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Old December 5th, 2015, 07:48 PM   #1841
hkskyline
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Originally Posted by saiho View Post
This kind of thinking is what trashy right wing politicians use to trick the public that there is free money to create transit.

When Rob Ford said the Sheppard subway would be funded by private sector developers. Planners and Engineers looked into how much up zoning was needed around the stations fund such a huge project. They found that they would have to create a sea of 60-40 story condos around each station to collect enough development charges to fund major parts of the subway. The surrounding community of NIMBYs was appalled.

Now John Tory is proposing his transit plan be partly funded by a form of Land Value Capture but studies show that the neighbourhoods around the stations are too stable and lack development potential to get any major revenue from.



That is what Rob ford did when he cut a lot of lower performing bus routes, crowding was up ridership was down. Adding density? Outside of neighborhoods in the downtown core, Toronto freaks out when a 6 story condo gets proposed. As much as Hong Kong is a great success in public transit its techniques can not be blindly replicated everywhere.
All this point to NIMBYism ... people expect their little garden in the city although they forget to realize they live in an urban area. Then they will drive everywhere and pollute their air with that type of unsustainable lifestyle.

There is free money to be had through development fees, but some people don't like free money shoved right into their faces.

This is why subway coverage remains pathetic for a city of this size, and proportion of transit use just as bad, not just in Toronto, but across the continent. The solutions will roll once people wake up.
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Old December 5th, 2015, 08:14 PM   #1842
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Token prices are going up by 10 cents to $2.9 in the new year to address a budget shortfall. Metropass prices won't be affected for now.

They really need to look into the property development model to build a decent cushion and hold off these price hikes.
Metrolinx is getting into it for GO transit, and they are developing a bit of land around Downsview Station. any money from that one would go into general revenues for the city though, the land is being developed through Build Toronto, the cities real estate arm.

Metrolinx has a couple of development sites along the Eglinton Crosstown, and is in talks with quite a few developers for several GO transit stops. Port Credit GO is about to close on a P3 that would see an 800 spot parking garage constructed with office and condominiums constructed above, for no cost to the transit agency. Maple GO station is in talks for a similar project, high density condos on top of a new parking structure.

The development model works on a large scale for Hong Kong due to the hyper densities involved in the city. That model won't work here. That's not to say that development can't play some roll, but I see any cash coming from that going to capital works (see Port Credit GO) instead of operating, which needs a more reliable revenue stream than real estate.

Toronto's transit rates are fairly good for its size, at 27%. Its the second highest in NA behind only NYC.

As others have said, there is literally no such thing as "free money". Development fees end up increasing housing costs as the cost of constructing new housing units increases significantly. Not to say they don't have a use, they are partially being used to finance the Scarborough Subway extension, but they are far from "free".

Toronto's planning regime is currently all about adding density, it just takes decades to do so. Its not like you can go from a sprawling LA style city like the suburban GTA is to a transit freindly haven over night, it takes a long time to build density, and it is happening. The housing market has shifted from 60% detached housing and 30% apartment housing in 2005 to 30% detached and 60% apartment today. There are an insane amount of highrises going up across the city right now.
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Old December 5th, 2015, 10:05 PM   #1843
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Who pays taxes? Taxpayers. You can shift funding around but the taxpayer bears the price. Will people be willing to move tax dollars from other priorities to transit? Won't they then complain their other services are being neglected, which will prompt tax increases?
If you start providing more service in one manner rather than another manner, then of course you can shift the funding. If you're generating more electricity through hydro than through coal, you can spend less on coal and more on hydro. If you're providing more transportation through public transit than through automobile infrastructure, you can shift some funding from one to the other. There will always be someone who complains about every government decision. That's not something you can avoid. All a government can do is try and make the best decisions and most efficient use of tax dollars.

