TTC Budget Decisions: The Sky Has Not Fallen (1)

Today the TTC took a big step back from the brink of disaster with a package addressing the current budget crisis.  At last, instead of predictions of widespread service cuts, we actually hear of service improvements with more to come as and when funding is obtained.  This is a much more responsible presentation than we have heard from anyone at City Hall in the past months.

After a long presentation followed by a Q&A between the Commissioners and Chief General Manager Gary Webster, we heard from a series of deputations including me.  The message was consistent throughout — keeping service is a top priority.

You can read the staff report on the TTC’s website although some of the illustrations are missing.  Some of them appear as links from this and future posts.

What Did the TTC Decide?

The staff recommendations were passed unanimously with some minor amendments.

1.  Receive the results of the public consultations, noting that the preferred funding alternatives were as follows:

  • 54% said “raise taxes”
  • 45% said “raise fares”; and
  • 27% said “cut service”

2.  Note that the previously estimated 2008 TTC budget shortfall of about $104 million has been reduced by $10 million to $94 million, as a result of (i) the TTC signing a long-term contract to busy diesel fuel at a fixed price ($7 million reduction in 2008) and (ii) the deferral on July 20, 2007 of the service budgeted to be added in the fall of 2007 and the delay in opening of Mount Dennis Garage to at least February 17, 2008 ($3 million reduction in 2008).

These two points are for information.

3.  Approve the implementation of the 2007 and 2008 service, starting on February 17, 2008, that is required to maintain service at the approved long-standing service standards to ensure that crowding is maintained at “tolerable” levels, noting that

  • 77 bus and streetcar routes – or almost half of the TTC’s system – is operating with crowding in excess of the prescribed standards;
  • the operation of bus and streetcar routes with overcrowding results in reduced quality of service to customers and a deterioration in reliability and regularity of service, because it takes people longer to get to/from the doors in crowded vehicles, so the buses and streetcars get delayed and become more prone to “bunching and gapping”.

Recommendation 3 is central to the change in outlook at the TTC.  Quality of service is paramount, and service will be improved so that loading actually falls within the loading standards, something that has been missing for years on many routes.  Originally, the TTC had planned to implement widespread improvements this fall, but these will now appear in February 2008. 

Fall 2007 Cancelled Service Increases

This will bring the system up to current loading standards, with the caveat that these are averages over the peak hour and individual vehicles may still be crowded.  Moreover, there are no peak streetcar increases due to limitations on the fleet.  I will explore this issue in a separate post as part of my review of the King and Queen lines here.

4.  Implement the 2007 and 2008 Ridership Growth Strategy (RGS) service improvements at peak periods and off peak periods (full day service on surface routes to match subway service hours), and open Mount Dennis Garage, estimated at a cost of about $20+ million in 2008, provided funding is available.

At this point, the RGS improvements including the 100 new buses are still not funded.  However, the TTC took an important step by giving conditional approval.  If Santa Claus appears with a bag full of loot, no further debate is needed to implement these long-overdue improvements.

The changes include full service hours on all routes, a further improvement in loading standards to reduce crowding on the system as a whole, and a move to a maximum headway of 20 minutes except on the Blue Night Network.

5.  Do not implement reductions to poor performing routes at this time. Staff will continue to review these routes should it prove necessary to eliminate some or all of them at a future date.

The question of “poor performing routes” and the creative accounting and planning surrounding their selection has been discussed here before.  To nobody’s surprise, the Sheppard Subway is not on the list, nor are other rapid transit sections such as Spadina north of St. Clair West or the SRT.  It seems that the original estimated saving of $10-million annually neglected to factor in the cost of replacement bus service and the lost riding due to a decline in service quality.

The Sheppard proposal floated by as a sure thing back in July, and no end of controversy arose because of this.  Now we find that the numbers were a bit off.  How many more TTC estimates are a bit off, and how much service might have been sacrificed?  Any future plans for service cuts need to have credible figures and need to explain why some very “poor performers” excape the knife while others vanish.

6.  Implement an “across the board” 15¢ fare increase (15¢ on adult ticket/token fares and prorated for most others) in November 2007 and implement an additional change to monthly Metropasses equivalent to the cost of two additional adult ticket/token fares (about $11 per monthly pass) to generate about $39 million in net extra revenue.  The new fare structure is detailed in Appendix B of this report.

This recommendation was modified to reduce the Metropass increase to $9, and that the adjustments in other pass prices be set accordingly.  Exact details are unclear as I write this.

7.  Continue the other cost containment initiatives approved by the Commission on July 20, 2007, until further notice.

These initiatives include cutbacks on unneeded spending such as travel and conferences.

This was amended to direct that staff consider other sources of revenue and expenditure control including the option of charging for commuter parking (now provided free to Metropass holders).

A further amendment by Councillor Peruzza explicitly states that cencellation or deferral of the Spadina Subway extension project is not to be considered.  (I will return to this issue in another post.)

8.  Note that the effect of all of the previous recommendations is to have reduced the TTC’s 2008 budget shortfall from the previous $104 million to $55 million, if the RGS initiatives are operated and Mount Dennis Garage is opened, or to $35 million if they are not.

Due to the change in item 6, the shortfalls reported above go up by $5-million to $60-million (with RGS) or $40-million (without).

9.  Take  action to establish a long term sustainable funding strategy for transit. Such an arrangement would put an end to the current situation of the TTC lurching from year to year adding then cutting service due to uncertain operating funding availability.

10.  Forward this report to the City of Toronto, the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority, the Province of Ontario, and the Government of Canada.

11.  Forward this report to the adjacent municipalities and transit agencies, for information.

A separate set of motions from Commissioner Mihevc was also passed unanimously.

  1. That TTC staff report on salaries in the TTC as compared with ohter public and private sector workers.
  2. That TTC staff produce a consolidated report on the various audits done of TTC efficiency and spending.
  3. That TTC staff meet with Toronto Social Services to consider ways of mitigating the impact of fare increases on those who receive the Ontario Disability Allowance.
  4. That the planned October 17 TTC meeting be deferred until after the October 22 Council meeting to consider the budget in light of decisions taken at that meeting on new city revenue sources.
  5. That TTC staff report on potential savings and entrepreneurial actions that could be taken [this deals primarily with advertising and land development].
  6. That the UPass (University Student Pass) continue to be priced at $60 until May 2008.
  7. That TTC staff forward to Council a report on the 2008 budget process and the implications of not implementing the proposed tax tools.

