’s a full time requirement and needs predictable, long-term revenue to sustain the vision some Councillors profess for transit.
So where is the Mayor? Where is Adam Giambrone?
We need them to restore a positive view of transit and of what our city can be, and we need them now.
Postscript: No sooner do I post this in frustration, but the Mayor pops up to tell the Police Board and TTC “make those cuts now, don’t wait until the fall”. Nothing like confidence to start off my morning. (July 31)