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Metrolinx Dumps the TTC as an LRT Partner. What Does that Mean for Us?

This week's announcement that Toronto's new light rail lines won't be operated by the TTC leaves us with more questions than answers.

Construction on the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line. Photo by {a href=""}AshtonPal{/a} from the {a href=""}Torontoist Flickr Pool{/a}.

September 19, 2012 marked the end of a long charade by Metrolinx, the Ontario agency charged with building and operating a regional transit system. All pretense of local control and involvement vanished with a Metrolinx announcement that its LRT lines, once part of Toronto’s Transit City plan, would be designed, built, financed, operated, and maintained by a private sector partner, not by the TTC. (For short, this is called the DBFOM model.)

Parts of these projects—underground stations, maintenance buildings, and the reconstructed Scarborough RT—were already destined for the private sector, but the TTC was still at the table as overall designer and project manager, and later as operator of the new routes. No more. The Eglinton Crosstown, Scarborough, Sheppard, and Finch LRTs will now be completely provincial operations. Infrastructure already underway (the tunnels) will become the contractor’s responsibility upon completion.

To regular watchers of Metrolinx, this development is no surprise. Almost since its creation, Metrolinx and its masters at Queen’s Park have favoured private sector project delivery, and exclusion of municipal governments and agencies from meaningful participation. This model is easy to justify for transit projects outside of Toronto, where municipalities operate relatively small bus systems and do not have a professional cadre of transit staff skilled in rail system design and operations. In Toronto, the tug-of-war between local and provincial agencies has been ugly, with each side disparaging the other’s abilities.

What is the rationale for this decision?

From an email we received from Metrolinx representatives today, describing their strong support for Alternate Finance and Procurement (AFP):

AFP is a well-established and innovative way of financing and procuring large public sector infrastructure projects that maximizes the use of private-sector resources and expertise. AFP provides early insight into the cost of all aspects of the project, as well as the certainty of the project schedule.

AFP also protects the public from cost overruns and imposes financial penalties on the private sector partner if a project is delivered late. If the project is late, the private sector pays. If project is over budget, the private sector pays.

Working in partnership with the private sector, we are confident that we can maximize our resources to build great transit projects, on-time and on-budget, with the least amount of disruption.

This sounds fine in theory, but the problems lie in the contract language. Indeed, one reason for the delay in LRT project delivery is the extra work needed to craft contracts specifying many details and responsibilities—ones that are already the routine function of public bodies like the TTC.

We may, through this process, learn what “value for money” (a touchstone phrase for AFP advocates) actually brings us on design and construction costs. Operations and the benefits private operation might bring won’t even begin until 2020 (with the possible exception of the Scarborough LRT, as it could start up a few years earlier according to Metrolinx).

A mock-up of the vehicles that will run on our new light rail lines. Photo by Nancy Paiva/Torontoist.

The political wrangling.

Only yesterday, Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli spoke of Infrastructure Ontario’s “almost flawless” record compared with “TTC projects that have been long overdue and sometimes much over budget.” Characterizing the TTC as an utterly incompetent organization may play well at Queen’s Park, but the facts are quite different.

If Chiarelli is dredging up the St. Clair right-of-way project, most of the problems and extra costs were not of the TTC’s making. If there are other projects the minister has in mind, he owes Toronto the details. In their absence, one might diplomatically suggest that the minister is badly advised. The alternative is that he knowingly spreads misinformation to suit his government’s agenda. Major policy decisions should not be made on such flimsy evidence.

The ink had barely dried on the Metrolinx announcement this week when both the process and the details came under fire.

TTC Chair Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) learned about the announcement the afternoon it came out. She may be reaping the effects of her “One City” plan, announced with considerable, if brief, fanfare in June. That plan included the appropriation of two GO corridors as part of a city transit system—the political equivalent of poking a stick in Metrolinx’s eye.

Stintz’s concerns about a seamless fare structure were hurriedly answered by Metrolinx through interviews and on their website. That such basic details came as an afterthought shows Metrolinx was simply pushing the TTC aside, leaving the difficult bits for another day.

