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John Tory's latest statement on the TTC positively Fordian LOL


Staff member
Toronto needs to rethink transit construction, Mayor John Tory says

The mayor says the city needs to look to private sector to build transit, citing the TTC and Toronto's abysmal failure to bring projects in on time and on budget.

By: Tess Kalinowski Transportation reporter, Published on Mon Nov 16 2015

Mayor John Tory has made the case for changing the way Toronto builds transit. Instead of expensive, customized infrastructure, it's time to look at “off-the-shelf” solutions and public-private partnerships (P3) such as the one the province is using to build the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

Tory cited the city's and the TTC's record of delivering projects late and overbudget in a speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade's Transit Summit on Monday.

“Look no further than the (Spadina) subway extension,” he told the business group.

What should be “a source of great excitement” is wildly overbudget by hundreds of millions of dollars, and years over deadline.
The TTC is not alone, he said, adding that the Union Station and Nathan Phillips Square renovations have suffered similar failures.

Tory contrasted that with his recent visit to the Canary Wharf Crossrail station in London. It was built by the private sector ahead of schedule and about $300 million under budget, he said.

“Managing major construction projects is not our core business. Government doesn't have the full range of skills,” he told a Toronto Region Board of Trade Transit Summit on Monday.

That doesn't mean that all city projects will be done as P3s, he said.
“There is no ideological base to this. It is simply me saying we will definitely look at this model for all projects to see if it's appropriate in terms of restoring an environment in which we can get things done on time and on budget and restore public confidence and, actually get the transit built,” he said.

Traditionally governments dictate the fine details of what a transit project or station should look like, right down to the linoleum on the floor, rather than specifying that the floor needs to be cleaned and maintained.

When you leave it to the private sector in a P3, where a private company has to maintain that floor, they may look at something more expensive up front but has a longer life cycle, aid Bert Clark, head of Infrastructure Ontario, the provincial agency in charge of P3s.

“Under the traditional model the public sector designs it, they put it out to tender and the guy with the cheapest bid wins. From that point the private sector is trying to figure out how to make money so they are trying to build the thing even cheaper than what they bid. That goes straight to their profit margin. Under the (P3) model the private sector is responsible for maintaining that asset for 30 years. If they bid cheap and build cheap and the asset doesn't last it's on their dime. They're the ones that are going to need to be replacing things more quickly than they thought,” he said.
Former city manager Joe Pennachetti told another session at the event that, while the TTC has the capacity for operating and maintaining the current system, the expertise for expanding transit resides in the private sector.
He suggested that the Scarborough subway extension could be the city's first P3 project and he urged politicians not to be overly ambitious in their vision of the project.

“Please don't come back with scope changes to make a station a (architect Frank) Ghery design,” he said.

Speaking with reporters after his speech, the mayor said he remains firmly committed to building his SmartTrack plan to put more city commuters on trains on the Kitchener and Stouffville GO tracks.

But he vehemently denied suggestions that his office or the city were hiding a report that puts a high cost of a SmartTrack spur connecting the Mount Dennis station on the Eglinton Crosstown with the airport employment hub.
That report is not finished, said Tory.

“I've never seen a word of it, not a draft, not a page, not an extract — nothing. When the work is finished the reports will be made public in the normal manner and we'll have a discussion,” he said.

“I have no hint yet as to what it is they're going to report,” said Tory.
“SmartTrack and the utilization of existing rail corridors through the city of Toronto with local stops is going to be done. If we have to make some adjustments or we have to take account of things that differ in terms of cost or engineering considerations, we'll have that discussion when the reports are submitted.”

from the star:
Toronto needs to rethink transit construction, Mayor John Tory says | Toronto Star


TRIBE Member
He has a point. I've lost all faith in public sector infrastructure projects.

Toronto should look at a model used in other cities around the world. Government funds tunnel building, the private sector funds station building. Stations are economic hubs with the private sector in charge of station maintenance.


