I believe in public transportation. Public transportation
works. Public transportation – despite the efforts of car manufacturers –
is the future of transportation. North Americans, and Americans in particular,
will struggle with this notion, but it will be so.
And it will be so despite the banality of the Toronto
Transportation Commission’s (TTC) management, and it will be so despite
the ridiculous inanity of the ATU Local 113, and its embarrassing President, Bob
Kinnear. I say this as Toronto
seems to have been spared another public transportation strike, which would have begun
as early as midnight on Monday.
While I believe in public transportation, I also firmly
believe in competition and the value added brought to any system as a result of
competition. The TTC and its union have become complacent because their service
is the only alternative. Unlike a visit to a restaurant that does not go well,
I cannot take my business elsewhere after an unfortunate interaction with the
TTC or its unionized employees. Perhaps I’m just unlucky, but 90% of my
interactions with TTC union employees are not positive. TTC union
employees do not portray any sense of pride in their jobs (this despite the
billboards, and worse, the obscene propaganda ads Local 113 puts out like the
one found at their latest propaganda website: Worth A Million). Rather they are rude,
obnoxious, surly or worse, indifferent. Indifference is a mandatory requisite
of TTC union employees.
Management is not much better. The current golden goose is
the TTC’s “Station Modernization” plan where all but 5 of the
current stations shall get an overhaul. Now, I’m fine with this if the renovations
are anything but cosmetic. The minimalist tiles, text fonts and design of the
stations along the line are modern even today. And sure they might need some cleaning but
not overhauling. Museum station has already been redone and has lost its former
charm by the application of $5M of Toronto Community Foundation dollars and
looks like a ride at Universal Studios. It’s such a shame, but I was trained
as an historian so whenever I see history lost, it just slays me.
If the TTC wants to throw money at renovation, at least do
it to things that make sense: making all the stations fully accessible, as a
start. Otherwise, I’d rather the TTC throw the millions and millions of
dollars at improving service, holding TTC fare hikes to a minimum or –
heaven forbid – providing customer service training to those awful ATU
Local 113 employees.
a month ago, I transited on an affordable, efficient, modern public
transportation system staffed by genuine, caring STM employees. Why can’t
blessed by such a gift? How can Toronto
I would argue a good start is ridding itself of the ATU
I would argue a second good step is privatizing the lines so
competition, and the responsibilities and customer service expectations that
result from competition, gives Toronto
the public transportation system it so rightly deserves.