The questions with no answers.

Does this signal a general change in regional transit planning and operations? Will Metrolinx simply appropriate projects in the GTA and other Ontario municipalities as it sees fit? Nobody knows. Toronto will soon launch a review of its Official Plan—and is set to specifically include long-term transit in that plan—but drawing lines on that map has little value if the real decisions will be made at Queen’s Park.

Fares and revenue are always at the heart of transit debates. Metrolinx claims that whatever the prevailing fare is in Toronto when the LRT lines open, that’s what riders will pay. This leaves unaddressed the question of future changes once the Presto fare card is in place, as that will allow options such as fare-by-distance, zones, and other ways of shaking more money out of riders’ pockets.

The financial model for the operation of the LRT lines has not been announced and probably does not yet exist. Will the private operator be paid a fixed amount to provide service, with the revenue going into a pot that TTC and Metrolinx will share? How will we decide which part of a fare belongs to each route (something that is impossible today with a flat fare, free transfer system)? It will remain difficult with smart cards unless we force riders to “tap in” at every leg of their journey simply so the transit system can divvy up the revenue. Try to imagine this at a busy LRT-to-TTC transfer point like Kennedy or Eglinton Stations.

On the capital side, most costs will be borne by the province through progress payments based on project milestones (a common arrangement for all construction work), but the contractor will be expected to finance about $1-billion of the overall cost according to Metrolinx. Further payments would stretch into the post-opening period, although it is unclear whether these would fund operating subsidies or capital maintenance work. These are expected to be from 20-to-25% of the total contract value.

Although there are four separate LRT lines, the likely arrangement is that Metrolinx will wind up with a single operator for service on all lines, and a single provider of common services such as vehicle maintenance and building operations. Whether these are one entity or several separate providers remains to be seen. The more we have, the more complex the management of separate pieces each with its own mandate and goals for cost-effective service provision.

Service quality, long the bane of riders and the focus of Toronto council debates, costs money. How often should LRT services arrive and how many riders constitute a full train? Will decisions be left to the secretive Metrolinx board, or to a private operator looking to minimize operating costs? For TTC operations, council can decide to improve or cut service based on funding and overall system standards. How would Toronto (or any other city with Metrolinx-operated routes) get service above a provincially mandated level, if that’s what it wants, especially if this triggered capital costs such as a larger fleet for peak service?

Karen Stintz rejected the idea that operating subsidies might be paid by the TTC (effectively by riders’ fares or City funding) to operate the LRT lines. This leaves the service and financial models completely in the hands of Metrolinx and its contractor. It is no secret that operating underground systems costs a lot, particularly in later years as the infrastructure wears out. Fares don’t cover those maintenance costs on the TTC—that money comes from a separate capital budget funded by all levels of government, mainly Toronto. Who will pay these costs for the Metrolinx lines?

Metrolinx is fond of saying that they already have private sector partners delivering service on GO Transit, but omits mentioning that the lion’s share of costs are paid by Queen’s Park, GO riders, and GTA municipalities through a Metrolinx chargeback scheme. None of the big ticket costs are borne as a risk by private companies, who are simply contracted to provide services such as staffing trains. There is no equivalent for the scale of responsibility Metrolinx expects in bring the DBFOM model to Toronto’s light rail.

Metrolinx's light rail projects in Toronto.

Where do we go from here?

GTA cities are beginning a debate about new revenue tools at the municipal level. How does a model with full provincial control fit with projects that may have funding from local governments? How do cities participate in definition and management of contracts with service operators in the Metrolinx model?

The Metrolinx “Investment Strategy,” under development for years, is supposed to lead to proposals in 2013 for new revenue tools to pay for transit capital (construction of new lines); renewal (ongoing maintenance); and operations. The amounts under discussion are huge. In the rosy early days of the Metrolinx “Big Move” plan, the number was $1 billion a year, but this has grown as realism sinks in about just how big “transit” is in the GTA. A billion just scratches the surface, and even that’s a hard sell when every news story on the subject mentions provincial deficits and spending cuts. The danger is in aiming too low and having a limited new revenue stream—once we convince people they should pay more for transit—that gets soaked up by existing commitments rather than new services. Both need funding, and both may be short-changed.