Another thing to consider is that we shouldn't just be looking at taxes as an expense and complaining about the burden on Joe taxpayer if they go up. You should be looking at the overall costs to Joe and what he's getting for them. If you keep taxes low by under funding the public transit and spend on roads, then look how much the average Joe has to spend on cars, gas, maintenance, etc. If you fund it using land development fees, look at how much Joe is spending on housing. It's about the amount a society is spending, not just the funding mechanism. Same thing with other government services like health care. If you only look at Joe's taxes under public healthcare and not look at his insurance rates and user fees under private, then of course it will seem like he's under a greater burden with higher taxes, when in reality, his overall costs could be lower.

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Government should not be doing business. They are not good at it. The transit-property development model is very well established and they can sell the rights to private developers for the shovel and paint works.

Canada's income and corporate tax rates are high. You are just comparing a bunch of countries with insanely high tax rates and think they are low, which is not true.
I didn't say they were low, I said they aren't very high in a relative (global) context. Which of course includes those "bunch of countries" where taxes are much higher. If you're making an honest comparison, you don't just compare to the places that are lower in order to prove the taxes are high, you compare to everyone to get an honest comparison.

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The whole issue at hand is Canada is not planning its cities to be sustainable for public transit. Perhaps government officials need to have the guts to cut transit where it is not economical to run, or add density to the point where transit is viable.
A big part of planning is encouraging transit usage and discouraging automobile usage, and the main tool for that is determining how much funding each receives. You can't add density to places where the transit isn't already capable of handling it, or else people will drive. Or if the traffic is too bad to drive, people won't want to live there.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 06:35 PM   #1844
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Originally Posted by Innsertnamehere
The development model works on a large scale for Hong Kong due to the hyper densities involved in the city. That model won't work here. That's not to say that development can't play some roll, but I see any cash coming from that going to capital works (see Port Credit GO) instead of operating, which needs a more reliable revenue stream than real estate.
The Hong Kong model is only for land on top of stations or adjacent if they are part of the transit works, which is similar to the Metrolix works you mentioned. These developments have nothing to do with the overall density zoned for the surrounding areas, although planners generally have a good idea what density they need to build to justify a heavy rail line in their town planning studies. These are merely piecemeal developments in the grand scheme of things.

The hope is the people living on top of stations will then use the trains, so that is where the sustained cash flow for operations come from. Plus the existing residents can benefit from more convenient transit options.

[quote=Innsertnamehere]Toronto's transit rates are fairly good for its size, at 27%. Its the second highest in NA behind only NYC.[/qupte]
North America is not a good place to look for good transit coverage or usage to begin with.

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Originally Posted by Innsertnamehere
As others have said, there is literally no such thing as "free money". Development fees end up increasing housing costs as the cost of constructing new housing units increases significantly. Not to say they don't have a use, they are partially being used to finance the Scarborough Subway extension, but they are far from "free".
It is natural to expect a premium to live so near a train line. Existing residents get a free lunch when their properties appreciate in value once the line is announced and completed. Having the private sector bear part of the burden reduces the fare and tax increases, and is more "free" than the current model.

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Originally Posted by Innsertnamehere
Toronto's planning regime is currently all about adding density, it just takes decades to do so. Its not like you can go from a sprawling LA style city like the suburban GTA is to a transit freindly haven over night, it takes a long time to build density, and it is happening. The housing market has shifted from 60% detached housing and 30% apartment housing in 2005 to 30% detached and 60% apartment today. There are an insane amount of highrises going up across the city right now.
That's why heavy rail and increased density developments go hand in hand with this new urban planning strategy.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 06:43 PM   #1845
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Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
Another thing to consider is that we shouldn't just be looking at taxes as an expense and complaining about the burden on Joe taxpayer if they go up. You should be looking at the overall costs to Joe and what he's getting for them. If you keep taxes low by under funding the public transit and spend on roads, then look how much the average Joe has to spend on cars, gas, maintenance, etc. If you fund it using land development fees, look at how much Joe is spending on housing. It's about the amount a society is spending, not just the funding mechanism. Same thing with other government services like health care. If you only look at Joe's taxes under public healthcare and not look at his insurance rates and user fees under private, then of course it will seem like he's under a greater burden with higher taxes, when in reality, his overall costs could be lower.
The problem is the government is not in the business of operating transit and hence the usage of tax dollars is inefficient. So are these continuous fare increases going to service improvements, expansion, and fleet renewal? We all see TTC's improvements have been lacklustre yet we see the fat cats survive on the sunshine list every year. Should ticket agents earn over 100k a year while everyone has to pay more per ride on a marginally different network? Is there something wrong with how this agency is run?

