The head of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was fired from his job this week. Most people think it’s because he disagreed with Toronto’s mayor’s plans for public transit.
In this case, public transit refers to the city’s system of buses, subways and streetcars.
Gary Webster has worked at the TTC since 1986; for nearly six years he has been the TTC’s Chief General Manager.
As the head of the TTC, part of Webster’s job was to advise Toronto’s politicians about how the city’s transit system should operate.
Both the City and the TTC agree that Toronto needs more public transportation; many bus and subway riders find the city’s transit system slow and overcrowded at times.
However, city council is divided as to how it should be built.
Mayor Rob Ford wants the new transit line to be underground—a subway.
Two weeks ago, Gary Webster said it would be better to build an above-ground “light rail transit” line.
On Tuesday, a special meeting was held. At that meeting, the politicians voted 5-4 in favour of firing Gary Webster.
The firing will cost Toronto more than half a million dollars. That’s because Webster has a contract with the city, a legal document that guarantees him a job for at least two more years.
Now the city must find a new head of the TTC, and they must do it quickly. The TTC is scheduled to receive $8.4-billion from the province of Ontario to extend its transit system; it must decide how it’s going to use that money.
The Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, is becoming frustrated with Toronto council’s inability to decide how to do it.
He told The Toronto Star that “we’re running out of patience.”
There may have been other reasons for firing Gary Webster, but the politicians have been told by their lawyer that they can’t talk about the situation with the media.