I have always tried to keep my analysis of transit issues non-partisan, as traffic congestion doesn’t care if you are a conservative or a liberal or a new democrat. In order to keep our economy moving, keep our quality of life high and keep our environment healthy, we have to implement solutions that work.
According to an article appearing in the Toronto Star, Ontario Conservative Party leader Tim Hudak says that, if elected, he would upload the Toronto subway system to Metrolinx, have that agency be the exclusive builder and operator of an expanded rapid transit system, and build new subway lines as opposed to surface light rail lines. Assuming that these promises are able to be kept, I have no problem with this. When it comes to provincial control versus municipal control of assets, I have always felt that as long as the system functions as part of a seamless network the back-end administrative scheme does not matter much. In other words, riders should be able to use any combination of transit agencies – municipal, provincial or contracted – to reach their destinations on a consistent, integrated fare. When it comes to subways versus light rail, I have always felt that subways can meet the same planning policy objectives as light rail can – the only question is if the added cost is justifiable. If someone with money to burn is willing to pay the extra cost to build and subsidize them I will certainly not refuse them.
I do have concerns about Mr. Hudak’s comments regarding public sector employees, but this is not related to his political strips. When I graduated from high school ages ago, I was filled with civic pride and looking forward to a career in the public service. Nowadays, a public sector worker has to deal with unknown job security; wages that may or may not ever keep pace with inflation; and observers who are quite willing to insult professional abilities, qualifications and even workers personally. Frankly, I worry that the times we live in have turned many talented individuals off of working for the public service. When I graduate from Mohawk College in a few years, I will again have to choose between pursuing a public sector or private sector career. For the first time in my life, I cannot say in which direction I will turn.