Well just as expected the almost bi-annual dance the TTC does with public transit users in Toronto has ended in a fare increase. This one quite substantial. What dance you ask? You know the one. The one where they complain that they have no money because the City and the Province refuse to help or threatened to cut back funds and they are left with no choice but to place the costs of a declining transit system on our shoulders.
Well what can ya do?
I suppose one can resort to driving but those who live here know that the roads are already crowded almost to capacity and that navigating downtown Toronto can be a slow moving nightmare even if you can get past the fact that paying anything less than $10 a day in parking is seen as a pretty nice deal here.
Or I guess we could all start looking for jobs or schools in the 905 area at least there you probably wouldn't have the high parking costs associated with downtown Toronto.
This whole fare increase thing is ironic on so many levels. First the TTC does a survey where basically your only options are decrease service or increase fares. Well duhh what do you think most people who are dependent on the service are going to say? Its like sitting between the proverbial rock and the hard place or sitting at a domino table where your only choice is which one of your opponents wins. If you pass the guy playing out of your hand his partner wins and if you don't pass him he wins. Trust me been there many a time. You are squeezed!
Then you have a City in Toronto and a province in Ontario that have been pushing public transit like crazy because well Toronto in terms of getting to and from downtown just wasn't built for swift travel by cars. Unlike most major metropolises the builders of this city rightly or perhaps not choose to put an emphasis on people and livability over car and goods movement. It all sounds so noble until you're stuck in rush hour on the DVP or Gardiner cussing those damn incompetent planners.
You also have that environmental factor. We are forever bombarded by signs pushing us to take the TTC, limit the number of smog days, increase air quality be kind to your environment etc etc. Leave the car at home take the TTC, its THE BETTER WAY they say. Gee well those messages run sort of contradictory to fare increases don't they?
Then you have this whole issue with expansion. How is it that politicians can find money or at least talk of money for subway expansion when they wont even give the TTC money for the existing system to run properly? Oh I guess expansion gets more press and more votes. My bad I would think you'd try to consolidate, fix and attempt to operate what you already have existing first but that probably makes too much sense.
Of course the bottom line, the real problem, the root of the need for these repeated fare increases probably isn't what most people think it is. Its not that TTC is wasting money or overpaying its staff or the like although one does sometimes question how they negotiate with their unions. Its the fact that despite all the emphasis or maybe its just lip service paid to public transit here in Toronto that the TTC is the only transit agency in North America that pays like 70-80% of its operating costs directly out of its fare receipts. In other cities its somewhere along 40%. That's why a monthly pass in Montreal is about 1/2 the cost of one here.
How'd we get so special? Come on now buses and subways and streetcars are a public service aren't they? They are for the benefit of the public. We pay our taxes its supposed to go into health care and garbage collection and snow removal and stuff like public transit. The government needs to put some of the tax money back into running public transit instead of always squeezing the public via new taxes or fare increases. Used to be that the TTC was thought of as one of the best public transit services in North America. Now ummm not so much.
Oh well I'm sure in two years time we'll see the same dance repeated with the same outcome.