TTC riders frustrated by first meeting on planned service cuts

TTC Chair Karen Stintz in a media scrum during the first open-house session on planned route cuts as a result of the 2011 City of Toronto budget. (MIRSKY_STINTZ2E)

Some of the TTC riders attending an information meeting tonight at Metro Hall voiced their anger about the proposed transit budget cuts.

The meeting, the first of four this week, attracted more than 100 people. It attempted an open-house style gathering that featured visuals, information and TTC planners moving around the room. There were no speeches nor microphones.

The new format angered riders such as David Rapaport, who felt that people did not have the chance to be heard.

“What’s happened to democracy in Toronto if we can’t have a meeting over what is basically a contraction of the transit system?” Rapaport said.

Frustration appeared consistent among the riders present. They said they felt the lack of consistency in transit planning has reached a tipping point.

“First (the TTC) wants to not do the expansion of Transit City,” Rapaport said. “Now I’m told it’s being contracted.”

The TTC expects a record-level ridership of 487 million this fall. The commission plans to redirect the $7 million it hopes to save in the cuts to boost other services with more riders. The proposed Toronto 2011 budget cuts will affect 48 routes.

Brad Ross, the TTC’s director of communications, said the new style of meeting is more personal and effective.

“People have questions. They want to see their own route. This allows all the staff around the room to answer people’s questions,” Ross said. “This is a much easier way to hear everybody’s views and everybody’s opinions.”

The room was lined with diagrams of each proposed route change. Under fluorescent lights, riders, TTC planners, journalists and camera crews moved around. A projector displaying information at the front of the room seemed to go unnoticed.

Councillors in attendance included Janet Davis (Ward 31) and Adam Vaughan (Ward 20). Karen Stintz, the TTC chair, was also there moving slowly around the room.

“We chose this style because we wanted to be able to put all the maps up,” Stintz said. “This is the first time we’ve done it this way for route reallocation.”

Stintz was surrounded and questioned continuously at the meeting.

The next meeting will take place Tuesday, Jan. 25 at the North York Central Library, Memorial Hall, 5120, Yonge Street.