Emergency TTC Meeting re Budget Cuts [Updated]

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.

Dan wrote:

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!

Cynthia wrote:

Would love to donate part of my salary to a “TTC Fund” but hey, I need to live, right?

Serge wrote:

Horrible news!

Samuel wrote:

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.

72 thoughts on “Emergency TTC Meeting re Budget Cuts [Updated]

  1. Completely Unfair. $3.00 for TTC, Forget it. Isn’t worth it, not even up to snuff with New York or Britain. 3.00 for what…the ability to go nowhere? New York is 10 x better and 10 x more reliable, also goes further. TTC is a horrible system and if it is raised to 3.00, then we all might as well take alternative routes.

    [An unkind expletive has regarding the TTC has been excised here.]


  2. I have heard the argument made that, since subways spur residential development, they are actually paid for by the increase in property tax revenue, even if none of the new residents actually use the subway. Looking at the massive new condo developments along Sheppard East, and comparing them to the wasteland that is Sheppard West, this sounds plausible to me (though I don’t have the numbers which would support or refute the claim).

    If that’s true, then closing the Sheppard line would wreck these economics in the long term. If the city is willing to close a major subway line just five years after opening it, then the premium that people are willing to pay to be near a subway line — especially a new line — will diminish.

    But the threatened closure sounds much more like scare tactics than real politics to me.

    Steve: Actually, all of those beautiful new condos got an exemption from the special development charges for the Sheppard line thanks to former mega-Mayor Lastman. As for the people who live in them, many don’t work in areas served well by the TTC.

    Sheppard and Finch would have made a wonderful pair of LRT lines with a short underground section close to Yonge, but according to Mel “Real Cities Don’t Use Streetcars”.


  3. Steve,

    To stop all this money problems, the tax should’ve been increased a long time ago. This problem has gone back to Mayor Lastman. Maybe if TTC got privatized than maybe it will take some stress off the city? Or add the tolls on the highways?

    Steve: For a good example of what privatization brings, just look at the mess in London where the private operator is, in effect, in receivership and the investors have written off the value of their shares. The private sector wants quick profits and no exposure to unexpected costs. Public services have to run whether they are making money today or not.

    The next time you dial 911, have your credit card ready.


  4. We should not lose sight of the fact that this still remains a prosperous city. What we have here is not really a funding shortage, but squabbling between levels of government and the refusal by any of them to fund the things that make this city great.

    As the Americans found out to their chagrin, if you allow cities to wither away, it costs an enormous amount of money to restore them to their former glory. Despite the high cost, Americans have invested in many of their cities and the results are newly dynamic liveable places.

    How can we be so stupid that we will sit by and let Toronto fade away? Do we want another Detroit or are governments going to fund the enormous recovery costs later?


  5. As a frequent TTC user, I would rather see fares hiked (25c or 50c apiece or $10-20 for a Metropas) than services reduced.

    I wonder if the current transit subsidy for all users is wise. Perhaps the majority should pay the full price to cover the operating costs and amortization, with discounts available for less affluent users.

    There are discounts for seniors and students already in place, just keep their fares at present level. In addition, let others who can show low income as recorded by Revenue Canada, to buy discounted passes, transferable amongst one household members only.

    Then, the goverments will only need to subsidize the system expansion projects. And the TTC will no longer operate in a recurring panic mode.

    Steve: The idea of a “poor pass” has been floated before, and rejected because people don’t want to be clearly identified when they use the TTC as being on welfare. If the desire is to subsidize their travel, then find a way to sell them Metropasses at a discounted rate. Yes, they may just resell them, but one way or another, the extra value winds up in their pockets.

    Restricting a transferrable pass to specific people would be almost impossible without everyone’s photo on an ID card accompanying the pass.


  6. What council needs to do is call an emergency meeting to reopen debate on rolling back their salary increases.

    it’s amazing how they can call for cuts to TTC but when it comes to council perks like 9% salary increases and free golf passes no one budges.


  7. Keep the Sheppard Line open — turn it into a Casino and have the TTC Ticket booth operators act as Payday Loan clerks.

    I really do hope they do the right thing and bite the bullet and raise some taxes.

    Fleeing to the 905 will not solve anyones tax issues.

