Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Should the province run transit?

with one comment

The answer in this region for many years was a resounding “No!”. BC Transit was cash starved, and while the Vancouver region grew rapidly, the transit system didn’t. The Mayors wanted local control, and finally, in 1999 they got it. But then they were denied the funding mechanism they had chosen. And now the province wants to take back control – only it is diguising it as a “professional” take over, which fools no one.

Meanwhile in the centre of the known universe, the equally cash starved and under funded Toronto Transit Commission is also in trouble. And the Toronto Star asked its readers if the province should take it over. And most of the answers seem to be “Yes”.

I suspect that the answers are based on the mind set that “anyone could do a better job than the current crowd”. But I think it is not about management, I think it is about money. And the fact that Canadian cities are really stuck when it comes to funds. They only have access to property taxes and user fees. And Canadians feel that they pay way too much tax in general, so there is very little willingness to give the cities any more.

What people really want in both Vancouver and Toronto is more and better transit. And it doesn’t matter who provides it, as long as they don’t have to pay any more in taxes or fares to get it.   Because as far as they are concerned all government at every level is not only awash with cash but they only know how to waste it.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 24, 2007 at 4:36 pm

Posted in transit

One Response

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  1. The Toronto Star doesn’t really mention this, but I suspect that if such a move were to happen, it would be to upload all transit services in the region and place them under control of the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority. It’s a young agency being modelled after TransLink, and its board consists of political representatives from the cities and regional municipalities in the GTA.

    Toronto city council is preparing for war, the province is downplaying the report, but I’m not surprised that public support is high. Two controversial, but necessary (in my opinion) taxes were just passed in Toronto after a summer of threats of massive service cuts. While I believe that citizens are beginning to understand the fallacy of running a city on property taxes alone, many still believe that the city is wasting money and should gets its books in order.

    In my opinion, the regional authority should build and operate rapid transit lines (which are already regional in nature), and establish minimum service standards for frequency and coverage, as well as a common fare policy. The local bus routes should be left to the local agencies, because local planners are best suited to understand the neighbourhood context. I think this is the best mix of provincial and municipal control.

    Andrae Griffith

    October 24, 2007 at 6:23 pm

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