Transit advocates, volunteers and politicians took part in a “Day of Action” Friday morning to warn commuters about the impact that handing control of the TTC subway to the provincial government may have on public transit in Toronto.
“If the province steals the subway and breaks a part our integrated system, it’s going to be a disaster for transit riders,” TTCriders executive director Shelagh Pizey-Allen said outside Queen’s Park station, one of 35 locations targeted for the awareness campaign.
“We’re going to see delays to the new transit that we need. We’re going to see our subway system fall into disrepair because the province isn’t planning on funding it enough and it opens the door to higher fares on the subway, to privatization and to the total loss of accountability over how our transit system is run.”
Premier Doug Ford’s plan to take over Toronto’s subway system also means the province would be responsible for deciding on new stations or routes.
However, the TTC would retain the day-to-day operations of the subway, buses, and street cars, while the city would keep fare box revenue.
The province and City of Toronto signed a “terms of reference” last week as they move forward with their discussions.
“Necessary maintenance and investment in the subway system has been put off for too long,” Ford said in a release last Tuesday.
“We’ve also been waiting far too long for subway expansions. New subway construction has been stuck in red tape, for years. It’s time to take action and speed things up.”
Mayor John Tory has previously said he is open to see how the Ford government intends to upload the TTC and how the process will unfold.
Toronto’s public transit workers also took part in the Day of Action by wearing “Don’t Steal Our Subway” T-shirts on the job on Friday.
“While Premier Ford bulldozes ahead with his so-called subway upload scheme, ATU Local 113 members are taking a stand to say Toronto’s subway belongs to our city,” Carlos Santos, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, said in a media release.
“Ripping the TTC Subway from the rest of our public transit system will create havoc for riders, add unnecessary bureaucracy to our system and take local control away from city transit planning. Public transit workers are united in telling Premier Ford to properly fund the TTC, not tear it apart!”
Transit advocates are calling on commuters to reach out to their local representatives, both municipally and provincially, to air their concerns.
— With a file from Travis Dhanraj and The Canadian Press