A transit consultant who helped design the agency that oversees London’s transit system has a few lessons to impart that he believes Toronto could learn from.
David Quarmby told CBC News he can recall being a young transit planner in the 1970s, when he looked to Toronto as a place for inspiration.
"It was a place we all looked up to, we thought: 'Wow, it’s really happening in Toronto,'" he said in an interview.
In 2000, Quarmby helped design Transport for London, an organization that oversees the city’s transit system, as well as its roads and traffic signals.
He believes a similar agency is needed in Toronto today. Transit planning around Toronto is overseen by Metrolinx, though that agency has no authority over roads and highways.
"It can be quite difficult, I think, to get things done, to get the good decisions made if you have a fragmented governance," Quarmby said.
Quarmby appeared on CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Wednesday, and said Toronto would benefit from the kind of integrated fare system in use in London. There the Oyster smart card allows riders to travel across the entire system in what Quarmby calls "a seamless set of journeys."
Metrolinx is in the process of installing in a similar system across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area with the Presto card, which users can pre-load with money and tap at the turnstile. Presto is now the standard fare-paying system for GO Transit and while the card can be used at some TTC subway stations, it currently can't be used to pay fares on TTC surface vehicles.
"I sense there's a lack of integration," said Quarmby of Toronto's transit system. "There's an opportunity to make the system more traveller-friendly with integrated fares."
He said the agency was able to help reduce car use and increase bus ridership by dedicating special lanes.
Quarmby said he believes with the right changes, Toronto can again create a transit system that is admired around the world, and not a source of almost continual complaints.
"It's about creating the brand and saying 'this is a good brand,' he said. "Transportation in London is a great brand. It's no longer dinner party stuff that people moan about. We talk about other things at dinner than transportation."
Quarmby is due to speak to the Toronto Region Board of Trade on Wednesday.
Click on the video above to see a full report from the CBC’s Steven D’Souza.