The Eglinton LRT should be a huge boon for Weston and Mount Dennis, but it hasn’t been without controversy. Metrolinx says that it, not the TTC, will own the rail line, though the TTC will operate it.
This has led to many questions: How will the fares be split? How easy will it be to transfer? And why is Metrolinx getting involved in something that seems clearly like a municipal issue?
Laura Albanese tried to clarify some of these questions in Queen’s Park last week. She asked the Transportation Minister, Bob Chiarelli, to explain. After a bit of self-congratulation, he said “the TTC will be responsible for vehicle drivers, station operators and ticket staff; safety and enforcement; and dispatch and control of vehicle access throughout the system.”
In a follow up question, she asked him to explain how the lines will work with the existing system. Chiarelli explained that there will be only one fare and simple transfers.
While Albanese’s effort to get more transparency is to be commended, there is little reason to be sanguine. Steve Munro, in a (typically) long and incisive post, raises many questions and has little faith.
Metrolinx is a notoriously opaque agency that conducts much of its business in private. Details of the arrangements for [the] 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.