I don't think the cost of the private sector running the TTC would be much worse than the current model of fare increases and tax subsidies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse
I didn't say they were low, I said they aren't very high in a relative (global) context. Which of course includes those "bunch of countries" where taxes are much higher. If you're making an honest comparison, you don't just compare to the places that are lower in order to prove the taxes are high, you compare to everyone to get an honest comparison.
Here is a global comparison : http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26327114

Whether high taxes are spent with the best value for money, especially on the transit front, is highly questionable. Perhaps by taking so much of your money, the government ranks don't appreciate the need to prudently use it.

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Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse
A big part of planning is encouraging transit usage and discouraging automobile usage, and the main tool for that is determining how much funding each receives. You can't add density to places where the transit isn't already capable of handling it, or else people will drive. Or if the traffic is too bad to drive, people won't want to live there.
I've stated before you build a transit line by adding density on top of the new stations. You are not building a line to nowhere (Vaughan .. haha). There are also existing residents in the area who can use it. Whether lines are planned with these in mind is another story!
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Old December 6th, 2015, 07:03 PM   #1846
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The Hong Kong model is only for land on top of stations or adjacent if they are part of the transit works, which is similar to the Metrolix works you mentioned. These developments have nothing to do with the overall density zoned for the surrounding areas, although planners generally have a good idea what density they need to build to justify a heavy rail line in their town planning studies. These are merely piecemeal developments in the grand scheme of things.

The hope is the people living on top of stations will then use the trains, so that is where the sustained cash flow for operations come from. Plus the existing residents can benefit from more convenient transit options.

Yes, but the densities Hong Kong constructs on top of their stations are far and away higher than anything that could be done in Toronto. Maple GO is looking at putting up maybe 10 floors of apartments, Port Credit two 20 floor towers, etc. Hong Kong would see four 40 floor towers, not two twenty.

As for operating profitability from fare revenue, the TTCs fares are too low for that to occur. A bus stuffed to the gills still operates at a loss from my understanding, and while a full subway line does operate at a slight profit, presuming 100% of the riders didn't transfer from a bus, it needs to be packed to the point of overcapacity. More riders simply means more expenses, which is half the reason fares have been increasing so much lately, operating costs are skyrocketing to serve growing demand.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 07:22 PM   #1847
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Yes, but the densities Hong Kong constructs on top of their stations are far and away higher than anything that could be done in Toronto. Maple GO is looking at putting up maybe 10 floors of apartments, Port Credit two 20 floor towers, etc. Hong Kong would see four 40 floor towers, not two twenty.

As for operating profitability from fare revenue, the TTCs fares are too low for that to occur. A bus stuffed to the gills still operates at a loss from my understanding, and while a full subway line does operate at a slight profit, presuming 100% of the riders didn't transfer from a bus, it needs to be packed to the point of overcapacity. More riders simply means more expenses, which is half the reason fares have been increasing so much lately, operating costs are skyrocketing to serve growing demand.
That's why the urban planners need to really think whether the catchment area can support a heavy rail line even if they plan to build a few tall towers above the stations. At least they can reduce government dependency if they can at least lose a bit less, so not to overburden the taxpayer. A 20-storey tower is better than a station in the middle of nowhere with the bills to pay.

