TTC Constables

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According to a recent newspaper article, the TTC is looking at a savings of $18M per year by doing away with their constables. These TTC constables are able to operate subways in an emergency, amongst other things, but their main purpose is to protect drivers and passengers from the bad things. The most important consideration here is that on-train constables are ON – TRAIN, in-station constables are In –Station –in short, they are on-site. They can respond  immediately because they are already there.

Before anyone involved politicizes the issue of TTC constables beyond recall, I feel obliged to point out that in this day of random acts of violence, the folks earning their living as TTC constables are more important to the public than ever before.

In days gone by, it used to be that when someone was forming the intention to do  violence to someone else, there was history between them; the act of violence was the culmination, or breaking-point. These individuals generally needed a reason for attacking this person, instead of that person; nowadays, the ‘history’ is with the status quo; consequently,  anyone is a potential threat; everyone is a potential target.[i] The effect of the status quo upon the lowest economic groups – the ones most likely to use the TTC – is particularly egregious; worse than anyone raising children should have to try to manage with, or that any child should be obliged to grow up in. Inevitably, some will buckle under the pressure of an unrelenting status quo and act out in some way.

It is for this reason the TTC constables are needed. Rather than pretend they aren’t, let’s focus on providing our constables with the necessary training, tools, and active support they need in order to provide the greatest benefit for TTC passengers and personnel.

Getting rid of the constables is a fiscal control measure that lacks imagination; it is as crude a measure as raising the price of a metro pass. I am certain the TTC budget folks are doing the best they can given an impossible situation.Despite their best efforts, we have seen the same-ol’ – same- ol’, year after year: at the end of the day, the price of a metro pass still goes up, and we are still jammed together like sardines on our way home from an arduous 8-hour shift.

The move to abolish our TTC Constables will improve nothing for passengers. The abolition of TTC constables would, on the other hand, increase the TTC passenger’s exposure to danger. The TTC Commissioner may want to back off on this one.

Rather than resort to the unimaginative, the good folks at the city/TTC might continue to:

  1. Consider a progressive, ‘transportation tax’ on businesses in the GTA to help with funding public transit on an ongoing basis. The TTC functions as the city’s circulatory system, conveying workers to and from their jobs. Without this service, businesses in the GTA would have a difficult time operating efficiently. Most business owners, office managers, doctors, lawyers, etc. have no problem getting to work because they drive themselves; but a third or more of their employees cannot afford to drive themselves and are obliged to take the TTC. One might think the business community would willingly pay a small levy, if it translated directly into improved employee punctuality and engagement. A faster commute, sitting rather than standing, comfortable rather than squished, would afford commuters the opportunity to regenerate and be fully present with their spouses and children in the evenings when they get home; rested and ready to do their jobs in the mornings when they arrive at work.
  2. The feds might consider a small payroll tax, say 10 dollars a month, dedicated to public transit in the city where it is collected. The 2.5 million-plus workers in the GTA alone could provide 25 million every month. ½ million people in the GTA use public transit to get to work. More than 1.5 million drive. To motivate more of us to use public transit (a welcome side effect would be the reduction of the arterial clog in our streets), a full rebate of the new tax might be added to the existing public transit tax credit, so that those already using the TTC effectively pay no tax.
  3. Continue to look for opportunities to increase the quality of service to the public
  4. Continue to look for opportunities to cut costs – BUT only as part of a focused initiative to improve services through getting more bang for the buck. The ‘released’ funds could then be used to improve the TTC and other services, or even to add new ones.

 

Afterword

The greatest impediment to building and maintaining viable business and social units are the pockets of self-interest existing in them. Competition among ‘pockets’ for their respective unit’s resources implies gains for one and losses for the others -unless, of course, their unit possesses a money tree.

 

There may be a better way, but to be successful, all of us will have to get on board:

 

HR students learn about the Job Points Evaluation system (JEP) for determining fair remuneration for every job within the organization. Jobs are evaluated along as many dimensions as is felt necessary in order to assess their relative value to the organization, and also degree of difficulty. Each job is decomposed into tasks. For each task, points are awarded according to a predetermined task evaluation matrix. The point total for each job is calculated. The total points awarded is determined, and the fraction obtained by dividing the point total for a particular job by the total points awarded for all jobs is multiplied against the organization’s total allocation for salaries and benefits. The result is the remuneration for that job.

 

So far, so fair; now here’s the kicker:

 

How are we going to determine the total salary allocation? Perhaps what is available for compensating their employees may be based on GDP, if you are a government; on revenue, if you are a business. If you are a municipal government, you might use a percentage of the total tax revenues of the previous year. As for provincial governments, they could apply a set percentage of provincial GDP to healthcare, education, law enforcement, the judiciary, parks and recreation, environmental protection, and all other public services. The respective departments would determine salaries for all of their members, from highest to lowest.

In this scheme, those at the ‘top’ are no longer guaranteed the highest salaries; nor will those at the ‘bottom’ necessarily receive the lowest. The Feds would of course do the same thing.

Let’s be clear about one thing: CEOs are, technically, responsible for the entire show; but they are rarely accountable. Often, it seems, they get the ‘golden handshake’ even after failing to deliver what they were hired to do. This is wrong on so many levels. In the JEP scheme, the golden handshake goes the way of the dodo. The perks they receive while on the job would count as salary for tax purposes.

Salaries will fluctuate, year-to-year, according to the growth or decrease in GDP.