    Did you know that if a pool has free public swimming and a daycamp that parents pay to send their kids to goes to this pool– they swim for free. Charge groups for swimming that are coming from For Profit camps and daycares. I do feel Non Profit agencies should still be able to swim for free.

    If the City wants to offer everything for free then taxes need to rise in order to pay for it.


  8. In a city that is recklessly spending taxpayers dollars on supposedly “green” measure, ie. green space in northeast Scarborough where development will not come for 25 years, bins vs. tags for additonal recycling that will only yield a marginal improvement and a commitment to increase efficency of the waste stream, it is amazing for me to think that cutting the budget of public transit is a viable option.

    When it first opened, the Spadina subway line was perceived as a white elephant, today it is the public transit gateway that is opening the 905 region.

    The Sheppard subway is in its infancy, zoning changes and the subsequent increasing density along Sheppard and adjoining arterial routes will come.

    This lack of awareness, coupled with the misguided spending that has put us in this position in the first place, says to me that it is time for a new vision at city hall.


  9. Sorry, I’m going to go in the opposite direction here. This is either a complete over-reaction, or some very unresponsible choices.

    The 4-month delay in implementing the new taxes, shouldn’t impact 2008 cash flows. If the province doesn’t come up with some cash, then it would seem that council will pass the taxes. If they do come up with the cash, there is cash. Either way, there should be cash.

    In terms of this year – in making up the current $30 million dollar deficit for 2007. Surely there must be $30 million in capital works that can be suspended or postponed.

    With $20 million in this years budget for St. Clair West, $30 million for the Mount Dennis garage, $8.6 million for the York University and Yonge Street busways (am I the only one wondering the point of building busways for routes where subways are already being planned – sure we need them now, but we need lots of things now we won’t get), $64 million for the new YUS signalling system, $44 million for streetcar track rebuilds, $8 million in subway station elevators, $9.8 million for a new Go/Mississauga transit terminal. Not to mention $300 million in new buses and subway vehicles.

    Sure some of the money is spent or contracted already, but there must be close to $30 million, that can be deferred until the funding is resolved later in the year.

    At worse, Metropass prices (and ticket prices correspondingly) could be increased to offest the 16% federal tax credit. That alone should generate enough revenue – and perhaps reduce demand on transit so that increased service is not required. (and yes, it would be a terrible thing, but let’s be honest, the TTC has been running fares that are much higher than they should be for years, because not only could they not afford to service the demand that a reasonable priced system would have; but there isn’t the infrastructure to move the people that would use the system were TTC fares. (And what’s reasonable? Seattle passes are CAN$56, New York City passes are CAN$79 for any 30-day period. Montreal passes are $65, Vancouver are $69 (within the city – because there is only one transit system for Greater Vancouver, there are zones for other municipalities, that still make the GTA look cheap)).

    But I digress. As much as I respect what Adam Gambione is trying to do, and suceeding to do, this has the air of old-fashioned Toronto-politician grandstanding of the most repugnant kind.

    Sure, going into a meeting to make choices to cut $30 million someone has to run some numbers that this means cut X service, Y capital expenditure, or increase fares by Z. But I should be reading headlines on CBC news such as Massive cuts, fare hike coming to Toronto transit – ‘This is a horrible day,’ Adam Giambrone says

    I’m not falling for it, I don’t know why he doesn’t have enough respect for his own colleagues to know they won’t fall for it either!

    (though if the tantrum works, and city council changes their mind and implements the new taxes now, I’ll admit I’ve overestimated them, and take off my hat to Adam!)

    Steve: One important point: The projects you list above are in the capital budget and are funded in a different way from the day-to-day operations. Deferral of any capital projects may be triggered by a limit on the city’s borrowing capacity, itself brought on by diminished revenues (just as you can’t pay for a million-dollar mortgage on a minimum income). However, putting off these projects does not free up money to be spent on keeping the buses running or the fares down.


  10. I for one am apalled at how the councillors are acting. They refused to do away with a lot of the perks that they are getting simply for being employees of the city. They also refuse to give up the salary hike that they gave themselves late last year.

