National Post: TTC to raise fares by 10¢ in new year


TTC fares will go up by 10¢ on New Year's Day, but it remains City Council's call as to whether the commission will move forward with controversial plans to dramatically cut back its service.

Cash fares will remain stable at $3 for adults and $2 for students and seniors, but tokens will increase from $2.50 to $2.60, and Metropasses will increase by $5 per month.

The commission also agreed in principle to usher in 10¢ increases in 2013, 2014 and 2015. "We need to bring in some predictability ... and get out of this annual cycle of how we are going to make ends meet," TTC chairwoman Karen Stintz said.

This year, the commission voted to reduce service on 56 bus and six streetcar routes in order to meet a budget target set by Mayor Rob Ford's administration; some of those cuts have been avoided by an 11th-hour discovery of $5-million in extra funding.

The $5-million was originally budgeted for diesel fuel, which staff now believe will not cost as much. More than $1-million of the money will be used to maintain service levels at full capacity in January. The remainder will be put toward relieving peak hours the rest of the year.

Of course, to keep 2012 service anywhere near where it was in 2011, the commission is counting an influx of cash from City Council.

"We need to find $45-million to buy new buses to keep the service levels as they currently are, and that will be a decision for council in January," said Ms. Stintz before Wednesday's meeting.



For hours leading up the vote, councillors heard deputations from members of the public: Students saying the increases cut into their alreadystrapped budgets; wealthy people saying that they took the TTC for environmental reasons, but that it was too "exhausting" to ride; and immigrant representatives saying service cuts would imprison seniors in ethnic communities.

"You guys really suck at your job," said TTC user Jennifer Foulds. "Raising the fare is old, tired, lazy thinking. Services cuts is a stupid, stupid idea." Eddie Lantz from community organization ACORN carried in Christmas stockings loaded with 282 lumps of coal, one for each of the buses being cut in the budget. One man suggested that the city's poorly funded transit system was leading Toronto toward a Detroit-esque state of urban ruin. "The city once described as 'New York run by the Swiss' is tearing itself apart," he said.

The TTC is working on several cost-cutting systems - such as automated train control and articulated buses - but all of them are too far in the future to have an immediate funding impact. Particularly alluring is PRESTO, an electronic card that would replace the TTC's archaic system of metal tokens.

"We're working hard for the Pan Am Games to get as much PRESTO [installed] as we can," said TTC chief general manager Gary Webster, but added that the system still will not be fully implemented until 2016.

Jonah Schein, the provincial NDP's urban transportation critic, said in a deputation that he hoped to leverage the NDP's new balance of power at Queen's Park to restore provincial contributions to the service.

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