One of the most bizarrely acrimonious fights in the city over the past few months has been not over who pays for transit, or how much, but rather how riders will pay. The government of Ontario is pushing a system called Presto on transit systems throughout the GTA, while the TTC insists on going its own way with an “open payment” system that would let riders tap their debit or credit cards instead. Just one problem: there are three people involved in this fight, but only one is going to have her job in a month’s time. Adam Giambrone and David Miller can fight the province all they want, but Kathleen Wynne will be in her office after they’ve packed up their stuff and left. Showing some good sense, the TTC has kicked this can down the road until after the election.
The Toronto Star reports:
The city councillors on the TTC board decided Thursday to move ahead on the bidding process and choose an open fare provider, based on price. However, they deferred to the next TTC commission the decision to award a contract. The new commissioners won’t meet until Dec. 15 after the municipal election.
After months of tussling with Queen’s Park over the adoption of its Presto smart card, the TTC decided it would be inappropriate to tie the next commission to an open payment provider and implementation scheme.
Hours before Thursday’s special TTC meeting, Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne sent yet another letter warning commissioners to not to move ahead with open payment, which would compete directly with Presto.
Now, postponing a decision isn’t the same thing as ending an argument, but our money’s on the next council letting this fight die quietly rather than continue to annoy the province. None of the people likely to replace Miller are rushing to fight this one out: George Smitherman has lambasted council for its fight with Queen’s Park, and Rob Ford is no friend of duplication (or the TTC, for that matter).
Let this be a lesson to the next council: if the city is going to pick fights with other levels of government, at least try to pick fights that can end before the council does. Throwing a fit and then walking away doesn’t make anyone look good.
• TTC slows smart card decision after warning [Toronto Star]
• TTC delays ‘open-payment’ fare decision until after election [National Post]
• TTC will seek agreement with province on new fare card [Globe and Mail]