TTC Riding Growth Continues in Early 2007

The Chief General Manager’s Report for January and February, 2007, tells us that riding is up 2.8 percent over 2006, and 1.0 percent over budget.  Most of this growth came in February where riding was up 4.4 percent over last year.  Metropass sales in February were 24 percent above the 2006 level.

The TTC has not, at this point, revised its ridership projection for 2007 which remains at the 454-million mark.  However, the City clearly expects the TTC to do better than anticipated because the operating subsidy will be lower than the TTC’s initial request.  Part of this will come from a reduction in the planned increase in the number of Special Constables, and part will come from as-yet unspecified savings or growth in revenue.

The strong Metropass sales are a double-edged sword depending on whether they represent a net increase in revenue (passengers trading up to a pass) or a decrease (passes attracting riders who now will pay less than previously, especially when pass transferability is taken into account).

Service improvements are planned for the fall, and the TTC hopes that these will “alleviate” overcrowding problems.  I put that in quotation marks because, of course, we don’t yet know whether the new service will both absorb rising demand and permit implementation of the Ridership Growth Strategy improvements to loading standards.  Moreover, the TTC has no plans for further RGS-based improvements, and only limited provision for fleet growth going into 2008.

9 thoughts on “TTC Riding Growth Continues in Early 2007

  1. “…the City clearly expects the TTC to do better than anticipated because the operating subsidy will be lower than the TTC’s initial request.”

    Kevin’s comment:

    Let’s make sure that we punish success!

    Steve: The TTC has a bad habit of fudging the numbers it gives to the City at budget time. Quite recently, after swearing up and down they had made all possible cuts in the capital budget, $12-million mysteriously slipped out from a dark corner to fund a project. This kind of game-playing just makes the City (both the staff and the pols) even more distrustful of funding pleas in future years.

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  2. I don’t know how the TTC will afford this growth in ridership – it seems so absurd that more transit usership requires addition public dollars, and therefore is something to be resisted by governments. The latest provincial and federal budgets don’t provide much hope that this will change. Well at least the provincial gas tax money is tied in part to ridership, although that will never provide enough cash for the TTC to match demand. I’m psyched that Mayor Miller will throw up a toll plaza on the Gardiner between the 427 and Kipling and get the 100,000 905ers that pour into our city daily on OUR expressway to pay for our transit dreams.

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  3. Do you think the TTC underestimates its ridership intentionally so it can ask for larger amounts of money the following year? I’m wondering if the TTC allows over-crowding to happen to justify things like St. Clair ROW.

    Steve: The TTC has been low-balling its ridership estimates for years, and when more folks turn up than expected, they claim they cannot run more service because it is not in the budget. This is counterproductive for obvious reasons.

    I can understand being conservative, but they need a mechanism to recognize changing riding habits and adjust the budget midyear.

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  4. Steve

    I find within my family that transferability minimises the losses of a pass (vacations, days off) as opposed to the per ride token. The important thing for the city is that I now stop at Loblaws at Danforth/Broadview rather than getting in my car to get groceries, because now it saves me gas *and* I don’t pay an extra token. The pass therefore tends to increase the total transit journeys taken within my family but the amount paid remains the same as any other month and sometimes increases. December and February are “lossmaking” no matter which way it’s sliced.

    That said, the important thing is to get the pass made tax refundable so that low income families pay in net terms the same amount, or better yet get the discount at time of payment with provision of their SIN number rather than at end of year.

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  5. Tom B. stated:

    “get the 100,000 905ers that pour into our city daily on OUR expressway”

    How is it “ours”? and who is “us”? The expressway was built and is maintained by MTO (that’s an Ontario ministry, not just Toronto by the way). This silly us vs. them mentality only exasperates the problem, since the federal and provincial politicians play us off each other. Transport is a regional concern, whether it’s car, rail, or transit. Solutions need to be regional, not limited by a line on the map.

    Or maybe you’d like all those 905’ers to take their jobs away too? With the corporate taxes they generate, increased property taxes, lunches and dinners they buy, theatre and sports tickets… Keep it, you darned 905ers! How dare you want to come into OUR city! silliness….

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  6. Mr. M. Huigens said

    “How is it “ours”? and who is “us”? The expressway was built and is maintained by MTO (that’s an Ontario ministry, not just Toronto by the way).