    Why is it that the city’s population should have to suffer threats of service cuts when the city councillors are giving themselves more money (and not doing more work) or refuse to give up perks that no other employee seems to have in the city of Toronto.

    Do you get to park for free at the Green P of your choice? Do you get to go golfing for free? Do you get to decide your own salary?

    I think, as a public transit user, that we should be seriously looking at how city councillors spend our money… and it is our money. Why should they get to park for free when everyone else has to pay… and how much is parking these days?

    If anyone should decide if they should get a raise, it should be the voting public… after all, we’re the ones that gave them the job… I think it’s time that the citizens of Toronto stand up to City Hall and let them know that we’re not going to take it anymore. Why should the voting public have to suffer when the people we’ve voted to represent us are living it up galmourously as if they were Fergie?

    I give props to Michael Walker (Ward 22, St. Paul’s) for standing up to city council and proposing to roll back the 9 percent hike that councillors gave themselves last year. This move alone would save the taxpayers 355,000 a year… money that I know would be welcomed by the TTC. It may not be 130 million… but it’s a start.

    Steve: The 9% rollback would be largely symbolic, and I’m sure Councillor Walker wouldn’t miss it. However, where will he and others who voted for deferral of the tax question be around to cut services that affect their constituents? To explain why we’re going to pay more for the TTC, but not get the additional service we have all been waiting for?


  11. I don’t have a problem with the overall TTC service. As I said, my work involves driving – but the TTC is generally an excellent transit system when I need it. I think people should remain civilized. I wouldn’t put up with people putting swear words in there posts.

    All the same, we allways see this type of scaremongering from the local pols when money is short. One thing I don’t get is how the mayor can be ordering all these cuts in this year’s budget. I thought that council had passed it – so how can he change it? Whey weren’t the new taxes part of the budget?

    I think we should have been paying higher increases in property taxes over the last three years instead of using up all the reserves and selling light poles to ourselves. The land transfer tax is still a property tax – its just payed all in one shot instead of over time. This is a crisis all of a sudden? I don’t believe it for a New York minute. That’s not credible.

    I think the mayor made a mistake in making it all about the new tax. It sounds from the other section that the union’s got an overly sweet deal. I know they got a 3-4% a year increase – but I didn’t know that we were covering such big benefit and work rules costs also. I think the mayor should ask that the contract be re-opened. There’s pain to be had – but it needs to be shared.


    The $30-million this year is partly due to an “unspecified reduction” in the TTC’s operating budget that was part of the Council approval, and partly from a refusal to fund anything new.

    Next year, the gap widens because of inflation and because of proposed cuts in the city subsidy to everything it funds.


  12. Those in charge of the current administration of the TTC should all be sacked for failing to convince the electorate and their civic bosses of the importance of the transit system. That we are even having this debate demonstrates that something is seriously out of whack at City Hall.

    Hello, McFly? It is repulsive and an act of political incompetence for these people to suggest that an entire subway line and other transit routes be chopped because of the fiscal mismanagement of a transit agency that could be managed with much more innovation and vision instead of the long standard “that’ll do.”


  13. To be honest I am getting to the point where I don’t care what this city does anymore even when it comes to the TTC.

    Every year we hear the same stories of massive cuts, ends to Sunday service, etc.

    It never ends, and to be honest it is getting tiring to listen to it all the time.

    This use to be a city that had a world famous transit network that was well funded.

    If this city wants to further ruin the reputation and quality of life, then go ahead. Because I think a lot of residents just won’t care anymore.

    Then we wonder why the city can’t attract new business, or why people are moving to the 905 region.

    As a transit rider and city of Toronto residents, I am tired of a city council that can’t get their act together.

    Detroit has gotten more things done in the last two years for example with less money, then Toronto has. Its a disgrace, and our city council must be held to task to not only improve transit, but get this city back into shape.

    Steve: We talk a lot about being a Transit City, but nobody has the backbone to pay for it. They love the photo ops, and at the last TTC meeting, the Commissioners were jostling to ensure that lines in “their wards” would be built first.

    It’s time for those Commissioners to stand on street corners selling pencils rather than wrecking the TTC.


