Sunday, October 15, 2006

Rumble on the radio: Miller vs Pitfield

If you have iTunes and you're looking for a more local focus on your news, I suggest you look into CBC Radio's Toronto This Week podcast. It's a recap of the best of the past week from CBC Radio's local programs, including "Metro Morning", "Ontario Morning" and "Here and Now."

Last week on Metro Morning, David Miller and Jane Pitfield debated transit, and the result was a very interesting and lively debate. Here is a summary of the debate, which was about the candidates' vision for transit in Toronto. The debate was moderated by Metro Morning host, Andy Barrie. Here's a rundown:

Transit city or Balanced approach?
David Miller is in favour of putting buses and streetcars in private right-of-ways as an inexpensive way of bringing rapid transit to areas of the city which are currently without, while Jane Pitfield favours an approach where public transit is more effective and reliable, but road conditions for cars are improved too. She favours carpooling.

Tolls, or whatever you want to call them?
Both candidates want the upper levels of government to come to the table, but Jane Pitfield wants to team up with the 905 municipalities to create a collective GTA voice. On the subject of tolls, she considers them an option, but would show people exactly how they will be used. David Miller doesn't think tolls will work in Toronto. He worries that if tolls are setup on highways, people will divert through neighborhoods instead.

Are there no big ideas?
Pitfield wants too look at partnerships with the private sector to run unprofitable TTC routes, and also wants to develop a 25 year subway plan which calls for two new kilometres every year. Miller believes the first priority is advocating for more money from the upper levels of government, and believes that privatising the system is out of the question.

Who decides what?
Pitfield believe the TTC commission needs a shakeup, and is advocating for five citizen appointees and four councillors to take the helm. Miller disagrees, and believes that it can only be accountable if elected officials are running the show.

It was an interesting debate, and I encourage everyone to download the podcast.

I did notice two things about the candidates. The first was tolls. There was a spacing article a few days ago which delt with tolls, and it showed how we can raise 80% of the cost of maintaining the Gardiner by charging 15 cents per day trip. That adds up to $80 a year, less than a cost of a metropass. While tolls are like the mark of the beast, I doubt people will drive through neighborhoods. The 407 charges exorbitant tolls but is often at a standstill, regardless of what the commercials say. I agree with the new GTTA head, Rob MacIssac, when he says that commuters can no longer expect the public purse to fit the bill on highways.

The second thing I noticed was that their stance on the TTC makeup shows the candidate's opinion of politics in general. Jane Pitfield believe that the current commission has become too political, and needs be shaken up. This suggests that she believes politicians to be self-serving and generally evil. Meanwhile, Miller's stance suggests the opposite. Politicians are good, and the best equipped to make decisions. I suppose I believe a hybrid of the two. Under Moscoe, the commission became bloated and self serving (Moscoe's favorite saying at the meeting I attended was "... in my ward"). Having said that, only a select group of citizens are well enough equipped to make the decisions that the commission makes. It's unlikely that those citizens will be appointed to the commission though, so politicians will have to stay. Hopefully though, a new commission will be able to bring back the good old days at the TTC.

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At 12/20/2006 10:15 a.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...



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