Transit agencies must put customer first

If ‘Zwei’ ever wants to createAi??howls of “shock and disbelief“, from the transit elites in the region, all ‘Zwei’ has to say is “transit is about moving people andAi??the transit customer comes first. Well ‘Zwei‘ is not alone with this thought. Custom journeys for transit customers andAi??seamless (no-transfer) journeys for transit customers both areAi??a non-subjectAi??with TransLink, whose only role it now seems is to cram as many bus passengers onto the SkyTrain and Canada Line metro systems so they can claim “astounding” success. A Pyrrhic victory if I ever saw one.

Transit agencies must put customer first

Published On Wed Nov 09 2011
Tess Kalinowski Transportation Reporter
Toronto Star

When Toronto talks mobility, it doesnai??i??t just talk about tolls and taxes to pay for transit, although the subjects come up. It talks about a seamless, regional transportation system that puts convenience ahead of the car.

That was the theme of a public forum at City Hall Wednesday evening with a panel of international transportation experts and regional politicians.

If the Toronto region is going to maintain its competitiveness and avoid choking on traffic congestion it must find a way to provide commuters with custom-tailored trips, said Edinburgh-based cities expert George Hazel.

Calling Toronto ai???a city at risk,ai??? Hazel said transit operators must start offering retail-style customer service.

Cities winning the battle over congestion are using mobile technology to let riders pay their transit fares, learn when and where the next vehicle is due to arrive and where thereai??i??s an available parking spot, he said. They are also giving road space back to people, who give cities vitality.

ai???A city should be like a party you donai??i??t want to leave,ai??? Hazel said. ai???Seoul took out a freeway ai??i?? just took it out.ai???

But a centrally managed transit network doesnai??i??t mean that municipal transit agencies have to disappear, said Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion. But traditional boundaries must be broken.

Mississauga buses that cross the Toronto border should be able to pick up passengers and TTC buses should be able to do the same in her city, she said. Thatai??i??s not currently the case.

ai???Weai??i??re an economic unit ai??i?? the GTA ai??i?? and it is so important that we put our transportation needs together,ai??? said McCallion.

But Ottawa must step up its transit investments because property taxes wonai??i??t cover the bill.

ai???The property tax was never intended to take care of people. It was meant to look after property,ai??? she said, adding that the region canai??i??t wait until 2013 for the Metrolinx investment strategy that will show how to finance more transit.

ai???Itai??i??s got to happen in 2012. Weai??i??ve got to know how weai??i??re going to get the money federally, provincially and locally,ai??? she said.

Toronto Talks Mobility, organized by U of Tai??i??s Cities Centre, Councillor Joe Mihevc, the Pembina Institute, the Canadian Urban Transit Association and CivicAction Alliance, continues with a day-long conference at Wychwood Barns Thursday.

Toronto Talks Mobility

What: An examination of the state of transportation in the GTA and the need to implement funding solutions.

Where: Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St. (at St. Clair)

When: Nov. 10, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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