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]


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