In response to a request from the City, the TTC is holding an emergency meeting on Friday, July 20 at 1:00 pm in Committee Room 1 to discuss possible budget cuts.
Jeff Gray at the Globe reports that the TTC is considering options such as a 25-cent fare hike and closing the Sheppard Subway to save $10-million per year.
Jim Byers in the Star has additional details about the type of cuts we are looking at.
Critics call this fear-mongering, but I believe that it is important that the residents of Toronto and the TTC users understand the position the irresponsible action of Council has created. The TTC was already having trouble convincing even pro-transit members of Council that they should continue spending to roll out the Ridership Growth Strategy, and with the latest decision, any hope of new services vanishes.
From an activist’s point of view, this is a black day for the TTC. As I have already written, if the City is going to walk away from supporting the TTC, then the real alternative is higher fares, not service cuts. Better we have a transit system that people want to use than one that comes a distant fifth in preference after driving, walking, cycling or cabs.
Holding off a fare increase to get us past this crisis is just as irresponsible as the vote to defer a decision on new taxes. If, in October, Council reverses itself and imposes the new taxes, and if it actually decides to give added funding to the TTC, then the fare increase can be rolled back. Service cuts drive riders away, and they will not magically reappear the day after service is restored.
A particularly difficult problem lies in recruiting staff for the TTC. A hiring program ramping up the operator workforce for RGS has been building up to the planned fall service improvements. If we stop hiring, we won’t be able to improve service until well into 2008 because the TTC will go into attrition mode and will have a backlog of hiring to do just to catch up. This sort of problem in balancing hiring against various ways in which staff requirements change has hamstrung previous attempts at RGS implementation.
If there is one silver lining in all of this, it is the proposal to close the Sheppard Subway. I really don’t want to see this sort of thing, at least on a 7×24 basis, but finally the citizens and politicians of Toronto will see the folly of this line and how much it costs us every year to operate. The entire RGS plans for next year cost considerably less than the claimed saving from closing this one subway line. All those who dream of a subway to the northern hinterlands please take note.
When plans are made for new line, lobbyists and politicians are quick to claim the need to serve “their” communities, but when it comes time to pay, they are nowhere to be seen.
Suzan Hall, a TTC Commissioner and author of the motion that deferred consideration of the new taxes, deserves to be thoroughly roasted by her constituents. I will be amused to watch her squirm at Friday’s meeting as she explains how the TTC really doesn’t have to make the cuts now before them. Will she vote for the service cuts, or will she appeal to some white knight from Queen’s Park who will save us from this madness?
Finally, if the TTC can call an emergency meeting to react to a request for cuts, then Council and the Mayor can find a way to call an emergency meeting to reopen debate on the new taxes. This is not an issue that should just simmer away through July, August and September while our tribunes bask in the sun. The decision must be reopened, and for that to happen, the Mayor needs to find a way to get this reconsidered as soon as possible.
Council manages to tie itself in procedural knots, and this is no time to throw up our hands and claim nothing can be done.
Updated 7:00 pm:
In order for Council to re-open debate on anything, they require a 2/3 majority vote. This would require 8 of the Councillors who voted to defer the issue to change their minds to produce a 30 to 15 outcome, assuming everyone shows up. The amount of arm twisting needed to make that big a change is quite a feat.
Some people started posting comments that belong in this thread as part of my previous item on this subject. I am publishing them here to keep the discussion intact.
Sean Marshall wrote:
You might want to separate this into a different thread, but Giambrone is now publicly musing about abandoning the RGS, mothballing the Sheppard Subway and cutting routes like the 26 Dupont and 67 Pharmacy, as well as huge fare hikes and across-the-board cuts.
He says that this is isn’t “a public relations measure ” and is calling an emergency meeting for tomorrow at 1.
I thought we finally were over this, during the dark days of Lastman when every year we were warned of such things as the elimination of Sunday service, big cuts, and big fare increases. Recently, there has been excitement about Transit City, new subway cars, major September route improvements, RGS. Now we have Adam off the deep end.
