Should Queen’s Park run the TTC instead of city hall? Apparently, it’s up for discussion
Reporters who get obsessed with obscure matters are our favourites because it’s impossible to tell where that kind of tenacious thread-following will lead. Case in point: the Globe and Mail’s Adam Radwanski wrote a column earlier this month about how a quirk of accounting was going to make it difficult for the province to fund the subways that Rob Ford has promised. (Briefly, if Queen’s Park owns the subways instead of the TTC, it can spread the cost out over years instead of ponying up all at once.) This seems to have led to this morning’s big news, also from Radwanski in the Globe, that Ford and his senior staffers are considering uploading the TTC—“or at least large chunks of it”—to the province.
That Mr. Ford is open to the idea, let alone supportive of it, marks a major shift from his predecessor David Miller. It could have a profound impact on future transit planning, providing the TTC with a more stable funding model and allowing for a more integrated system across the Greater Toronto Area.
Negotiations for any significant change in transit control would be enormously complex, and officials in Dalton McGuinty’s government made clear on Monday that they have no intention of entering into them before next October’s provincial election. But they did not shut the door on discussions after that, if Mr. McGuinty remains Premier.
This idea comes with both pros and cons. Let’s review.
• PRO: Uploading could potentially take the second-biggest chunk of city spending off the budget
• PRO: The TTC would be put it in an agency that raises more money, is allowed to raise it more intelligently, and is able to finance big capital projects more easily.
• PRO: Incorporating the TTC with Metrolinx would avoid future debacles like the one over Presto cards in which Toronto decided to go its own way, leaving Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion calling the whole system a “disaster.”
• CON: The city will always be a junior, junior, junior partner to the province.
• CON: There’s no guarantee that Toronto couldn’t one day be faced with the worst of both worlds—having to pay a large share of the operating costs for a service it has no control over. (One small example of this kind of situation is the city having to pay for police at provincial courthouses, something even the province has realized was unnecessary.)
In short, just because something is uploaded doesn’t mean Toronto would be able to wash its hands of it. Like the man says, the devil is in the details.