  14. I for one was upset that they didn’t go ahead with the taxes. I’m also hoping that they raise the price of a ride on the TTC(whenever there was a TTC hike my father always used to say, “what do these people want for $2…limo service?…lol) and whatever other services they feel the need to. This’ll mean people and businesses will leave Toronto, and look for a house elsewhere. And that’s when the price of my house in Mississauga will go up. Many thanks to David Miller and all of the socialist seals on council. Your wasteful spending sprees these last few years will make my retirement years even more pleasant than they ever could have without you in power. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!!

    Steve: The wastefulness on Council is not confined to the “Socialists”.

    I am always amused by the fact that when we give a subsidy to the right wing, it is “business development”. When we give it to the left wing, it is “socialism”

    The issues are much more complex than this.

    People in the 905 who think their governments are such paragons of fiscal virtue should look at their tax increases and at the diminishing land, in some cases, available to continue the artificial subsidy of their municipal lifestyle with development charges. They are in for a very big surprise.


  15. One more thing…maybe these cutbacks will make the TTC not have 10 guys standing around a hole watching 1 guy with a shovel move some coldpatch around. Yeah right, like Miller would ever take jobs away from his union buddies.

    Steve: I hate to tell you this, but paving is generally done by contractors, not by the TTC.


  16. I’m tired of people ragging on operating the Sheppard subway. Building it was dumb. But now it’s there, not operating is even dumber. (Dumb and Dumber …).

    Look at the statistics:

    The YUS subway is 30.2 km long, with 628,990 passengers a weekday for a rate of 20,810 passengers/km.
    The BD subway is 26.2 km long with 473,250 passengers a weekday for a rate of 18,042 passengers/km.
    The Sheppard is 5.5 km long with 41,290 a day for a rate of 7,548 passengers/km.
    The SRT is 6.4 km long with 42,520 passengers a day for a rate of 6,639 passengers/km.

    The load on the Sheppard subway is over 40% of what it is on Bloor-Danforth. (and how does that compare to the load on the Bloor-Danforth 5 years after that one opened!). It’s not that much of a white elephant! And it’s doing better than the SRT.

    Frankly, I don’t know how you’d even save money closing Sheppard. You’d save 4 trains and close 4 stations. However to carry 40,000 people 10 km, you’re going to need about 30 buses in peak period. That’s more employees to drive the buses, than operate the subway and man the 4 stations.

    If you really want to save money, perhaps just simply close a few stations. Bessarion, Old Mill, Ellesmere, Chester, Glencairn, Rosedale, and Spadina North. All have alternates nearby.

    Steve: As I said in my post, I don’t want to see Sheppard completely closed if for no other reason than this debate would pre-empt every other cutback discussion and many routes would fall on the altar of “saving Sheppard”. Having said that, we need to consider whether part-time operation like the University subway in days of yore might be appropriate. We save more by mothballing the entire line (minimal ongoing maintenance), but we incur a huge debate.

    Also, a one-way trip on that line is 5.5km, not 10km.


  17. I’m sorry steve, but I’ve lost a lot of my respect for you after reading this. You, if anyone, should know that the city puts around 250 million into the TTC each year. There is no reason for a 40% cut to this department.

    Steve: I am baffled by your statement. I am OPPOSED to the cut of city funding of the TTC. However, if that’s the route the city is going to take, then it is essential that the TTC preserve as much service as possible via a fare increase. A 25-cent increase is small enough that the politicians who should be boiled in oil for this situation don’t take too much flak, but it’s also small enough that the TTC would not gain enough new revenue to cover its requirements, especially net of city funding cuts.


  18. Why not raise fares to a flat $3.00 cash (for all passengers) or $150 Adult Metropass and attempt to bring the system back to 100% cost recovery point? Perhaps this would move the TTC operating budget entirely out of the city’s annual budget woes.

    If discounts have to be given to seniors and students give it only for buying a Metropass.


  19. The increase in Councillor compensation is only a reflection on the accumulated inflationary reduction in real spending power – not dealt with for too long. The so called perks are only a few hundred thousand a year and would make no discernable difference in a $500m deficit. Let’s stop the “politics of resentment” and get on with real solutions that make our city liveable.


  20. Here we go again! Instead of cleaning its own fiscal mess (9% salary increase for Mayor and council??) the city is sticking it to the tax paying TTC user in a whole different way. Mayor and council need to be told to clean up their own mess starting at the top!