    Ummm

    NO

    Wrong

    Yes, the 401 and any other 400-series highway is owned/maintained by the MTO….BUT

    The Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway are WHOLLY owned by the City of TORONTO.

    NO MTO funding exists for either of these routes, both are paid for only by Toronto taxpayers.

    And, I might add…..

    The jobs argument is completely bogus on several levels.

    First, almost as many people commute from Toronto to Mississuaga or Markham as the reverse.

    And further, since Toronto does not collect a nickle in income tax from any employed person within it boundries, it has no direct stake in employment levels.

    Now, to be sure, imposing completely uncompetitive taxes, tolls etc. such that there was Major job loss would have an adverse impact on the City.

    However, there is no reasonable person that would suggest that a $3.00 toll will cause people to quite their jobs en masse, office towers to become vacant.

    Rather, it might persuade a few people, 5%, 10%, 15% of commuters to switch to GO Trains or the TTC.

    It might cause a small percentage of people 1%, 2%? to change jobs to one located closer to home, or to consider moving closer to their job.

    For the rest, its the price of polluting and enjoying a slightly less clogged road and a slightly faster commute.

    The 407 did not hurt Markham economically, neither will a tolled DVP and Gardiner hurt Toronto.

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  7. Rather, it might persuade a few people, 5%, 10%, 15% of commuters to switch to GO Trains or the TTC.

    Yes, if the capacity to ride the system comfortably is there, as opposed to being crammed into a transit vehicle with no space around you. Luring people out of their vehicles, with the stereo, cup holder for that morning’s Tim’s, and relative seating comfort would be a little easier if they weren’t trading that for standing on the GO train for a half hour, packed in tight in the doorway area (assuming the train isn’t also late, as they frequently have been lately) and then following the herd through Union Station and transferring to a crowded subway train. Increasing the cost of driving may incent some switching, but it has to come hand in hand with capacity improvements in the alternative. Some capacity improvements are being implemented on GO’s Lakeshore line (12-car trains, and additional tracks), but the full impact won’t be felt for at least a couple of years. The alternative has to be attractive to get people to switch. Some will never switch: CEOs and senior executives who drive their Bentleys and Lamborghinis, but there is a segment that can be lured, and they need to know that the alternative to driving is comfortable and reliable, so the capacity and reliability has to be there.

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  8. Mr. M. Huigens you’re exactly right.

    Mike Harris downloaded the stretch of the QEW in Toronto to the City (used to just be the part east of the Humber). So since we own this highway now let’s make use of it. By locating the toll plaza where ten of thousands of cars pour into Toronto off the QEW and 427 we can maximize revenue and let the Province deal with whatever political repurcussions there are.

    Moreover, besides creating a cash cow for transit, this might allow Toronto to actually tear down the elevated part of the Gardiner and put part of it into a tunnel (tolls exist in perpetuity and would allow the issuance of many billion dollar bonds to finance all sorts of stuff). Win win for Toronto as residents could still use the highway for free the way I see it (in the same way I’d put a DVP toll plaza between the 401 and York Mills although this would be tight…well maybe we could lever some of the 407 technology here…).

    Steve: I am not sure that Toronto really wants to endure a “big dig”. Building the Bay Street tunnel of the Harbourfront line was hard enough without contemplating an entire expressway below the water table. And, yes, 407 technology is the way to go. Toll plazas are utterly impractical both for space and traffic flow.

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  9. The section of the Gardiner from the 427 to the Humber river used to be a provincial highway, but was downloaded by the Harris government (masters of the “us vs. them” mentality).

    Any road tolls should be based on sound transportation policy — in particular, you’d need enough spare transit capacity to accomodate drivers who’d want to switch — not some notion of punishing 905ers or collecting money “they” somehow owe “us”. The city collects business property taxes, so a loss of businesses would hurt the city’s finances. I’m also not convinced there’s a direct comparison with the 407, since it was built as a toll highway, not converted to one.

    The 905 is part of what’s considered Toronto on a national and international level (just like most people can’t name the three “425” suburbs where most of Seattle’s high-tech workers are located). The provincial government hasn’t been making it easy, but we have to look for solutions that are win-win for the 416 and 905.

    As for the original post: it’s been said before that the tax credit lowers the trip multiple for Metropasses, so it is possible that passengers are paying a little more for a pass but recovering the difference from the feds.

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