Metrolinx argues that the DBFOM model is necessary to ensure a continuous responsibility and risk to the private operator. If infrastructure is built by someone who won’t operate the line, then the incentive is to build it cheap, make a profit, and vanish. Only if the builder is responsible for operations, long term, will they deliver robust, reliable infrastructure. That’s the official line, and it ignores decades of public sector projects built and delivered by the private sector, but then operated in public hands.

The private sector is littered with remnants of companies who didn’t care about the long term because they could walk away from unprofitable schemes of their own making. The challenge will be to write contracts placing responsibility on the private operator and enforcing those contracts with penalties up to and including taking the assets back into public control.

On the surface, the argument here pits the TTC against Metrolinx and its private sector delivery model, but the underlying questions are much more important. Who decides what “transit” means in Toronto? What are its goals? What public funding will we provide to sustain and improve mobility at the regional and local levels?

If Queen’s Park could be counted on as a benevolent, if slightly dotty, uncle who believed in transit as a good, important service, we could hope that not much will change as Metrolinx supplants the TTC for some routes. Politics doesn’t work like that though, as we remember from the Harris years—when transit was dumped onto cities, who were left to fend for themselves. What prevents a sale of the Eglinton-Crosstown line to a Highway-407 like entity through a sweetheart deal, with Toronto left to pay the tab to a locked-in private sector contract? With the TTC out of the picture, selling a network of LRT lines would comparatively straightforward, especially if the buyer were already operating them.

Metrolinx is a notoriously opaque agency that conducts much of its business in private. Details of the arrangements for a DBFOM contract are likely to be shrouded by the term “commercial confidential” that conveniently hides private sector agreements. If the TTC screws up, everyone knows about the problems, and the fallout can damage political careers. If a private contract goes awry, we may never know. This is not acceptable for such important public infrastructure that could remain, through a badly written contract, “public” in name only.

Metrolinx owes Toronto an open discussion of its intentions for how the new LRT lines will be built and operated, how the funding will work, and what expectations the city and its transit riders should have of what they’ll be getting. At a regional level, Metrolinx needs to be frank with all municipalities on its future role in transit operations and funding. The Toronto LRT decision should have been a detailed announcement, with the unknowns clearly acknowledged and marked for future discussion. What we got was a two page letter between bureaucrats.


  • Walter Lis

    Any private transit operator will mean that the taxpayers will be paying
    dividends, through a subsidy, to the shareholders (they want to make more
    money than leaving it in a GIC or term deposit) instead of to the TTC to
    help run Wheel-Trans. The TTC gets a lot less subsidy than the private
    operators do in Mississauga or York Region.

    No private transit operator will do it for free. They expect a return for their investment.

    • tommy

      Not to mention that private YRT Viva bullies and pays a crappy wage to it’s employees. Service has decreased the past few years, and fares have gone up.

      • Anonymous

        As a frequent Viva user, I gotta say the service is quick and efficient, and I’m happy to pay for it. Whatever is going on with the drivers is not great, but as far as I’m concerned it’s between the operator and the union.

  • Toronto My Way

    With respect to decisions about scheduling and what constitutes a full train, Metrolinx certainly can’t be expected to do much worse than what TTC does now

    • Guest

      If you had a brain to think with, you’d know that the SRT and even the streetcar system is constrained by the fact that the city hasn’t purchased more vehicles to keep up with demand. There are different factors at work in each respective case but the end result is the same. Contrast with the bus system where the politicians have begrudgingly expanded the fleet ever-so-slowly as demand increased.

      • concerned1

        Should also note that traffic in the core is the BIGGEST factor in vehicles sitting and not moving people. If the politicians would stop parking on city streets or left turns for a longer period in the day TTC would run a lot smoother.

