Transcript: Transit Trouble | Mar 12, 2020

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and black tie.

A caption on screen reads "Transit trouble. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says GOVERNMENTS BUILD TRANSIT, BUT IN THIS PROVINCE, RIDERS PAY A BIG PORTION OF WHAT IT COSTS TO KEEP IT OPERATING. THAT'S WHY THE FARE BOX MATTERS SO MUCH, AND WHY FARE EVASION - PARTICULARLY IN THE PROVINCIAL CAPITAL - RECENTLY PROMPTED AN ENFORCEMENT BLITZ. BUT, AS USUAL, NOTHING ABOUT TRANSIT IS SIMPLE, AS OUR ASSEMBLED GUESTS WILL EXPLAIN. AND THEY ARE: PHIL VERSTER, HE IS PRESIDENT AND CEO AT THE GTA's REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY METROLINX...

Phil is in his late forties, with short-cropped gray hair and a stubble. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit, white shirt and blue tie.

Steve continues SHELAGH PIZEY-ALLEN, SHE'S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TTCriders, THAT'S A MEMBERSHIP-BASED TRANSIT ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION...

Shelagh is in her late thirties, with long curly brown hair. She's wearing glasses, a gray pinstripe blazer and a black shirt.

Steve continues JAY PITTER, PLACEMAKER, CO-EDITOR OF "SUBDIVIDED: CITY-BUILDING IN AN AGE OF HYPER DIVERSITY." SHE'S ALSO THE JOHN BOUSFIELD DISTINGUISHED VISITOR IN PLANNING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO...

Jay is in her thirties, with highlighted brown hair in a short bob and side-swept bangs. She's wearing a black blazer, white shirt, and silver hoop earrings.

Steve continues AND SHAWN MICALLEF, TORONTO STAR COLUMNIST AND CO-FOUNDER OF SPACING MAGAZINE.

Shawn is in his thirties, clean-shaven, with short brown hair. He's wearing round glasses, a light gray suit, white shirt and black tie.

Steve continues IT'S GOOD TO HAVE EVERYBODY... I WAS GOING TO SAY BACK... BUT THIS MIGHT BE YOUR FIRST TIME HERE. FOR THE REST OF YOU, IT'S WELCOME BACK. LET'S START BY READING SOMETHING FROM A FEW DAYS AGO, WRITTEN BY ADAM GIAMBRONE, WHO'S A FORMER CHAIR OF THE TTC. HE WROTE THIS IN THE TORONTO SUN...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Fair evasion. Fare deal." The quote reads "It's obvious the current bump in fare evasion occurred in connection with malfunctioning Presto technology and the new fare gates. Something in the experience seems to have shifted riders' thinking away from the obligation to pay. Many riders got accustomed to situations where the system couldn't collect their fare or where those around them appeared to enter a vehicle without paying."
Quoted from Adam Giambrone, Toronto Sun. March 7, 2020.

Steve says THIS IS HIS VIEW THAT WE CAN START BY BLAMING PRESTO. AND I WANT TO GET EVERYBODY'S ASSESSMENT ON THIS. FIRE AWAY.

The caption changes to "Phil Verster. Metrolinx."
Then, it changes again to "Fare evasion."

Phil says SO I WOULD STRONGLY SAY THAT FARE EVASION IS NOT ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY YOU USE BECAUSE WE USE PRESTO ON GO, AND ON GO THE FARE EVASION IS ABOUT 2.7 percent. SO WITH ANYTHING, IT IS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND HOW YOU APPLY IT. AND THERE ARE MANY THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO TO MAKE SURE YOUR FARE EVASION IS LIMITED.

Steve says HOLD OFF ON THAT. WE'LL GET TO SOLUTIONS DOWN THE ROAD.

Phil says VERY GOOD. AND THE WAY TO LOOK AT IT IS, I DO AGREE WITH THE SENTIMENT GENERALLY THAT THERE'S SORT OF A TREND TOWARDS HIGHER LEVELS OF FARE EVASION. THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY, ON OUR GO SERVICES, WE'VE INCREASED OUR FARE EVASION... OUR REDUCTION OF FARE EVASION BY PUTTING MORE REVENUE PROTECTION OFFICERS IN LINE. BUT, YES, THERE IS A TREND, AND IT'S A TREND THAT WE NEED TO BE INTELLIGENT IN HOW WE COMBAT IT.

Steve says BUT YOU'RE NOT BLAMING PRESTO FOR IT.

The caption changes to "Phil Verster, @Metrolinx."

Phil says NOT BLAMING PRESTO ON IT. PRESTO USES TECHNOLOGY WHICH IS 99 PERCENT RELIABILITY FIGURE, AROUND THERE, AND HIGHER, AND TECHNOLOGY IS NOT THE ISSUE. THIS IS A BEHAVIOURAL ISSUE, NOT A TECHNOLOGY ISSUE.

Steve says SHELAGH, YOUR VIEW?

The caption changes to "Shelagh Pizey-Allen. TTC Riders."

Shelagh says WE THINK THERE ARE TWO ISSUES UNDERLYING THE FARE EVASION. ONE IS THE PRESTO CARD. YOU KNOW, I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT PRESTO WAS IMPOSED ON THE CITY OF TORONTO. THE PROVINCE THREATENED TO WITHHOLD THE GAS TAX IF IT WASN'T ACCEPTED. AND IT'S CREATED A LOT OF NEW BARRIERS TO PAYING. ONE IS THAT THERE IS AN EXCLUSIVE DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT FOR PRESTO AT SHOPPERS DRUG MART. SO IF YOU DON'T LIVE WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF A SUBWAY OR SHOPPERS DRUG MART, IT'S MUCH MORE DIFFICULT FOR YOU TO ACCESS PRESTO CARDS AND PRESTO TICKETS. THE OTHER ISSUE IS AFFORDABILITY. MANY PEOPLE IN TORONTO CAN'T AFFORD TO PAY AND THE CITY RECOGNIZES THIS THROUGH OUR LOW INCOME PASS PROGRAM, BUT IT DOESN'T GO FAR ENOUGH. AT 123 dollars A MONTH, IT'S ACTUALLY HIGHER THAN MANY MONTHLY PASSES IN OTHER CANADIAN CITIES.

Steve says JAY, YOUR VIEW?

The caption changes to "Jay Pitter. Co-Editor, 'Subdivided.'"

Jay says I'M ACTUALLY ENTIRELY UNWILLING TO TALK ABOUT FARE EVASION. I COME TO THE SUBJECT MATTER USING A TRANSIT EQUITY LENS, AND IN SO DOING, WHAT I NEED TO TALK ABOUT IS THE FACT THAT THE SYSTEM IS GROSSLY UNDERFUNDED AND THE CONVERSATION PERTAINING TO FARE EVASION INEQUITABLY CRIMINALIZES THOSE WHO, AS, YOU KNOW, WAS JUST SAID, WHO REALLY LACK ACCESS TO THE RESOURCES TO PAY THE FARE. AND SO WHAT WE'RE DOING IS CRIMINALIZING THE POOR.

