I haven't written about the TTC for a while. With the Commission's recent approval of a large fare increase for next year - the airwaves, blogwaves etc are pulsing with outrage.
However, the fare increase should have caught no-one by surprise. The TTC - as with many city operations - has suffered from a long term history of mismanagement on all levels.
Some would say it's just the way it is - but there is real life proof from Montreal that it's possible to manage a transit system properly over the long term. Montreal proves further that the recipe for successful transit is not mindless operational spending, or streetcars - but sinply a focus on making good decisions to systematically manage costs for the general benefit.
This is all-too-clear from a simple analysis of the cost trends for the TTC and STM (Montreal's transit system) over the lasst 15 years:
This is 100% the TTC and unions fault - the costs are bloated.
In 1994, the TTC average cost per rider was $1.73
In 1994, Montreal's average cost per rider was $1.63
In 2009 (budget, the numbers are:
So in 15 years:
TTC costs have grow 55%
Montreal costs have grown only 31.5%
Had the TTC been properly mananged, it's cost this year would be $194 million lower.
The reason we have a system that is stalled on service and has higher fares is 100% mismanagement and unions.
$194 million A YEAR would keep fares down and finance the needed subway extensions and DRL.
The trouble is - it's only going to get worse. The costs will be going up 7% a year without service improvements.
Things are so bad that even the likes of Steve Munro - who generally dismisses anyone who talks about "value for money" without a fleeting thought - is bemoaning the prospects.
As I wrote the The Star back in 2002:
"We can have a better system - but only if the TTC management is forced to change its approach. However, if the subsidy spigots are reopened, this won't happen."
Instead, the subsidy spigots did re-open. Every last $ of extra subsidy has been flushed into higher than necessary operating costs - be they in the form of excess wages, excess staff, poor equipment and mode decisions or what have you.
Montreal has proved that this in not the inevitable co-product of running a large transit system.