The TTC workers’ union leads the way

We are always happy to congratulate those who lead by example. In this case, we celebrate the Amalgamated Transit Union for taking on the responsibility to produce their own report entitled Toronto’s Transit Future, outlining their 68 recommendations for more effective and more efficient transit service.

It is an initiative that is to be praised for several good reasons. Coming from the trade union that represents TTC workers, it gives us an insider’s view that is independent of the official position of TTC management.

And, in keeping with the normal standards of professionalism, the recommendations have been costed so they can be properly evaluated by analysts and decision-makers. In presenting the report for public consideration, Union President Bob Kinnear went so far as to confirm that the report was intended to assert TTC’s workers determination to be a part of Torontonians’ conversation on transit needs and decisions.

This report is therefore an act of self-empowerment that should be both followed and openly encouraged by all three levels government and by the private sector.

The recommendations are unlikely to provoke negative reactions. It reaffirms the widely accepted idea that one of the major challenges is the reality of chronically inadequate funding from the provincial and the federal governments. In response to the electoral victory of John Tory, it advocates for an expedited analysis of the mayor-elect’s Smart Track plan to relieve overcrowding on TTC vehicles by putting electric trains on the GO tracks around Toronto.

In addition to suggesting that 250 more buses should be acquired and put into service, it specifically points out that TTC’s airport rocket bus route originating at Kipling Station should be enhanced. Another recommendation is for the restructuring of the fare system by expanding the use of the Presto fare card, to offer weekend, 24 hour and quarterly passes.

There is no doubt as to the union’s activist but non-partisan attitude. The report is positioned by the union as the cornerstone of its strategy for next year’s federal election. That political contest is being presented by Mr. Kinnear as a “Transit Election”, an opportunity to “hold federal politicians’ feet to the fire”, to extract from them, before Election Day, an unambiguous and public commitment to provide “sustainable, specific, ongoing funds” for transit in Toronto.

Whatever our views on the specifics, we must applaud this initiative on the part of TTC workers to break out of the merry-go-round that has burdened both Torontonians and other Ontarians with outdated, inefficient and inequitable transit services.

Can we now expect to hear the publicly aired views of the organizations representing the federal government’s scientists on energy, industrial and environmental issues?

How about the federal government’s statisticians’ views on the Census Long Form and on the comprehensive breakdown of labour-related data to highlight such issues as under-employment and the exit from the labour market by frustrated youth?