Councillor Thompson moved that if the proposed new taxes are approved by Council at its October 22 meeting or earlier, that the TTC immediately rescind the fare increase.  This motion was defeated on a 5-2 vote with Councillors Thompson and Saundercook in favour, Councillors Giambrone, Mihevc, Bussin, De Baeremakker and Peruzza opposed.

This prompted an interesting exchange between Councillors Mihevc and Thompson.   Mihevc asked, mischieviously, whether this meant that Thompson would be supporting the new taxes.  His answer:  No!

Thompson’s view is that Council should find economies within its own budget before asking for new tax revenues, and to that end, he read a comment from a constituent at the September 10th public meeting:

 Go back to City Hall and fix the budget.

However, Councillor Thompson failed to read the rest of the comment that was included in his letter to Chair Giambrone:

Raise taxes if needed but revisit the budget first.  I am OK with the land transfer tax.  Maybe we should fire some Councillors.

If you’re going to score political points with quotations, don’t use partial quotes.  Many other comments supported retention and improvement of service, and Thompson presented a large petition in support of the 67 Pharmacy bus.  It seems he doesn’t want to give his constituents the hard news that their services don’t make the grade.

(As an historical note, one reason behind the Pharmacy bus plea is to ensure that people can get to church on Sunday.  How far we have come from the days when the operation of streetcars on Sunday was considered unholy.)

In the next post, I will address the look of the budget and considerations for future years.

32 thoughts on “TTC Budget Decisions: The Sky Has Not Fallen (1)

  1. The increase in a single fare isn’t too bad, but the Metropass hike is ridiculous. It’s already crazy expensive by North American standards.

    I take the TTC to work and back, but mostly walk otherwise. I still buy the Metropass because I use it outside of work occasionally and it’s just more convenient. $9 more and I’ll just use tokens. I’ll just give up those convenience trips and it’ll end up being less money for the TTC. I’m sure I’m not alone here.

    Steve: The pass hike is a bone to the conservatives on Council, not to mention the TTC’s bean-counters who spend more time worrying about how much they “lose” on pass sales than on how much more attractive we make the system.

    On the other hand, the pass has been frozen through the past two fare hikes, and by Toronto standards it is still a bargain once the tax credit is factored in. Yes, passes are cheaper elsewhere, but unless someone is prepared to pay for this, I would rather the TTC concentrate on better service.


  2. “This was amended to direct that staff consider other sources of revenue and expenditure control including the option of charging for commuter parking (now provided free to Metropass holders)”

    Please oh please do not do that…..I know all the people in Woodbridge where I reside will not bother taking the subway if that happens and would rather just drive directly downtown and make a bigger traffic mess then it already is. It is shocking enough to see BMW’s, Mercedes Benz and other luxury cars at the Downsview Station parking lot as it is.

    This would personally affect me as, I carpool with another person daily since I attend university downtown. I live JUST north of Steeles at Highway 7 and the fare system in the GTA is clearly unjust. So Paying $85.00 a month for a YRT Pass then a Metropass is not worth it especially if I am carpooling. As a result I drive from Highway 7 to Downsview then take the subway in. Why should a person that carpools with 1 passenger be punished? I’m pretty sure many others do the same…

    If they were to charge for parking, there would be less people taking transit and there would be people like me paying either an extra fee for parking or a whole other monthly pass JUST to cross from highway 7 to steeles.

    The fare system in the GTA is unjust but until it changes, most of us have to drive to a nearby subway station to take the TTC and if this changes, it will just make things worse. So I very much hope that even though the price of the metropass is going up, the cost of parking at a subway station remains unchanged.

    Besides that, I think council has made the right move.

    Steve: A few points here. First, absolutely everything is on the table in the review of costs and revenues. As a metropass user who doesn’t drive, I’m annoyed that you get a free parking space. Even people who use the express bus services have to pay a premium fare and don’t get these as part of the base system.

    The parking lots are bursting at the seams, and expansion is really out of the question. Garages costs a lot of money compared to surface lots and there’s no way capacity can be expanded without incurring a lot of new costs. How many bus routes should we cancel to pay for your parking?

    This may seem harsh, but when everyone is being asked to do their bit, I have big problems with the good folks of Woodbridge who will get a gigantic subsidy for their new subway line at public expense. I would just be happy with better service on the King car.

    The cost of and need for parking is a major issue not just for the TTC but for GO Transit. Provision of a dense network of feeder bus routes to their stations is impractical given the way most of the suburbs are laid out, but there is a limit to how much parking they can provide. We pay for it one way or another — either in parking fees or subsidies for construction and operation of the lots.


  3. Well, I wasn’t expecting an increase quite that dramatic (I’m a MDP subscriber) but for the cost of a burger and fries at the diner, I guess I can make the sacrifice. I do hope they revisit the fare hikes if/when the taxes are passed by council, unless the combination of the two will result in some further improvements or a promise that fares will be frozen for a decent period of time, say 2 or 3 years.


  4. The TTC clearly has made the best decision in a lousy situation. I am also really surprised at a $9 Metropass increase, but I’ll be resigned to eating that in April once my MDP comes up for renewal, rather than flipping mad about service cuts. It is good to see some hope for the optimism from the first half of this year to return with the oft-delayed improvements.

    I share with you an annoyance that Metropass users get free parking at Downsview, Wilson or elsewhere while I have to slug it out on an overcrowded 96 or 165 bus. If Woodbridge drivers want “free” parking with their transit, I suggest driving to Maple, Rutherford, Malton or Etobiocke North stations, where parking is included in GO’s premium fares.

    As a former GO monthly pass rider in Brampton, it annoyed me that I was paying $120 a month for a service of very limited use to me, and got a ride or took Brampton Transit, while I subsidized parking for everyone else. Brampton always seemed to have worst off-peak bus service of any of GO’s corridors, which also annoyed me.

    At Wilson, the TTC built a new “pay and display” lot that no one seems to use, while the Metropass lots fill up quick.


  5. Hi Steve and Adam:-

    It appears that at $2.10 per fare when buying tickets or tokens, we get 47.5 rides on our $99.75 Metropass. At $2.25 we will get 48.4444444444 rides for our $109.00 Metropass. So I’d suggest that Adam, if you keep your stated boycott of buying a Metropass, you’ll be cutting off your nose to spite your face for the differential is only one more trip than before to break even. Yes, ideally it should have been $106.875, but they have to get the money somehow and as you said yourself, the convenience is there.