Steve says IS IT UNDERFUNDED IN PART BECAUSE 75 MILLION dollars WORTH OF PEOPLE AREN'T PAYING?

Jay says ABSOLUTELY NOT. IT'S UNDERFUNDED BECAUSE THE PROVINCE HAS ABDICATED ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO PUBLIC TRANSIT.

Steve says GOTCHA...

Jay says AND ALSO BECAUSE THEY ARE UNWILLING TO STOP PRIORITIZING CAR CENTRIC INFRASTRUCTURE IN TERMS OF DESIGN AND MAINTENANCE.

Steve says SHAWN, YOUR VIEW ON THE POINT?

The caption changes to "Shawn Micallef. Spacing Magazine. Toronto Star."

Shawn says ANYONE WHO RODE THE TTC OR EVEN GO NETWORK KNOWS THAT PRESTO IS VERY IMPERFECT TECHNOLOGY. WE GET ON A STREETCAR AND THE THING DOESN'T WORK AND YOU CAN HAVE FARE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS IN THEIR PARAMILITARY UNIFORMS COME DOWN AND YOU PANIC, I HAVE MYSELF, WHEN THE MACHINE DOESN'T WORK. THESE INSTITUTIONS HAVE DOWNLOADED THE TROUBLE WITH PRESTO ONTO THE RIDER RATHER THAN TAKING RESPONSIBILITY FOR PUTTING PEOPLE IN THIS POSITION.

Steve says A FEW THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO COMMENT ON.

Phil says YES. I SAY THIS A COUPLE OF TIMES. I'M A PROUD NON-OWNER OF A CAR AND I USE PUBLIC TRANSIT ALL THE TIME. I TRAVEL ON GO, I TRAVEL ON STREETCARS, I TRAVEL EVERYWHERE ON PUBLIC TRANSIT. AND SO I KNOW ALSO WHAT THE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION RATIOS AND THE TAKE-UP RATIOS OF PRESTO ARE, AND I ALSO KNOW WHAT SOME OF THE WEAKNESSES ARE. AND EVEN THOUGH WE'RE AT 99 PERCENT, WHICH IS, REMEMBER, OUR CONTRACTUAL COMMITMENT WAS 95 PERCENT, DEFINITELY NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR US, WE'RE WORKING CLOSELY WITH OUR TTC COLLEAGUES TO CONTINUOUSLY IMPROVE ANY POSSIBLE WAY, IF IT'S AN EARLY IDENTIFICATION OF A FAILING DEVICE, GET IT OFF FOR THE NEXT DAY, REPLACE IT WITH ANOTHER DEVICE, WE DO THAT. HERE'S THE THING: IF YOU LOOK AT OUR CUSTOMER SERVICE, CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEYS, A LARGE PROPORTION OF PEOPLE HAVE NO ISSUES WITH PRESTO AND THEN THEIR SATISFACTION RATE IS ABOUT 88 PERCENT. THE AREA OF OUR BUSINESS WHERE WE HAVE TO DO BETTER, WHICH I'M VERY PUBLIC ABOUT, IS WE NEED TO DEAL WITH CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS. NOW, OUR UPTAKE OF PRESTO ADOPTION ON THE TTC IS ABOVE 70 PERCENT, BUT WHEN SOMEONE HAS A QUESTION THAT DOESN'T GET RESOLVED ON THE SECOND OR THE THIRD OR EVEN THE FOURTH CALL, THEN WE'RE NOT DOING OUR JOB. SO THERE'S A LOT WE CAN DO TO ADDRESS THAT LEVEL OF SATISFACTION, BUT THE USAGE IS THERE, THE TRANSACTIONS ARE THERE...

Shawn says IT'S THERE BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO. THERE'S NOT MUCH OTHER CHOICE THAN USING PRESTO RIGHT NOW. I CAN'T USE MY LONDON OYSTER CARD RIGHT NOW. IT'S SORT OF LIKE... YOU CAN HARDLY PAY ANY OTHER WAY RIGHT NOW.

Phil says ACTUALLY WITH USAGE GOES OUR REGULAR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY, SO WE UNDERSTAND WHAT ARE THE ISSUES CUSTOMERS ARE HAPPY WITH AND WHAT THEY'RE NOT HAPPY WITH.

Jay says I'M SO SORRY. HOW MANY PEOPLE FILL OUT THESE SURVEYS? BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE OF WORKING ON TRANSIT PROJECTS, SOME OF THE MOST VULNERABLE PEOPLE ACTUALLY DON'T HAVE TIME TO FILL OUT SURVEYS. THEY'RE WORKING A COUPLE OF SHIFTS. THEY'RE RUNNING AROUND WITH CHILDREN, TAKING MULTIPLE TRIPS. WE KNOW THAT WOMEN USE PUBLIC TRANSIT AT TWICE THE RATE OF MEN OFTENTIMES, AND SO I'M REALLY CURIOUS ABOUT THESE FOLKS WITH THE TIME TO FILL OUT THESE SURVEYS WITH THESE SPECTACULAR RESULTS.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Phil says THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION. SO WE HAVE A TEAM THAT DOES THE SURVEYS FOR US, AND I CAN'T IMMEDIATELY TELL YOU HOW MUCH TIME AND EFFORT THEY TAKE TO MAKE SURE THEY GET OPINIONS FROM EVERYONE, BUT WE TAKE A VERY BIG SAMPLE OF OPINIONS. YOUR QUESTION IS STILL A GOOD ONE. WE DON'T REALLY TAKE OUR SURVEYS AND SEGREGATE IT BY THAT TYPE OF PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES TO BE ABLE TO DIFFERENTIATE, BUT WE DO... WE DO OUR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEYS FOR OUR GO AND OUR PRESTO SERVICES VERY WIDELY AND VERY THOROUGHLY EVERY YEAR. YOUR QUESTION IS STILL A GOOD ONE, THOUGH.

Steve says CAN I GET SOME NUMBERS UP HERE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE, AGAIN, FOR THOSE WHO DON'T TAKE THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION STREETCARS OR SUBWAYS OR BUSES AND WHO ARE MAYBE WATCHING US FROM OUTSIDE THE CAPITAL CITY AT THE MOMENT, YOU MAY NOT KNOW THESE NUMBERS. SO LET'S JUST PUT THIS STUFF UP HERE, OKAY, SHELDON?

A slate appears on screen, with the title "It's theft. The TTC responds."

Steve reads data from the slate and says
THE CURRENT ADULT SINGLE FARE TO RIDE THE TTC IS THREE and one quarter dollars, 3.25. IF YOU'RE A CHILD UNDER 12, YOU RIDE FOR FREE. WE SHOULD POINT OUT HERE THAT SOME CLEVER PEOPLE BRING THEIR KID TO SHOPPERS DRUG MART AND THEY GET A PRESTO CARD IN THEIR KID'S NAME AND SO THEY USE IT AND SO THEY RIDE FOR FREE. THIS IS ONE OF THE SCAMS THAT'S GOING ON RIGHT NOW. THE MAXIMUM FINE FOR FARE EVASION IS 425 dollars. THE AMOUNT THAT THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION LOST LAST YEAR IN FARE EVASION IS NORTH OF 70 MILLION dollars. 70 MILLION BUCKS, SHAWN, THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY. ARE YOU TROUBLED BY THAT?

