The next chair of the Toronto Transit Commission says she would like to invite private citizens and business people help run the transit agency.
Currently, nine councillors — including a chair and vice chair — oversee the TTC. They are responsible for running the transit system, maintaining it and recommending changes in transit policy.
Three of the positions will have to be changed — current TTC Adam Giambrone did not seek re-election, while Suzan Hall and Bill Saundercook were voted out of office. Ford is expected to formally announce the composition of all the city's key committees and boards, including the TTC, shortly.
Karen Stintz, who mayor-elect Rob Ford has picked to lead the transit agency, said she doesn't want to eliminate politicians from the board completely — just reduce the number of them on the board.
"I would expect to see changes in the composition of the commission fairly shortly," Stintz said in an interview with CBC News.
Stintz said some fresh faces would bring fresh perspective to the TTC.
"So I do think that there are skills that are required on the commission that politicians don't necessarily bring and I would be in favour of adding those skills and inviting the business community and the general public onto the commission," said Stintz.
Coun. Joe Mihevc, currently a member of the board that runs the TTC, warned against changing its composition.
"We need to maintain the majority of commissioners on the TTC as publicly accountable, democratically elected city councillors," said Mihevc, who endorsed Ford rival George Smitherman in the mayoral race.
'New plan' for transit
Stintz also said the province — and its transportation agency Metrolinx — can both be convinced to shift money away from outgoing mayor David Miller's Transit City plan to instead fund Ford's vision for transit.
Transit City is part of the Metrolinx's "The Big Move" regional transportation plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The province has already pledged $9.3 billion in funding to the plan as it now stands.
Ford wants to abandon the installation of light rail transit lines as envisioned by Transit City in favour of new subway lines. One of his main priorities would be to complete the Sheppard Avenue subway line from Downsview station to the Scarborough Town Centre, adding about 12 kilometres and 10 new stations to the line by 2015. He also hopes to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway line to Scarborough Town Centre.
Ford has said he would find the money for his plan by persuading the province to reallocate $4 billion in funding for its regional transit plan.
"The Metrolinx plan — as it's currently written — does need to be rethought. And it's my belief and expectation that Metrolinx would want to sit down with this administration and think about a new plan," Stintz said. "And in so doing think about a plan that's reasonable, that can be fulfilled and can be delivered to the people of the city."
While Premier Dalton McGuinty has said he is open to Ford's ideas on transit, Ontario Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne has hinted that it would take a lot of convincing for her to approve a change in Toronto's transit future.
"I want us all to remember the City of Toronto is part of a region and that the transit plan that we're working on is a regional transit plan that was developed in that way," Wynne told reporters on Oct. 26, the day after Ford was elected mayor.
A spokesperson for Ford declined to comment on future transit plans.