Maria Augimeri wants 'serious talk' on transit operations

Coun. Maria Augimeri may only lead the TTC board for a few months, but she intends on making them count.

New TTC chair may only hold position for a few months, but plans to be productive

Coun. Maria Augimeri may only lead the TTC board for a few months, but she intends on making them count.

"I want there to be a serious talk about something that no one seems to want to talk about because it’s not sexy. And you know what that is? Transit operations," Augimeri told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Thursday.

The newly minted TTC chair plans to press politicians at Queen’s Park and in Ottawa about giving Toronto more support for its public transit.

"TTC riders pay the bulk of the cost of transit operations. Nowhere else in the world is that the case," Augimeri said.

Coun. Maria Augimeri was named as the new TTC chair this week, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Coun. Karen Stintz. (City of Toronto)

"We live in a topsy-turvy world here in Toronto, where we ask those who can least afford to pay to pony up the additional cost to ride the TTC. Enough!"

She has similar feelings about the need for external support in fixing the overcrowding problems that are growing worse as times passes.

"Our riders are bunched up like the proverbial sardines in our streetcars, buses and subway cars," said Augimeri.

"So, we need a downtown relief line to help people who are most congested and we need the province and the federal government to do what every other country in the world does, pay for public transit for its citizens."

Augimeri is taking on the job as TTC chair until December. The position was made vacant by the departure of Coun. Karen Stintz, who is intending to pursue a mayoral bid.

Because she is taking on the job partway through the current council term, Augimeri said she doesn’t believe it is fair for her to pursue the chair position for the long-term.

"I just think it’s unfair for me to have that leg up," she said.

Citing her many years of experience in politics, Augimeri said she feels confident she can handle the job while she has it.

Augimeri said she was first elected as a municipal councillor in 1985 and served as a school trustee prior to that.

"I have a lifetime of chairing committees and I have a lifetime of being dedicated to public transit and to the riders,"Augimeri said.