The caption changes to "Shawn Micallef, @shawnmicallef."

Shawn says IT IS A LOT OF MONEY, BUT STILL THAT FINE, OVER 400 dollars, YOU COMPARE IT WITH BLOWING THROUGH STREETCAR DOORS WHEN THEY'RE OPEN, PUTTING PEOPLE'S LIVES AT RISK, SPEEDING, SPEEDING DOWN RESIDENTIAL STREETS BY SCHOOLS, STEALING PARKING. PARKING IS STEALING. IF YOU DON'T PAY YOUR PARKING YOU GET 30 dollars... I DON'T KNOW, I HAVEN'T HAD A PARKING TICKET IN A WHILE.

Steve says THIRTY BUCKS NORMALLY.

Shawn says IT'S MINUSCULE. AND YET STEALING 3 dollars 25, YOU COULD GET THIS DRACONIAN FINE. AND I KNOW THE TTC SAYS WE DON'T COMPARE THAT. BUT HOW DO PEOPLE COMPARE IT? WE SEE THIS DEADLY ACTIVITY BEING KID GLOVES ON DRIVERS AND THIS DRACONIAN STUFF ON RIDERS WHO MIGHT GET ON AND NOT PAY 3 dollars 25.

Phil says MAYBE NOT TALKING TO THAT SAME POINT BECAUSE I FOLLOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU'RE SAYING BUT ON GO, FOR EXAMPLE, WE'VE ADOPTED WHAT WE CALL A ZERO TOLERANCE APPROACH. SO IF SOMEONE DOESN'T HAVE THE RIGHT FARE, WE LEVY A 100 dollar FINE. BUT WE'VE PUT A PROCESS IN PLACE WHEREBY PEOPLE CAN CHALLENGE AND GIVE REASONS AND THEN WE DO AWAY WITH THAT. WHAT WAS REALLY INTERESTING, SHAWN, AND I KNOW IT DOESN'T SPEAK TO YOUR POINT, IS THAT OUR LEVEL OF CUSTOMER SATISFACTION OF OTHER CUSTOMERS RECOGNIZE THAT THERE'S FARE ENFORCEMENT HAS GENERALLY INCREASED BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT OUR COMMUNITY EXPECT WHEN PEOPLE TRAVEL. AND THEN THERE ARE, DEALING WITH THE ISSUES, THERE ARE VERY LEGITIMATE ISSUES. I WANT TO BE REALLY CLEAR. I DO THINK OUR CONTACT CENTRES CAN BE MUCH BETTER DEALING WITH COMPLAINTS. BUT I'VE HAD COMPLAINTS OF SOMEONE SAYING I'M NOT SURE WHY I SHOULD PAY A FINE. I DON'T HAVE TIME TO UPLOAD MY CASH DOWN TO MY ACCOUNT. AND I WAS GOING TO MISS THE TRAIN. SO I JUST TRAVEL. IT'S SORT OF THE SAME AS SAYING I'M GOING TO A RESTAURANT, I HAVEN'T GOT ENOUGH MONEY, BUT I'M JUST GOING TO HAVE MY MEAL...

Steve says LET ME FOLLOW UP ON THAT. SHELAGH, DO YOU THINK PEOPLE ARE ENTITLED TO RIDE THE TTC FOR FREE IF THEY DON'T HAVE THE EXACT CHANGE OR FORGOT THEIR PRESTO CARD OR WHATEVER?

The caption changes to "Shelagh Pizey-Allen, @ttcriders."

Shelagh says IT'S A REALITY IN OUR CITY THAT PEOPLE CANNOT AFFORD TO RIDE THE TTC AND WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE THAT. AND IT'S UNFAIR FOR SOMEONE TO GET A 425 dollar FINE BECAUSE A MACHINE IS OUT OF ORDER OR BECAUSE THEY CAN'T AFFORD THE FARE. WE NEED TO PUT THAT 70 MILLION ESTIMATE, RIGHT, INTO CONTEXT. THE TTC DOESN'T HAVE AN OUTRAGEOUSLY HIGH RATE OF FARE EVASION. IT'S WITHIN THE NORTH AMERICAN AVERAGE. AND THE REAL EVASION ISSUE THE TTC HAS IS FUND EVASION. FOR DECADES THE TTC HAS BEEN UNDERFUNDED, AT THE AT LEAST SUBSIDIZED MAJOR TRANSIT SYSTEM IN NORTH AMERICA.

Steve says ALWAYS HAS BEEN.

Shelagh says MOST RELIANT ON RIDERS. THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE. WE'D LIKE TO SEE THE PROVINCE COME BACK TO THE TABLE AND RESUME FUNDING FOR TRANSIT IN ONTARIO.

Steve says FAIR ENOUGH. YOU KNOW, I GUESS THE WAY DEMOCRACY WORKS IS IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE SUBSIDY THAT THE CURRENT PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT IS OFFERING, YOU CAN THROW THEM OUT AND PUT SOMEONE ELSE IN THAT OFFERS A HIGHER SUBSIDY. AT THE MOMENT WE ARE WHERE WE ARE. I GET BACK TO THE ORIGINAL QUESTION: SHOULD PEOPLE FEEL ENTITLED TO RIDE THE TTC FOR FREE?

Shelagh says YOU KNOW, I THINK THE TTC IS A PUBLIC SERVICE. WE NEED TO BE HAVING A BIGGER CONVERSATION ABOUT WHAT WE NEED TO EXPECT FROM THE TTC AND OUR PUBLIC SERVICES. I THINK WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT THE FREEDOM TO MOVE WITHIN OUR CITY, AND OF COURSE IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT FARES AND BEING ABLE TO AFFORD TO GET ON, IT'S ABOUT FREQUENT SERVICE, ACCESSIBLE SERVICE. THAT'S WHAT WE DESERVE FROM OUR PUBLIC SERVICES AND THAT'S, YOU KNOW, I THINK WHAT PEOPLE ARE ASKING FOR WHEN THEY SEE THE TTC IS UNDERFUNDED, WE NEED ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT TO BE CONTRIBUTING FAIRLY.

Steve says DO YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD FEEL ENTITLED TO RIDE THE TTC FOR NOTHING?

Shawn says IT'S NOT NOTHING, RIGHT? EVEN IF THE TTC WAS FREE, IF IT WAS A FREE SYSTEM, I DON'T LIKE THAT WORD BECAUSE WE WOULD PAY FOR IT THROUGH TAXES LIKE WE PAY FOR ROADS, LIKE WE PAY FOR SIDEWALKS, LIKE WE PAY FOR ALL THIS OTHER INFRASTRUCTURE THAT WE USE WITHOUT THINKING OF IT BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE TO PAY TO GET ON IT.