      • Alex

        The reason that they haven’t purchased more vehicles for the SRT is that it’s an orphaned system. Bombardier no longer make the Mark I vehicles, and would charge a fortune to custom make extra vehicles. The alternative would be to use Mark II/III vehicles, however that would require substantial rebuilding of the line, in particular the tunnel was reduced in size at the direction of the province to stop the TTC converting it to running CLRV vehicles. This means that the tunnel is too small to run anything other than the Mark I vehicles.

        Neither option is justifiable, so that means that the TTC was stuck with only the Mark I vehicles they had.

  • Derek

    Steve, excellent insight as usual and I agree with most points. I will say that in my mind the tap on/tap off argument is a bit of red herring. I lived in London UK twice. First time when we used pay cards for monthly passes and then when Oyster card was used. Check in/Check out never resulted in queues of any length, even at busy stations such as Liverpool.

    • Allurban

      One thing that might be necessary is a rebuild of station concourses and terminals to accommodate that “tap-in, tap-out” practice. Consider all of the direct access bus & streetcar terminals, now they would have to have entry/exit gates, which will have to be installed, maintained etc.

      Is there space in our station concourses & terminals? Will expansion be necessary? Who will staff the stations to help out people who have problems, ensure that machines are fixed quickly, etc.

    • Mark

      The trouble is that Presto wasn’t built with tap in / tap out capabilities from the get go and is having all kinds of problems adjusting to it because of the proprietary backend they built. (See the teething problems in Ottawa, Steve discusses some of this on his sight as well).

  • Anonymous

    3P has pretty much been a complete fiasco everywhere its been tried, except for the shareholders and politicians. The idiots behind this move need to be turfed out ASAP.

    • Anonymous

      Stockholm Metro has been successful since they contracted out operations.–in-socialist-stockholm-an-outsourced-transit-service

      • Allurban

        And Transport for London recently took back control of all the Underground lines that had previously been divided into 3 packages and put in the hands of private consortia.

        • Anonymous

          This looks to have all the earmarks of a Liberal PPP fiasco along the lines of eHealth or Ornge.

        • Anonymous

          Yes, there’s always the potential for a scandal like that. Sometimes the contracts are written by idiots.

          • Anonymous

            I find a more cynical explanation entirely plausible…

  • Doconnor

    “that maximizes the use of private-sector resources and expertise”

    Sounds like they are looking for an organization that is one of the top three transit operators in North America, run with a subsidy significantly lower then any other, has experience operating one the worlds largest street railways and has facilities conveniently close by.

    Here is some of the million question that should be asked: Will these new routes be part of the TTC’s Nextbus feed or separate? Will they be required to predictions that at all?

    • Anonymous

      “experience operating one the worlds largest street railway”

      The TTC’s “experience” operating the streetcar network is not a selling point, unless you want Transit City to run like the 501.

      • OgtheDim

        And the experience of any operator will be…..?

        • allurban

          The experience of the operator would (presumably) depend on the operator that ends up being chosen.

          Since Bombardier is already building and maintaining GO train carriages, TTC subway trains and the new streetcars and Transit City LRVs, and is operating GO trains for Metrolinx, it might be fair to say that Bombardier will be operating the Transit City lines.

          • Anonymous

            A company that can build a world-class subway car doesn’t necessarily know how to run a transit network.

          • OgtheDim

            Bombardier doesn’t know how to operate the customer service end of a transit service. They only do the drivers and engineers. A big difference having to take fares, deal with complaints, get buses running when the line is down etc. etc. etc.

          • Allurban

            I have no disagreement with your comments. I’m just looking at history and throwing a name out.

          • Anonymous

            Bombardier doesn’t have to know how to operate the customer service end of a transit service. They are a big company with lots of money. They will just hire people to do what they need as they need it.

