On the frigid morning of March 11, Moya Beall handed out flyers to students at UTSC’s bus loop. She spoke on behalf of TTCriders, a grassroots advocacy group of TTC users, about Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s subway plan.
“We’re here at U of T talking with students because public transport, especially rapid transit, is so important,” said Beall in an interview with The Varsity. “Students here really depend on public transit. I’ve talked to people who commute from as far away as Mississauga, and a lot of people here don’t have cars, so they’re utterly dependent on public transit.”
Ford wants the responsibility of the TTC’s subway infrastructure to be transferred from the city to the province, in a plan referred to as “uploading” the transit system. However, the premier also wants the City of Toronto to remain responsible for buses and streetcars.
“If the Ford government is successful uploading… the subway system, then Toronto loses control over where it plans and constructs,” said Beall.
Beall said that there will be a “huge delay” in Toronto getting an improved transit system. If the city and province keep negotiating over small details, people will be “waiting years” until new lines are established.
Response from provincial government
Bob Nichols, Senior Media Liaison Officer of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), told The Varsity that the MTO believes the “province can build subway lines faster” and that they have been discussing with city officials the best way to go about the upload.
Nichols noted that uploading the TTC will provide benefits to public transit riders and residents. Some of these benefits are faster delivery of priority regional transit projects, better implementation of key policy initiatives that promote an efficient regional transit network, and more funding for current and new transit projects.
“In moving forward with the upload, we will turn priorities into projects, and deliver an expanded, modern, and integrated transit network of which we can all be proud,” he continued.
Beall was also worried about the increased fares that Toronto would face if Ford’s plan pushes through. She said that Metrolinx, the provincial government agency that manages road and public transport in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, is considering charging fares by distance instead of keeping the two-hour fares that let commuters transfer between buses, subways, and streetcars in a span of two hours.
“That would really penalize people in Scarborough, because we’re so far out… if you want to get downtown. It could cost a lot of money,” said Beall.
TTCriders suggested that Ford fund the TTC instead of “stealing” it. According to TTCriders, Ford’s plan will result in “less say for residents” and will lead to privatization and the consequences that come with it.