TRIBE Member
The real lie in these statements is that the private sector is just as inept as the public sector

PEOPLE are inept - whether they work in government or the private sector. This is the human condition - to pretend the private sector is some island of agility and wherewithal is a bit of ideological baggage from the privitization crazy 80s and 90s

Heck - we don't build streetcars with public companies - Bombardier just can't make solid streetcars and they're a private company!


TRIBE Member
Bombardier is a shit example. I'd be surprised if that company is around in 5 years. But yes you're right private sector can be shit too. Though there are plenty of examples of where the private sector can do it better and for cheaper, given the right economic incentives for doing so.

In any event, major public infrastructure projects should evaluate public vs private vs hybrid tenders. The way things are done now is simply broken and its costing us more dollars for a much longer turn around time.


TRIBE Member
I agree that reform is needed - but I dont think privitization is a panacea, especially for public transit.

Beyond the chronic underfunding there is also a sea of organizational confusion, with metrolinx/TTC and municipal/provincial governments all working at cross purposes sometimes.


TRIBE Member
Heck - we don't build streetcars with public companies - Bombardier just can't make solid streetcars and they're a private company!
... who look like they're getting a massive gift from taxpayers, not only Quebec, but possibly the Federal Government.


TRIBE Member
This was a useful post from Steve Munro on this topic from 2007, I read this as I await his blog post on the Tory comments, which I expect is being written as we speak!

Private or Public? | Steve Munro

I hunted around ...One paper was written for the OECD as a 30-year retrospective in January 2007. The information in it is reasonably current, although the recent meltdown in London is not included.

[Note that this is a long paper with 35 pages of text, 14 pages of citations and 72 footnotes. Be sure to read the footnotes as many of them contain important additional information.]

The author proceeds from the premise that some degree of private operation of public transit is becoming the norm rather than the exception, and that privatization is an attempt by the transit industry to become more competitive with the rising use of the automobile. I don’t agree with that premise for reasons that will become obvious, but the presentation covers the subject and is not unduly doctrinaire about the wonders of free enterprise.

I am going to talk about the conclusions in a Toronto context. Many of these issues have appeared in other threads here, but it is interesting to put this in a global context.

  • The single most important observation, despite all of the attempts to justify the benefits of private-sector involvement is that increased “productivity” stems overwhelmingly from lower wages, benefits and changes to work practices.
  • Fares tend to increase substantially following privatization. This could be caused by several factors including the withdrawal or reduction of government subsidy, or an attempt to raise fares to a higher level while not destroying the attractiveness, such as it might be, of the service.
  • Ridership effects vary considerably and depend a lot on the way that the newly privatized service is operated.
Although some issues are discussed in the body of the paper, they don’t appear in the conclusions:

  • “Efficiency” and “Productivity” are elastic terms that must co-exist with “Effectiveness”. If one measures a system on the basis that it carries the most riders for the least cost, this ignores the question of whether, by chosing not to carry the higher-cost riders, the system has lost its purpose of providing transit for all. “Effectiveness” ties a transit system to its goals as an urban development tool and enabler of transportation by a wide range of riders. It also includes shared savings to the public and individual purses alike of cost avoidance for road expansion, commuting time, parking and operation of multiple vehicles per household. This omission is a significant shortcoming in the analysis.
  • Much of the analysis by many authors concentrates on systems that are much smaller than Toronto’s. Indeed, one author found that there is a diseconomy of scale as systems grow although it is unclear whether this is an organizational effect or a complexity due to a larger service territory and a demand for better service in a large urban area.
  • The situation for capital intensive systems (LRT, subway) is very different because of the high buy-in cost for any operator, the question of asset renewal, and the issue of residual value at the end of a contract or franchise.
  • The economic theory (and political jargon) behind privatization is that competition will breed the most “productive”, lowest-cost service. However, the author notes that this only works provided that there is actually competition among several potential service providers. Experience in the U.K. has shown that after the initial flurry of interest, the “private sector” consolidates. An oligopoly, if not a monopoly, may result and the hoped-for competition may disappear. Indeed, once true competition vanishes, it is unclear that the private model will protect the public interest against unreasonable fare hikes or demands for additional subsidy. This issue is mentioned in passing, but the author does not pursue it further.
In the Toronto context, we must ask a basic question. Do we want to achieve a reduction in transit costs by cutting wages and raising fares? Do we feel that operators and maintenance workers make too much? Do we feel that riders pay too little? Those who hold these positions openly are at least honest enough to say so.​


