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Transit fare increase, service hit included in budget - CTV Toronto

CTV News
Naomi Parness

Transit riders will see a fare increase and nearly 50 bus routes will have their service reduced, under the proposed city budget presented to the public on Monday.

Toronto Transit Commission staff said a 10-cent fare increase is necessary in order to meet the service levels required for an expected increase in ridership in 2011.

The fare increase is scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 1.

Gary Webster, the TTC's general manager, said there is no alternative to the proposed fare increase.

"Either we don't do some of the things we think we should do, from a customer service point of view, which would reduce our costs," he said. "Or you're going to have to have less service."

The TTC's proposed operating budget of $1.4 billion is up $66 million from 2010. Ridership is also expected to rise to an all-time record of 483 million rides in the calendar year.

Mayor Rob Ford expressed his displeasure with the fare situation

"I did not want to agree to this. I am not happy about this," he told a news conference. "My staff has been working night and day through the weekend to find another option."

TTC Chair Karen Stintz said the increase was the last thing she and Ford want to approve, but it appears to be a necessity.

"The mayor does not want a 10-cent fare increase, I don't want a 10-cent fare increase ... I would go so far as to say nobody in this city wants a 10-cent fare increase," she said.

The transit increase would not affect fares paid in cash, which will stay at $3 for an adult. Here is how other fares would change:

  • the cost of a token would rise to $2.60 from $2.50
  • weekly passes would jump to $37.25 from $36, an increase of $1.25
  • monthly passes would rise to $126, up from the current $121, an increase of $5
  • senior and student prices for weekly and monthly passes would increase by the same amounts
  • day passes will rise to $10.50, a 50-cent hike

The increase would mean $24 million in revenue for the TTC. Another $7 million will be saved by changes to underused bus routes, which is expected to be enacted on March 27.

In total, 48 bus routes with low ridership will see their services reduced during off-peak hours.

Stintz said the change will affect routes that average less than 12 riders over the course of an hour.

The Toronto Environmental Alliance called Ford's announcement a disappointment compounded by the elimination of the Transit City light rail network.

Jamie Kirkpatrick said Ford appears set on forcing people off public transit and into cars.

He added that the change means the annual cost of a Metropass will increase by $60 -- the same amount of a scuttled tax on vehicle registration.

"The Mayor's budget will lead to increases in smog and greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging people to drive instead of take transit; and it will result in more road congestion," Kirkpatrick said in a statement. "This is a major step backwards for our city."

Coun. Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth), a left-leaning member, agreed.

"The elimination of the car tax is being taken out on the backs of TTC riders," she said.

The TTC board has a public meeting scheduled on Wednesday to discuss the proposed operating budget.

During that meeting the board will also discuss the cost of customer service initiatives, training, energy consumption and maintenance.

Council will be reviewing the budget recommendations over the next six weeks and will approve a final version on Feb. 23.

Besides the operating budget, the TTC said its 10-year capital budget requirement is about $8 billion. About $900 million is needed in 2011 to replace buses and carry out station modernization projects at Pape and Dufferin subway stations.

"Without additional, committed, long-term funding, there is a $2.3 billion capital budget shortfall over the next 10 years starting in 2012," it warned.

Details of the TTC's capital spending plans will come Wednesday.

With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness

2011-01-10 Transit fare increase (CTV News).pdf22.06 KB