Once again, a seat has opened up on the board that oversees the TTC. Would you like a chance to help run the system? How about the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority? The GTTA may be officially launched this month and will need an entire board of directors.
Perhaps you, a regular transit rider, would have special insight into what’s needed to improve the commutes of hundreds of thousands of people. However, only a Toronto city councillor can be a TTC commissioner. Mark Grimes (Ward 6, Etobicoke-Lakeshore) left the board after being on the losing side of a vote to oust controversial transit chair Howard Moscoe.
Municipal elections are coming Nov. 13, and city politicians are turning their attention to campaigning. Once the new (or same old) set of councillors are voted in, then all the seats on the TTC are technically open.
Traditionally, Toronto politicos vie to have the transit agency on their list of committees because of the prestige it brings. Lately however, the commission has appeared dysfunctional.
The GTTA, a creation of the provincial legislature, will be governed by a mixture of elected officials from local municipalities as well as individuals appointed by Queen’s Park. Over the next few months we’ll learn who is to head the new regional authority, and who will sit on the board at the province’s behest. It may take until the new year to sort out the municipal representatives.
There’s no requirement that non-elected GTTA members be of the same ideological persuasion as the ruling party, but you can bet that the Liberals under Premier Dalton McGuinty won’t give posts to their political opponents.
As much as I’d like to see citizens have more decision-making power, sometimes this leads to even more cronyism than you get with a room full of career politicians. Whoever is in power at the time can commandeer the appointment process, whether that be a mayor or a premier.
Unelected board members can also be swept up in backroom deal-making without having the political experience it takes to survive. Nonetheless, I have faith that good candidates are available.
Whoever we entrust to decide the future of our transport network, let me ask a few favours: Please do not rest until you have a thorough understanding of the way the system is run, planned and financed. Consult daily riders and sit down periodically with both transit staff as well as independent advocates. Try to make decisions with the entire network in mind — not just your local area. Lastly, take transit regularly. Especially the buses.