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Monday, April 19, 2010

A Voice from Above

David Miller waiting 2

While travelling through the TTC's crumbling subway system the other day, I heard a voice. This is a surprisingly rare occurrence on the TTC. Most Torontonians enter into a kind of vapid bubble when travelling on the TTC. It helps suppress the natural instinct to be horrified by the semi-conscious drunks sprawled out hither and yon. Long before the advent of the iPod, Torontonians had learned to pretend that nothing exists more than two inches away from their faces, no matter how bad it smells. This also means that conversations are rare. Trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger on the TTC is not actually a criminal office in Toronto, though the authorities do regard you with a kind of suspicion. Ordinary commuters will assume you are high on something. There are solitary blocks in maximum security facilities with more chattiness than a Toronto subway car. Thus hearing a voice, a human voice, clearly and loudly was shocking. 

Was this the Almighty speaking to me? Telling me to repent my infidel ways? Nope. It was Hizzoner, the Mayor of Toronto, urging though the PA that the city's commuters call Premier Dalton McGuinty, and demand he increase funding for a transit expansion project, dubbed Transit City. Long time readers will recall that I'm not a huge fan of David Miller. I've always been fond of Paul Tuns insistence on referring to him as Mayor McCheese. Somewhat juvenile on the surface, it's a put down whose bitting accuracy becomes more apparent as you become familiar with the Miller oeuvre. Mel Lastman might have behaved like a clown, but he was actually a competent public servant and savvy businessman who made North York a force to be reckoned with in regional development. All those shiny office buildings along the upper reaches of Yonge Street are Lastman's legacy. Arguably all those shiny condos in downtown Toronto are David Miller's legacy, except the condo boom started in the city under Lastman's leadership. 

Toronto has sprawled to such extent over the last four decades that an affordable starter home puts you about an hour and a half (at least) out of the city center. The commute time, and the city's worsening gridlock, have driven the condo boom, compensating for the steady drain of non-retail commercial businesses out of the city. The Toronto property market is still booming, helped along by historically low interest rates. This boom has masked some of the less savoury aspects of the Miller legacy. As many politicians in their declining years, Mr Miller is seeking a more substantial legacy, a monument in concrete and steel. That monument is Transit City. The proposal, to significantly expand Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), certainly has its merits. It's a solid public policy proposal with strengths and weaknesses. 

The provincial government has not been as forthcoming as hoped with financial support. In effect, one level of government has said it has higher priorities than Transit City, and another level has disagreed. This is the nature of constitutional government. If you don't like it, elect someone else. While the Mayor has every right to lobby the Premier for increased funding, the Premier has every right to refuse. It's politics. People disagree and politicians have plenty of forums to make their case. One of those forums should NOT be the public transit system. Yes, private corporations do advertise on public transit, this is done to raise revenue and help keep down fares. It is also visual advertising. Having someone nattering away about detergent, while you're trying to catch a train, would quickly become an irritant. That's probably why the TTC has resisted such advertising for years. The implicit social contract between commuter and the TTC is that announcements over the PA are kept to necessary information only: train delays, changes to fare structure and when the new monthly passes are on sale. The TTC's PA system should not be another medium for political pontification. If David wants to beat Dalton over the head with his begging bowl, let him hold a press conference.

Posted by Richard Anderson on April 19, 2010 | Permalink


No. Never. Tronna has received too much so far. You people can pay for it yourselves.

What next for the Racist City of Hate: racially segregating your transit systems in order to give non-whites seats?

No matter how much you people disguise your racism in progressive language, you still come out looking like the hateful scum that you are.

We shall overcome.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2010-04-19 12:20:29 PM

Shame on you, Mayor McCheese! Shame on you! I know you are a puppet to that big, over-hyped clown, Ronald McDonald, but you don’t have to be. For once, grow a pair. Stand up to the broken political system that is the McDonaldland oligarchy. Help me Mayor McCheese! You’re my only hope!

Posted by: stanley | 2010-04-20 5:01:01 PM

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