Editorial Archive

Stable funding of public transit here and abroad a universal issue

6/20/14 6:00 AM

Earlier this week, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) held its annual conference in Montreal.

APTA represents transit properties across North America, including major U.S. operators and the TTC. The association lobbies the United States government on behalf of its members to promote the cause of public transit, and to secure sustainable funding and transit friendly legislation – all with a view to getting people out of their cars and onto public transit.

Like the TTC, all recognize that this is an argument that must be won if service reliability is to be improved.

These issues of funding and transit policy are very relevant to the TTC, of course. Toronto is not alone in facing the challenges of aging infrastructure and rising ridership. To name but a few, our sister transit agencies in New York City, Chicago and Boston all report ongoing budgetary pressures that limit their ability to pursue state-of-good-repair programs. Like the TTC, all recognize that this is an argument that must be won if service reliability is to be improved.

The big difference is that these other systems all receive far greater levels of subsidy than the TTC, which remains the lowest subsidized major transit system in North America, making our challenge all the more daunting.

With the provincial election settled, the joint TTC/City Task Force can now begin its work to lobby all three orders of government to provide stable, affordable and predictable funding to the TTC. I will be seeking a five-to-10-year guaranteed funding envelope to enable us to plan and implement critical improvements, including those items that are currently deferred due to lack of funds.

None of these are “nice to have” projects. They include such critical items as completion of our Easier Access program to make the subway fully accessible, as well as signal replacement on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth).

The good news is that, notwithstanding our funding challenges, progress is being made here at the TTC. Our new streetcars start to enter service in August, with the Presto smart card to follow from November. Meanwhile, we will retire our oldest subway fleet-type today – the H-6 – after about 30 years of service.

So, while funding remains a real challenge, TTC modernization continues apace – and with it tangible improvements to your service.

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