TRIBE Member
As a civil engineer, here's my opinion:

The problem lies in the nature of how the work is commissioned.

In the public world you win on price. So as a bidder you look to only price exactly what is defined in the RFP document. I'm firmly of the opinion that the winning bidder is doing this base work at a loss. The money is in all the extras you can identify and work into your profit calculation.

In the private world you also win on your ability to spot problems and speak up ahead of time. You charge for extras in the private world and the person responsible for these extras (the engineers who missed something more often than not) are held accountable with the damage to their reputation.

Take a road reconstruction project like the Bloor street work from a few years ago. It was supposed to cost 2 million or so I think. It ended up at 10 million. Had that been private sector the project would have been correctly priced at 10 million from the get go.


TRIBE Member
Am I imaging things or was that who debate between an LRT doing all these stops and a subway replicating the SRT just turned into.... a line going directly to the Scarborough town centre?


TRIBE Member
Pretty sure the conversation has changed from a 3 stop subway to a 1 stop subway and 16 stop LRT


TRIBE Member
by the time they have studied this to death they will have no money left and will put a fresh coat of paint on the stations and ta da! mission accomplished


TRIBE Member
Omg I just looked at the completion date for the subway extension and a year ago they had pushed it back a year till January 2017, now it is saying December 2017 at the earliest. lol.

I drive past the station they are building at Jane and Steeles twice a day for the past two years and guess how many people/times I've seen work being done on that thing. Absolutely fucking zero. It's actually tripping me out at this point. Like there is some stuff done now, not sure when it happens. lol. What an embarrassment to the civilized modern world our construction industry is. No offense to the workers in the industry, but something is terribly wrong.


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Metrolinx says it intends to cancel Bombardier LRV contract | Toronto Star

The TTC’s order for new streetcars from the company has also been plagued by delays. The company is now aiming to deliver the 30th new car by the end of the year, but that’s less than half of the 73 vehicles that the TTC was supposed to have by the end of 2015.

holy shit! someone finally woke up!
though, que already gave em a billion and the feds are falling in line. what a joke


TRIBE Member
Yeah BBD totally screwed this. Pretty much if they did a reasonably okay job they'd get every transport vehicle contract in the country, as the default "competitive" local manufacturer. Yet their management skills make Toronto public works projects look like a case study.


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they have never been on time. whats this i hear about tory trying to get misery-sauga to pay for the shortfall in his lrt. havent had a chance to read up on that new development and what it entails


TRIBE Member
the Tory team probably made an assumption that since service would be provided to Mss they should chip in, but no one bothered to loop them in. whoops. wonder why things never get done.


TRIBE Member
nothing like a "shitprise", you are now on the hook for half a billion in funding for something that you had no say in, didnt ask for and had no idea about.

booya! toronto
i just dont understand the hate everyone has for toronto. its not like they treat everyone else like pawns and continually tell anyone outside of the gta that they are simple rubes or something


TRIBE Member
i live here and listening to your basic bitch whining is maddening

toronto is great, its the ppl that live in it that are the problem. they think everyone owes them a certain standard of living simply because they are in the borders

newsflash, you are not the center of the world. you want to charge tolls for the privilege of coming to YOUR city. how about a toll for when you leave the city. or the food and other goods coming from outside the city since it produces nothing. why do you hate anything that isnt toronto praktick