Thompson drives for TTC chair

Michael Thompson wants to take the wheel at the TTC and steer a better route for Scarborough commuters.

The Ward 37 councillor is a contender for the coveted position of TTC chair, a spot that’s up for grabs this December when current chair Adam Giambrone’s term on city council ends.

“One quarter of Toronto’s population lives in Scarborough and a large portion rely on transit,” said Thompson, a former TTC commissioner.

Thompson, who supports the Sheppard LRT, said there needs to be a blended approach of various forms of public transportation, including light rail, buses and subways, for the system to profit.

“The Sheppard [subway] line has an annual deficit of $10 million,” said Thompson, adding the future Vaughan subway would cost the city $14 million a year due to a lack of ridership.

The city needs to think more broadly about improving all elements of transportation, which includes steps to minimize the impact of rush hour traffic and traffic light timing, he said.

“If the system is running appropriately, it will reduce frustration,” said Thompson.

Improving the level of riders’ satisfaction and ensuring that their experience is a positive one is a “centrepiece of concern,” he said, adding riders have a part to play as well.

“There is a level of respect that is due to the riders [by employees] and by the riders to employees,” Thompson said.

Thompson said he accepts the need to raise fares but doesn’t agree with how the hikes were brought in.

“People ought to pay a fare for the distance they travel,” said Thompson. “That way, people will really pay the real cost to travel.”

Nine commissioners will be appointed to the TTC board for a two-year term when the new council is sworn in. One of of the nine will be named chair.

Thompson was re-elected in his Scarborough Centre ward last month with an 83 per cent majority and over 15 thousand votes. He has represented Ward 37 since 2003. As chair of the Scarborough Community Council in 2006, Thompson campaigned to create the first TTC transit strategy for Scarborough.

“I have many ideas and a vision,” Thompson said.