TORONTO, Nov. 19 /CNW/ - An editorial cartoon on the front page of the November 18 Toronto edition of Metro, a widely distributed daily commuter news digest, has drawn the ire of the president of Toronto's transit workers union.
The cartoon depicts a streetcar operator leaning out of his window with his hand in the pocket of a startled pedestrian reading a newspaper with the headline "Rate increase."
"Fare increases are always accompanied by a large spike in verbal and physical assaults on vehicle Operators and Collectors," says Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113. "Passengers angered by having to pay more to ride the TTC take out their frustration on the front line workers, not on TTC management or the Commissioners.
"This insulting cartoon makes it seem that the workers are to blame for the fare increase. It will provoke active animosity in some unbalanced passengers and lead to more assaults. We've been down this road too many times before to let this pass."
Kinnear says it is grossly unfair to attribute the magnitude of fare increases over the past decade to TTC workers.
"With this latest increase, TTC cash fares since 1999 will have risen 64% faster than the wages paid to Operators and Collectors. Angry passengers should be incensed at the failure of governments to support Toronto public transit at the level enjoyed by other cities. They shouldn't be taking it out on our members, who provide a great service under often very stressful and demanding conditions."
TTC management's recent presentation to the Commissioners on the need for a fare increase revealed that the TTC is the least subsidized transit system in North America.
"If the TTC received proportionately as much public funding per rider as Montreal, Vancouver or Edmonton, our fares would be much, much lower. If we received as high a per-rider subsidy as they do in Los Angeles, the TTC would be free to riders," said Kinnear.
"The cartoon would have been more truthful if it had shown Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper picking the pockets of our passengers."
"We believe in freedom of the press," added Kinnear, "but we have the right to strenuously object to a 'McPaper' like Metro distorting the truth at the expense of our members' safety."