    Speaking of convenience! Have you ever gotten off at a transfer point, walked a block to a shop to buy a pack of whatevers and gotten on the transfer car at the next stop along the street, with a transfer? I think they call that a stopover! It’s not a problem with the pass!

    If there were no pass available, I’ll go along with you Adam and say that yes, I likely would watch each token and probably not take those extra little few stop jaunts as I do now. But then too, I likely wouldn’t have bought as much as 99.75 worth of trips either, thus the TTC would have netted a few dollars less than the pass sells for. I wonder if the counters of beans have done a study of those habitual pass users and found out if they would spend 99.75 or more if the Metropass were not a fare option. They might find that they’d break awfully close to even.

    I’m sure scenarios exist such as submitting a Doctor’s note that says, ‘Denny wasn’t able to ride your subway this week ’cause he had a touch of flu’, ya’ think I could get a rebate please? I’m sure too that a goodly percentage of riders find that work has thrown them a curve for a few days in the odd month and there is no need to ride the TTC daily, but they bought the pass that month anyhow. I’m sure all of you could come up with other ideas too about how the 99.75 threshold might not be met or surpassed, but it still may be that the TTC is probably not losing in the long run!



  6. One implication of this pass increase, is that someone who earns enough money to get the tax credit, will see a $93.74 increase in the cost of their annual fare (12 metropasses a year – assuming no bulk discounts). However someone who is poor, and therefore not eligble for tax credits, will see a $111 increase a year.

    Steve: This is the fundamental problem with tax-credit based programs — they benefit those who already have taxable income, but do nothing for the poorest riders. As I have said elsewhere, there are some politicians who try to solve every problem with tax cuts rather than refundable credits. A refundable credit would be payable to people who have no income.


  7. I’m lucky enough that I can and do bike most everywhere, though that can have its risks, and sometimes taking the subway back is dandy. But I want more people to be on transit and not in the cars – and it’s very frustrating that the so-called “green” mayor and council are unable to make more moves to boost transit for the climate c(a)risis, and transportation leads our sins of emissions.

    It’s also galling to see a potential for saving of a couple hundred million bucks on some waterfront transport projects with very little official worry about if we saved some large sums we could maybe buy a new bus fleet etc. etc.

    The Front St. Extension has never looked at transit options beyond the WWLRT which is another Metro-era transit plan that is based on Front St. being in place, but there may be enough resource in all of the projects to have both a Front St. transitway AND a south of the tracks Lakeshore LRT, and even another GO train as it’s maybe $750M in total, sorta.

    Why Miller and Giambrone are supporting a transit-harming costly road and not looking at cheaper transit options consistent with Official Plans and a lot of other blah-blah is beyond curious, and it undermines credibility.

    Steve: The current budget problems are on the operating side. Hamish’s eternal argument about the FSE has merit, but it’s a bit tiring to see it trotted out for everything that might happen on the TTC.


  8. Great idea! Penalize your most loyal customers (Metropass holders) by raising the price without offering any better service. Wow, those guys at the TTC really know how to run a transit system. Congratulations all round folks. Maybe next time the city can look at penalizing car drivers by introducing road tolls and the TTC can cut service on poor performing routes while also freezing pay increases…wait, that would just be common sense – can’t have that in Toronto! Let’s stick with making people mad instead.


  9. At this point I am one of the naysayers and harsh critics of the TTC’s decisions. Fares in Toronto are the highest ever in North America and yet we may still pay more in yet another fare hike in approximately (I’m hearing) six months after this present one. A $3 fare is absolutely ridiculous and a far cry from when the fare was around $1.50 about what, 15 years ago? If that’s the case, in another 15 years, I expect the fare to hit $4.50.

    The Metropass increases are especially ridiculous considering the annual cost of transportation for an average transit user is $111 as Nicholas has noted. My friend who lives near the 78 St. Andrews route is upset at the additional expense. She already has a tight budget and she doesn’t want this kind of hike. The only silver lining to this is that her metropass discount plan was renewed this month so she wouldn’t have to worry about the increase until Sept 2008.

    I’ve also heard of plans to revoke free metropass parking at TTC lots. I am also hearing of plans to charge for parking at subway stations on weekends. I am especially against this idea as since I am what is known as a discretionary rider, I rely on free parking spaces as a means for me to take transit without driving downtown. In light of this change, I may do just that, drive.

    The whole point is this: public transportation is supposed to be easier and cheaper to take than using a personal automobile. Having fares doubled in 15 years and taking away many perks associated with travelling the TTC makes for a compelling case to Take The Car. After all, if I’m going to be paying $10 to take TTC to go downtown ($4 parking at some paid TTC lots + $6 in fares) and if I can pay $10 to park downtown, I’d take the latter.

    I still see this fiasco as nothing but a tool for Mayor Miller to get his tax increases put in. The worst part about this fare increase is that Council will most likely not pitch in the full amount of the TTC’s RGS plan, given that the fare increase is supposed to bring in “new revenue”, this will be subtracted from the TTC subsidy and the TTC is left with just the same amount of money it originally asked for except the riders are now picking up more of the cost. All this because Miller and the dysfunctional council are babbling over taxes and not getting down to how to save the city more money.

    Steve: The increases in passes and proposals for review of parking charges come directly from the the right wing’s demand that Metropass holders pay their “fare share”, and that all potential sources of new or enhanced revenue be examined. Sure, the Metropass could be frozen again, and we would then be treated to complaints about how we were subsidizing people like your friend unfairly.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    As for this being a Miller plot, please, that’s a real stretch. In fact, because the TTC has reviewed its budget requirements, and some money is coming from increased fares, the scale of service cuts if the new taxes are not passed is not as grave as previously thought. You make some good points, but when you twist everything to suit an anti-Miller agenda, you undermine your own position.


  10. In continuation to my previous post, I give credit to Councillor Thompson for his motion to decrease fares if such taxes are approved by council. While I am not in favour of the taxes, it shows Councillor Thompson’s commitment to at least maintaining fares. Ultimately I would like to see fares lowered (therefore making it even more attractive to take transit). With fares the highest in North America, fares itself can be a barrier to what is supposed to be “accessible public transportation”, it is not surprising that this fare increase will hit the poor hardest.

