Having a state or province run the subways is a big mistake. In Baltimore, Maryland they already have such a system they are trying to move away from. After multiple incidents in Baltimore, including safety issues, a report made it clear that the only way to go is to have the system run locally. If Baltimore is trying to move away from a state-run system, having Ontario even consider the idea of uploading the subways is a bad idea.
The Baltimore rail system had an emergency shut down in February 2018 for many weeks. An investigation later revealed that operating standards were not met. Inexperienced and high-rotation managerial staff were in command, and outdated methods like recording tasks on paper contributed to the shut down.
In systems like Baltimore’s, what comes to mind is the inefficient safety methods. Numerous reports over the years from Baltimore’s transit union, Amalgamated Local Union (ATU) 1300, were ignored. There were also reports of unionized staff being discouraged from reporting safety issues according to The Baltimore Sun. The Baltimore investigation determined that high rotation in staff replaced by inexperienced workers and using outdated and inefficient report methods contributed to the unnecessary shut down.
At this time, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is facing a similar issue. As of July 2018 when three high-level managers left. The TTC is fighting another two years worth of delays with new staff as it adds the Automatic Train Control (ATC) technology on the rails. Would these delays continue or become worse if the province of Ontario were to take over the subways?
TTC just released a new report suggesting it needs billions of dollars to move forward. One of the biggest recommendations was the use of better technology to aid in transit planning. Clearly there is a need for finding reliable funding resources to allow the local government to fund its transit system. Adding the province into the mix will only complicate matters.
Developing reliable revenue
Generating reliable and self-sufficient revenue and policies for the TTC is badly needed. Right now TTC collects a lot of its revenue from the turnstile. Reliable funding means the TTC can plan future projects. This means the entire system and not just parts of it.
Uploading means less accountability
A province overseeing Toronto’s transit translates into more politicians making decisions about areas they don’t know anything about. It’s happened before and even Metrolinx is not immune to political interference with the recent design of GO transit stations.
In Baltimore, they were about to put shovels in the ground to build a rail system called the Red Line. This new line was an estimated 14-mile light rail project. When the new Governor took office, they terminated this project. This left the local government on the hook for billions of dollars. In response to the debt, the government adopted tolls to help pay for the shortfall. The governor stated that the cost was the reason for the cancellation, and yet they still adjusted service to meet the needs of more affluent areas. This is only one example of what can happen when local governments lose their say over their transit systems. There is less accountability and, clearly, uploading our subways does not make sense.
Currently, Baltimore‘s transit system is trying to move towards an ownership style the City of Toronto now has with TTC. That’s because they realized for themselves that what they’re doing isn’t efficient. So, let’s keep transit in the hands of the city because there’s less political interference. Otherwise issues will arise. The province will actually make matters worse. That’s not what the residents and riders of Toronto need.