Striker Wednesday November 11, 2009, 0 comments

I won’t be riding transit on Friday. I won’t be alone in this, as organizers try to put together a ‘rider’s strike’ to protest… well, to protest something. But I won’t be doing it for the same reasons as everyone else.

Ostensibly this protest is aimed at planned transit fare hikes. I find this pretty funny, really. Canadians it seems can only be got off their sofas and out from behind their televisions when someone pinches their wallet. And barely, at that. Organizers of the strike are not very optimistic about participation.

In my opinion, protesting fare hikes is ridiculous. Sure, I don’t like the increase any more than anyone else, and I do recognize the extreme impact it can and will have on lower income families that rely on transit to get to work, take their kids to school, and put food on their tables.

Frankly, the fare increase is a major problem. The increase will reduce ridership, which will, domino-effect style, cause even more problems with TTC finances. I don’t think anyone disagrees with this.

The reason I won’t be taking transit this Friday, and the reason I think it’s ridiculous, is because I will be protesting the ridiculous knee-jerk response by the TTC to ‘token hoarding’ in the run-up to the fare increase. They are reducing the number of tokens people can buy in order to ensure that people won’t collect vast sums of tokens at the older, lower rate.

Seriously, how many tokens are the average person going to hoard? Hundreds? Thousands? I doubt it. Maybe twenty or maybe even fifty, hardly a reason to get the TTC’s collective panties in a bunch over. And it is this response, more than anything, that brought the fare increase home to most people, I’d wager.

So why are they doing it? Why are they taking all this hatred and vitriol on themselves when they should be out banging the drums and raising mobs of protesters against the real problem?

And lets face it, the real problem is the way funding from Provincial and Federal levels of government happens. Or fails to happen, in the case of the TTC. Sure, there’s lots of other problems, like payroll and decades of poor planning, but the fact remains that the TTC is one of the least, if not the least subsidized transit systems on the continent.

This protest completely fails to address the real problem. It’d be like the poll-tax protests in the UK in the 1980s targeting the Post Office because that’s who delivered the poll-tax bill, instead of targeting the government. I wonder how effective that would have been.

This protest would be better served if everyone bought a token (and that’s likely all they’d be able to buy, just one token), got on the subway to Queen’s Park station, and picketed Parliament to demand of our Provincial government fair and appropriate funding for Ontario’s largest transit system.

Or maybe everyone should be targeting Parliament Hill, and demanding of our Federal government fair and appropriate funding for Canada’s largest transit system.

Maybe that’d be a protest worth going to.


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