    I also agree with Thompson’s idea to revisit the budget first before raising taxes. Like it or not, there are some options to saving costs out there, outsourcing of outside workers being one (i.e. caretaker and cleaning staff, parks and recreation workers, garbagemen). I still do not like the idea of the two taxes being proposed, my fiancee and I were considering a move to Toronto meaning that we would be hit with both the Land Transfer and Vehicle Registration tax. Contrary to what has been said about the Land Transfer tax, it is quite substantial and it does add to our costs of living in Toronto. Which is why we are now considering other options on where to live (most likely in Brampton).

    But I digress. I look forward to the day in which public transit would be substantially cheaper enough so that people CAN get out of their cars and ride the TTC to where they need to go.

    (Note to Steve: please do not block this comment simply because you don’t like what I have to say. I know many of my previous comments have been blocked because they do not speak in favour in either the city or the TTC for that matter. As a debater, I’d like to see opinions from anyone on any issue, especially from you.)

    Steve: I only block your rants, but am letting this one through for completeness. It’s my site, and I can block what I like.

    Yesterday at the TTC, I made the point that asking for savings on the backs of the workforce is both unfair and only defers but does not eliminate the issue. Suppose that we “save” ten percent on labour costs. What do you do for an encore next year? At some point you have to pay for what you have.

    As for the LTT, it’s a lot fairer than raising property taxes based on the theoretical value of a house that hasn’t actually changed hands in decades. It is also a one-time charge, not an ongoing one.


  11. Sean M: despite what you may say about 905ers parking and taking up lots in the TTC network, this is because the free parking is a draw and not an impediment to taking public transit. At one point, when I was working downtown, a commute consisted of a carpool with 2 neighbours to the Kipling lot. We could have commuted straight downtown if we wanted to, but we all saw the benefits of taking the TTC. Free parking at Kipling was one of them. I’ll also point out that not everyone who parks at Downsview, Wilson, or Finch are not heading to Union Station. While I worked near St. Andrew Station, another person got off at Dundas West while a third worked near Sherbourne Station. We could take the GO train to Union station if we wanted to, but that would mean additional costs to transfer to a TTC subway for anyone NOT going to Union.

    And just because the lot is filled doesn’t mean the majority of drivers are from the 905 region. I’m betting that a large portion of drivers are actually from the Toronto area. They could be carpoolers like many of the lot’s occupants.

    Yes, the new Wilson lot is empty but for one simple reason, you need to pay for it. As I said before, paid parking is an impediment to taking public transportation. And that is the reason why the lot is never full. One thing that perplexes me about paid lots is the lot at Don Mills station. It is never in use yet the TTC insists that drivers pay to park there. Given that it is close to the 404, I am surprised that the TTC insists on paid parking when they could use 3 levels of the Sears parking garage for metropass users who badly need the space.


  12. Steve – there’s not much wrong with tax credit based programmes as long as they are refundable so you get the rebate even if you didn’t pay tax. In Ireland, their system is set up so the tax credit is taken “at source” rather than having to reclaim it at year end. At the end of the day they are an incentive to create new riders which lets face it people on low incomes probably already are. While the system at present has trouble absorbing new riders, RGS should be at least a help in that regard.

    For my situation (postal MDP holder who can claim the tax credit) the net cost of the pass is 84.50 (if you neglect interest on the cash which you don’t have until after filing taxes) which is 37.5 tokens/month – which sort of makes up for the poorer value for money of months like February and December with fewer working days. People who work at firms who buy bulk passes would presumably get the extra buck or two discount as at present.

    Metropass parking: how are these lots controlled? Is it an automatic barrier or a person? A metropass express sticker, as I have noted before, would be an easy way to charge an extra $30/month without inventing new controls but would require a person to examine the pass.

    While I agree in principle with the comments on Woodbridgers, they probably only use their metropass to a minimum 40 trips a month since they probably do most leisure and shopping trips back in 905land. For the example quoted, we will see Woodbridgers move at least in part to GO when GO Bolton happens.

    As for ODA – in Ireland central govt pays a subvention to the national transport companies to provide free travel to seniors and disabled people and a companion. The least Ontario could do is provide TTC with additional subvention to bridge the gap between a standard metropass and a “Senior/Student/ODA” pass.

    Steve: Metropass lots are automated — just swipe your pass and you’re in.


  13. Steve: I will comment on each point below to keep related items together.

    RE: Outsourcing.

    We both have a different interpretation when it comes to labour costs. Your take is a one time cost. My take is an ongoing and yearly cost. If it cost X dollars annually for labour and we can save Y dollars by doing these cuts then it will cost X-Y dollars for labour not just for this year, but next year, or the year after that or etc.

    Steve: Yes, it is an ongoing saving, but here is my point. Suppose that you cut your labour costs by 10 percent from, say, $100 to $90 for 2008. In 2009, there is going to be inflationary pressure on wages and other costs and unless you plan to freeze labour costs at $90, they will start to rise again. There will also be additional costs associated with expanding ridership. This means that in 2009 the amount of subsidy will have to go up, unless you plan to make another cut in labour costs. This is the basis on which I refer to it as a one-time saving.

    RE: Metropass rates

    While I am an admitted right winger, such proposals for fare increases are very offensive to me. I used to be reliant on the TTC for a good chunk of my life and I try to use it while I can. As much as I would like to see the TTC properly funded so that fares can be kept low and a high level of service can be maintained, I admit that these are tough times for the TTC. Things should be done so that the impact to riders is kept to a minimum. A $10 pass increase is not a minimal impact.

    Mind you, a lot of Mississauga residents are itching to have the TTC gutted (and these are the ones that drive). Anti-416 rhetoric from the 905ers I presume?

    RE: Metropass parking.

    I read earlier about your comment that you’re annoyed about people having access to free parking while you have to wait for a streetcar. You also appear to be in favour of charging out-of-town metropass users for parking. If you’re insistent on metropass parkers paying in some way to park at a TTC lot then fine. Create a special “Metropass + Parking” pass so that those with this kind of pass can access the lots. I agree with Mr. Dowling on his idea though I find the idea of an extra $30 quite steep. It would have been preferred if the pass hike was directed at these metropass parkers instead of across the board. Of course, the automated lots can be set up to let riders with these special passes in only.

    Steve: See my comments about parking subsidies in a nearby comment. I have no problem with a Metropass Plus Parking pass that would function comparably to the premium fare upgrade sticker used for routes like the Beach Express, with pass readers at lots admitting only the special passes as you say.

