The Ontario Liberal government is trying to make transit an essential service and is starting in Toronto with their TTC. This is welcome news to Torontonians, but also to other cities in Ontario like Ottawa, which hopefully, will follow suit. After the disastrous months-long bus strike in Ottawa during the peak holiday season and amid some of the most severe winter weather which stranded workers, seniors and students, all of Ottawa came to realize that transit is an essential part of their lives- and we pay enough for it to boot.
Public transit has a bad reputation in North America, mostly because it's the land of the car. It's always been painted as being for the poor or underprivileged and car companies have capitalized on the sense of freedom and independence that owning one's own car can have. Which is very typical of the North American focus on the self and having what we want, when we want, how we want it. You can regularly hear people saying that taking the bus sucks. And yeah, the bus is very far from glamourous, but public transit is not about glamour. It's about getting people from A to B. It's environmentally friendly. And for some people, it's the only affordable option for getting around.
A car doesn't fit every budget and every lifestyle. And while it's not essential to own one, it is essential that people be able to get around. A public transit service is essential as more and more people move out of inflated downtown cores and into suburbs. It's also imperative for seniors and other people with mobility issues and students who can't afford alternate modes of transport. It very much serves the public and this thought should be kept in mind when this legislation goes through, which it hopefully will.
One funny thing about the news of the legislation proposed by the current Liberal government in power in Ontario is that the New Democrats have hinted that they would like to delay the passing of the bill. It's hard to believe that the socially responsible New Democrats would want to hinder this bill from passing, considering that it serves the communities that it generally seeks to defend.
Transit is an essential service. It should be a no-brainer for the provincial legislature. Let's hope that good heads prevail on this one.