Raul Freitas

Not Way Better



I remember my high school Urban Studies teacher proudly telling us in class, on more than one occasion, that Toronto’s subway system was ranked number one in the world. This was around 1978 or 79. I also remember thinking that it was a pretty cool fact, which is probably the reason I remember it today. Ironic now, considering that the TTC is in so much trouble today, and the very reason I’m penning this article. Toronto’s public transit system has been plagued with issues for decades, now, and it doesn’t seem like there is any light at the end of the tunnel, with no pun intended.

I haven’t been living in Hog Town for many years, and I might be stretching it, but from what I’ve consistently read in the media over that time, many public projects have been and continue to be riddled with problems of all kinds, ranging from money to even engineering. My sense is that the machine isn’t working and nothing is being done to repair it. The TTC, for instance, seems to be so proud of its ranking in the 70’s that it’s afraid of moving forward. The only thing that’s moved is the price of a fare, but that is strictly upward. The construction of new subway tunnels has seen generations end and begin, with no concrete answers as to when it will be done and for how much. At least that’s consistent. Attempts at new streetcars have been plagued with problems. The Scarborough RT, which was introduced in 1985, gone. The rest of the world is light years ahead of Toronto. Why? Money, of course. If governments had been serious about having an efficient, modern public transit system, they would have continued investing in it, as is the case with any other important service. The reason it is in this state is because Ontario continues to suck up to auto manufacturers. A healthy public transit system is unhealthy for GM, Chrysler, or Ford’s bottom line. Remember good old Mike Harris in the 80’s? Literally ripped out Ontario’s rail lines, cut funding to public programs, privatized the 407 for 99 years. A friend told me the other day about how much the 407 costs to travel, I couldn’t believe it. Money keeps getting spent on highways, and they keep getting clogged up. There hasn’t been a “rush hour” in Toronto for decades because it’s always packed out there. It’s, more accurately, a “rush day”. Why not fund public transit? The same reason there’s no investment or control on costs for any other public service; because the public interest only matters at election time, and for that they have other “issues” they can distract people with, which usually don’t really mean anything in the greater scheme of things, but they’re effective.

But here I am, once again, stating the obvious. I remember a line from the Joker, in the Batman movie where the Joker says, “this town needs an enema!”. He makes a good point for this, and many other towns.
Fiquem bem,

Raul Freitas/MS


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