    RE: LTT

    The condo we were looking at is around $270,000. The LTT if applied would add an extra $10,000 to the cost of the home I am told. This increases our mortgage payment by $100 a month. It is for this reason alone we are considering other places to live instead of Toronto. The point is that if I am reconsidering my choice of housing in light of this, others may be doing so as well.

    Steve: You are misinformed. The LTT scale applicable to your transaction, assuming that you are not a first time buyer, is:

    0.5% on the first $50K of value
    1.0% on the next $200K of value to $250K
    1.5% on the next $150K of value to $400K

    On $270K this comes to $250 + $2000 + $300 = $2550. (Note that there will also be provincial LTT in the same amount, but that’s already on the books and doesn’t count for this argument.)

    As for David Miller, a lot of us find that his leadership is lacking in certain areas. Doing all that huffing and puffing for more of the federal or provincial pie really gets annoying after a while. While I would agree with you that previous politicians mortgaged the farm with regards to revenues, Miller has not convinced me nor others that the city’s financial situation is THAT bad. Threatening service cuts only one day after his pet taxes are rejected makes it appear to be a “Miller Plot”. I respect the fact that you disagree, but this is my perception, and others feel the same way.

    Mark Dowling:

    During my time while working downtown, commuting from Mississauga, co-workers would make periodic jaunts to other areas for lunch and other social events. Sure, we wouldn’t use our passes during the weekends, but we do rack up large ride counts during weekdays. Some of us also had to visit clients in the downtown area as well. Periodically, I would make a trip to Bloor Yonge station to visit a recurring client. The point is that we 905ers probably use the pass more often than you think. If you insist that these riders must pay a premium as they use the lots, then fine, keep the premium low as to ensure that these riders continue to use the system. A $30 premium might as well scare most commuters away. And remember, not every 905er can take GO Transit.

    GO Bolton? Did I miss something here?


  14. The fare increase is much better than the alternative (though as a postal MDP user, I won’t be affected by the increase immediately).

    There really needs to be an expansion of the bus grid in advance of LRT plans. I sit in my office everyday and for most of the day Bloor is backed up out the window. There has to be some reason that those people are not on the TTC because the majority are not delivery trucks but people strictly adhereing to some one person per vehicle rule.

    I hope in the near future that a less crowded TTC emerges and not because everybody got in the car.


  15. “At one point, when I was working downtown, a commute consisted of a carpool with 2 neighbours to the Kipling lot. We could have commuted straight downtown if we wanted to, but we all saw the benefits of taking the TTC. Free parking at Kipling was one of them. I’ll also point out that not everyone who parks at Downsview, Wilson, or Finch are not heading to Union Station. While I worked near St. Andrew Station, another person got off at Dundas West while a third worked near Sherbourne Station. We could take the GO train to Union station if we wanted to, but that would mean additional costs to transfer to a TTC subway for anyone NOT going to Union.” – Stephen Chung

    That is precisely my point. I’m not a single driver, i am carpooling, so right there im not the average statistical driver that takes a car all for himself! It is cheaper for me to carpool to Toronto then for me to pay for 2 passes. If Carpooling is so wrong to you, then i’m not sure what exactly is. Secondly, im not heading down to Union, im going to Dundas, where Ryerson University is. Why should i go UP TO RUTHERFORD STATION from Highway 7, enter an already crowded train which is packed full of people from Newmarket, Aurora, King City, etc and then head down to Union where i will again walk another 20 minutes from Union back up to Ryerson University?

    I’m taking a Geography course and i do have some concerns for the environment but i am also looking at things practically and this is far by the easiest, and cheapest method for me to attend my school *AND* for the person i carpool with to reach King & Bay.

    “While I agree in principle with the comments on Woodbridgers, they probably only use their metropass to a minimum 40 trips a month since they probably do most leisure and shopping trips back in 905land. For the example quoted, we will see Woodbridgers move at least in part to GO when GO Bolton happens.” – Mark Dowling

    Yes, that is most of the times true, there really isn’t anything downtown that we particularily need on a weekend when we got what is rated “Shopping Destination of GTA” according to a recent study, right nearby. I live maybe 10 minutes from the Bolton Line. If a station was located in the vicinity of Highway 7, i would take that but for now it doesnt exist and i dont see it happening for the next 4 years i’m in University. Even though it still has the hassle of walking from Union, it is much easier then the current commute to Downsview station.

    If i was a single commuter, i would no doubt take VIVA to Downsview because it is economical but since i am carpooling daily, it only makes sense for me to drive to the station.

    Steve, i understand you do not own a car but most people do because they have families and young kids, like my own younger siblings, but to say that its just “unfair” for us to have a parking spot because you do not, it doesnt make much sense to me. Discouraging people from driving downtown as Stephen Chung points out should be a major priority of the TTC because a lot of people do not take the TTC due to choice but rather due to its economical advantage which would probably include me to a certain extent.

    Until the un-fair Fare System in Toronto changes, this is how things should remain.

    Steve: You make many good points, and I am going to try to consolidate my view of free parking without further Woodbridge-bashing.

    If it were not for the planned gigantic parking lots on the Spadina Extension, the TTC would very soon run out of cheap places to build more parking, and this has already happened for the Bloor-Danforth line. The question then is whether the only way we can get people out of cars and onto the TTC is to give them free parking, how much is this going to cost?

    When the TTC evaluates a request for new service (leaving aside the accuracy of their calculations), they have a threshold of the cost per net new rider. Such a scheme is not applied to parking lots, and if we are going to use parking as a major way of getting new riders, we are going to spend a lot on parking structures. So much, I suspect, that free parking would fail the financial test if it were a bus route.

    The fact that you and others are already car-pooling is a good thing, but you are in a minority. Also, a lot of the road traffic is not easily served by core-oriented transit services (with or without free parking). Do we spend money on parking garages, or do we work on improving a network of routes serving the suburban areas and travel demand?

    Why is it ok to give someone free parking, but the money we “lose” on a transferrable metropass is the target of attacks by the right wing?


  16. I always thought that the Metropass parking lots were unfair to those who don’t drive. Why is it so important to provide ‘enticement’ to people who would otherwise drive downtown when this comes at the expense of other riders? If ridership is at near the all-time high and the required operating subsidy is growing, maybe it’s time to consider cutting back on some of the more expensive enticements (like free parking) so they can provide more cost-effective service improvements instead?

