The Public Transit Coalition – which the Labour Council is a part – has launched a campaign to keep the TTC public.
The Keep TTC Public campaign comes with a cute website mimicking a train’s interior, a mini-documentary showcasing experiences of privatization around the world, and some hard-hitting TV and print ads that will be seen around Toronto over the next few weeks in the lead-up to the municipal election.
The website will soon list the mayoral and city candidates’ responses to a questionnaire that gauges how their plans for the TTC, including their stance on privatization, contracting out, and fare increases.
The city’s top five ranking mayoral candidates – bar Joe Pantalone – have publicly said they intend to contract out TTC services or raise funds for infrastructure development through public-private partnerships. In other words, these candidates want to privatize parts of our TTC.
“We are excited the candidates are talking about giving us good transit, but privatization is not going to give us that,” says Effie a member of the Public Transit Coalition. “If we privatize the TTC, the Malvern student will still take four buses to get to the University of Toronto Scarborough campus, and the shift worker will still have to walk 30 minutes to catch her bus because good service only runs during rush hour.”
The coalition has gathered telling stories and evidence from cities that have privatized their transit system, including Melbourne, London, and Auckland. The Melbourne experience is particularly relevant, given the city’s similarity to Toronto.
Melbourne’s transit system was privatized in the 1990s by a conservative government under the promise that service was to improve and government subsidies would plummet.
But the opposite happened. Customer service plummeted when the sole public operator was replaced by five contractors who saw each other as rivals. There were massive worker layoffs and a drop in workers’ wages, but the so-called-savings were eaten up by corporate profit not directed to better service. Government subsidies doubled, and Melbourne’s fares are now the most expensive in Australia.
Toronto shouldn’t replicate Melbourne’s disastrous experience. Not only is the TTC critical for getting us around town, but the TTC gives us good local green jobs. These are the kinds of jobs we should be creating in our city, not doing away with them.
Check out the website, learn more about your candidate’s position on the TTC, and consider the future of our mass transit system when you vote on October 25.
And read NOW magazine’s article on the threat to privatize our transit system. It’s got a great heading – “A Kick in the Privates”.