Incredulous today to find hundreds of people waiting at the corner of Yonge and Bloor for non existent shuttle busses supposed to provide a replacement bus service between Bloor and Lawrence for the closed for maintenance subway. A parade, would you believe, was given precedence over the busses, and Yonge Street was closed for that parade, for about an hour.
Incredulous that somewhere in City Hall these decisions get made, that amidst all the talk about transit’s importance, there are people making them, in this case determining to prioritize a parade over a major transit route, and in so doing demonstrating vividly the City’s attitude to the transit user.
Incredulous too that no effort appeared to be made to accommodate both, with the parade using half the road for instance and the busses the other half, or the parade taking another route.
The transit rider, in this system of ours has no champion, no one to speak for them, to argue for them. In the closing of the King streetcar this week for TIFF, the City film office, who as I understand it approve and facilitate virtually every request that is made to them, said TTC were consulted and agreed. The TTC however advise their staff ‘did raise objections but were not the decision-maker’. So how vociferously did the City film office and the TTC object to a plan that would quite unnecessarily disrupt and delay 50,000+ riders each day. Am I wrong to think that neither party gives a hoot for the transit rider.
And the future prospects look no better. Amongst the offering of Mayoral candidates, we hear talk all day about big fixes such as new Subways or joining GO lines together as solutions, none of which will make an iota of difference inside 5 years. The myriad short term improvements such as POP, priorities, crowding, and more busses are the low hanging fruit, the easy and quick and inexpensive solutions that make a difference within the next council term and not a maybe for one after.
The present structure, the TTC, its Board and other involved City departments, without representation for the rider, is a failure. We need to make Transit a truly ESSENTIAL service. I suggest to rid the TTC board, and introduce a ‘regulator’, an independent function that represents the rider and reports directly to council. The regulator would establish transit standards, measure compliance, receive complaints, determine costs, and have teeth to require compliance by other departments. The regulator, for capital projects would present council a priced list, leaving council to raise and assign funds but not to cherry pick the list.
We need, may suggest, an independent Ombudsman like role to oversee all parties, represent the user, investigate complaints and publicly report findings, and report directly to Council. That individual should have substantial experience in transit planning and operation.