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Index for my Toronto Budget 2004 project
Welcome Kinsella Readers
30/03/2004

You were sent here looking to read about today's announcement of funding for the TTC. You'll find today's posting about that here.

However, I've also written about it before. There was nothing new in today's annoucement. The rumours began a month ago, but compared to the recent history of TTC funding promises, this is nothing special.

UPDATE Wednesday morning: The Urban Archi-Texture Blog has some of the details I missed. Namely, the federal commitment may have strings attached, and the cash may be weighted towards the end of the five year term.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Star's coverage is shameless: "New subway cars, more streetcar projects, environmentally friendly buses, the possibility of a single-fare ticket across Greater Toronto and, oh yes, maybe that subway to York University after all." is their lead paragraph when the bottom half of the article points out that this money won't even cover half of the state-of-good-repair maintenance budget.

UPDATE 2, A bit later Wednesday morning: Okay, it is actually much worse than I thought. Royson James itemizes the facts that show this deal is mostly hot air. There's just enough substance in it that we can't say no. However, as the Globe and Mail reports, there actually is no deal yet. It is still being negotiated.

The bottom line? Less money than Mike Harris promised, with most of it tied into special programs of interest to Martin or McGuinty. John Barber in the Globe and Mail:

[Consider…] the double-edged TTC capital infusion announced with such fanfare yesterday. As welcome as the new federal funding may be, it still doesn't compensate for the paucity of expected provincial funding. In his first mandate, for instance, former premier Mike Harris spent $1.5-billion on capital improvements to the TTC -- five times what Mr. McGuinty has announced he plans to spend in his first (and last?) mandate.

In fact, the Tories made history by signing a five-year contract -- not just promising a long-term deal, but actually signing a long-term contract -- to spend $1-billion on TTC maintenance, with no strings attached. By contrast, the latest unsigned, three-government deal is filled with foolish, politically driven conditions.

The worst of them is that the TTC spend $140-million of the money on "an integrated ticket system" for the GTA, a high-tech bauble useless to existing riders.

More predictable but no more helpful is the insistence that the TTC use the money to purchase "hybrid or alternatively powered [green] buses." The TTC has struggled for years to find a decent, durable bus and, with its newest models, it finally succeeded. Now it is being forced to gamble on expensive, unproven new technology, going against repeated warnings not to do so from its own cost-conscious engineers.


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