Former TTC chair battled during funding shortage
As Toronto city councillor Howard Moscoe prepares to end his colourful and controversial tenure as TTC chair, he will be taking a seat on Mayor David Miller’s new executive committee. Moscoe will continue to have a say in transit decisions — even more so if he is picked to sit on the fledgling Greater Toronto Transportation Authority.
It will be up to the next crop of transit commissioners and new chair Adam Giambrone to take up the many challenges facing the TTC.
These include funding problems that may actually be worse than previous years, a severe bus driver shortage, and increasingly overcrowded buses, streetcars and subways.
That said, the system remains more efficient than we give it credit for, and many employees quietly perform exemplary service in the midst of tight fiscal resources. They deserve support.
Of course, some transit observers will cheer Moscoe’s departure from the TTC, mostly due to his controversial style and difficulty maintaining cooperation amongst diverse parties.
There are genuine concerns over the way the commission is run — concerns that prompted the Toronto Board of Trade to recently call for a full governance review.
What’s more, now is the time for riders to increase their vigilance over several areas that Moscoe was known for championing. Whatever the criticism, the departing chair focused on some key issues that must not be lost in the shuffle.
First is the transit system’s accessibility.
Moscoe relentlessly pushed the TTC to better serve disabled riders. Yes, the overall effect may appear piecemeal — not all buses or stations are accessible to wheelchairs or scooters, the practice of announcing stops is disgracefully inconsistent and the entire streetcar network is off limits to anyone who cannot climb steps.
Nonetheless, the TTC has made crucial changes that allow many thousands of Torontonians new access to their city — all during a sustained funding crunch.
Moscoe had less success with another of his pet peeves — the cleanliness and upkeep of the transit system. Somebody has to follow up on his recent proposal to create subway “station masters.”
It does not instill confidence in employees or riders to use stations where repairs take months or years to complete, escalators may go a day before being restarted and signs are outdated or missing.
The departing TTC chair also floated the idea of providing displays at transit stops to tell riders when the next vehicle will arrive.
As surface delays increase with traffic congestion, any opportunity to increase the information flow to patrons should be examined.