Monday, September 19, 2011

One Small Step for Mayor Ford, One Giant Step Backwards for the TTC.

When I created the WTF!? category for my posts, I didn't imagine ever having to use it more than once or twice a month. I guess it's a sign that we live in an increasingly crazy world that I'm now using it twice in four days.

In a move that benefits no one and screws us all over, the Toronto Transit Commission decided last Friday to reduce its 2012 budget by 10% - doing exactly as Mayor Ford commanded requested in order to help lower the City's deficit. Where are the savings going to come from? Why, regressive measures, of course! Service will be cut back, employees will be sent home, and fares will go up. In other words, more commuters will turn away from the TTC and hop into cars, further clogging the roadways in and around town. Yay!

I'm not sure how this is even possible, considering that overcrowding on TTC vehicles is already a huge problem, but apparently 50 routes will see reductions in frequency during the morning and afternoon rush. I guess cutbacks on 60 off-peak routes don't seem so bad in comparison? But that's absurd, because any further decline in service is outrageous, no matter the time of day. Just last week I was on a streetcar that refused to pick up any more passengers because it was full... at 2:00 in the afternoon. WTF!?

In terms of cutting staff, the picture turns from bleak into cruel: today, 251 non-unionized employees will be laid off. In other words, for hundreds or thousands of TTC staff, this weekend was one of stress, uncertainty, and anxiety, wondering if they'd be the ones to find out today that they are no longer needed. And it's not like those who still have a job to come to tomorrow will feel relief: in total, 1,000 jobs will eventually be cut. I can't even begin to imagine what it must feel like to worry every day that you might be let go, let alone not know when it could happen.

Transit users can take small comfort in the fact that fares won't go up until the new year, and when they do, the increase will only amount to ten cents per ride - that's much less than the 25-cent hike we experienced in January 2010. Except... we're going to be paying more for less. Something about this math doesn't add up. And it's not just the math, it's the reality that everybody loses. In fact, I anticipate that stress levels will go up astronomically. Think about it: TTC users will loathe the longer wait times and more crowded vehicles, drivers and cyclists will hate how many more cars will be on the road, and those of us lucky enough to be able to walk to work? We'll arrive at the office in time to greet our irate colleagues ranting about how bad their commute was. Oh joy.

Since there is no silver lining to this bad news, I will say this: Thomas Fuller wrote that abused patience turns to fury, and it is fury that we need to motivate us to stand up against this injustice. So go ahead, be impatient, get angry, organize, and then take action!

Photo of TTC logo used under Creative Commons from Neal Jennings (Sweet One/flickr).
Photo of Dundas West station used under Creative Commons from Andrew Goloida (theapoc/flickr).
Photo of Bloor/Yonge station used under Creative Commons from Jamaalism (flickr).


  1. Come on now, Marc, that's not productive! Turn that hatred into something (non-violent). At least, join TTC Riders, a public transit advocacy group:

  2. Definately in the WTF category. Transit saves money in the long run, less roads are needed, less repairs, less potholes, etc etc. But we all know that. Short sighted thinking to balance a budget. Boo. If I was a TTC rider, I would prefer fare inceases over cuts in service.

    Speaking of politics, I hope your election goes well in Ontario. I have all my toes and fingers crossed for you guys!! I read today that Tim Hudak is ahead in the polls. Double boo. Don't let it happen!

    Conservatives are celebrating 40 years of power in Alberta this month. Triple boo.

  3. Hi Sherry! I wouldn't oppose a fare increase if it meant avoiding cuts. It's the double whammy of making us pay more AND reducing service that makes this an unreasonable and unfair situation.

    As for the election, I'm not super hopeful about the outcome, but the lawns in my neighbourhood are covered in orange NDP signs, so that's something.

  4. Urgh. I always thought Canada was light years ahead of the US in terms of public transportation and most environmental measures. I guess I should rethink my plan to escape to Canada if things get too bad stateside! words of hope or comfort today. It's been a downer week.

  5. Hi Jennifer, I'm sorry to hear it's been a downer week. And I'm sorry to admit that Canada is not light years ahead of the US. In some ways maybe, but things change and it depends on who's in charge. Our new mayor was voted in by suburbanites to the dismay of everyone who actually lives in Toronto's core. So he's upholding the values of those who drive in to work every day and never take transit. It's sad. He's undoing a lot of good work our former mayor did. Sigh.

  6. Boy oh Boy! I really do think it is time that this anger towards Ford's policies turns into action. From cuts to the TTC to the Toronto Public Library system; how much can he do before people stop complaining and actually get out and act. On the other token, I've recently been following Calgary's mayor Naheed Nenshi, who I desperately hope will actually be a positive force in Canadian municipal politics

  7. Leanne, you're forgetting that this is what Canadians, especially Torontonians, are really good at: endlessly complaining without ever taking action. I just don't know what we can do. In recent polls, it seems we're willing to pay more taxes rather than see services cut, but even that doesn't sway the Mayor from his city-destroying course. What can we do?