Steve says POLITICIANS HAVE DECIDED IN THEIR WISDOM THIS IS NOT A SOCIAL SERVICE IN THE SAME WAY YOU WALK INTO A HOSPITAL AND THEY DON'T HAND YOU A BILL ON THE WAY OUT. IT'S A DIFFERENT KIND OF SERVICE. IT'S A PUBLIC UTILITY. WHEREAS IF YOU WANT TO TURN THE LIGHTS ON, YOU'VE GOT TO PAY FOR THAT. IF YOU WANT TO USE THE WATER, YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THAT. IF YOU WANT TO RIDE THE TRAINS, YOU NEED TO PAY FOR THAT.

Shawn says WHEN WE HAVE A DERAILMENT, THE ECONOMY OF TORONTO ALMOST COMES TO A HALT, RIGHT? PEOPLE CAN'T GET TO WORK. THIS IS A CRITICAL SOCIAL SERVICE. IT'S NOT JUST A THING THAT CAN KIND OF... WE CAN KIND OF DISMISS EASILY.

Jay says I'M GOING TO GO A STEP FURTHER.

Steve says SURE.

The caption changes to "Jay Pitter, @Jay_Pitter."

Jay says PUBLIC TRANSIT IS NOT SIMPLY A PUBLIC SERVICE, IT'S IN FACT A HUMAN RIGHT. SO BEING ABLE TO NAVIGATE YOUR CITY FREELY AND HAVING OPTIONS TO DO SO IS EVERYONE'S RIGHT, MUCH LIKE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION. AND IN FACT A NUMBER OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL RIGHTS PROTESTS HAVE CENTRED AROUND PUBLIC TRANSIT RIGHT ACROSS NORTH AMERICAN CITIES AND THE WORLD.

Steve says JAY, THAT MAY BE YOUR VIEW AND YOU CERTAINLY ARE OBVIOUSLY, IN A FREE COUNTRY, ENTITLED TO ADVOCATE FOR THAT VIEW, BUT THOSE ARE NOT THE RULES OF THE ROAD TODAY. THE RULES OF THE ROAD TODAY ARE, IF YOU WANT TO USE THE SYSTEM, YOU HAVE TO PAY TO USE THE SYSTEM.

Jay says I COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE SAYING AND IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT HISTORICALLY, WHEN THE SYSTEM HAS DENIED PEOPLE THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS, PEOPLE HAVE STOOD UP AND PROTESTED AND ADVOCATED FOR THOSE RIGHTS. I'LL GIVE YOU A VERY SIMPLE EXAMPLE. YOU KNOW, IT'S SO HARD FOR ME TO PARTICIPATE IN CONVERSATIONS THAT, AGAIN, CRIMINALIZE FARE EVASION, AND I SHARED THIS PUBLICLY A FEW WEEKS AGO ON MY TWITTER... YOU KNOW, A VERY THOUGHTFUL PLATFORM. WHAT I SHARED ON TWITTER IS SOMETHING I HAVE NOT SHARED IN MY ADULT LIFE IN PUBLIC BEFORE, BUT I SHARED THAT, YOU KNOW, WHEN I GOT TO HIGH SCHOOL, THAT WAS WHEN WE ALL NEEDED TO TAKE THE BUS TO SCHOOL AND ALMOST EVERY MORNING I WOULD HAVE A FRIEND COME TO THE BUS STOP WITHOUT A TICKET. SO I'M GOING TO AGE MYSELF. THIS IS LIKE THE '80s. AND SO THEY WOULD LITERALLY BEG FOR SOMEBODY TO TAKE THAT LITTLE CARDBOARD, LIKE, TICKET, AND RIP IT IN HALF, SPLIT IT IN HALF, SO THEY COULD GET TO SCHOOL. AND I WILL TELL YOU THAT I DID THAT ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS. I AM BY NO MEANS A CRIMINAL. IF I WAS ASKED TO DO IT IN THAT SITUATION AS A YOUNG PERSON SO THAT LOW INCOME PEOPLE LIKE MYSELF COULD ACCESS AN EDUCATION AND GET TO SCHOOL, I WOULD DO IT A MILLION TIMES AGAIN.

Steve says YOU ARE CLEARLY HEARING AROUND THE TABLE A VIEW OF THIS TRANSIT SYSTEM THAT IS NOT SORT OF COMPARABLE TO A UTILITY BUT IS RATHER... YOU'VE HEARD THE EXPRESSION A HUMAN RIGHT, A SOCIAL SERVICE. HOW DO YOU REACT TO THAT?

The caption changes to "The price of free."

Phil says JAY'S POINT ABOUT THE IMPACT OF TRANSIT IS INDISPUTABLE. IT'S ABSOLUTELY INDISPUTABLE. TRANSIT CHANGES PEOPLE'S LIVES. TRANSIT CHANGES COMMUNITIES. TRANSIT GIVES PEOPLE OPPORTUNITIES TO CHANGE AND LIFT THEIR LIFESTYLE. IN SOME JURISDICTIONS, THERE ARE EXPERIMENTS HAPPENING ABOUT MAKING TRANSIT FREE, AND WHEN YOU... AND I KNOW, ESPECIALLY IN FRANCE, THERE'S SORT OF AN ACTIVE TRAIN OF THOUGHT IN THIS DIRECTION. THE THING TO CONSIDER IS THAT I HAVE A 68 PERCENT RECOVERY RATE REVENUE AGAINST COST. IF I PUT THE BILLION DOLLARS OF OPERATING COSTS I'VE GOT AS FURTHER FUNDS THAT MUST BE SUPPLIED, THAT'S A BILLION DOLLARS LESS THAT GOES INTO THE EXTENSIVE EXPANSION OF THE NETWORK THAT'S ACTUALLY REQUIRED. WE'RE AT THE STAGE WHERE WE DO NOT YET HAVE ENOUGH INFRASTRUCTURE TO PROPERLY SERVE THIS REGION AND THIS CITY AND ALL OF THE CITIES AROUND US. SO I'LL BE STRONGLY BIASED TOWARDS SAYING, IF WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT ANYTHING, SUCH AS WHAT JAY IS PROPOSING, WE MUST FIRST GET THAT BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE TO BE ABLE TO DO THAT.

Steve says AND HOW MUCH DOES FARE EVASION HURT YOUR ABILITY TO DO THAT?

