It seems like just yesterday Tom Brodbeck was arguing for more resources for transit service. Now he is arguing for less.
In Brodbeck’s latest article he argues for a barely-defined concept of accountability for transit while neglecting the fact that the province is reducing transit funding in the name of less accountable lump sum funding.
Nobody disagrees with increased accountability. Functional Transit Winnipeg (FTW) has been working to keep the city and Transit accountable for several years, particularly on the SW Corridor.
So what should accountability look like according to Brodbeck? He has not defined what more he would like to see out of Transit by way of reports.
Maybe people in charge at Transit are being paid too much, but without Brodbeck supplying the data on the market rate for competent managers at a similar level, it’s hard to say. Maybe there are operators being paid too much overtime. Or maybe we need to put resources into driver safety to attract the number of drivers we need so we can reduce overtime costs.
Why does he think transit receives too much funding? Ottawa and Edmonton are 30% larger and yet they each provide twice as much money to their transit service than Winnipeg and the province combined.
Looking at Brodbeck’s own numbers at the bottom of his article, the largest increase in operating expenditures came in 2013 and 2014, the years ridership was increasing. The drop in ridership occurs after this (and coincides both with the sudden unexpected service reduction in September 2015 and overall transit declines across North America).
At the end of his piece, Brodbeck says “yes, Transit needs to be well financed and it requires predictable funding from senior levels of government.” We can definitely agree with that. Should that come with some form of accountability measures? We can agree with that too. But what is important to understand is that the province is not asking for greater accountability, they are asking for less with lump sum funding and along with that they are reducing funding.
Accountability is important and FTW has been advocating for more accountable transit decisions since our inception. The 50-50 funding agreement is what needs to be fought for right now.