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Uprooting bus routes: The confusion around cuts coming to the TTC - NOW Magazine

January 12th, 2011
Josh Hume
NOW Magazine

The TTC board on Wednesday voted to defer a decision on cutting off-peak bus service on 48 routes until early February.

This came only a day after the possibility of a 10-cent fare increase was taken off the table.

The extension will allow for a still-paltry three weeks of public consultation and possible reconsideration of whether any of these routes should be removed from the chopping block. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam was among a parade of speakers decrying the absence of any public consultation period. It has only been two days since these proposed reductions were announced.

TTC commissioners prefer not to call them cuts, but “reallocations,” since the resources freed up would be diverted into bolstering overcrowded routes elsewhere in the system.

Without the reallocations, says TTC chief GM Gary Webster, the TTC would face an additional $7 million shortfall. The TTC now faces a budget shortfall of $8 million dollars, which managers will have to find through unspecified – and still unknown – cuts.

It seems the TTC can find $8 million in savings, but to find $15 million without cutting service would be stretching it.

The deferral means the earliest any of these off-peak services would be cancelled is in May. According to Webster, this means the TTC will have $1 million less to bolster underserved routes.

While TTC staff argued the cuts would simply mean short walks to another available route, it’s not a harmless move.

Rider confidence disappears when they can’t keep track of whether their bus is running or not, argued Jamie Kirkpatrick of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. And if commuters can’t go home on a particular route, they likely won’t use it going the other way either, creating a kind of domino effect of reduced ridership. As councilor Adam Vaughan predicted, if the TTC eliminates service on some routes, “next year you’ll have a whole new host of underperforming routes.”

In the meeting a number of councilors came forward fiercely defending routes in their wards that face service cuts.

Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby highlighted the 73B Royal York, which serves at least 3,000 residents in highrise towers along La Rose Avenue. As its stands the bus would stop running after 7 pm. And councillor Maria Augimeri lamented the possible demise of the seasonal Downsview 101 bus, used by members of a roller derby league, who have somehow become the symbolic victims of these potential service reductions.

Toronto, activist Michael Rosenberg pointed out, is not a 9-5 city. Gone are the days when Toronto the Good would collectively stay home on Sundays. And with so many workers in the service sector, particularly in restaurants and hotels, Sundays and late nights are often no different than weekdays.

The TTC will next consider the service cuts at its February 2 meeting.

As originally published here: http://www.nowtoronto.com/daily/news/story.cfm?content=178683

2011-01-12 Uprooting bus routes _NOW_.pdf128.85 KB