Not any more

Fare system, cleanliness top concerns of new TTC chair – The Globe and Mail

In Canada on December 14, 2010 at 20:59

When the new nine-member Toronto Transit Commission convenes Wednesday for its first session, chair Karen Stintz will officially find herself at the vortex of what could be some of the most contentious debates facing the new council: Mayor Rob Ford’s pledge to scrap much of the $8.15-billion transit city plan in favour of a Sheppard subway, and his bid to make the TTC an essential service. Ms. Stintz, who has represented Eglinton-Lawrence since 2003, talks about her vision for Toronto’s transit future.

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How do you use the TTC?

I live near the subway line. I work near the subway line, so it’s easy for me to hop on the subway.

What is your main concern in terms of service?

It’s around the fare payment system. The cleanliness of the platforms is [also] a concern. The state of the escalators and the ease with which you can navigate through the stations is a concern that’s been expressed by other members of the community, especially by young mothers. There’s a sense the washrooms aren’t clean. Those are the kinds of things we can address in the shorter term.

What are you going to do with the customer service panel recommendations?

The general manager put together a report that will come to the Commission in January about how those recommendations will get implemented.

Where do you stand on the open fare request for proposals and the pressure from the province to implement the Presto smart card?

I don’t have all the details of the open fare [RFP]. I did write a blog where my initial thoughts were around supporting Presto.

Former mayor David Miller and TTC chair Adam Giambrone said Presto, a provincially funded proprietary smart card that can be replenished online, would be expensive to adopt across the TTC. When will the TTC evaluate those costs compared to those associated with open fare system – which allows riders to pay by tapping their credit or debit cards on special readers?

The Commission needs to wrestle with what are the costs and how broad will the implementation be. When I got a briefing note from chair Giambrone, it was unclear how widespread the implementation of open payment would be. When we’re looking at the kinds of systems that make best sense for the rider, we need to look at what will be the most comprehensive, where will it be implemented across the broadest number of fare payment media, how easy will it be for all riders to use it and costs come into that equation as well.

How far along will you be a year from now?

Very early in the new year, we’ll make a decision on what kind of technology we’re going to use. Once that decision has been made, my expectation of rolling it out is quite soon. Whether or not the fare medium will change in the next twelve months, I can’t say for certain. But if you come back to me a year from now, you’ll have a plan, the dates, timelines and the implementation around the new fare medium. One of my goals for this term is to make sure it is delivered to the riders.

If there’s additional cost, are you prepared to recommend that to council?

Those are the sorts of discussions we’ll work on with the province.

Transit City was initially positioned as a lower cost alternative to subways. What do you say to voters who supported [Mayor Ford] and are now looking at a more expensive form of transit?

When the federal and provincial governments were looking for projects to invest in, the City of Toronto showed great leadership and initiative in developing the Transit City plan. Over time, things changed. The Metrolinx board was established and the Big Move [Metrolinx’s regional transit strategy] was created. Along the way, half the Transit City plan morphed into the regional plan. It became unclear for people what exactly was being invested in. We’re taking this time, six weeks, to see if that regional transportation plan can be adjusted to meet [Mr. Ford’s] campaign commitments.

Does the Big Move make any reference to a Sheppard subway?

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