  21. Let’s hope that with all this we can finally sink the Front St. Extension, though it’s capital dollars, it’s still a quarter-billion that would be better spent on 3 GO trains, a King ROW, and still have c. $150Mill of savings.

    Time will tell.

    Steve: We will see whether the Mayor is finally willing to “share the pain” with the Councillor for the Front Street Extension. Another prime candidate is the Dufferin/Queen jog elimination.


  22. The Eglinton subway line was cancelled and the excavation filled in at the direction of Mr. Gunn who realized that the TTC could not afford to operate it, once constructed, under the existing funding formula.

    The Sheppard subway line closing is a lot different in that a portion of the anticipated savings will be offset by on-going costs to maintain and secure tunnels, pumps, signals, track, fire protection, ventilation, drainage, batteries, heating, buildings and property. There are fixed costs to close yet minimally maintain unused valuable infrastructure.

    Proposed expansions of LRT lines built with capital funding face the same operating funding formula. Can we plan on building a “Transit City” of LRT corridors and not afford to operate it?

    The TTC will likely temporarily improve cost recovery at the farebox by not running empty buses on the less busy streets if the proposed bus route closures are put into place.

    If 100% cost recovery is accomplished will TTC have to listen to the city hall crowd anymore?
    But us passengers may well be forced into our cars before 100% cost recovery from the fare box is achieved.

    Transit City would have been such a nice place to live.



  23. The belief shared by a large chunk of the population that we could solve all our social problems and never raise taxes, if only those greedy government officials would “tighten their belts” a bit, just refuses to die.

    A note to these people: Mayor Miller spending a mil to add rooms to his office so his workers don’t have to occupy closets is not extravagant. Raising pay levels of councilors closer to those of the 905 regions is not insanity.

    Saving a theatre that’s an integral creative force of one’s of the city’s biggest industries, not to mention a historical institution, is a sound investment.

    And if you think car drivers act angry when the discussion of toll roads comes up, just wait until you try to put a tax on riding a bike – ie punishing mostly lower-class people who are using a mode of transportation that doesn’t pollute.


  24. Rolling back the pay 9% pay increase is grandstanding. And the last thing we need right now is a circus!

    Governing is a tough job and should pay accordingly to attract good qualified candidates, just like the police and TTC. And what we need right now is someone to make some tough decisions. I don’t envy the position the council is in. That’s one of the reasons I don’t want their job. But as a taxpayers and voters we are all within our rights to comment. Steve, thanks for providing this forum!


  25. I have to admit it’s fun watching the media and most of the transit buffs run around like Chicken Little EVERY SINGLE TIME THE TTC DOES THIS. Yes, this is most definitely not the first time they have threatened massive service cuts. It used to be an annual rite of the budget process during the Lastman years.

    And every time, no service whatsoever was cut. And so it will be again.

    I expect the media to play along with this song and dance…after all, they need to report something. But it’s sad seeing you lot being so thoroughly gullible.

    There will be much sound and fury, all signifying nothing.

    Steve: Me, gullible? Hardly. On the other hand, I am not going to sit back and let Admiral Adam and his band of cronies hack away at my transit system, or even threaten to do so, without a fight. I watched what happened to the system after the big cuts of the mid-90s, and we were finally on track to start really building ridership.

    Now because of brinksmanship and the politics of the coming provincial election (let’s give John Tory a chance to prove he really loves the 416), we have turned a wonderful transit-positive summer into a crisis that will poison any discussion of system expansion both in Toronto and in the GTA.

    If Council really wants to make these cuts, then the people who think it’s just a matter of belt-tightening are the ones who deserve to be thrown out of office. Alas, we don’t get a chance at their seats until 2010.


  26. What ever happened to the provincial and federal gas tax money? I understand Toronto is getting close to $300 million total from this (or will be when fully ramped up); has this money already been swallowed up with no visible results?

    Steve: The gas tax is paying for capital expenditures like new buses, not to operate them once they are here. Also, it only restores part of the previous capital funding we used to have, but does not completely make up for the abandonment of transit funding back in the Harris years.

