At its December board meeting, the newly-appointed Toronto Transit Commission board had little new business to discuss on its agenda. The heavy policy debates will come in January with the 2015 Operating Budget and the 2015-2024 Ten Year Capital Plan.
The board is a mixed bag of old and new faces, and there is no real sense yet of how this group will react to calls for improved service and the reversal of cuts for which some of them were responsible during the Ford/Stintz era. Josh Colle is now the TTC Chair, a position held by his father Mike, now an MPP, from 1988 to 1994. He is hard to read, and like so much of the new John Tory administration, uncertain as to whether holding the line on taxes takes precedence over the quality of service. Until the budget debates, Toronto will not know whether Colle is a new “transit champion” in name only, or if he and his board members will fight for TTC riders at Council.
The so-called citizen members of the board (four of the eleven seats go to non-councillors) have been carried over from the previous term, and will sit until their replacements are appointed early in 2015. The choices made by the Civic Appointments Committee, itself dominated by Tory-sympathetic Councillors, will give us a sense of just how independent the Mayor and his circle want the TTC Board to be.
To set the stage for the new term, CEO Andy Byford presented a TTC Overview under the title “The Road to Modernization”. There is nothing particularly new here, but it gives a sense of Byford’s focus. The title is somewhat ironic, the sort of things one would have expected half a century or more ago, not a call-to-arms for a system that prides itself for its reputation in the transit industry.