TTC CEO Andy Byford addressed the Empire Club on May 13, 2013 setting out a strong argument for political and financial support for the transit system (full text at the Torontoist site). After last week’s debacle at Council where almost nobody took any sense of responsibility for the future of transit beyond their own doorsteps, arguing for the TTC is a hard battle.
On one hand, we have an intensely local debate at the ward, if not the neighbourhood level, with the worst of petulant “I-want-a-subway-too” politics.
On the other, the region and the province are preoccupied with funding a large-scale plan that happens to have a spin-off for local transit, but one that will only give Toronto a fraction of what it costs to run and maintain the TTC today, let alone make substantive improvements.
In some ways, the TTC has been its own worst enemy managing on one hand to alienate potential supporters with poor community relations, unreliable budgeting and declining service quality, but on the other managing to attract riders and be more financially “efficient” in spite of itself. When political support for better funding and service is needed, the “success story” is that the TTC has managed to cram more riders into fewer buses and streetcars.
This is not a sustainable approach to transit. Growth – which has come disproportionately in off-peak periods when there is still some capacity in parts of the system – cannot continue on this basis.
Byford will formally launch a Five Year Plan for the TTC in the week of May 27, 2013, but his speech gives a broad outline of his goals. Are they enough, or is there too much concentration on the decor while the house rots around us?