    There are a lot of issues here in terms of taxes and services; the problem is that there is a disconnect between who pays what to which level of government and how we all prioritize which government services are important to us. Would you be willing to pay $10 to see your doctor if it meant the province could provide a standing reliable transit operating subsidy? – they may seem like different issues but there is only one taxpayer. Nonetheless, significant change to how the finances of this federation work are difficult, and perceived as too risky for any one level of government to tackle alone, especially when, as we have seen, any tax hike is seen as a “cash grab” even when it nets out as a benefits to most taxpayers and government service consumers (I would say all Ontario taxpayers are paying less fed and prov income tax than they would have been 10 years ago – something to keep in mind when the City wants to raise taxes to improve or maintain services).


  27. First of all, I’d just like to point out that in Ottawa, you can already expect to pay $3.00 for a much worse system. In Montreal, you can expect to wait 12 minutes for the subway at night. $65 doesn’t buy a hell of a lot of transit like we have here. Maybe the TTC should stage a day of protest where they operated service at the proposed levels. That would get people complaining to their members of council at least.


  28. What about Blue Night service? Seeing as it is the based on a different scale of ridership requirements (read:lower), will it be cut back?

    Steve: Actually, some of the night services were planned for improvement this fall because they meet the daytime standards for cost recovery and are overloaded. The dogs are in the burbs where the cost cutting Council members are concentrated.


  29. Take a team of cement trucks. Drive them to the Sheppard stations, then to the two Eglinton Stations. Then to Dundas station. Then to Woodbine station.

    Pour the cement into the stations.

    This City does not have the density to support our subways stations. Period. It will always lose money for us.

    Do this now and put Torontonians out of their fiscal misery.

    Steve: I would be slightly more selective about the choice of stations.


  30. This really does show the sorry state of affairs of Canadian Cities. The fact that the city is sending 8 billion dollars more to higher orders of government than it receives in services is shameful.

    Calgary just annouced it won’t build the West and SE LRT, simply because the city can’t afford to build it or run it. Montréal is being forced to toll its bridges leading to the city. Edmonton is having trouble trying to bring its LRT system up to grade.

    I think people should look at these figures before they criticize our mayors for wanting more money from the higher orders of government. It isn’t the suburbs (in your case) small towns and rural communities (in our case), who are subsidizing us; it is us who are subsidizing them.


  31. Living in the economic capital of Canada, surely there must be some alternative means to generating revenue without increasing fares or cutting budgets.

    Has there ever been some consideration to selling off naming rights to subway stations? Remember when sports facilities were called “Maple Leaf Gardens” or “Skydome”? Amazing the amount of additional revenue that is generated by calling them “Rogers Centre” or “Air Canada Centre”. Does the corporate name really bother anyone? Selling off the naming rights to say, for example, King Station could bring large bidding wars among major banks. RBC King Station has a nice ring to it…

    That is just one idea! There must be more if city councillors could try and think outside the box for a change.

    Steve: Naming rights have been discussed before and the amount of money available from this is quite small compared to our needs.

    But the real issue is this: imagine you have just arrived in town and are trying to get to King and Yonge. Do you go to RBC station, or BMO station, or Commerce Court Station, or …?


  32. The mayor and councillors of this city have no vision. Why is all of this coming to light now? Where was this debate during the election?


  33. Steve… regarding your comment to Rob that “I hate to tell you this, but paving is generally done by contractors, not by the TTC.”.. Surely you’re not suggesting that the contractors are doing the work for free… if they have that many people on a job site doing nothing, you can bet it’s because the are being extremely well compensated — or over-compensated — by the TTC. Not too many contractors I know are in the business of losing money.


    Steve: Are you telling me that a free-enterprise contractor looking to maximise the take from the public purse would deliberately put more people on the job than they actually need? By extension are PPPs a waste of time?


  34. If the TTC is scrambling into emergency mode, then it may be time to consider exceptionally drastic measures such as charging by mode… you know, if it is a real emergency this time. They could roll the fare back to $2 cash but you would have pay your bus fare and subway fare separately, a combined trip cost of $4. There would be some pain involved, but this could bring in a revenue increase that can avoid service cuts. It’s not easy, there’s some complications with logistics, but it could bring higher revenue and should be doable fairly quickly.