There are very few profitable transit operators. Japan has a few good examples, but they are also developers at key stations and operating malls plus the like. Hong Kong runs at a profit because of property development, which balances out the need to raise fares. We actually pay a lot less than Toronto but with newer trains and more reliable service. Don't see why Toronto can't replicate at least part of that as another fare increase looms.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 07:32 PM   #1848
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We all see TTC's improvements have been lacklustre yet we see the fat cats survive on the sunshine list every year. Should ticket agents earn over 100k a year while everyone has to pay more per ride on a marginally different network? Is there something wrong with how this agency is run?
First, of all the ticket collectors have to pull lots of overtime to reach that number. They normally make only 55,000K to 65,000K per year.
Secondly, the TTC has over 12,000 employees so even if a few thousand of them make it on the sunshine list most don't make it, the number drops particularly quick if you don't factor in any overtime contributions.
Thirdly, people think everyone at the TTC is a driver, ticket collectors or some blue collar job. The TTC has a large in-house team of engineers, lawyers and doctors, these occupations easily make over 6 figures and make up a lot of the TTC sunshine list.
Fourthly, the sunshine list was created by some hack who wanted to expose and put a check on government spending, a worthy cause and good idea (I am all for it) but the problem is its 100,000, IN 1996. Today, in real terms accounting for inflation that threshold is over 140,000.

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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
I've stated before you build a transit line by adding density on top of the new stations. You are not building a line to nowhere (Vaughan .. haha). There are also existing residents in the area who can use it. Whether lines are planned with these in mind is another story!
I'm not even going to talk about that. Let's just say that many politicians got a bit too close to owners and developers of that area. So much for the government not taking any of the taxpayers money leading to them prudently using it
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Old December 6th, 2015, 08:11 PM   #1849
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First, of all the ticket collectors have to pull lots of overtime to reach that number. They normally make only 55,000K to 65,000K per year.
Secondly, the TTC has over 12,000 employees so even if a few thousand of them make it on the sunshine list most don't make it, the number drops particularly quick if you don't factor in any overtime contributions.

Thirdly, people think everyone at the TTC is a driver, ticket collectors or some blue collar job. The TTC has a large in-house team of engineers, lawyers and doctors, these occupations easily make over 6 figures and make up a lot of the TTC sunshine list.
Means there is a governance issue that some people get to pull OT on a ticket collector job to get over 100k a year when the median income is only 32k and only 12% of the country makes over 100k (source).

Means this governance issue is ongoing if supposedly temporary OT needs become permanent. Has service improved to justify this significant figure?

I would expect senior management and highly-skilled workers on the sunshine list. If you read my post carefully, you will see I was referring to ticket agents making the sunshine list.

It is also useless to compare only partial income figures. The taxpayer is on the hook for their total salaries, including overtime, right? Is OT not taxable income? So why would anyone want to exclude OT in any meaningful analysis?

Keep in mind median income hasn't moved much over the years from the Statcan source above.
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Old December 6th, 2015, 11:08 PM   #1850
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It is also useless to compare only partial income figures. The taxpayer is on the hook for their total salaries, including overtime, right? Is OT not taxable income? So why would anyone want to exclude OT in any meaningful analysis?
Becuase OT is what saves the TTC money. Instead of hiring more people on to payroll, paying their benefits and pensions they work the existing ones harder. If they did former then none of the front line workers would have made the sunshine list (which I already pointed out is flawed as it is) but cost to the taxpayer would be higher. So it is really not worth looking at the sunshine list and screaming "OMG LOOK @ ALL DA PPL". At the end of the day, it saves money.
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Old December 7th, 2015, 06:29 AM   #1851
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
The problem is the government is not in the business of operating transit and hence the usage of tax dollars is inefficient. So are these continuous fare increases going to service improvements, expansion, and fleet renewal? We all see TTC's improvements have been lacklustre yet we see the fat cats survive on the sunshine list every year. Should ticket agents earn over 100k a year while everyone has to pay more per ride on a marginally different network? Is there something wrong with how this agency is run?
I think this statement is the root of our disagreement. You have an anti-government bias, and are making unsubstantiated assumptions about it.

