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Public Transportation WasteA few days back the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission - Toronto - Ontario - Canada), a.k.a. a board of bureaucratic apparatchiks, "launched" a review (did it have a countdown or was just something like "let's go on three" spur of the moment kind of thing?)… anyhow… we digress. They… launched… something that they call a "legal review" (whatever…). And why would an organization initiate a review of legalisms? Particularly a committee of transportation??

Well, because it so happens that now they have competition and no state enterprise can survive in a competing market. Enter uberHOP. What is uberHOP? Good question!

Uber is essentially a middle-manger. You provide your car and your time (as a driver) and they provide an App where people request your transport services. Essentially, it is something akin to being a taxi owner on a part-time and semi-professional basis. You make a few bucks when you want to make them. Passengers get cheaper fares and more options. Win-win.

uberHOP is simply an extension of the same concept. You will still be driving your car, but you will now be picking up and dropping off passengers on fixed routes and fixed locations. It's like being the owner of a mini bus company. Again, passengers get a flat fare and more options. Win-win.

Except…

If you happen to have a monopoly on transportation, a monopoly that it is utterly artificial such as the TTC. According to TTC lawyers, "the TTC and only the TTC can run mass transit in this city". There. An absolute. For your own good. For the greater good… except where it matters which happens to be your pocket…

The TTC lawyer continued "It's not really a question of going after people, we just have to make sure the rules applied". Yes. We were only obeying orders. Because this argument worked so well during the Nuremberg trials after WWII.

But of course, we are mistaken and they are right. If we read the City of Toronto Act, 2006, S.O. 2006 CHAPTER 11, Schedule A, Part I, Interpretation it declares:

Purposes of this Act

            The purpose of this Act is to create a framework of broad powers for the City which balances the interests of the Province and the City and which recognizes that the City must be able to do the following things in order to provide good government:

  1. Determine what is in the public interest for the City.

Aha. Uhu. In other words, we will do whatever we want "for the greater good". And in Part XVII, Other City Bodies, Toronto Transit Commission, it states:

Exclusive authority of TTC

  1. No person other than the TTC shall establish, operate or maintain a local passenger transportation system within the City until the TTC is dissolved or the control and management over the local passenger transportation system is removed from the TTC. 2006, c. 11, Sched. A, s. 395 (1).

In other words, the TTC has an arbitrary, near-absolute and artificial monopoly on so-called "public transportation" in the city of Toronto. For the greater good, you know? But let's examine in numbers what this "greater good" means. Because, you know, if something is "in the public interest" it means that the public is actually interested in it. Fair enough. To the numbers!

PUblic Transportation Cost

Aha. Uhu.

So, according to the City of Toronto and the TTC, is acting in the "best interest" of Torontonians (or Torontians or whatever they call themselves)when TTC fares go up about 150 times over the last 100 years, while the cost of living increased "only" about 20 times during the same period (20 times being downright obscene, but we digress). Of course! Silly us! But hold on, because there is more good news! All those fare increases do not reflect all the so-called loans that the city made to the TTC, or the province, or the "transfers" to the TTC coffers, a grand total which is currently in the order of… of… well, it would seem that this number is not available anywhere. We get budgets, shortfalls, proposed loans, "transfers" and so forth, but not a squeak as to how much the TTC already owes. We know that it is in the billions (as in thousands of millions) but how much, even approximately, nobody seems to know.

Now, having determined that the TTC is a money pit, let's take a look and see where that money is sinking into:

  • Old subways
  • New subways
  • Old streetcars
  • New streetcars
  • New LRTs (light rail transit)
  • New BRTs (bus rapid transit)

And so on.

What all this means is large overhead, large salaries, large infrastructures, large, large, large. Sounds familiar? Like large government? Of course!

Look, this is not complicated. We know and understand that public transit in any large city is complicated and expensive. No questions here. But the point is that leaving such tasks in the hands of apparatchiks only leads to waste. And more waste. And more waste. Sure, you may end up with pretty trains and buses, but at what price? For how long? Meanwhile, roads -particularly highways- are bursting by the seams with no solution in sight (see The Highway From Hell). For the "greater good" in line with "public interest". Aha. Uhu.

If public transportation in Toronto (and any other place in the world, for that matter) would be in private hands, there would be nor reason for it to increase beyond the increase of the cost of living. Think! Although it is true that any public transport system must grow, it grows with the growth of population. There is no point in expanding a transport system if there are not people to transport! ... unless the owner of the transport system is a government!

And before you call us liars, take a look at the transport system in Argentina, more specifically in the province of Buenos Aires. Almost all buses are and have been in private hands for decades now. No subsidies, no "transfers" no nothing. Why? Because Buenos Aires is broke and it has been for a very long time. Yet, the transport system works. It just works. No, it's not perfect but it gets you from A to B for a reasonable fare that most people can afford. And it runs on a high frequency. And it covers the entire province. There! It just work!

Most people don't understand what this is all about. Most people don't get it that governments cannot go broke because they continue to suck them dry. For most people, money does grow on trees (albeit digital ones) and governments are the source of all wealth farms. Most people's brains suffer from a fatal disconnection between the concept of actual wealth and government expenditure. They believe (yes, they do) that governments should just keep spending ad infinitum. And you know what? This is not a surprise at all because this is how they were brainwashed. This is how politicians get elected; spending, spending and more spending.

People don't realize that it is the truly free market who in the end will come up with cost-effective ways to solve problems. Solutions that we can't even begin to imagine today!

Think!

It will take the entire might of billions of people to solve urban transportation problems. Do you honestly believe that a bunch of ridiculously overpaid apparatchiks (such as the ones at the top layers of the TTC) can solve it?

Anytime now.

Hold tight.

Just wait and se.

Sure. It's your choice. Our recommendation? Buy a car. Or a bed, if you don't intend to leave your home, because you will have a loooooong wait ahead of you.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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