    Oh, and if they are going to do this, close Sheppard, at the very least on weekends and after 9pm on Weekdays. The University Line was also closed on weekends in its early (but not earliest) years until the Spadina Line opened. Doing that to Sheppard only makes sense, and that they have never thought of this is stupidity on the part of the commission if they can’t learn anything from their own history, a history that took place in a time when the agency was smart and capable of turning a profit.

    People are quick to blame former Mayor Lastman only. I agree that former Mayor Lastman was a problem (hey, I voted for Enza I had such little faith in Lastman), but we should also be pointing fingers at the former PC Government of Mike Harris who holds a large role in the cause of the service cuts that slammed us all in the 90s, and also backfilled the Eglinton, which would have performed vastly better than Sheppard (the latter of which is, yes, former Mayor Lastman’s fault).

    I wonder what the reaction from Queen’s Park will be. If the TTC turns to… less-than-attractive service, McGuinty’s expected election boost from MoveOntario2020 is going to go up in smoke.


  35. I guess Torontonians have no common sense, no sophistication. I’d send each and every one of us 416ers to a good Swiss finishing school just to learn how to polish up a little. But wait, most 416ers are socialists and therefore anti-finishing school and anti-polish….no good for this city….Thanks a lot, Toronto for voting in Mayor Miller! Thanks a lot for ruining our own lives.

    Steve: I am getting rather tired of this whole debate being reduced to red-baiting. If you have a serious argument to make, make it. Otherwise, henceforth such comments will not be published.


  36. “I wonder what the reaction from Queen’s Park will be. ”

    Sometimes I wonder if they are just waiting for TTC to mess up enough to justify simply taking over the entire system and handing it over to the GTTA. I’d think the TTC making massive service cuts might just tempt McGuinty – or perhaps even Tory – to promise that a new Ontario goverment has had enough with the City of Toronto and TTC, and will take it over, improve service, and expand the system.

    Not sure if that would be a good move or not (though it would certainly help the City of Toronto budget). But given how desperate both parties seem to be to get the support of Toronto ridings, it might help their election chances.


  37. I think that the City of Toronto has no choice but to raise taxes. Surely our tax-o-phobia must come to an end sometime? We are facing a $500 million deficit this year, after all.


  38. Hi there Steve, I just wanted to say a few things in response to the events currently unfolding regarding the TTC.

    First off, in spite of the service and operating cost cuts being contemplated, I would like to know if the order for new LRVs to replace the CLRVs now approaching the 30 year mark will still proceed. Also, will work go on to complete the St. Clair ROW or will the Commission at least replace the remaining worn out track that’s yet to be replaced on the 512 line? And furthermore will the TTC still receive their new subway cars due in 2009 in order to replace the almost 35 year old H4s and H5 subway trains? As well even though the TTC is due to receive the extra buses for the proposed bus service expansion now under threat of service cuts, what would the TTC do with such a massive surplus of bus rolling stock?

    I know some of these questions seem inappropriate to ask during such a serious time such as this but still I am curious to know.

    As for the proposed closing of the Sheppard subway, it would definitely become the first shutdown of a rapid transit line since the 1994 abandonment of the formerly named Metropolitan Toronto Zoo Monorail; and I’m sure it would become another mythological part of the TTC’s subway system like lower Bay. Ultimately if the line does close people many years from now will laugh at the sheer short sightedness of spending a billion dollars on a new subway line only to close it five years later. Sorry Steve if my comment is too long, you may edit as you wish.


    Steve: All of the projects you mention are on the capital budget whose funding is not immediately under threat. However, with the proposed service cutbacks, the 100 new vehicles planned for service this fall would only replace older vehicles rather than adding net new service.

    The proposed subway closing is, I think, the worst example of sabre rattling in this whole mess. It distorts the debate by dredging up all of the bad feelings about that line’s construction. This from a Mayor who doesn’t gave the guts to walk away from the York University subway extension.


  39. Outrageous that the city and province are so out of line that $58-mil can be dropped on Union Station while a transit network linked there is going to lose passengers. This is not common sense people, this is unbelievable mismanagement of transportation infrastructure.


Comments are closed.