The battle over transit funding is erupting on a new front with TTC chair Karen Stintz publicly scorning provincial Tory plans to takeover and expand Toronto’s subway system if elected.
A policy paper released Thursday by the provincial Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak includes a transit plan that would see all Toronto subways and future light rail lines run by the province through Metrolinx, the agency responsible for the GO Transit system.
“The GO rail network and the TTC’s subways and LRTs are the backbone of the region’s public transit system, but this backbone is currently severed,” the paper states.
Streetcar lines and bus routes would be left in the city’s hands.
In a post on her website, conservative-minded Councillor Stintz took aim at Mr. Hudak for cherry-picking the most profitable part of Toronto’s transit system and for offering no plan for paying for his subway expansion plans.
“If an Ontario PC government would consider uploading all the TTC then it would be worth discussing. I believe any transfer of TTC to Metrolinx or any provincial body should be an ‘all-or-nothing’ proposition; otherwise I believe Torontonians will have more operational costs downloaded onto them than ever before,” she writes.
Asked about the public posting, Ms. Stintz explained in an interview: “I just wanted to clarify, if it is Mr. Hudak’s intention to help transit, you don’t dissect the system.”
Ms. Stintz, who has long-standing ties with the Conservative party, said she was not contacted by Mr. Hudak or any members of his provincial caucus about the transit plans.
Mr. Hudak told reporters he did discuss the policy paper with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.
The Conservative policy paper comes as the city is about to begin public consultations on an array of methods for transit funding including road tolls and new taxes, measures the mayor has already said he does not favour.
Against this backdrop, Ms. Stintz said any transit plan must include how to pay for it. “If you really want to build transit, you have to be honest with the people, because you don’t build it for free.”