TTC Riding Continues to Grow Despite Budget Constraints

The Chief General Manager’s Report covering the month of June is now out in the TTC’s agenda here.

In it, we learn that riding for the first half of 2006 is up 3% (6.4-million) over last year and 1.8% over budget.  The numbers would have been higher without the loss of 1.2-million rides to the May 29th wildcat strike.  Revenue is better than budget and expenses are slightly under.

Current projections show the total 2006 ridership at about 442-million (6-million over budget), and there will be a small surplus at year-end.  The impact of the recent changes in tax policy for monthly passes have not yet been factored in.

This continues a familiar pattern with TTC budgets that are conservatively cut, but brings us back again to the same problem we had last year:  the City’s bean counters won’t let the TTC actually spend the surplus or commit it to additional service, and if last year is any indication, this money will reduce the City’s contribution to TTC operations.  Year after year of conservative budgeting by the TTC constrains our ability to run more service because riding and revenue growth are underestimated.

This will be a major issue for the new Council in 2007.  The City has now embraced the concept of multi-year budgets and with this will come multi-year planning by its agencies.  If the TTC is forced to project years in advance and is constrained in reacting to increasing demand and revenue, we will never get ahead of the pressure for more and better service.

For 2007 and beyond, the City needs to demonstrate that it believes in the Transit City concept by deliberately projecting growth in TTC operations well above the rate of inflation.

Also in the agenda for August 30th’s meeting, we have a stand-in report for the long-missing 2006 Service Plan here.

Although many services changes were evaluated and some are proposed for implementation, this will not happen until early 2007 for the “no cost” changes, and until a year from now for the others.  The problem is described in the TTC report as follows:

In 2006, the TTC has experienced shortages in both buses and the operator workforce available for service.  These shortages have occurred for a combination of reasons related to the stronger-than-expected ridership growth on the system, along with higher failure rates of new employees during the training process, and delays in the delivery of new vehicles.  These issues are being addressed, but will require a one-year lead time to resolve.

Resources are being included in the 2007 Operating Budget for the introduction of the warranted service changes listed in Table 1, and for the service changes that are expected to be identified in next year’s report on Service Improvements for 2007.  A substantial number of service changes, in addition to those warranted as part of the Service Improvements reports, are planned for 2007.  These include the introduction of increased peak period service on major routes as part of the Ridership Growth Strategy, and service increases at all times of the week to reduce crowding as a result of increasing ridership.  All of these service changes can only be introduced in late 2007, when sufficient additional buses have been delivered and sufficient operators have been trained.

What we see here are the effects of budget constraints:

  • the famous 100 new Ridership Growth buses and their garage won’t be available until September 2007, at best;
  • the Training Department cannot train enough who pass muster to allow for service improvements — this is partly a question of getting qualified applicants and partly due to the number who can be processed with available trainers;
  • service improvements cannot be implemented because the resources to do so are withheld in the budget process.

On the bright side, the 2007 budget will include funds for all of the planned new services assuming that it survives through the City’s budget-paring exercises.  I hope that the TTC actually does present a budget that shows what is needed rather than what the budget-cutters would like to see.  Too often over the years, TTC budgets have asked for less than they need and been cut back even from that level.  If Council doesn’t want to support transit, then the cuts should be made out in the open where we can all see who voted for and against what.

3 thoughts on “TTC Riding Continues to Grow Despite Budget Constraints

  1. I think the question raised here is whether transit can be funded by property taxes and minimal provincial funding.   Toronto is not in the best financial shape.  One need a world class budget to support a world class transit.

    Going forward, the city of Toronto should start creating new revenue streams dedicated to transit.  For example, Atlantic City uses its gaming proceeds to revitalize the city (i.e. boardwalks, new waterfront etc).  If Toronto gets a casino, the gaming proceeds alone will ensure the TTC will never have money problem on the capital side for decades to come.  Currently, the natives receive a 20% cut of the gaming revenues at Casino Rama.  If $1 billion is wagered, this means $200 million goes to the native.  $200 million per year can extend the metro one station per year.

    Steve, do you know if the TTC has consider selling station names for money?  In Las Vegas, the monorail were partially paid for by businesses buying the station naming rights.  They have stations like Las Vegas Hilton and Caesar’s Palace station.  Instead of King Station, we can have BCE Place station.

    Steve:  In Las Vegas, Caesar’s Palace is a destination in its own right.  In Toronto, BCE Place is meaningless as a geographic reference to anyone who doesn’t know the immediate vicinity.  For obvious reasons, casinos in Vegas have a strong marketing interest in naming stations.  The same does not exist here.

    On a separate note, this comment went into my spam bucket because it contained the word “casino”.  I have removed that word from my blacklist.


  2. I was wondering, since the TTC is in such a bad finacial problem, why don’t they ever consider standarized fares? Everyone else aroung the 416-area now uses the standarized fare payment, so why hasn’t the TTC thought of this yet?  Are they stupid or what?  Everyone else has moved into the 21st century while the TTC lacks what a true transit system is.

    Steve:  Every transit system has variations in its fare systems be they forms of passes for frequent users, discounts for seniors and children, etc.  The TTC is being sucked into a scheme to implement a common fare collection system for the GTA which will cost us about $150-million to implement and an added cost of over $10-million/year to operate and maintain.  That’s money that will not go to better service.  I have yet to see any study establishing that the fare collection system (as opposed to a fare union among the GTA operators) is the major issue detracting people from using transit.  The big issue is service quality.


  3. Steve

    Are there any figures emerging on the impact of the tax credit on monthly passes on ridership/pass sales/ticket-token-cash sales?

    Steve:  The figures for July are not out yet.  If anyone asks about this and we get some news at Wednesday’s meeting, I will post the info here.


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