          • mlcivE

            Have you every ridden a GO Train? The Customer Service Ambassadors (CSAs) are all Bombardier Employees. They know far more about what makes a positive customer experience than all of the angry TTC operators I’ve dealt with.

      • Anonymous

        As has been pointed out ad nauseum, TTC streetcars have to contend with the vagaries of traffic and stoplights, and that is the principle cause of bunching. Antiquated equipment that breaks down frequently does little to improve the situation.

        Many good (and obvious) ideas to fix it have been suggested over the years, and I’m sure the TTC would have loved to implement them decades ago, but those things all cost money.

        And as we all know, there hasn’t been much political will to give more money to the TTC, not the kind of money that would make a serious dent in the myriad and mounting problems it is facing. You do know that?
        Metrolinx has a pretty ugly recent history here of operating behind closed doors in contention with, and at cross-purposes to the TTC, and now they’ve brought it right out into the open. This is the beginning of the end for either the TTC or Metrolinx.

        The province, and its current regime have a spectacularly bad record with arms-length agencies awarding huge contracts to the private sector, 407 and ORNGE to name just two — is that the sort of experience you would like to see applied in this case?

        • Anonymous

          The idea that traffic is the principal cause of poor service has been thoroughly debunked by none other than Steve Munro. As further evidence, you can see bunching happen on right-of-way routes like Spadina and St. Clair.

          And there are plenty of fixes that could be done today, for little or no cost. For instance, timed transfers and POP-based fares would lead to huge improvements in efficiency. The TTC is like the only tram operator in the world that requires fares to be collected/presented at boarding.

          I’m not going to address the econimics of a Metrolinx takeover, because the TTC’s problems with streetcars are philosophical and cultural, not economic; lack of cash is an excuse rather than a reason. What makes you think that will change if the TTC is given the keys to the new LRT lines?

      • Anonymous

        The 501 would run nicely if it had its own priority lane. Take it at 5am when there’s no car traffic. Gets you from the beaches to parkdale in about 40 minutes.

  • Testu

    I’m curious how they plan to deal with service outages. With the private operator be expected to keep a fleet of buses and operators on standby or will they contract that back to the TTC (who plan to remove bus routes along those lines once the LRT is operational).

    Also, how much input will the city/Metrolinx have on things like crowding standards and acceptable wait times? Especially if maintaining a reasonable level of service turns out to be unprofitable.

    It’s also worth noting that Metrolinx has been willing to make significant cuts to commuter service (GO) when they feel the lines are unprofitable (e.g. the Georgetown rail line).

  • Anonymous

    TTC Bureaucrats think they’re the only organization on the planet who can run transit? I’ve used plenty of private-operated transit systems who operate superior to TTC.

    • OgtheDim

      How many have you used who operate worse to TTC? And how many running a service within a service? Methinks Metrolinx has no clue what they are getting into.

      • Anonymous

        TTC is good at some things and crap at others. Compare the privately managed Yarra Trams to TTC’s streetcar operations. It’s like night and day.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pleased that Metrolinx has agreed to take over. The TTC’s disastrous record of designing, building, and operating the existing TTC streetcar system was always the strongest argument against Transit City. Here’s hoping Metrolinx will finally bring competent light rail management to Toronto, which will shame the TTC into smartening up.

    • Anonymous

      Lotsa down votes, eh? Okay, name one tram system in the world that has worse operations than the TTC.

      • OgtheDim

        Andrew, you know darn well people who disagree with you are not just from the downtown. Please stop trying to do a SAL with this discussion and create camps based on misinformation.

        This blind hatred of the TTC you have masks an equally blind misunderstanding of the capabilities of Metorlinx.

        They operate a commuter line. They can’t even figure out how to run a bus FROM Bolton to Toronto in the afternoon. They only know/think of helping people get to the city from the suburbs.

        They build sheds and call them stations.

        They take decades to fix signals.

        Their pride and joy are parking lots for Pete’s sake.

        Do you honestly think they have any clue how to run a system within a system, running 20-24 hours a day, partially above ground, partially below? They have no freaking clue what they are getting into.

