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Newsstand: December 18, 2013

Help. No matter how hard I try, the internet won't let me get away from Beyoncé. In the news: Rob Ford is the man of a thousand apologies, the expense accounts of Toronto Hydro executives, and the TTC's really out-of-date communications system.

matt newsstand newspaperlies

Mayor Rob Ford gave a quasi-apology to Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale during yesterday’s city council meeting, but that wasn’t the only one he issued. Apparently it was a two-for-one deal on half-assed apologies, as Mayor Ford also said he was sorry for calling city council members corrupt during Monday’s meeting. Initially, the Mayor said he withdrew his comments, but when pressed by speaker Frances Nunziata to apologize outright for his comment, Mayor Ford said he was “super, super, super, super, super, super, super sorry.” And to think that this wasn’t even the weirdest moment during the council meeting yesterday. Nope, that would likely have been when the Mayor took time from his busy schedule of issuing apologies to get his dance on during an in-chamber performance by a jazz trio. Anyone else think that city council is really just a James Franco-directed piece of performance art that we’re all missing the point of?

Also, in the wake of Mayor Ford’s latest apology-fest during yesterday’s city council meeting, here’s a handy little guide to the mayor’s best apologies of late.

So, you want to know more about the expense accounts of Toronto Hydro executives, do you? Well, according to the Toronto Star, it will take some time, and cost you dearly. After requesting copies of all expense account information for the corporation’s upper management team and board of directors between January 2011 and October 2013, they were told that it would take almost three weeks to fulfil the request for information, and cost close to $5,000. Both Councillors Shelley Carroll (Ward 33, Don Valley East) and Gloria Lindsay Luby (Ward 4, Etobicoke Centre), who sit on Toronto Hydro’s board, came down against the fees, saying they make the records virtually inaccessible to the average citizen. Not to sound too obvious, but it kind of looks like that might be the point.

At least the Toronto Transit Commission is being a little more upfront about reasons that contributed to the horrible Monday morning commute this week. The TTC’s Chief Executive Officer Andy Byford says that the use of a 40-year-old text-based system to communicate with streetcar and bus operators made communicating during the delays of Monday’s hectic commute incredibly difficult. “It’s basically a text system that you can send text messages to 10 vehicles at a time. You have to wait for them to acknowledge before you can then communicate with the other vehicles. So quite often, ridiculously, the bus and streetcar operators don’t know what’s going on,” explains Byford. If there was ever a case to give the TTC more money, this would definitely be it.


  • tomwest

    Do TTC buses and streetcars have radios?

    • dsmithhfx

      Never heard or seen one in use.

      • tomwest

        Cleraly they need them! Every other transit agency I’ve riden with in the last 5 years has them.

  • andrew97

    The TTC could put a cheap cell phone ($100) with a cheap prepaid plan ($15/mo) in each of its 2000 surface vehicles and use a mass-text-message service to send alerts to their drivers. That’s $200,000 startup and $360,000/yr ongoing costs. Round up to half a million per year to account for losses and administration. This would be 0.05% of the TTC’s operating budget (like a tenth of a cent per fare) and I’m willing to bet this would be cheaper than any other solution that the TTC could come up with.

    Cheaper yet, get the drivers to receive text messages on their own cell phones.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek


    • dsmithhfx

      Does the TTC have some sort of exemption to distracted driving laws?

  • Chris Brown

    While they’re driving???