Phil says SO FARE EVASION, IN OUR CASE, BECAUSE WE ENFORCE IT DIFFERENTLY... THAT'S WHY I SAY IT'S NOT A PRESTO ISSUE AT ALL, BECAUSE WE ENFORCE IT AND MANAGE IT DIFFERENTLY... IS ONLY AROUND 2.7 PERCENT. SO IT'S A RELATIVELY SMALL AMOUNT OF VALUE. BUT I'VE GOT TO SAY, WHY PARTS OF JAY'S POINTS HAVE STRONG RESONANCE WITH ME IS OUR MINISTER REDUCED THE BASE FARE FROM 4 dollars 70 TO 3 dollars 70. NOW, A DOLLAR MAY NOT SOUND LIKE MUCH BUT A DOLLAR IS A LOT. AND SO WHEN YOU SEE THAT FARES ARE RELATIVELY MORE AFFORDABLE THEN THERE'S A CORRELATION WITH LESS FARE EVASION AS WELL

Steve says ONE LAST THING HERE. THE FINES, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE HAVE MADE A BIG DEAL ABOUT THE FACT THAT THE FINES ARE SO MUCH MORE DRAMATIC THAN ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU COULD DO ON THE ROADS. ARE THEY TOO HIGH?

Phil says SO HERE'S WHAT'S SO GOOD ABOUT YOUR INTRODUCTORY PARAGRAPH THAT YOU READ FROM THE STAR, IS THAT THE PART OF THAT INTRODUCTION THAT REALLY FEELS RIGHT IS THERE'S A BEHAVIOURAL TREND IN SOCIETY HAPPENING CURRENTLY, AND THE BEHAVIOURAL TREND IS THAT IT'S BECOME SORT OF, IN SOME PART... I'LL BE CAREFUL HOW I PUT THIS... IT'S BECOME MORE ACCEPTABLE TO HAVE FARE EVASION AS A BEHAVIOURAL TRAIT. SO I THINK THIS IS LESS ABOUT THE FARES AND MORE ABOUT THE BEHAVIOUR. AND I JUST HAVE TO SAY AS WELL I'M SEEING FROM OUR RIDERS IS THAT THERE IS A SENSE OF FAIRNESS, MAYBE A DIFFERENT PRINCIPLE TO WHAT JAY IS TALKING ABOUT, ABOUT EQUITY MORE, BUT FAIRNESS OR EQUITY, OTHER RIDERS FEEL THAT IT'S NOT APPROPRIATE THAT OTHER PEOPLE AREN'T PAYING. AND I THINK WHEN THAT BEHAVIOUR STARTS TO CHANGE, THEN WE'RE IN A BETTER PLATFORM TO THINK ABOUT ANY OTHER CHANGES WE NEED TO MAKE.

Steve says JAY?

Jay says WHAT I THINK IS DEEPLY INAPPROPRIATE IS THAT WE LIVE IN A CITY THAT IS SO EXPENSIVE AND SO... THAT LACKS SO MUCH AFFORDABILITY THAT PEOPLE ARE HAVING TO CHOOSE BETWEEN FOOD AND PUBLIC TRANSIT FARE AT THE END OF THE MONTH. SO THE BEHAVIOUR THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IS ACTUALLY DESPERATION AND IT'S OUT OF SURVIVAL: FOOD OR MOBILITY. THESE THINGS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS. AND WHEN YOU PUT PEOPLE IN A POSITION WHERE THEY HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN THOSE TYPES OF THINGS, THEY DON'T MAKE, YOU KNOW, RESPECTABLE BEHAVIOURAL CHOICES.

Steve says LET ME RAISE ANOTHER ISSUE HERE THAT IS PERHAPS JUST AS UNCOMFORTABLE AS THE ONE WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT AND, SHELAGH, I'LL GO TO YOU ON THIS. DO YOU HAVE ANY EVIDENCE THAT WHEN THE INSPECTORS GO ON THE TRAINS... OR THE STREETCARS OR BUSES OR WHATEVER... AND THEY ARE LOOKING FOR POSSIBLE FARE EVADERS, DO YOU KNOW WHETHER ANY RACIAL PROFILING IS GOING ON?

The caption changes to "Racial profiling."

Shelagh says YES. YOU KNOW, WE HEAR STORIES FROM PEOPLE AND THERE IS EVIDENCE RIGHT HERE IN TORONTO AND FROM SYSTEMS ALL ACROSS NORTH AMERICA THAT FARE ENFORCEMENT DISPROPORTIONATELY TARGETS BLACK PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OF COLOUR AND THAT BLACK PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OF COLOUR ALSO FACE HARSHER PENALTIES FOR FARE EVASION. YOU KNOW, THE TORONTO STAR UNCOVERED THAT THE TTC HAD BEEN INVOLVED IN CARDING ON THE TTC. TWENTY PERCENT OF THE CARDS THAT WERE FILLED OUT WERE FOR BLACK RIDERS. SO WE KNOW THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM, AND IT'S NOT... THIS PROBLEM IS NOT GOING TO GO AWAY BY HIRING MORE FARE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS. WE NEED TO BE MAKING TRANSIT MORE AFFORDABLE. IT'S... YEAH.

Steve says WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THIS, SHAWN?

Shawn says WELL, WE HAVE LOTS OF EVIDENCE AND STORIES OF PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, BEING KIND OF UNFAIRLY TARGETED. I THINK OF IT... WHAT IF YOU GOT INTO YOUR CAR EVERY DAY, YOUR MAZDA 3 OR WHATEVER, AND A LITTLE VOICE COMES ON AND SAYS, GREETINGS CRIMINAL. THERE'S AN ASSUMPTION YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG. I THINK THAT'S WHERE A LOT OF RAGE COMES FROM, FROM PEOPLE WHO PAY THEIR FARE EVERY DAY AND HAVE NOT FARE EVADED AND ARE SEEING THIS KIND OF TREATMENT. THIS IS WHERE I THINK THE BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE HAS TO COME FROM THE INSTITUTIONS, NOT NECESSARILY THE RIDERS. MAKE THIS THING FRIENDLY AND RESPECTFUL. RESPECTFUL TO ALL THE RIDERS.

Steve says WHAT ARE YOU HEARING ABOUT RACIAL PROFILING, JAY?

Jay says YOU KNOW, WE KNOW THAT THERE'S A TREMENDOUS DEGREE OF NOT ONLY RACIAL PROFILING BUT CLASS-BASED PROFILING AS WELL. AND I THINK THAT WHEN WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE KINDS OF ENFORCEMENT THAT WE'RE LOOKING AT, THOSE TWO THINGS ARE INSEPARABLE ALMOST, BOTH RACIAL AND CLASS-BASED PROFILING, AND ALSO PROFILING OF INDIVIDUALS WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES OR INDIVIDUALS WHO SEEM VULNERABLE OR WHO LOOK OUT OF PLACE. AND THIS IS WHY AN ENFORCEMENT MODEL VERSUS A MODEL THAT PROMOTES EQUITY AND ACCESS FOR ALL IS TRULY PROBLEMATIC, IT IS SO PROFOUNDLY DANGEROUS.

Steve says PHIL?

Phil says SO OUR REVENUE PROTECTION OFFICERS ARE, JUST TO YOUR POINT, ARE VERY RESPECTFUL, AND I THINK YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. IT'S PART OF DOING FARE REVENUE BE PROTECTION IS PART OF THE CUSTOMER SERVICE YOU OFFER.

Jay says SO YOU WERE SAYING THAT YOUR OFFICERS ARE VERY RESPECTFUL. HAVE YOU SEEN THEM ENACT ENFORCEMENT ON RACIALIZED OR VULNERABLE PEOPLE BEFORE?

Phil says I ABSOLUTELY DO, WHEN I TRAVEL AND I SEE THEM, I OFTEN WALK WITH THEM. I OFTEN STOP AND TALK TO CUSTOMERS THEMSELVES DIRECTLY. AND I TRAVEL ALL THE TIME. AND I THINK WE NEED TO PUT... I STILL THINK THE POINTS YOU MAKE, ALL OF THE POINTS YOU MAKE ARE 100 PERCENT ON THE MARK. IT IS FROM WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION AND WHAT WE DO AND THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH THIS FROM WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION IS TO ABSOLUTELY HAVE A DIVERSE AND ACTIVE RECRUITMENT STRATEGY SO THAT YOUR REVENUE PROTECTION OFFICERS, YOUR FRONT LINE PEOPLE, REFLECT THE DEMOGRAPHICS, THE SOCIETY THEY WORK IN. AND WE HAVE THAT. I THINK THAT'S IMPORTANT. THAT'S WHERE IT COMES FROM WITHIN.

Shawn says THERE ARE SOME REALLY GOOD OFFICERS, ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY'RE TRAVELLING WITH THE BOSS, THEY'RE GOING TO BE ON THE BALL. BUT THERE'S ENOUGH STORIES OF GOONISH BEHAVIOUR, AND IN THE EXPRESS, THEY'RE WEARING CUTE LITTLE UNIFORMS. WHEN YOU RIDE THE GO, THEY'RE IN MORE OF A PARAMILITARY UNIFORM. WHEN YOU RIDE THE TTC, THERE'S MORE PARAMILITARY. WHY IS THERE A DIFFERENCE LIKE THAT? IF YOU RIDE VIA RAIL, THERE'S A PERSON WHO COMES AND POLITELY LOOKS AT YOUR TICKET. THE DIFFERENCES IN TREATMENT ARE QUITE PROFOUND.

Phil says THE REASON WHY WE HAVE SPECIAL CONSTABLES WHICH DO OUR REVENUE PROTECTION SERVICE AS WELL IS THAT THEY ROTATE DURING THE DAY TO PICK UP OTHER DUTIES AS WELL. SO IT'S NOT LIKE THEY ARE DEDICATED SERVICE STAFF ON THE TRAIN ITSELF FOR THE WHOLE DAY, BUT THEY CAN PICK UP OTHER SPECIAL CONSTABLE DUTIES DURING THE DAY AS WELL.

Shawn says WHY DO THEY LOOK SO MILITARIZED.

Phil says IT'S A SPECIAL CONSTABLE UNIFORM. THE RESPONSE FROM OUR COMMUNITIES AND OUR PEOPLE ARE ONE OF COMFORT FROM THE FACT THAT THIS IS A SPECIAL CONSTABLE...

Shelagh says THIS IS NOT THE EXPERIENCE.

[Speaking simultaneously]

Jay says THAT IS ONLY COMFORTING TO GROUPS OF PEOPLE WHO HAVEN'T BEEN HISTORICALLY OVER-POLICED AND TERRORIZED. IT'S ONLY COMFORTABLE OR COMFORTING TO THOSE FOLKS, YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW, TO HAVE A POLICE PRESENCE... I THINK WE ALL AGREE THAT PUBLIC TRANSIT DOES NOT ONLY SHAPE LIVES, BUT IT CAN REALLY CHANGE LIVES.

Phil says ABSOLUTELY.

Jay says SIGNIFICANTLY. WE'RE NOT ONLY TRYING TO GET FROM POINT A TO B, WE'RE TRYING TO REALLY ACCESS THINGS THAT REALLY SHIFT WHO WE ARE AND CAN HELP US TO REACH OUR FULL POTENTIAL. WHY IS ENFORCEMENT A PART OF THIS PROCESS?

Phil says I THINK ENFORCEMENT IS A PART OF THIS PROCESS BECAUSE IT IS EVERYWHERE WHERE YOU HAVE... EVERY JURISDICTION I'VE WORKED IN, THE PRACTICE OF HAVING FARE REVENUE PROTECTION, WHERE YOU ARE EXPECTED TO PAY A FARE, IS REALLY WHAT IS DONE. IT'S PART OF OUR TRANSIT OPERATION. EVERY DOLLAR THAT IS PROPERLY INVESTED MEANS A DOLLAR THAT'S NOT GAINED FROM THE TAXPAYER, FROM TAX REVENUES. THIS IS A CONVERSATION WHICH IS ABOUT POLICY AS MUCH AS IT IS ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE.

Steve says LET ME PLAY DEVIL'S ADVOCATE FOR A SECOND. MAY PRESENT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT, WHICH IS, THE PEOPLE WHO ARE HONEST AND WHO CAN AFFORD TO AND WHO DO PAY THEIR FARES, THEY'RE GOING TO PAY A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT MORE TO COVER FARE EVADERS. THAT'S FAIR TO SAY, ISN'T IT?

Shelagh says THAT'S A BIG ASSUMPTION. BECAUSE THE TTC'S ESTIMATE OF HOW MUCH IS BEING LOST, IT'S NOT AN... IT'S WITHIN THE NORTH AMERICAN AVERAGE OF FARE EVASION RATES, AND I THINK WE NEED TO ASK: IS FARE ENFORCEMENT WORKING? HIRING MORE ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS IS NOT GOING TO FIX THE FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE OF UNAFFORDABILITY AND OF PRESTO MALFUNCTION. THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DEALING WITH ON THE SYSTEM. BUT WHAT IT IS DOING IS CAUSING A LOT OF HARM. WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THAT. WHAT OTHER CITIES IN NORTH AMERICA ARE DOING IS THAT THEY'RE TRENDING AWAY FROM HIRING MORE FARE ENFORCEMENT BECAUSE THEY RECOGNIZE THE HARM CAUSED TO POOR PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OF COLOUR AND BLACK PEOPLE WHO RELY ON PUBLIC TRANSIT. LET'S LOOK AT SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, WHICH IS A VERY SIMILAR, YOU KNOW, CITY TO TORONTO. 25 PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE WHO RECEIVED FARE EVASION TICKETS WERE HOMELESS OR HAD HOUSING INSTABILITY AND THEY MOVED AWAY FROM HARSH FINES. YOU CAN LOAD 25 dollars ON YOUR CARD IF YOU ARE FOUND TO NOT HAVE PAID YOUR FARE OR APPLY FOR THE LOW INCOME PASS. WE NEED TO BE SHIFTING TOWARDS THAT APPROACH. MAKING TRANSIT ACCESSIBLE...

Steve says IS IT WORKING?

Phil says I WOULD SAY AGAIN YOUR APPROACH TO THE ISSUE IS 100 PERCENT CORRECT. FARE EVASION OR FARE REVENUE PROTECTION IS NOT THE ONLY ANSWER FOR A WHOLE HOST OF FACTORS THAT AFFECT PEOPLE WHO APPROACH TRANSIT. AND YOU'RE RIGHT, FARE AFFORDABILITY IS A QUESTION IN ITSELF, AND WHAT YOU SHOULD LOOK AT, AS A CITY OR AS A REGION, YOU SHOULD LOOK AT THINGS LIKE WHAT CONCESSIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE WITH SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES? YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. AND YOUR EXAMPLE OF HOMELESS PEOPLE THAT TRAVEL, IN SCOTLAND I HAD A SCHEME WHERE I OFFERED HOMELESS PEOPLE FREE JOURNEYS WHEN THEY ARE GOING EITHER TO PLACES OF GETTING SUPPORT OR WHERE THEY WERE GOING FOR INTERVIEWS, FOR EXAMPLE. AND CASES LIKE THAT, THAT IS WHERE CONCESSION-TYPE SCHEME MUST KICK IN AND MUST HELP THE COMMUNITY. SO I'M NOT FOR ONE MOMENT SUGGESTING FARE ENFORCEMENT IS THE ANSWER FOR GETTING YOUR FARE STRUCTURE RIGHT. THAT'S WHY THE EXAMPLE WHERE OUR MINISTER TOOK THE BASE FARE DOWN TO MAKE GO MORE AFFORDABLE, BECAUSE A DOLLAR DOWN ON THE BASE FARE MEANS A DOLLAR DOWN ON THE OVERALL JOURNEY. SO I THINK YOU'RE RIGHT. ALL OF THOSE THINGS MUST BE BROUGHT INTO PLAY.

Steve says WE SHOULD POINT OUT HERE, PHIL VERSTER IS SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF METROLINX. HE DOESN'T SPEAK ON BEHALF OF THE TTC. WE DID ASK SOMEBODY FROM THE TTC TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION TODAY AND THE REQUEST went UNANSWERED. THAT'S WHY NOBODY FROM THE TORONTO TRANSIT COMMISSION IS AT THIS TABLE TODAY. LET US IN OUR REMAINING MOMENTS HERE JUST LET ASK ALL OF YOU FOR A BIT OF A ROAD MAP FORWARD. WE'VE HEARD A LOT OF WHAT WE SEE... WHAT YOU ALL SEE AS THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE SYSTEM HERE. WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE? START US OFF, SHAWN.

Shawn says WE NEED TO GET MORE PEOPLE OUT OF CARS. YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BUILD ENOUGH ROADS TO CURE CONGESTION. SO GETTING PEOPLE ONTO TRANSIT. SO IT HAS TO BE FAST, IT HAS TO BE AS IMMEDIATELY THERE AS GETTING INTO YOUR CAR AND GOING, AND IT HAS TO BE FREQUENT. YOU CAN'T WAIT FOR IT.

Steve says ARE YOU IN SUPPORT OF DOUG FORD'S ANNOUNCEMENT THE OTHER DAY, HE SAID IF WE WANT TO GET MORE TRANSIT BUILT WE NEED THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO STEP UP AND PAY 40 PERCENT OF THE BILL?

Shawn says THEORETICALLY, YES. WE DID HAVE A FULLY FUNDED THING TEN YEARS AGO THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN BUILT OUT NOW IN SCARBOROUGH THAT HIS FAMILY KIND OF HELPED KILL. I HAVE A HARD TIME DEALING WITH THAT, KNOWING THE HISTORY OF TRANSIT POLITICS IN ONTARIO.

Steve says OKAY. JAY, HOW ABOUT YOU? WHAT OUGHT WE BE DOING NOW?

Jay says I THINK WE SHOULD BE MINDFUL OF PEOPLE'S DIGNITY. WHEN PEOPLE ARE TRAVELLING AROUND THE CITY, THEY SHOULD FEEL SAFE AND SEEN AND RESPECTED, AND I THINK THAT WHATEVER SOLUTIONS WE USE GOING FORWARD, I THINK THAT DIGNITY AND EQUITY SHOULD BE CENTRALIZED BECAUSE, AGAIN, TRANSIT AND MOBILITY IN OUR CITY IS INDEED A HUMAN RIGHT, AND I KNOW THAT IF I DIDN'T HAVE VERY EARLY ACCESS TO PUBLIC TRANSIT AND BEING ABLE TO SEE JUST, YOU KNOW, WHAT DIFFERENT TYPES OF NEIGHBOURHOODS LOOKED LIKE AND THE POSSIBILITIES THAT EXISTED THERE, IF I DIDN'T GET TO SCHOOL AND GET TO JOB INTERVIEWS AND INTERNSHIPS, I WOULD NOT HAVE THE FULL AND RICH LIFE THAT I HAVE TODAY.

Steve says SHELAGH, WHAT'S YOUR VIEW ON WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE?

Shelagh says WELL, IN ADDITION TO WHAT JAY AND SHAWN HAVE SAID, A REALLY QUICK WAY TO IMPROVE TRANSIT TOMORROW IS TO PRIORITIZE SURFACE TRANSIT. SO IMPLEMENTING MORE BUS LANES SO IT CAN BECOME MORE FREQUENT. WE NEED THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT TO COME BACK TO THE TABLE AND FUND OPERATING COSTS, AND START LOWERING FARES. WE ALSO NEED MORE VEHICLES ON OUR STREETS. SO THE TTC HAS A PLAN TO BUY A 15 NEW STREETCARS, NEW BUSES, BUT IT'S NOT FULLY FUNDED. WE NEED ALL THREE LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT TO CONTRIBUTE SO TRANSIT CAN BE FREQUENT, YOU CAN RELY ON IT, AND IT IS AFFORDABLE FOR EVERYONE.

Steve says YOU SUPPORT PREMIER FORD IN HIS EFFORTS TO GET MORE MONEY OUT OF THE FEDS?

Shelagh says THE FEDS DO NEED TO COME TO THE TABLE TO FUND TRANSIT. ESPECIALLY WITH THE VEHICLE NEEDS THAT THE TTC HAS. BUT IN TERMS OF THE SCARBOROUGH PLAN, YOU KNOW, SCARBOROUGH WOULD BE BETTER SERVED BY A TRANSIT NETWORK, NOT THREE STOPS THAT DO NOT GO EAST OF MCCOWAN.

Steve says THAT TRAIN HAS LEFT THE STATION, IF I MAY USE THAT TERRIBLE PUN. THAT DEBATE IS OVER. IT'S GOING TO BE A THREE-STOP SUBWAY, APPARENTLY. HOW ABOUT YOU? DO YOU WANT TO WEIGH IN ON THIS AS TO WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE AT THIS STAGE?

Phil says IT'S INDISPUTABLE THAT TRANSIT OFFERS SOLUTIONS THAT ARE ACTUALLY LESS EXPENSIVE THAN CAR OWNERSHIP, AND I 100 PERCENT AGREE WITH THE SENTIMENT ON CAR OWNERSHIP, AND THAT IT ENABLES DIFFERENT PARTS OF OUR SOCIETY TO CHANGE DRAMATICALLY THEIR ACCESS TO JOBS OPPORTUNITIES AND EVEN JUST SOCIAL EVENTS AND TO GET TO SEE FAMILY. SO TRANSIT IS AN ABSOLUTE GAME CHANGER.

Steve says DO YOU THINK WE OUGHT TO, THOUGH, MOVE TO SEEING TRANSIT AS A SOCIAL SERVICE, MAYBE EVEN AS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT, AS OPPOSED TO HOW WE SEE IT TODAY, WHICH IS A UTILITY, LIKE TURNING THE LIGHTS ON OR HAVING WATER?

The caption changes to "Getting it right."

Phil says I DON'T. AND I DON'T SEE IT LIKE THAT BECAUSE I SEE THE PRACTICE WHERE WE HAVE PARKING ASSOCIATED WITH OUR GO STATIONS THAT'S FOR FREE AND I SEE EVERYTHING THAT'S FOR FREE SUFFERS FROM WHAT ECONOMISTS CALL THE TRAGEDY OF THE COMMONS. THAT ANYTHING THAT'S FREE GETS OVERUSED FOR THE WRONG REASONS. SO I THINK IMPLICITLY, TRANSIT MUST BE RUN AS A BUSINESS. IT'S AN EXTREMELY INTENSE COMMERCIAL BUSINESS. AND THEREFORE I THINK THERE'S A QUID PRO QUO OF PAYMENT FOR SERVICE, AND I APPRECIATE THAT'S A DIFFICULT CONVERSATION, BUT I'M JUST TALKING AS SOMEONE THAT'S MORE FOCUSED ON HOW TO GET THE MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS OUT OF THIS. THE VERY PRACTICAL ASPECT, ANY MONEY THAT WE DON'T RECOVER IN FARES MEANS LESS MONEY AVAILABLE FOR CAPITAL INVESTMENT, AND I THINK FOR WHERE THE REGION IS CURRENTLY, WE DO KEEP ON INVESTING, DO ALL OF THE THINGS TO GET MORE TRANSIT OUT THERE BECAUSE THAT WILL, IN EFFECT, BENEFIT MANY MORE PEOPLE.

Steve says WELL, I THINK I ALSO HEAR THESE OTHER GUESTS SAYING, THOUGH, THAT YOU COULD USE YOUR GOOD OFFICES TO LOBBY THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT TO GET GREATER SUBSIDIES FOR THE CURRENT SYSTEM THAT'S IN PLACE.

Phil says I'VE HEARD THAT AS WELL.

Steve says IS THAT AN OPTION FOR YOU?

[LAUGHTER]

Phil says I CAN TELL YOU QUITE HONESTLY, MY BUSINESS DRIVING METROLINX AND GO IS TO HAVE LESS SUBSIDY. I WANT TO RUN IT MORE AS A BUSINESS. I WANT TO GET TO A PLACE WHERE THERE IS FULL REVENUE RECOVERY AND THAT WILL GIVE POLICYMAKERS CHOICES WHAT TO DO WITH THAT APPROACH. AND POLICYMAKERS ARE THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO DECIDE ABOUT THIS. SO WHEN OUR MINISTER DECIDES TO LOWER THE BASE FARE, SHE HAD VERY STRONG, GOOD POLICY REASONS FOR THAT. WE ADVISED HOW MUCH REVENUE THAT WOULD GAIN US BECAUSE MORE PEOPLE WOULD TRAVEL, AND THERE'S ALWAYS THAT SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POLICY AND BUSINESS. MY OBJECTIVE IS TO THEREFORE, WHEN I SAY TO GET TO A PLACE WITHOUT A SUBSIDY, THAT'S LIKE GETTING EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE AND RUNNING IT AS A CLOCKWORK OPERATION AS MUCH AS WE CAN.

Steve says I THINK YOU MAY BE OFF JAY'S CHRISTMAS CARD LIST.

Phil says SORRY, JAY.

Jay says I THOUGHT I WAS BRINGING YOU OVER...

[Speaking simultaneously]

Steve says APPARENTLY NOT. WE'VE GOT A COUPLE MINUTES LEFT HERE, AND I SHOULD ASK, PHIL, TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT THAT YOU'RE IN THAT CHAIR. COVID-19 IS ALL OVER THE NEWS THESE DAYS.

Phil says YEAH.

Steve says DOES METROLINX EITHER ON THE GO TRAINS WHETHER THE TTC HAS ANY POLICIES IN PLACE TO MAKE SURE THE ROLLING STOCK IS AS GERM-FREE AS IT CAN BE?

Phil says MASSIVE. MASSIVE PROGRAM, YEAH. SO ON THE 26TH OF JANUARY, WE LAUNCHED OUR INCIDENT CONTROL TEAM. TWENTY-FIVE PEOPLE THROUGHOUT MY ORGANIZATION, WE HAVE BUSINESS CONTINUITY PROCESSES... IT SOUNDS BORING, I KNOW THIS... BUT IT IS 65 DIFFERENT BUSINESS CONTINUITY PROCESSES THAT WE PUT IN PLACE. WE ARE CLEANING OUT TRAINS WITH ANTIVIRAL, ANTIMICROBIAL, SEMIPERMANENT SORT OF SURFACE CLEANING TO MAKE SURE THAT... THAT WE'RE DOING ON OUR BUSES, OUR UP TRAIN AS WELL AS ON OUR GO TRAINS. WE'VE DEPLOYED LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF HAND DISPENSER LOTION, ALCOHOLIC DISPENSERS. WE HAVE PROCURED RESPIRATORS, DISPOSABLE RESPIRATORS AS WELL AS PERMANENT RESPIRATORS. WE HAVE A VERY ACTIVE PROGRAM TO INFORM OUR TEAMS OF THE SITUATION, WHAT WE DON'T PUBLISH, WHICH I CAN SHARE WITH YOU IS WE HAVE A VERY, VERY CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR TEAMS AND WE'VE HAD 28 PEOPLE UNDER SELF-ISOLATION. WE TAKE THEM OUT OF THE FRONT LINE IS PUT THEM IN SELF ISOLATION. AND OUR FOCUS HERE IS TO LOOK AFTER OUR PEOPLE. OUR PEOPLE ARE FANTASTIC. THEY INTERFACE WITH THE PUBLIC. THEY DEAL WITH VERY DIFFICULT SITUATIONS. BUT ALSO TO KEEP ON PROVIDING A SERVICE FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE AND TO TAKE CARE THAT WE CAN DO THAT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Liane Kotler, @LianeKotler."

Steve says AND THAT IS OUR TIME. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR COMING IN TO TVO TONIGHT. PHIL VERSTER FROM METROLINX, SHELAGH PIZEY-ALLEN FROM TTCriders, JAY PITTER, PLACEMAKER, SHAWN MICALLEF, TORONTO STAR COLUMNIST. GREAT TO HAVE YOU ALL HERE TONIGHT. THANK YOU.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Phil says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Watch: Transit Trouble