Liberals intent on privatizing new transit lines through P3s says transit union head

TORONTO, May 5, 2014 /CNW/ - Bob Kinnear, president of ATU Local 113, confirmed today that both Glen Murray, Minister of Transportation and Premier Kathleen Wynne told him last summer that new transit projects such as the Eglinton Crosstown will be financed, built and maintained by private companies and that this is the route the government has chosen to go in the future.

At the time, Metrolinx had issued Requests for Qualifications (RFQs) looking for private sector companies that would be interested in financing, building, and maintaining the multi-billion dollar line.

Kinnear asked Murray if the RFQ could be rescinded until the government had a chance to study the disastrous effects of transit P3s around the world. Murray said no, the process was too advanced.

Kinnear later met with Premier Kathleen Wynne with the same message: "Don't go there."

"There is no evidence anywhere in the world that transit P3s are good for taxpayers and passengers," Kinnear said as he handed Wynne a DVD of a YouTube video part 1 and part 2 that chronicled the disasters of transit P3 and privatization in Melbourne, London, Auckland and Vancouver. The video quotes London Mayor Boris Johnson as saying about the ill-fated London Underground P3: "In other countries, this would be called looting. Here it is called the PPP."

"I looked the Premier in the eye and asked her to at least carve out the maintenance section of the Crosstown from the private sector and give it to the experienced TTC maintenance workers rather than entrust public safety to a company we don't even know yet," said Kinnear. "She promised to get back to me in a few weeks and when she did, through one of her advisors, the answer was no. I was shocked."

"I was especially shocked when I learned that one of the two consortia leaders was SNC-Lavalin, the Canadian engineering firm that had been found guilty of human rights abuses in building the Vancouver Canada Line and that had been banned by the World Bank for bidding on WB-financed projects anywhere in the world for ten years because of several convictions for bribery and various types of fraud.

"Just what kind of international criminals are you getting in bed with, Premier," I asked. "She had no answer."

"Minister Murray told me the purpose of the P3 was to transfer the risk of underperformance to the private sector," said Kinnear. "Tell that to the taxpayers of London, England, who lost over a billion dollars when their private sector 'partner' went under."

"It's vital that the truth about transit gets fully aired in this provincial election. And the truth is, Andrea Horwath is absolutely correct about the Liberals' P3 plan, which they try to mask by calling it 'alternative financing and development.'"

Kinnear said that the TTC is the most efficient transit system in North America, recovering 75% of its costs from the farebox. "That will undoubtedly change under privatization, whatever you choose to call it. Someone's got to pay for all those private sector profits."

SOURCE Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113

For further information: 416-398-5113