Should we really worry? I’m a bit shocked by this, but the TTC’s trick has been doom-and-gloom before.
Steve: The TTC is in the unenviable position of being a big chunk of the discretionary part of the City’s budget. When someone wants to cut a lot of money fast, the TTC is first in line because it’s the only thing that can be cut deeply and quickly. Nobody wants to touch the police, even though they cost more in the City budget, and the other big items are mandated programs.
From the looks of things, increasing service, let alone preserving service at their current levels, isn’t going to be happening anytime soon… That is, if this little blurb [on the CBC site] is at all accurate.
Scary, scary stuff!
Would love to donate part of my salary to a “TTC Fund” but hey, I need to live, right?
From What I hear.. Today in the news .. that The TTC is forced to cut back and they are having emergency meetings now juut to prepare for the lack of money ready for next year.. Limited ridership Routes like 67 Phramacy, 23 Dupont will be cut off.. The new busses + the increased ridership program will be cut off. The TTC chair also stated that there will be a possible shut down of the Sheppard line. This alarming report was on CP24.
Now After hearing this news, I realized how desprate the city is, and it’s not the Mayor’s fault. It’s the Federal and Provincal governments. They need to realise that Toronto is the biggest city in the country (population) , and basically most of our money used is coming from them. I saw a stat saying that 8% of Toronto tax paying dollars will come back to the City of Toronto.. The rest goes to the provincal and Federal governments, so they can spend it over other regions so the wealth is shared…. Yes I understand we need to share the wealth, but we need to consider helping where most numbers are because yes some Farmers need help on Alberta, but what about a GTA area of 4 Million + trying barely meet a budget every year.
David WS wrote:
The city’s welfare handouts cost a lot more than the TTC. Close the libraries, end subsidized daycare, cancel cultural events, all before you mothball an entire subway line!
Steve: Actually, a lot of the welfare costs are mandated by Queen’s Park and we have to pay them from our taxes whether we like it or not. As for daycare, it’s an important part of letting people who would otherwise be trapped at home work, and we need more, not less of it. Finally for culture, I will be happy to see the end of cultural subsidies the day we stop giving a fortune away to any professional sports franchise that woos a few Councillors and stop giving away valuable public spaces like Dundas Square to the advertising industry.
Ross M. wrote:
I haven’t seen the numbers, but could the city not enter lease arrangements for the public golf courses and ski slopes or sell them outright? I assume these are run as revenue generating ancillary services but perhaps the revenue potential can be increased.
And I thought the land transfer tax was a good idea for generating revenue but they should have introduced it at a lower rate (.25 or .5) and then go up from there.
Steve: The revenue, now or potential, from these sites is small change in the overall city budget, and we really do need to keep parkland in the city’s hands. Sell it, and one day it will be full of condos.
As for the transfer tax, at .5 percent it would have brought in only $75-million, nowhere near what we need to address the budget shortfall. Indeed, this was the one tax within those enabled by Queen’s Park that could bring in substantial revenue. If they had given Toronto the right to have a sales tax, for example, it could have been charged over a much larger revenue stream at a modest level.
Kevin Reidy wrote:
The new mantra at City Hall is tighten our belts. Will that hold for councillors pet projects?
For example, will the Dufferin bus rerouting to suposedly serve the soccer stadium at CNE be on the block?
What about the road closure for various street festivals? (The latest one was last weekend on St. Clair for the Salsa festival.) Whenever this happens the TTC has to reroute service. (Usually this is the weekend so vehicles are available but there is a cost involved.) Will organizers be told that you can have a limited closure but the streetcar or bus must go through?
Steve: Others who shall remain nameless suggested things like cutting back on immigration to save on welfare expenses. Aside from the implicit racism of this comment, people get into this country because we need additional workforce and the only way to get it is to import it. Welfare, I suspect, goes more to the entrenched poor (of which Toronto, unlike many US cities, is lucky to have comparatively few) and to migrants from other parts of Ontario and Canada. Please don’t barrage me with comments about immigration because this is not an issue that I will debate.