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Yet another subway hero: Smitherman unleashes his transit plan

George Smitherman took a break from picking fights with Rob Ford (too bad, that was fun) in order to release an actual policy document today. Titled “Get Toronto Moving Again”, the candidate’s transit plan calls for subway and LRT expansions funded by a trick Smitherman used as health minister: public-private-partnerships. This will no doubt appeal to the huge majority of Toronto voters who support subways without really caring how they’re paid for, but what caught our eye was this plank: Smitherman wants to let seniors ride the TTC for free from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday.

From the Globe and Mail :

Reduced fares for seniors are nothing out of the ordinary. But it’s rare in North America to waive fares entirely, [transit consultant Ed] Levy said. For the past several years London has been experimenting successfully with a similar system, which lets older passengers ride for free during off-peak hours.

“My good friend there is constantly telling me about it,” he said. “It’s not just the Underground and buses, but it’s apparently the whole suburban railway system. … It’s a bit extreme.”

Indeed—especially for the TTC, which relies almost entirely on fares. In a rare moment of coherence, Howard Moscoe pointed out that fare-free rides would have to be a short-lived policy since Toronto’s population is aging quickly. He stopped short of noting that since seniors vote in record numbers, Smitherman will have been mayor for a while by the time the plan is financially unfeasible.

• Smitherman wants to let seniors ride TTC for free [Globe and Mail]
• Smitherman will vow to expand subway, LRTs [Toronto Star]
• Smitherman Bares Transport Plan For Toronto [AHN]

  • George Spraggs

    “Three new subway lines
    Free transit for seniors
    No road tolls or new taxes
    Next he’ll be telling us he’s got a cure for cancer.”

    Trusting the man who blew a bilion dollars out the door with a $17 billion plan is like asking the arsonist to put out the fire. .

    “A subway in every neighborhood. A chicken in every pot.”

    They used to be known as P3s
    Then George called them AFPs
    Now he’s calling them Design, Build, Finance.
    But E-health will always be known as E-health.

    He attacked Rossi a month ago for proposing one new subway station every year. Now he’s got religion. And now we’re going to pay for it.

  • peter clarke

    With 25% of Canada’s population residing within the GTA, common sense should tell us that we must combine ALL the GTA areas under ONE transit authority.

    Peter CLARKE a unofficial candidate for Toronto’s North York ward 23 has proposed the amalgamation of all the GTA area public transit authorities, systems and operations of Go, TTC, Halton, Peel, York, Durham and HSR into one transit authority for the entire region of the GTA areas plus HRS.

    At present the boards of the TTC, Metrolinx etc. are all run by purely academic political appointees having little to no actual transportation qualifications in private mass transportation systems from within the world’s private transportation industry.

    Ontario’s Transportation Minister himself has stated that the board of Metrolinx is comprised of professional and corporate experience in customer service, planning, law and financing.
    But NO mention was made of a CEO and COO having to be a professional with sound hands on experience and qualifications from within the world’s private mass transportation industry.

    A one transit authority would replace the existing board of Metrolinx with one elected representative from each region i.e. Halton, Peel, York, Durham and with two elected representatives from Toronto and the federal and provincial governments.

    Further this new amalgamated transit authority Provincial Federal GTHA or PFGTHA would be directly responsible for all public transportation operations, systems, financing and be under the control of the above elected board members and direction of both a CEO and COO who actually have professional transportation qualifications from within the world’s private transportation industry who would be hired separately.

    All three levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal must completely understand that first the GTA area with its 25% of the population requires a lasting financial commitment to public transit which is NOT on the backs of property taxpayers, renters, condo and homeowners or businesses alike but rather from our province and country as a whole if politicians are seriously committed to public transit systems for the PFGTHA.

    Without a combined lasting and final political financial commitment from the province and federal government’s any transit system within the PFGTHA areas will NOT succeed.

    Until there are qualified professionals from within the worlds private mass transportation industry at the helm of any PFGTHA mass public transit system as opposed to just political appointees from one political party or the other any public transportation system is doomed to failure and unsustainable by the people.