Monday, April 19, 2010

Public Transits Canadian Iron Curtain

It’s been almost 23-years since American President Ronald Reagan’s famous foretelling words: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” yet an Iron Curtains till abounds. President Reagan was speaking in front of the Berlin Wall, in an address targeted towards Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in an attempt to end Communism.

With the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union collapsed and so did many of the Communistic societies that were once part of that regime.

However, after witnessing a so-called public meeting to discuss public transit in Canada’s largest city, one may think the Iron Curtain is still very much alive.

Toronto’s transit system has taken much bad press the past several months. A YouTube video of a Toronto transit subway taker sleeping on the job was followed not too long after by another video of a bus operator taking an unscheduled stop at a local donut shop. Numerous events since have further eroded the public’s view of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) which operates and manages public transit in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The most recent event occurred last week, when a TTC bus driver attacked a young adult over what appears to be a fare dispute. Allegedly, the bus driver tossed the young man so hard against the bus, a bus window was shattered.

To alleviate the bad press, the TTC’s union, Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, representing the bus, subway, streetcar, wheel transit operators and support staff, has been holding public town hall style meetings throughout Toronto.

The notion of these town halls is to provide an opportunity for the public to voice their comments, concerns and questions to the TTC’s union.

However, it was clear from the very start of yesterday’s town hall that this was anything but a public meeting.

Oh the public was there, seated in the auditorium of Stephen Leacock Collegiate. And a microphone was paraded around, allowing people to stand up and have their say.

But the answers were obviously spun to send one message and one message only to the TTC’s management – we need more public funding.

Although the TTC needs more public funding – all transit systems require public funding, and the amount of this funding in Canada over the years continues to drop -- the point of the town hall was to provide an opportunity for public voices to be heard. Not for the union to use the public to bolster its position against management.

But that’s exactly what happened. Every question from the public was used to forward the unions specific concerns with management – they never really acknowledged or accepted responsibility for anything, placing most blame on management’s shoulders.

It wasn’t until the very end, where one of the TTC’s operators on stage publicly apologized on behalf of her fellow bus drivers, for the physical assault of the young man by one of her colleagues. Not that this incident is a representation of her, or her co-workers typical behavior – it is a rare occurrence -- but instead of spending time addressing the causes which may have lead to this incident, those representing the union on stage kept sweeping the blame onto management’s shoulders.

Wait a sec . . . isn’t it the union which represents bus drivers – like the bus driver that attacked a young man over a bus fare?

SLAM went the Iron Curtain of the TTC’s union. All the TTC’s problems smeared across the globe via the mass media and social networking sites like YouTube come down to a lack of government funding.

Or at least that’s what they want you to believe. And they have been holding public meetings to use you to get that message out.

Pretty sneaky. Maybe they got Gorbachev to teach them how to run these things?

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