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Eye to TTC: Make Us Love You Again

Welcome to all visitors coming to this website from the cover story of Eye Magazine. For those of you who haven’t read the Eye, yet, go over and check out Bert Archer’s cover story on his plea to fix the TTC.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a panel discussion with Bert, along with Laurence Bernstein (a senior partner at Bay Charles Consulting), Matthew Blackett (of Spacing Magazine and Kevin McLaughlin (president of Autoshare). Our task was to talk about the TTC and suggest things the TTC could be doing to improve service but wasn’t.

As Bert says, I defended the TTC’s engineers and service planners. The commission has been severely underfunded for fifteen years. It needs more buses, more streetcars, longer subways and more money to operate these things, and the TTC’s planners have spent the past fifteen years squeezing blood from a stone. Without more government funding, the TTC would continue to scramble just to keep up.

But Kevin McLaughlin came up with an interesting point: if the TTC could improve the experience of the people using the system, people would feel more positive about the commission. They would be less willing to allow politicians to use the TTC as the first line of cutbacks when money became short. And I have to admit that, in the age of underfunding, there are parts of the TTC experience that is unpleasant. Like the bathrooms at Kipling station. Or the dust on the buses. Or the garbage on the subway trains. As Andrew Spicer notes, the TTC could improve the ways it markets itself. And while it would cost more to keep the bathrooms cleaner, prevent the garbage bins from overflowing and shine up the buses and streetcars, such an investment might pay dividends.

So, we at Transit Toronto would like to put it to you in a poll. Let us say that it costs the TTC $10 million a year to make the commission substantially cleaner than before. That roughly equates to the money required to operate 20 buses or streetcars. If the transit vehicles you used were substantially cleaner, would you still take transit if you had to wait longer to step onto a more crowded vehicle? Vote here!

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Welcome to Transit Toronto! This is an information site dedicated to public transportation in Toronto, maintained by transit enthusiasts for transit enthuasiasts. This is NOT the official website of the Toronto Transit Commission, Metrolinx or any other transit provider or government agency. To access the official websites of these agencies, consult this page here.