Andy Byford, TTC CEO, talks to members of the public at transit symposium in Toronto Tues., Jan. 24.

Lack of secure funding hampers TTC expansion

Scarborough commuters are tired of broken promises when it comes to transit expansion, according to people like Desmond Cole. He’s been knocking on doors in Scarborough for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, a non-profit urban environmental advocacy group.

“People are becoming cynical and losing hope after a lot of failed promises,” Cole said. “[TTC] riders’ main concern is that we’ve been promised a lot of things over the years and they haven’t come to pass. We’re getting fed up of being told over and over that there’s a new plan and a new way to pay for it.”

Another issue that plagues the system is unreliable funding. Riders want to know that there is secure funding to improve public transit that will make their daily commute better.

Sarah Thomson believes GTA residents are willing to pay higher taxes to secure stable funding for the TTC.

“Our goal is to come up with the funding we need to get the transit we need. A one per cent sales tax to go directly towards transit expansion across the Toronto region,” Thomson, who is a former Toronto mayoral candidate and chair of Toronto Transit Alliance, said Tuesday, Jan. 22, at a transit symposium held in Toronto.

“Gridlock used to be when you’re coming to and from work, now it’s all day long and it’s costing us $6 billion dollars,” Thomson, who also organized the event, said.

Toronto’s transit system will likely improve in the years ahead, as riders and GTA residents continue to push city officials to deal with the city’s transit woes.

Till then, most riders will continue to endure long wait times for buses, frequent signal problems on the subway and overcrowding.

But according to TTC CEO, Andy Byford, riders won’t have to wait too long. As early as 2014, small improvements in the subway and bus system will make life a little easier for commuters.

“By next year, we will have an all-Toronto rocket fleet on the (Yonge -University-Spadina subway line) which are better than the older trains. And we are going to be rolling out bigger buses that have more capacity,” Byford said.

Byford commutes daily via TTC and agrees subways and buses are crowded, but he is confident there are brighter days ahead for Toronto’s public transit.

“I think the TTC is very good. We move 1.7 million customers every day and that’s no small undertaking. What is often forgotten, is that those customer journeys go without any problems whatsoever.”