One columnist recently floated the idea of privatizing the TTC. It’s about time.
The Toronto Star’s Christopher Hume offered a much-needed, yet little discussed, solution to improve the TTC: privatization. Private operators at transit agencies around the world – once free to operate largely as they like – have improved reliability, increased ridership and offered more amenities to their customers.
Mr. Hume is spot on in his assumption that the private sector would be more likely “to give the people what they want rather than what their betters think they need.” Other private operators have shown that they quickly refocus their attention to the needs of their customers and, in the process, improve the overall experience of their riders – whether it’s through more punctual services or a wider range of amenities.
In the Australian city of Melbourne, for example, private operators of the city’s train and tram systems operate on a performance incentive regime, which has helped reduce delays and cancellations by an average of 35 percent.
In the UK , the Docklands Light Rail in London – which has been run by a private operator since 1997 – has been one of the most reliable services in the entire country, with more than 99% of its trains running on-time. And the North Rail franchise, which operates trains in the north of England, has seen its ridership grow by 38 percent while the number of on-time trains increased significantly from 84 percent to nearly 91 percent.
Brady Yauch is an economist and Executive Director of the Consumer Policy Institute (CPI). You can reach Brady by email at: bradyyauch (at) consumerpolicyinstitute.org or at (416) 964-9223 ext 236.