The Toronto Transit Commission board has passed a motion exploring a move to give the transit agency new, broader responsibilities over taxi permits, the city's bike share program, the Toronto Island ferries and more. Studying the feasibility and cost of this move is the next step for the city manager, but the changes would help turn the TTC into an agency more akin to Transport for London, the UK capital's integrated transit authority that is responsible for all forms of transportation within the city and suburbs.
"The focus of any city's transportation authority, including the TTC, must shift from primarily being a public transit service provider to an organization that manages mobility and the operation of various modes of transport in the City of Toronto," the motion says.
In fact, the city is using TfL as an example of how it wants the day-to-day operations of the TTC and structure of the transit agency to look like, enabling better transportation options for residents of Toronto.
In all, the rejigged transit agency would be responsible for licensing and permits for taxis, bike share and car share programs, all current responsibilities of the Toronto Parking Authority, road pricing and the transit lines not directly owned by the TTC, like the Eglinton Crosstown. The city is, essentially, looking to turn the department from one only concerned about public transportation into one that is responsible for the broader concept of mobility, taking into account all the ways that people can get around.
"Cities are changing; the ways people move around are changing, and we, as government, have to keep up with that," said councillor and TTC chair Josh Colle. He argues that the TfL model is successful because of the integrated approach to transportation planning, which is missing from the GTA because multiple agencies are responsible for each service. Having each organization in charge of a different service creates an unintuitive, confusing and fragmented system that is not friendly to riders.
Many transit agencies throughout the world are moving to this approach, arguing that riders don't actually care who provides the service and that they prefer an integrated system with one seamless fare. Transit critics, however, are arguing that this move should happen at a regional level instead of a local one, with Metrolinx possibly better off to take over the services within the Toronto region.
The TTC staff will study the proposal and report about their findings at a later time.