    Presumably if these lots are full every day there is excess demand for parking. It seem perfectly reasonable that the TTC would start to charge as a way of rationing a limited resource.

    Also, with the level of rush hour crowding on the Yonge line I would love it if the 3,000 park and riders at Finch found some other way to get work. As it is now I ride my bicycle whenever possible so the TTC loses out on my fare completely – one which would be a lot more profitable for them than a park and ride customer, I might add.


  17. Thanks for the clarification on the LTT. The agent in charge of the condo development gave me the $10,000 figure based on “his” estimates. It is now apparent that he was attempting to “force” me to make a transaction to buy the condo before the LTT took effect.

    Just because I pitch the idea of a special transit+parking pass doesn’t necessarily mean it will go over well. I’m sure a lot of people who use these lots would complain. Preferrably, I’d like to leave things the way they are (speaking on behalf of those who still commute to these lots), but if such a special levy must be added for these commuters, it would be appreciated if it was kept as low as possible. A $15 surcharge borders on reasonable, a $30 surcharge is overkill. In the end you still need these riders and I don’t think they would appreciate it if you make it financially harder to take transit. Remember that the automobile is still a preferred way to get around in the GTA and you simply cannot be “anti-car” if you are “pro-transit”.

    Steve, I’d also appreciate if you would stop painting all right-wingers with the same brush. Contrary to what you may think, a lot of right wingers still use transit, and a lot of right wingers appreciate the benefits of public transit. Also, a good portion of right wingers (especially myself) like the idea of a transferrable pass and I find it personally offensive that right-wingers in general hate any perk given to users of public transit. (For me, I use my fiancee’s pass when I need to get downtown on weekends.) You should know that a good portion of LEFT WINGERS I know of actually decry the transferrable pass. When the transferrable pass was first introduced, I saw an article from a student newspaper that decried this kind of pass as it does not benefit the average student who uses a transit pass to get around (and who is less likely to “transfer” to someone else), money should be spent in lowering fares first, it said.

    Jonathan Cooper: would you rather have these 3000 park and riders crowd Yonge street instead? This is why I say that the issue of parking at the TTC needs to be dealt with carefully. Don’t completely take away the benefit of using the TTC lots but if you have to charge, it should be through a special pass which includes a special charge rather than force everyone to pay $4 every single day they park there, which I believe is excessive.

    Steve: When I speak of right-wing attitudes to the Metropass, I am speaking of members of the Commission. It is the right who are concerned that pass holders are not pulling their weight and want to drive up the the fare multiple on the pass again. The proposal for zone fares came from the right. Arguments against transferrability come from the right.

    The common thread in their arguments is that we should be charging more for transit and especially more for heavy users who are subsidized via pass pricing. A subtle point here is the assumption that with the tax credit, there is headroom for the TTC to jack up the pass price. That’s not why the tax credit was implemented, and maybe the Tories in Ottawa should educate their friends on Council.


  18. Steve, parking lots along the older portions of the subway line, in my opinion are not as necessary as they were when it was first conceived. That means along the Bloor-Danforth from Royal York and Eastbound and Victoria Park and Westbound. Generally those areas have matured to a point where transit is reliable enough for people to avoid having to park at those stations. Same goes with the Y-U-S from 401 southerly. These areas are becoming dense and are different to the lifestyles of the inner and outer suburbs which are designed in a car friendly nature. I can’t comment on every station because i do not have the facts but what I can say is that the stubs of each line is where parking is 100% necessary. Downsview, Wilson (former terminus), Kipling, Warden, Kennedy, Don Mills.

    These endpoints will always necessitate parking due to one simple reason. It’s the end of the line. From there people have wide travel patterns going north, north west, east, west, etc.

    If the proposed Spadina extension is proposed, would parking be viable at Wilson or Downsview? Probably not because it would no longer be the endpoint of the line, then whoever parks there is mostly choice riders that said NO to the feeder bus. Instead, all that parking would shift to Steeles West or 407 Transitway or Finch West. The ones more south would probably be used less and would not be affordable to keep. You’re right, but the endpoints will always, always support a parking lot because from there on, the travel patterns greatly vary. Same applies to Kipling and Kennedy.

    My case for driving to Downsview is not because of realiabilty because CLEARLY VIVA orange is more reliable then many, many of the bus routes in Toronto and frequent enough at every 10 minutes. After timing my commute, it was only 5-10 mins longer to take VIVA then drive. My issue there is the Fare Boundary. However for other stations in the inner suburbs, it is the issue of unreliable infrequent service. Since most, if not all people own a car in the inner Toronto suburbs, they will drive to a station and take the train, it makes perfect sense.

    The issue about “right wingers” questioning transferable metropasses: I am a right winger but I applaud the transferable metropass and such. There’s no way to categorize one’s ideology, I’m sure everyone varies to a certain degree. Like all left wingers aren’t necessarily tree hugging people that want everything subsidized. It varies by the person and like Stephen Chung has stated, which I can add-on to. While I live in woodbridge, home of Gigantic SUV’s and empty sidewalks, I do not share that characterisitic for I walk, use VIVA, ride a bike or drive a normal car therefore balancing my transportation modes. I hope that the parking lot remains free for Metropass users, that’s all I can say.


  19. “In the end you still need these riders and I don’t think they would appreciate it if you make it financially harder to take transit. Remember that the automobile is still a preferred way to get around in the GTA and you simply cannot be “anti-car” if you are “pro-transit”.”

    I disagree with this. If you were talking about GO Transit, I’d agree with you 134%! However, even though I’d agree with the observation, I’d argue that the practice needs to change, and drastically, over the next quarter-century. The number of TTC users that drive to stations is actually pretty small in the big picture – almost to the point where it is not that significant. The TTC could discontinue this practice and develop the lands that the parking spaces take up, creating more dwelling units in a highrise structure than there were parking spaces on a single-level ground-paved lot. When the Spadina line extended, the first stop north of Downsview can connect to GO Transit (though I wonder if a station will actually materialize there with York University. I mean, they never got around to making a Bradford Line connection to Lansdowne Station (not an easily accomplished transfer, but can be done with a little thought put into it)). The only line that would not have a GO Train Station at (or near in Sheppard’s case its terminus would be, ironically but not surprisingly; Yonge Line. Meaning that passengers coming from north of the subway network should park at a GO Station instead and transfer to the TTC between rail networks. I am strongly opposed to the stations north of York University (including Steeles West), especially the parking lots that go with them (400 spaces at Finch West is tolerable, especially considering its proximity to a 400 offramp). The TTC should be in the business of following GO Transit’s model. SOME parking is good… 3000 spaces at one station? Sorry, too much. That’s GO Transit’s style right there.

