Thursday, July 19, 2007

Public transit cuts bad for environment, students

Some people at Toronto City Hall are proposing a cut to public transit:
TTC cuts could be devestating

Below is a letter sent to each member of City Council. You are urged to write your own letter to your particular City Councillor about this. To find out who your councillor and his or her contact information go to List of Toronto City Councillors

Letter to City Hall

Re: TTC cuts proposal

I wish to point out a simple but important point: any cuts to TTC at this time run counter to the Clean and Climate Change initiative begun by City Hall's Parks & Rec Committee.

Speaking for university students, most of whom take the TTC, this is an absolutely awful direction for the City to go in. It hurts education and it hurts the environment.

Students will be hindered by these cuts and the environment will suffer because a reduction in public transit will result in greater emissions from car traffic.

The City of Toronto needs to cut car traffic by 25% or more within the next few years, not increase it!

The world is facing a global warming crisis, which will spell economic and social and environmental disaster for Canadians and the world unless we collectively reduce our emissions by 90% by 2020 (not 80% by 2050 as is commonly suggested).

How can we possibly achieve even the lesser target if car emissions go up and not down?

Add to that the problems that go with increased traffic flow in a city where gridlock is everywhere all the time, and you begin to see how foolish it is not to fund the TTC even more.

This proposal for public transit cuts is in direct violation of the public's interest at a time when funding for public transit should be increasing. There is an incredible amount of waste in the City that ought to be addressed before TTC is cut.

I am astounded by the misallocation of priorities that this ill-advised proposal represents. I am sending this letter to all members of City Council with the hope that the cuts will not take place.


Feedback from City Hall

The feedback from Toronto City Council has come in. This small exercise and the response it received shows that letter-wring can help change public policy for the better.

From Councillor Heaps

Thank you very much for your comment. In fact, Councillor Heaps is extremely concerned about the suggested TTC funding cut since it will impact residents in our ward tremendously as there are three subway stations in our ward and a lot of Ward 35 residents depend on the bus service. Our office is committed to maintaining the services of the TTC, as we are aware that the TTC is not only a means of transportation, but also part of the City's climate change plan.

Regards, Caroline Law for Councillor Heaps

From Councillor Giambrone, Chair of the TTC

Thank you for your email. The Toronto Transit Commission will be meeting today to discuss the cuts that the city has asked us to make. These are not decisions that I am taking lightly. I will be supporting every effort to make decisions that have the lowest negative impact on TTC riders. The options however, are limited. As always, I am happy to hear feedback from TTC riders. Please feel free to contact TTC Customer Service at 416-393-3030 or our office at 416-392-7012 to share additional comments about these or other matters.

Yours Truly, Adam Giambrone Toronto City Councillor Ward 18 Davenport Chair, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC)

From Councillor Perruzza:

Glad to hear from you. I agree that it is important to prevent any cuts on public transportation. I will pass on your message to Anthony before the emergency meeting for him to read.

Cheers, MdeD., Office of Anthony Perruzza, City Council for Ward 8

From Councillor Pantalone

Thank you very much for your informed and passionate message. I will, of course, take into consideration the concerns of the residents of my ward as well as all Torontonians. We all have a stake in making Toronto a liveable City.

Sincerely, Joe Pantalone, Deputy Mayor, City of Toronto

From Councillor Fletcher

Thank you for your email. I know that Councillor Fletcher agrees that public transit is essential to helping with the climate change crisis that we are facing. She is also very supportive of students and post-secondary education and knows that having an educated population is part of the solution. Councillor Fletcher is troubled about the implications of the vote to defer the cities new taxes that were to come into effect this January.

As you now know the city is now facing a massive revenue shortfall. She is following the issue of the TTC very closely and we will be sure to keep you update of the situation. She has a direct stake in the issue as chair of the Parks and Environment committee and is committed to making the environment a cleaner and safer place for everyone.

Sincerely, Jeffrey Andrus, Assistant to Councillor Paula Fletcher - Ward 30

From Councillor Filion

I am not a member of the TTC and therefore not entirely familiar with its funding intricacies. Currently, TTC operations are heavily subsidized by the city. So the more operations we have, the more it costs us. The only way for the TTC to reduce spending is to shut down routes, and the way to do so most efficiently is to cut routes with the lowest ridership (and which therefore require the largest city subsidy).

Best wishes, John Filion

From Councillor Carroll:

Thank you for contacting the office of Councillor Shelley Carroll. Your comments are always appreciated. The suggested cost containment measures for the TTC that include the closing of the Sheppard Subway line came as a surprise to Councillor Carroll and represent an important concern to her and her Ward 33 constituents. The Sheppard Subway line is a vital link for residents and businesses of Ward 33 to the downtown and the rest of the City and Councillor Carroll will continue to voice her opposition to this proposal.

Councillor Carroll attended the TTC meeting on Friday to raise her concerns and the decision was made by the commission to delay any service cut decisions until further study and consultation can occur. Councillor Carroll hopes that the TTC can find the necessary budget cuts to comply with the City Managers cost containment plan without closing essential service routes such as the Sheppard Subway.

Public transit is the lifeblood of a big city and essential to any climate change initiatives. However, it must be pointed out that the City is currently in a financial situation that is simply not sustainable. Although Councillor Carroll does not support the closing of the Sheppard Subway line, as the City Budget Chief she is fully aware of the dire financial situation that the City has found itself in after the deferral of the new taxes proposed to Council last week. The City is a very efficient service provider and although we continue to look and find more savings and efficiencies every year, without any new sources of revenue the Budget Committee will be forced to look at cuts in all City divisions, including the TTC. This is most definitely not the preferred solution, as Councillor Carroll feels the City could benefit from greater investment in services, not less, however the Budget Committee has been left with little choice but to cut costs and services to allow the City to continue to run.

Councillor Carroll will continue to voice her opposition to the closing of the Sheppard Subway line and will continue her on-going budget reviews and services planning reviews in attempts to curb spending and find more efficiencies.

Sincerely, Jesse Calvert, Special Assistant to Councillor Shelley Carroll

From Councillor Ainslie:

The City must undertake the task of making responsible decisions to deal with it's debt while servicing the city. Cuts which would further add to congestion on our streets and add to pollutants to the air are not responsible cuts. Thank you for making your views known to me.

Paul Ainslie, City Councillor, Ward 43, Scarborough East

From Councillor Moscoe:

We can avoid that by approving the Land Transfer Tax which will raise
$300M. Write councillors and urge them to approve the Land transfer tax
when it comes back in October.

NB - the Land Transfer Tax is a real estate tax on new home sales. It is opposed by the real estate industry.

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Paul said...
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