Councillor Maria Augimeri is the new Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission, for now.
The York Centre representative was chosen by her fellow councillors to take over for Karen Stintz. Stintz is stepping down as Chair Saturday and will launch her mayoral campaign Monday.
Augimeri narrowly beat out Stintz's choice to replace her, Josh Colle, by a vote of 23-21. Though he doesn't plan to endorse anyone, Colle believes the mayoral race, upcoming TTC contract negotiations and lingering bitterness over the Scarborough subway vote, factored in his loss
Augimeri says her focus in the 10-month caretaker position will be dealing with overcrowding on TTC buses and streetcars, something she feels has been lost in more "sexy" talk about subway expansion and light rail transit.
Augimeri concedes tackling the problem will take more money. She wants to meet "immediately" with the Premier about "additional supports" for transit. "I believe that she (Kathleen Wynne) will hear us, and that she will be eager to assist in any way possible", Augimeri told reporters.
With a federal vote set for next year, Augimeri feels the time is right to go knocking on doors in Ottawa too. "Both governments are situated at a precipice right now. Both of them need Toronto", she said.
Though Augimeri is disappointed by a tax hike to help pay for a Scarborough subway extension, she considers the issue closed. She calls a downtown relief line "absolutely crucial to the viability of the city of Toronto".
TTC CEO Andy Byford announced last month that a panel focused on appealing to governments for financial help on transit was in the works.
Augimeri will serve as TTC Chair until the new council is sworn in December 1st, 2014.