    The TTC does not NEED the ridership from its parking lots. I’d say the TTC gains a lot more from Kiss’n’Ride when it comes to people that don’t bus it or walk-in to their subway stations. At Kipling, I always see way more movement in the Kiss’n’Ride than I do at the parking lot entrances/exits. The Kiss’n’Ride I think is a great concept, it is even compatible with taxis for those that can’t take a bus or get a lift, but the parking lots are a practice that should be discontinued.

    I really hope Hampton makes big gains in the election so that the Spadina Extension gets castrated north of York U Sta..


  20. Hi Steve,

    I was wondering if you might want to plug the mayor’s pro-revenue-tool website,, on the blog since as we all know transit will be very much screwed without this new revenue. The word from City Hall that I hear, anyway, is that councillors have been inundated with letters since the website (and its rapid-email feature) launched and the right wing is getting nervous. Therefore every email counts!

    All best,
    Matt Campbell


  21. In the discussions about parking here and at transit-toronto, I don’t recall mention of two points.

    a) In a detailed cost-benefit analysis of instituting parking fees where none are charged currently, is it not relevant how much it costs the TTC to provide the parking space compared to a ride in a surface vehicle to the station?

    b) As for the viability of charging for parking, didn’t the TTC recently try parking fees offpeak at certain stations, only to reverse the decision when parking lot use dropped dramatically?


    Steve: With respect to (a), the comparison is difficult because the capital costs of all TTC services don’t show up in their calculations. Once a parking lot is built, it is almost “free” on the books subject to costs of winter snow clearing and occasional repairs to the pavement and gate system. (Staffed lots of course have the cost of the attendant, but this does not apply to Metropass lots, the subject of our discussion.)

    However, once the lot is full, the marginal cost of adding capacity goes up a lot. There is either the cost of a parking structure, or the planning cost (to the wider public realm) of using so much land to store cars rather than building developments at an ideal location — a subway station.

    From a traveller’s point of view, the “overhead” of using a feeder bus is considerable. You have to get to the bus stop in whatever the weather is that day, hope that the bus is vaguely on time and not full. This is nowhere near as convenient or attractive as driving to the lot. Where the problem lies is that the feeder bus services in the catchment areas for park-and-ride customers is not exactly frequent, especially off peak.

    With respect to (b), yes the TTC did try to charge for some lots and lost customers. The lots in question were not the most convenient to use in the first place and had a built-in disincentive on that account.

    This is not an easy problem to solve, but the fundamental issue remains that we cannot keep building parking lots forever as an integral way of getting customers to the subway and commuter rail systems.


  22. Karl Junkin:

    Contrary to what most people may believe, there is a lot of carpoolers going to TTC lots. I know because I used to do this and would see cars full of people cramming in to the lots. Not single people in a car. Okay, I’d see a few but THEY are in the minority.

    Looking at the TTC’s site, I estimate that they have at least 11000 parking spaces available to TTC commuters. Fine, GO transit has more, but these are designed for really far out-of-towners. We’re talking about people who find it is more convenient and cost effective to drive to a subway parking lot rather than a GO-Transit lot. Not all 905ers can take GO transit as myself and Joseph C are trying to state here. The point here is that if you make it harder for people to use these parking spaces, you’ll end up with 11000 more cars on the road. Now THAT is a lot of cars to deal with in a city already choking with gridlock.

    Yes, I understand your point that there is only a finite number of spaces available. I also understand Steve’s point that we can’t keep building parking lots. But you need to remember that people know that these spaces are in short supply. That’s why these days there are more and more people carpooling to the lots, and as far as I can see, the carpoolers are not in the minority.

    Joseph C:

    Even if Spadina is extended to Steeles West (I’ll thrash the next person who demands the line be extended to an open field in the middle of nowhere), I don’t think the Wilson, or Yorkdale lines will remain underused. It’s right next to the 401, so these lots are bound to be filled up. The only question is Downsview, it is a bit far out of the way from the 401. But even so, there will always be drivers who will want to use these lots.

    Ed Drass:

    The TTC very nearly lost me as a customer when they tried to pull off this stunt. What they tried to do was to charge for parking at all times except weekends. Now this was bad for me as at the time, I was a part time student working as a mobile computer technician. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t pull in to my parking lot without paying $4 to park there. And no I didn’t use a metropass as I would only use the TTC twice a week. I was very close to buying a parking permit at the U of T and just driving down there. The only thing that stopped me from doing so was the fact that there was a mall parking lot nearby (BTW, this was not at Yorkdale) and despite their 3 hour restriction, I took a risk and used that as my parking space to go to the subway. Fortunately, I never got a parking ticket during my term.

    Why the TTC lost way more customers this way was simple: people want to go downtown during the evenings. And when they found out it was a disincentive to take TTC because they had to pay for parking, they decided to drive. The TTC has smartly modified this policy so that free parking will come to most lots after 3pm. Heck I don’t think anyone would complain if it was extended to 5pm!

    Human nature is to be as cheap as possible. However, when it comes to drivers, the question becomes cheap vs. comfort. Certainly if you take out the former, they will prefer the latter.

    I was looking at the Go Transit site and I noticed they have a “Reserved Parking Lot System”, ostensibly for those too lazy or too rushed to walk. These spots are those that are closest to a station entrance. They charge for those btw and drivers in turn are assigned a particular parking spot. Obviously the TTC could try to take advantage of something like this.


  23. “Even if Spadina is extended to Steeles West (I’ll thrash the next person who demands the line be extended to an open field in the middle of nowhere), I don’t think the Wilson, or Yorkdale lines will remain underused. It’s right next to the 401, so these lots are bound to be filled up. The only question is Downsview, it is a bit far out of the way from the 401. But even so, there will always be drivers who will want to use these lots.” – Stephen Chung

    Yes, that’s a point I just obeserved today as I drove around a little after 11 am today looking for a station that might have parking. I never realized the extent to how massive! Wilson’s parking lot is! Wow! Downsview is almost nothing compared to that. Wilson will stay, you’re right, since the 401 is there but I have a feeling Downsview would become underused if the subway is extended more northerly.

