Sub­way takeover com­ing

Law to up­load re­spon­si­bil­ity for Toronto sub­way to prov­ince com­ing in spring

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - ONTARIO NEWS - SHAWN JEF­FORDS

TORONTO — Premier doug Ford’s plans to take over Toronto’s sub­way sys­tem could be­gin to take shape this spring with the in­tro­duc­tion of leg­is­la­tion that would start the com­plex process, the govern­ment said Thursday.

Trans­porta­tion min­is­ter Jeff yurek said that while the Progressive con­ser­va­tives have no time­line for how long it will take to de­liver on Ford’s cam­paign pledge to take con­trol of the city’s sub­ways, the prov­ince’s spe­cial ad­viser on the takeover, michael lind­say, is meet­ing this week with city and Toronto Tran­sit com­mis­sion of­fi­cials to be­gin ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“it’s not go­ing to be an easy process,” yurek said. “But if we keep the com­muter in mind at the end of the day it’s go­ing to be some­thing that will ben­e­fit not only the re­gion but all of on­tario.”

The min­is­ter said the up­load will mean the prov­ince would take own­er­ship of the sub­way sys­tem, in­clud­ing its tun­nels, tracks, and sta­tions, and co-or­di­nate the con­struc­tion and de­sign of new ad­di­tions, in­clud­ing any sta­tions or routes. The TTC would re­tain the day-to-day op­er­a­tions of the sub­way, buses, and street cars, while the city would keep fare box rev­enue.

The prov­ince ap­pointed lind­say, who has worked on sev­eral pub­lic in­fra­struc­ture projects, in au­gust to head up a three-per­son panel that would make rec­om­men­da­tions on the up­load. yurek said the govern­ment’s plan will shift costs from Toronto to on­tario tax­pay­ers but he ar­gues the move will ben­e­fit the whole prov­ince.

“en­sur­ing that the TTC is in­te­grated in the sys­tem to get prod­ucts, goods and peo­ple mov­ing, it’s go­ing to ben­e­fit on­tario as a whole,” he said.

yurek said the govern­ment will build up the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the pro­vin­cial tran­sit agency metrolinx to en­sure it can take on the work of build­ing new sub­way lines.

“even mayor (John) Tory has pre­vi­ously said that the TTC is not the best at bring­ing on new lines and ser­vices,” he said. “We be­lieve the prov­ince had a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity through metrolinx to build and de­sign new sta­tions and routes.”

yurek con­ducted a se­ries of in­ter­views on the prov­ince’s TTC up­load plans Thursday fol­low­ing me­dia re­ports that lind­say’s rec­om­men­da­tions to the govern­ment would be kept con­fi­den­tial.

“There is no real se­crecy go­ing on,” he said, ad­ding that many of the de­tails of the talks be­tween the prov­ince and Toronto will be dis­cussed by city coun­cil.

NDP trans­porta­tion critic Jes­sica Bell called on the govern­ment to make lind­say’s re­port pub­lic.

“This whole scheme is look­ing more and more like the first step in a doug Ford plan to sell off Toronto’s sub­way sys­tem,” Bell said in a state­ment. “Pri­va­ti­za­tion would mean higher fares, worse ser­vice and even more crowd­ing.”

Toronto mayor John Tory said he takes the Ford govern­ment’s prom­ises to pro­vide a trans­par­ent process “at their word”.

“They’ve said very clearly that up­load­ing is not go­ing to take place in pri­vate, it can’t take place in pri­vate, it shouldn’t take place in pri­vate,” he said. “i’m op­ti­mistic that it won’t.”

one Toronto coun­cil­lor sug­gested the city should not par­tic­i­pate in talks with the prov­ince if all in­for­ma­tion is not made avail­able. coun. Gord Perks also ques­tioned the premier’s knowl­edge of how the city’s tran­sit sys­tem op­er­ates.

“dur­ing his ten­ure on Toronto city coun­cil, doug Ford showed him­self to be the least knowl­edge­able mem­ber on coun­cil about pub­lic tran­sit is­sues,” he said. “He’s got noth­ing to brag about there.”

matti siemi­aty­cki, a univer­sity of Toronto as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor with ex­per­tise in trans­porta­tion plan­ning, said there isn’t cur­rently enough de­tail in the govern­ment’s plan to know if it will be a ben­e­fit. The dan­ger it could rep­re­sent is if it sev­ers any con­nec­tions be­tween the TTC’s sub­way net­work with its buses and street­cars, he said.

“The TTC, and tran­sit gen­er­ally, works when all of the dif­fer­ent modes within the net­work are in­te­grated so you can trans­fer eas­ily from the sub­way to a bus to a street­car,” he said. “The TTC is truly world class in the way the dif­fer­ent parts of the sys­tem are in­te­grated.”

siemi­aty­cki said as the de­bate moves for­ward more in­for­ma­tion needs to be com­mu­ni­cated with city politi­cians and the pub­lic.

“To move this quickly, and with­out in­for­ma­tion in the pub­lic do­main to have that de­lib­er­a­tion, that could be a chal­lenge,” he said.

TIJANA MARTIN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Com­muters wait to take the sub­way at Oss­ing­ton Sta­tion in Toronto in June. On­tario’s trans­porta­tion min­is­ter says the govern­ment plans to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion this spring on the prov­ince’s plan to take over re­spon­si­bil­ity for Toronto’s sub­way sys­tem.

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