        But, they are sooooo darn proud of themselves and have basically sold the Libs on the city being incompetent.

        Yeah, the TTC has issues. But to say Metrolinx would know how to run things better is inconceivable. (and yes I do know what that word means).

        • Anonymous

          Andrew said down voters, and I’m one.

        • Anonymous

          Not sure where you’re getting anything about downtowners, unless you’re mistaking it for down voters. But while we’re on the subject, I’m a downtowner, daily TTC user, and metropass holder.

          “The TTC has issues” in the same way that Greece owes a bit of money. Just a few examples: there is not another tram system anywhere that still requires the driver to take fares. There aren’t very many that have no traffic priority, or that are happy to pay employees to stand at streetcorners and change switches manually, rather than install electronic switches. I’ve never seen a tram system with as unpredictable service in terms of bunches and gaps; and I’ve seen a lot of tram systems, including ones in high-traffic cities like Istanbul.

          The TTC is, without hyperbole, the worst tram operator in the developed world. If you disagree, please name another one.

          We should be holding the TTC’s feet to the fire, not making excuses for them. Trams in Toronto need accountability, fresh ideas, and new management. If that means handing the keys to Metrolinx then I’m for it.

          • Anonymous

            Andrew, you claim to be “a downtowner, daily TTC user, and metropass holder” as well as a “a frequent Viva user”; apparently you are a world-class trainspotter, AND you have a big hate on for the TTC, as “the worst tram operator in the developed world”. Please tell me that you’re not one of the sad bastards that rides TTC streetcars in a constant state of apoplexy, all red-faced, trembling and sweaty. That’s just not good for you, the TTC, or anyone else. Think of the other passengers and please, consider alternative means of transportation.

          • Anonymous

            I’m not clear on why I need to explain myself to you, but yes, I live downtown and take the subway to work in the north end. My work takes me to the 905 a few times a week, and I also travel internationally for work, a few times a year. I enjoy taking transit at home and abroad, though in Toronto I don’t ride the streetcar much, simply because it’s depressing to see them operate like this.

            Legitimate criticism is not a hate-on. I notice you responded to my comments with an ad-hominem, which means you’ve got nothing of substance to respond with. One last time: can you name a tram operator worse than the TTC? I guess not.

          • Anonymous

            I missed the part about Metrolinx taking over operation of TTC streetcars downtown. Is that something you wish would happen? And why would you care who operates the Eglinton LRT (or for that matter, streetcars you don’t ride “much”)?

            What you call “legitimate criticism” is contrived, ideological — and misdirected. I smell an agenda.

            The TTC has been chronically underfunded, and receives the lowest operating subsidy of pretty much every transit system in the world.

            Might that be a plausible reason why it has relatively poor service (in your opinion)? Why not?

            Just maybe, the TTC is doing a heroic job with the crap resources we have seen fit to provide.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t buy the money problem. Not that the TTC isn’t underfunded, but the subway operation is truly world-class, while sharing the same budget.

            An “agenda”? Whoops, you caught me — what I really want is an awesome transit system. Sorry! I’ll go back to making excuses for mediocrity.

          • Anonymous

            Well, this may be news to you, but the TTC is finally getting new streetcars. That should make you happy, but it probably won’t.

          • Anonymous

            Just in case it’s still not clear by this point, my problem is with operations, not rolling stock.

          • Anonymous

            Yes, let’s look at that.

            “there is not another tram system anywhere that still requires the driver
            to take fares.”

            That will change with the new rolling stock and Presto so yes, you’re problem is with the existing rolling stock. Did operations say, ‘Please do not buy us new rolling stock, because then we won’t have that handy excuse for poor service’ ? No, they did not. See, this is how your “legitimate criticisms” are contrived, ideological and misdirected.

            “There aren’t very many that have no traffic priority”

            And, whose fault is that? Operations? Did operations say, ‘Please do not give streetcars traffic priority, because then we won’t have that handy excuse for poor service’ ? No, they did not. Contrived, ideological and misdirected.

