Friday, March 24, 2006

The Liberals Fund TTC to Avoid Deficit Slaying. About Time.

TheStar.com - Province banks on transit

Back on February 9th, I ranted against the latest TTC fare increase and compared TTC fares and funding percentages from different levels of governments with those of other North American cities. I must not have been the only one PO'd because the Liberals have done the unthinkable -- they're feeding our starving transit system again. And they're doing it in a way that seemingly can't be reversed by another government, as the Harrisites did with Bob Rae's funding of four new subway lines back in the 1990s when they nixed all but one, and that one they truncated. (It's encouraging to see John Tory, Leader of the Opposition, say he will talk to the Federal Finance Minister about getting on board.) Of course, this is only happening because of the Liberals wanting to get rid of the deficit in an election year, not the year before. But whatever works!

The Art of the Rant challenged my Feb. 9th post, but made a good point about where subway lines should go: up to Highway 7 and Yonge, and connecting the Sheppard line to the Spadina line. He also pointed out that GTA transit should be co-ordinated by the province. Well, we all sort of got our wish. First, it's heartening to see that the government is leaning towards replacing the Scarborough LRT with a real subway. Second, the new line being proposed will now go all the way to Jane and Highway 7 (isn't that where the big sinkhole is that Vaughan can't fix and businesses are going under? Is this where they plan on building a new city centre?). That is significantly west of where Art would like to see it, but it's still up in the 905 region and on the highway. The new endpoint being in Vaughan means that the federal government is more likely to chip in as funds will not only help Toronto, but more importantly help the 905 region. This will both get the Conservatives votes and get around the God!-don't-send-money-to-smug-Toronto mentality of the rest of the country. It seems to me, though, that governments are finally waking up to the huge cost this mentality has been to the whole of the country. We're 45% of Ontario; Ontario is the biggest province in Canada. How we do has a big impact on all of us, whether non-Torontonians like it or not.

The province has also created the GTTA to oversee transit. Although Art wanted the province to take over co-ordination, I can't ever see that happening. On the other hand, this new incarnation of the GTTA again has no teeth, and so I don't think much will change, other than a one-fare-card system will be instituted. Big whoop.

Toronto is by far the biggest transit system in the GTA, eclipsing all the others by miles. While I don't agree that fiscally it's a good idea to spend billions instead of eliminating the deficit and continuing to increase the debt, which results in more taxes going to debt interest instead of to programs, the province has downloaded and underfunded our city and our transit for so long that it's now falling apart literally and they have no choice but to start making repairs. Unfortunately, when you ignore a problem for a long time, what was manageable and affordable to fix becomes a gargantuan expense. Hopefully, if the province is ever able to repair things fully, at least with public transit and roads, they will not make this same mistake again in the name of when-we-stick-it-to-Toronto we'll-get-votes.

Now my only question is why are we still getting a fare hike when Toronto got $200 million extra on top of everything else?

2 comments:

Mark Dowling said...

maybe they think putting a tunnel through a sinkhole will mean less construction cost? :)

talk talk talk said...

LOL!!!