Fare increases are caused by cut backs in subsidies, changes in fuel prices, and keeping up with inflation.

The TTC may be a government agency, but it is not the government, and it is extremely effective at operating in an efficient manner given the conditions under which it operates.

Of course, transit expansions are often political decisions, and I disagree with several of the choices that have been made pertaining to new lines (like Sheppard) or extensions, like Vaughan. But these decisions were not made by the TTC.
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Old December 7th, 2015, 07:38 AM   #1852
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I think this statement is the root of our disagreement. You have an anti-government bias, and are making unsubstantiated assumptions about it.

Fare increases are caused by cut backs in subsidies, changes in fuel prices, and keeping up with inflation.

The TTC may be a government agency, but it is not the government, and it is extremely effective at operating in an efficient manner given the conditions under which it operates.

Of course, transit expansions are often political decisions, and I disagree with several of the choices that have been made pertaining to new lines (like Sheppard) or extensions, like Vaughan. But these decisions were not made by the TTC.
The model is inefficient to begin with. So it is irrelevant whether it operates optimally or not given its means. The TTC operates inefficiently as a government agency, being dependent on funding that comes intermittently, and out-of-sync with the long-term transit needs of the users. That's the biggest issue when politics get into play. We should question its fundamental flawed business and funding model. By using a private partnership approach and adding density to stations for expansions, it can somewhat break this political link and actually address the needs of its users more efficiently.

We all know if the status quo continues, the TTC will continue be out of sync with the city's transit needs. Adding another layer of government agency on top will only make the problem worse.
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Old December 7th, 2015, 07:39 AM   #1853
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Becuase OT is what saves the TTC money. Instead of hiring more people on to payroll, paying their benefits and pensions they work the existing ones harder. If they did former then none of the front line workers would have made the sunshine list (which I already pointed out is flawed as it is) but cost to the taxpayer would be higher. So it is really not worth looking at the sunshine list and screaming "OMG LOOK @ ALL DA PPL". At the end of the day, it saves money.
So you are saying ticket agents earning 100k or more is normal considering the average median income in Canada is 1/3 of that and the skills required for this job?

Seems like a great easy job to have.
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Old December 7th, 2015, 08:23 AM   #1854
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Quote:
The TTC operates inefficiently as a government agency, being dependent on funding that comes intermittently
I guess whether or not transit is better or worse as a direct government activity depends on what role mass transit serves and why it even exists.

In most of North America, transit is a public service meant to provide a minimal level of alternative mobility in a car-dominated culture. It would always be dependent on subsidies and never be that lucrative for a private operator, who would also ignore the people who need this kind of transit the most. Privatization in this context would just create a middleman with less accountability while service quality would suffer.

In the biggest NA cities, and the rest of the world, it can be a more serious business or necessity to prevent gridlock. If there was a chance that a network could make decent money on the operations side and private interests could add to the infrastructure too so long as the government did the heavy lifting, then operators would be lining up and putting in their best effort. It would be fine if that were true.

Toronto perhaps finds itself at the crossroads, operating under a model designed to fill the former role but really should be filling the latter.

Maybe a compromise is for the TTC to become a umbrella agency and privatize certain functions like the Subway, but still directly operate certain bus routes and fund service frequencies in any gaps that private operators might leave behind.
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Old December 14th, 2015, 06:26 PM   #1855
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First Tier 4 locomotive for Go Transit on test
Monday, December 14, 2015



TORONTO commuter rail operator Go Transit has taken delivery of its first locomotive to comply with the latest US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 emissions regulations

Go Transit placed a $C 45m ($US 32.8m) order with Wabtec subsidiary Motive Power Industries (MPI) in 2012 for 11 repowered MP54AC locomotives. Toronto and Hamilton transit authority Metrolinx and MPI subsequently signed a $C 63m contract for an additional 10 new-build MP54ACs, which will take the fleet to 21 units

...
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Old December 14th, 2015, 06:49 PM   #1856
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The model is inefficient to begin with. So it is irrelevant whether it operates optimally or not given its means. The TTC operates inefficiently as a government agency, being dependent on funding that comes intermittently, and out-of-sync with the long-term transit needs of the users. That's the biggest issue when politics get into play. We should question its fundamental flawed business and funding model. By using a private partnership approach and adding density to stations for expansions, it can somewhat break this political link and actually address the needs of its users more efficiently.

