Toronto mayoral candidate John Tory says it is irresponsible to have a report that calls for improvements to the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) without a financial plan to pay for it. But some of his rivals, including Rob Ford and Olivia Chow, were more upbeat about the service improvement initiatives
The Opportunities to Improve Transit Service in Toronto report, which was released on Friday, recommends time-based transfers and calls for more transit vehicles on the road.
Tory warns the recommendations in the TTC report would require a tax or fare hike.
“When somebody brings forward a half-a-billion-dollar program, there has to be an answer to the question, will this result in a fare increase or will this result in a property tax increase,” Tory said at a news conference on Monday morning outside Union Station.
“Frankly, either or both are likely to happen if you implemented this entire report.”
Tory said that with no financial plan in place, taxpayers will be left to conclude that the costs will be born through increased taxes or increased transit fares.
“And that’s precisely why I think it is not responsible to have a program like this that doesn’t have at least a proposed answer or at least give people some feel for how much it would involve by way of an increase of either or both of those if you implemented the whole report at half-a-billion dollars.”
Chow said she was “so happy” that the TTC agrees “we need improved bus services now.” She has touted expanding rush-hour bus service by 10 per cent and has said it would cost $15 million a year and that the money can be found within the existing TTC budget.
“I’m really glad” the TTC put out a road map on how it can move people faster, she said Monday.
Mayor Ford said he agreed with most of the bus and streetcar services improvement plan, but he said he had “a major problem” with the all-door boarding policy which would mean the streetcar driver would no longer be responsible for ensuring a valid fare is paid.
“I don’t believe it’s going to work effectively,” he said.
Tory also said there is no culture of accountability at city hall. He took aim at cost overruns on city projects, citing the Union Station renovation and the Sony Centre as examples.
“I have said that I would convene meetings of the leaders of the biggest projects in the city every week in my office … and talk to them about are you on time? Are you on budget? And if not, why not? And if I don’t get satisfactory answers to those questions for several weeks in a row, we’ll get new people because we cannot go on this way.”
The TTC report will be discussed at a commission meeting on Tuesday. It will then be presented to city council next week, which is the last session before the Oct. 27 municipal election.
Read the full report below: