Ontario Motor Coach Association

November 29, 2011 14:05 ET

Cuts to TTC Service or Fare Hikes?-There is a Better Way

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 29, 2011) - As the City of Toronto struggles to balance its books, in part by proposing either cuts to TTC service or fare increases, the Ontario Motor Coach Association (OMCA) says there is a better way to control transit costs. A recent study prepared for the OMCA, which compared operating costs between transit services delivered by the private sector and government run transit, has found that governments could save 21% by tendering out bus services to private operators.

According to OMCA President Doug Switzer, "This study shows that there is a third alternative for governments trying to choose between service cuts and tax and/or fare hikes. We need to take a fresh look at the way governments deliver essential services like transit and recognize that publicly operated systems are not the only, or even necessarily the best, way to provide transit services. It's long past time that the City of Toronto looked at its outdated delivery model for transit service and consider how it can do things differently to break out of the intellectual trap that keeps leading it back to either service cuts or fare hikes".

The OMCA report points out that many transit systems in Canada and across the world are already successfully partnering with private operators to deliver transit services because of the significant savings and service improvements that they can achieve by doing so. One estimate is that nearly a third of the systems in Canada are currently contracting out at least part of their services.

Switzer went on to point out that, "While there are several reasons identified in the report why private operators are more cost effective, one of the key factors is productivity. A 2010 Conference Board of Canada report on productivity in transportation found that between 1981 and 2006 productivity grew for every mode of transportation, except for public transit, where productivity declined by an average of 1.2% per year. In practical terms this means that while between 2003 and 2009 passenger trips on public transit in Ontario only increased 16%, transit subsidies increased 194% and operating costs doubled".

He concluded by saying, "It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When it comes to transit that's exactly what we do, repeatedly do the same thing - either cut service or increase fares or taxes - only to find that we haven't achieved a different result and the next year we're right back where we were, debating the same options. It's time to stop the insanity and try a new approach. Engaging private sector operators in a constructive partnership to reduce operating costs and improve service should be an obvious alternative."

For a copy of the full report please go to www.omca.com.

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