We all know if the status quo continues, the TTC will continue be out of sync with the city's transit needs. Adding another layer of government agency on top will only make the problem worse.
I disagree that it's a fundamentally inefficient model. The things that you're talking about don't require a complete remake of the system and are not inherent parts of the current model, and correcting them only requires the current policies to be updated and for the system to be properly and reliably funded. Public transit in Canada is a public service and many people in here are wary of public private partnerships because the private partners are concerned more with profit than with service, and siphon off any profitable aspects of the operation leaving the public side to handle the burdensome parts. If we had the density to support public transit without subsidy like seen in places such as Hong Kong, I would be open to a fully private model. But not a public private partnership.
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Old December 15th, 2015, 04:41 AM   #1857
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I disagree that it's a fundamentally inefficient model. The things that you're talking about don't require a complete remake of the system and are not inherent parts of the current model, and correcting them only requires the current policies to be updated and for the system to be properly and reliably funded. Public transit in Canada is a public service and many people in here are wary of public private partnerships because the private partners are concerned more with profit than with service, and siphon off any profitable aspects of the operation leaving the public side to handle the burdensome parts. If we had the density to support public transit without subsidy like seen in places such as Hong Kong, I would be open to a fully private model. But not a public private partnership.
I don't see how the current public model is focused on service either with infrastructure issues (aging), fatcat ticket collectors, a stagnant network, falling ridership growth into the low single digits, yet increasing fares.
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Old December 15th, 2015, 04:49 AM   #1858
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Other than the so called "fatcat" ticket collectors which as someone else already explained was due mainly to overtime which doesn't necessarily cost the company extra, the other issues are one of proper investment. So then let's fix the problems. No need to waste public money by ceding control of the system to private companies.
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Old December 15th, 2015, 05:44 AM   #1859
hkskyline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
Other than the so called "fatcat" ticket collectors which as someone else already explained was due mainly to overtime which doesn't necessarily cost the company extra, the other issues are one of proper investment. So then let's fix the problems. No need to waste public money by ceding control of the system to private companies.
And I already pointed out that explanation of the sunshine list is wrong. OT doesn't cost the company extra? Then why is the salary so big?

If you look at the sunshine list's criteria, you will quickly see it is taxable income plus more that is not even on the T4 : http://www.ontario.ca/page/public-se...-faq#section-8

The $100,000 figure means salary before taxes, and does not include taxable benefits. However, for those who are paid $100,000 or more, the total value of these taxable benefits must be disclosed. Beginning with 2012 salaries, the definition of salary now also includes per diems and/or retainers paid to employees, in addition to amounts reported as employment income on the Canada Revenue Agency T4 slip.
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Old December 15th, 2015, 06:09 AM   #1860
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It doesn't necessarily cost extra because OT is only offered by a company when extra labour is needed, and it's cheaper to pay an existing employee a lot more to perform the labour than to hire a new worker in order to cover these busy times when there are other times that they'll be under utilized. Not to mention that having more workers means having more people they would need to hire through an expensive worker acquisition process. Not to mention the cost to train (often ongoing), supervise, and offer benefits to an additional person. In other words, the cost to hire and employ a worker is not just in their compensation. Even if their salary was double, having two people each making $50,000 is often costlier than one person making $100,000, or even $125,000 depending on the needs or the organization.

Not to mention that if the labour need is expected to not be long term, it can be hard to lay off a worker and the worker may be owed expensive severance pay.
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