So Rob Ford’s office announced today that it had a plan to finance his expansion of the subway line. He wants to use tax-increment financing to bring in private companies to help pay for the new additions. The “plan” seems a little vague as the Ford camp is merely confident they will find a backer as opposed to having one already in place. To me that hardly sounds like a plan and more of a scheme they’ve cooked up.
I’ve had an idea for a little over a year as to how to improve the TTC and although I’m a Rob Ford hater I’ll still give you this free of charge as I love Toronto. I just hope that someone out there recognizes this as a viable plan.
Now one of the major issues is that the TTC needs public funding and it can not seek private backing without loosing that sweet government cheese. However I think you can have both. It’s simple sell the stations to the private sector and keep the tracks funded by the government. When a company or corporation buys the station they essential by the rights to a captive audience. They are then tasked with the upkeep of the station, but in return they will have all the riders of that station to market to. I know this means that we might loose the bathroom tile look of most stations, but that’s just a sacrifice I’m willing to make for a clean maintained station. Also if it means if we have to suffer through a name change like the TD Bank Yonge Station then so be it.
So now we’ve got the private sector paying for the upkeep and maintenance of the stations and the government is paying for the upkeep and maintenance of the tracks and vehicles. That should be saving the government money too.
Now that we have enough money in maintenance next up is staffing. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I barely see anyone working at a station. Every once and a while I’ll see some person sitting in a booth trying not to be noticed. What if instead of a person behind the glass to give change to we had machines that took care of that and instead brought them out of the booths to be actual customer (rider) service representatives? They’ve done this in a few US cities with positive results. That way you’ll have someone available to actually answer questions and no one has to get stuck in the queue for no good reason. On top of that it would really help out with rider safety to have someone actually patrolling and reporting in on any suspicious activities.
The next thing I would do to help the TTC be more profitable is to partner with a banking institution to be able to issue a credit card. The credit card could also double as a metro pass that can be scanned at the stations. You could swipe it and it would either charge you for a single ride, weekly pass, monthly pass or you could set it up as a yearly subscription pass that automatically gets billed to your card. If the TTC could somehow become a financier it would stand to make some extra money from the interest on all the cards they issued so they could pay for fancy new things like better intercom systems, app developers, screens that told customers of delays before they paid and such.
The last thing I would do is break up the Union. I can not honestly understand why this union is still in existence. It winds up protecting the worst of the worst employees and shields anyone from any kind of accountability in their job (noteable exception was the texting drivers - kudos TTC). Not to mention the ridiculous wages TTC staff make. Honestly if I was making nearly $20/hr I don’t think I’d be that crusty to people and not care about my job. I’d be smiling and not miffed because someone wants to buy tokens. Plus with the union out of the way you could actually fire the staff who are problems and hire new people who actually want to be there. It’s not like if the union disappeared suddenly employees would be getting screwed over like it was the 20’s. We do have labour laws in place and being that the TTC would still be a partially publicly funded company I’m sure there would be no major abuses on the staffing side for fear of losing public funding.
Essentially you could have the best of both worlds. It’s only a dream, but I hope to one day wake up to it. That and that there are no TTC employees wanting to jump me for saying this, but it’s true and the truth had to be said.
I’ll be using tumblr a little more. I had intended to write about the absurdity of riding public transit daily here in more detail, but to be honest 140 characters can usually sum up the event enough. So poor old tumblr has been sitting her untouched like a girlfriend you hate.
This last year has seen a turn around though as most of my posts are the absurdity of the service and decisions being made about the service as opposed to the absurdity of the riders. I’ve got a little rant to get through first though.
People who want to understand democracy should spend less time in the library with Aristotle and more time on the buses and in the subway
Originally I had meant this to be a funny blog. When I first moved back to Toronto 5 years ago I noticed a plethora of weird, funny, even absurd events happening on the subway at least daily. Then I started noticing other things not so funny. This blog will hopefully make you laugh at the funny stories and shake your head at the down right absurdity that is riding the TTC every day. Now please stand back the doors are closing…
Observations from a seat on public transportation.