            “or that are happy to pay employees to stand at streetcorners and change switches manually, rather than install electronic switches.”

            And, whose fault is that? Operations? Did operations say, ‘Please do not give us funding for electronic switches, because then we won’t be happy’ ? No, they did not. Contrived, ideological and misdirected.

            “I’ve never seen a tram system with as unpredictable service in terms of bunches and gaps”

            And, whose fault is that? Operations? Did operations say, ‘We must keep on deliberately causing bunches and gaps, because we want everyone to hate us or, failing that, we at least want andrew97 hating us’ ? No, they did not. Contrived, ideological and misdirected.

            Thanks for clearing that up.

          • Anonymous

            So I’ll just zoom in on your last point about bunches and gaps. You’re saying that operations is not responsible for how the streetcar system is operated? All righty then.

          • Anonymous

            Well here’s quite an interesting discussion dating from several years ago, in which neither TTC managers nor Metrolinx come up smelling like roses. But I don’t see any convincing arguments that the TTC is solely responsible for streetcar bunching, or that Metrolinx will ipso facto make a better operator (recalling that more people travel every day by TTC streetcars alone, than Go trains and buses combined, for a lot less money).

  • Anonymous

    I see that they will operate terrible service during late evenings. Maybe a 15 minute headway just to make up for the lost. The maximum subway headway of 5 minutes won’t happen unless someone subsidies them.

  • concerned1

    Read the City of Toronto Act. The Ontario Gov’t would need to change this act to make what Metrolix has suggested legal.

    • gg

      i would like to know more about this. What are the broad strokes?

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    I guess the good news is that if there is a TTC labour dispute then at least those lines will still be running. Fare card payment sharing between different partners should be easy…. other jurisdictions have been doing it for years (heck, Hong Kong has multiple competing bus & train operators who share the same card

    • Err

      Except that the TTC is now an essential service and can’t strike… the bigger question is what happens if the private operator’s employee’s strike … who will provide supplemental service? and who will pay?

  • Don Adams

    Lets look at York Region Transit/VIVA where they have a textbook case of private operators -Higher fares than the TTC and also charges zone fares (which TTC does NOT except buses going N of Steeles) -Less service than the TTC -Drivers are the lowest paid in the GTA. Yep, this pretty much sums it all up. I dont want this disastrous experiment on the Eglinton LRT.

    • Danny Handelman

      York Region has a lower population density and greater segregation between commercial and residential use of land than Toronto, so it is not surprising that there is a greater modal share by cars, and less by public transit, resulting in reduced economies of scale by the more efficient mode of transportation.

  • Walter Lis

    I think whatever operator runs the LRTs in Toronto will be having the very same labour union representing the actual operators, Amalgamated Transit Union 113. ATU 113 also represents 170 bus Operators of Veolia Transportation in York Region, a private operator.

  • splagelouf

    nice commentary on the metrolinx story. Unrelated: you sound like a lawyer.

  • Danny Handelman

    Transportation would not be much of an issue if the median journey distance were to decrease to within walking distance if it became more profitable for builders to build upward rather than outward through changes to zoning, development charges, property taxes, and elimination of the municipal land transfer tax.

  • Anonymous

    Relax people! I’m sure there will be a new plan a month from now and maybe 2 or 3 more before Christmas.

  • Chris Lea

    I just spent a couple weeks in Berlin, which has a 3 zone POP system, with tickets that are either valid for 2 hours or the whole day. There are no manned kiosks at most of the subway stations to line up at, when a tram comes, you get on at the closest door. Automated machines take your euros and print out a custom ticket. It isn’t rocket science, we can do it.

    • Toronto My Way

      Toronto is determined not to learn from others, to try and reinvent the
      wheel, and do it worse. It isn’t rocket science, but Toronto is
      notorious for making things complicated. Viva AND GO (both GTA systems)
      both use POP, but if you asked TTC, such a thing must be impossible.