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Ontario Tories crash public transit

John Bell

December 16, 2019

Doug Ford’s Tories have withdrawn promised funding to build an LRT public transit line in Hamilton.

Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney failed to show up at her own press conference, afraid to face angry questions from media and Hamilton city councillors. It was left to Mayor Fred Eisenberger to deliver the bad news.

Mulroney’s staff reported the project was killed because of budget overruns. They claim construction costs had ballooned to $5 billion. In fact, that figure included building, rolling stock, maintenance and operating costs over a 30 year period.

Cowardly Caroline Mulroney did want to make the Ford government’s case behind closed doors, in a controlled “technical briefing” setting with tame reporters at CHCH television. When Councillors Maureen Wilson and John Paul Danko demanded to attend, Mulroney’s staff called police to detain the elected reps.

Even the Ford-friendly Hamilton Chamber of Commerce announced that it was “shocked and disappointed” that the Tories broke their often repeated promise to fund transit in the city.

This fits the pattern of Tory transportation promises. Remember that Bob Rae’s NDP undertook a major Toronto subway expansion in the 1990’s; when Mike Harris was elected, he ordered the already built tunnels to be filled in. 

One of Doug Ford’s first acts was to cancel building a high-speed rail link in the Windsor-Montreal corridor.

Toronto’s transit army

In Toronto, the TTC is set to implement a 10 cent fare hike in 2020. It says that the money is needed to hire new Transit fare enforcement officers, a growing private transit army.

Rather than improve public transit the Doug Ford Tories are underfunding the system. Analysts warn that the TTC needs 30 more streetcars and about 100 buses just to keep pace with population growth. But the new vehicles are not being ordered.

Ford and his flunky, Toronto Mayor John Tory talk a lot about building new transit projects. They want to extend subways into the Greenbelt communities surrounding Toronto. This will only ship even more people into the overcrowded system in the city’s core. And it will fuel real estate developments in the environmentally sensitive Green Belt – remember when Ford was caught on camera promising developers free range in the Oak Ridges Moraine in return for donations to the Tory party. 

Meanwhile promises to improve service–which is deteriorating–and relieve over-crowding come to nothing. Anger and frustration grows. The elimination of token and ticket fares in favour automated “Presto” pass systems has been a disaster, losing the system millions in revenue. 

To distract riders and taxpayers from the real problems–underfunding and lack of commitment to public service–the Mayor and Premier are blaming “fare evaders”. So they divert needed resources into a private underground army, and social control force.

The argument that subway cops will save money through enforcing fares is bogus. In New York City, a new study shows that cops cost more than they save

The real purpose of transit cops is clear. If government won’t spend money to serve the public, it will have to spend money to control and oppress it. That is the Tory way.


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