    I have to say though, with all 4 corners of Wilson subway station a parking lot paradise, there is sure is a lack of development, that’s one point Steve made that I realized today as I went to park there. Then again, the area is dead, and old industrial, I don’t know how many people would want to live there in the first place…So having a parking lot in that particular spot isn’t that big of a deal.

    Steve: The Wilson site is also poisoned for development by the expressway interchange and the airport which imposes building height restrictions. The TTC has a puzzling split in their view of subway-oriented development. On one hand, they use aerial photos of clusters of buildings around existing stations to show the benefit of subway construction, but then adopt an attitude about parking that makes future developments of this type almost impossible.

    Even with redevelopment of some older stations like Warden, Islington and Kipling, there is some concern about the loss of parking spaces even at a time when they sing the praises of getting more people living close to transit. You can’t have it both ways.


  24. I have a feeling that during the subway planning process, they identify which stations would be best for parking and which stations would be best to spur development. Quite naturally, the terminal and outer stations are designed for cars in mind while other stations are designed to spur development. It doesn’t make sense to have parking lots in the inner stations of the subway system.

    However, I would like to dispute your notion that “you can’t have it both ways”. There are several stations with a decent mix of transit parking and development in close proximity. Downsview Station is getting that drift as large tracts of land are being redeveloped into highrises. Finch Station is already there. Don Mills has the advantage of large numbers of apartment buildings in the area as well as the use of the Shopping Mall for parking (although it confounds me why they don’t open up the lot for metropass use). Kipling, Kennedy, and Islington have several highrise buildings within close proximity. The only exception is Warden, it is located smack dab in the middle of a ravine and therefore is as development unfriendly as it could get. And of course there is Wilson station, which while it is close to several low rises, but now is close enough to that big box bonanza of stores near Billy Bishop Way.

    I surmise that whatever TTC policy there is to attract development around these stations is to ensure that it is as close to the station as possible, without encroaching on their parking property. We’re not talking direct connections here, but close enough for a 5 minute walk or even a 2 minute bus ride to the station. For all other stations, they would agressively push for their “direct connections”, like North York and Sheppard-Yonge stations.

    The way I see it, it is possible to have it both ways. I prefer to be open minded about this without saying that it has to be exactly one way or the other.


    It is important to realize that as the system grows, stations that once were terminals become line stations, and preserving parking at them may not be such a good idea. My comments differ from site to site in your list.

    Finch: The land used for parking is in a hydro corridor that obviously will never have buildings on it. It is also well north of the main Finch/Yonge intersection where there is development. This is a special case where land that is not useable for anything else is sitting close to a major subway terminal, and it is not necessarily representative of all situations.

    Don Mills: The mall parking is not opened to Metropass users because the mall’s owners don’t want to lose parking for shoppers to the TTC. The same situation exists at Yorkdale and at STC. Also at STC, there is a problem with people who work in the area trying to use mall parking.

    Kipling is going to wind up with a long narrow parking lot adjacent to the railway/hydro corridor. However, this station is really not “at” an intersection, and until we see a complete restructuring of the six points (Bloor/Kipling/Dundas) we won’t know how well (or not) the station relates to new developments in the area.

    Islington’s parking is comparatively small and will shrink as part of the station redevelopment. However, this is now a line station, and does not have the critical role, from a parking point of view, of a terminal.

    Kennedy has a vary large parking lot to the south, and new high rises on the other side of the GO tracks. Warden’s parking is to be reduced and the land on the northeast and southeast corners of the intersection will be redeveloped.

    Basically, the stations on the outer ends of the BD line are in “odd” locations because the line follows hydro and railway corridors, not streets. However, if we build major transit routes in street corridors, land will (a) not be as easily available for parking and (b) far too valuable.

    Lots such as those at Kennedy are completely full now and expansion at this location would be very expensive. Most of the riding I see at this end of the line comes from the SRT and the bus routes, not from parking. We cannot afford to grow transit ridership with parking as the primary feeder. It works in the short term, but in the long term redevelopment and good surface feeder routes are essential.


  25. I understand your points on this issue. It goes with my earlier statement that if the Spadina subway extension takes place, the Downsview lot may become useless. The only station that I have real issues with is Islington, as a previous carpooler going to Kipling, Islington was the designated “alternate” in the event that Kipling was full (believe me, it does happen). And even then, the Islington lots get a lot of business. I’ve seen plans for the restructuring as the land of the bus terminal would be completely set aside for office use, and the parking lot just north would be converted to the new TTC terminal. Two things I do not understand: 1) why couldn’t a bus terminal be integrated with a building the same way which was done for York Mills or is being proposed with Eglinton? and 2) an option for this station was to have NO bus terminal, reroute the 50 [Burnhamthorpe] to Kipling Station and merge the 37 and 110 [Islington and Islington South] as one through route with a paper transfer at Islington Station, why wasn’t this considered (only three routes presently connect at Islington, what good would a new bus terminal do which would have capacity for 8 routes, with no other proposed routes from Islington on the horizon)?

    As for Don Mills station, while the mall management are concerned about losing parking to TTC customers, they should know that on any given weekday, the parking garage for TTC customers has very few cars in it. If Mall management was smart, they would at least make full use of the lot by allowing metropass parking. Heck, people who would park there and come back during the afternoon may think: hey, I may need to pick something up from the mall, why don’t I do that?

    Finally, for Scarborough RT, there once was a large lot at McCowan before they bulldozed it and put some shops there, was this lot not being used at all? For TTC customers coming from the east, I would have imagined this lot as a godsend so I am perplexed as to why it was closed.

    I guess in the end, if the lots are not being used to full capacity (as I hear is the case with Warden), then so be it. It goes with the classic “use it or lose it” mentality.

    Steve: Why, indeed, does Islington need to retain a major off-street bus interchange when so few routes will remain? There is certainly an argument for some residual off-street platform given the frequency of service and passenger volumes (we don’t need to reinvent the problems now existing at Dufferin Station with its bus transfer). The question, then, is how big should it be?


  26. Let’s take Stephen Cheung’s $30 per month additional Metropass plus parking example, which he feels would be punitive to those 905ers who drive to a TTC lot: this works out to $1.50 per working day per month. And if he’s carpooling, you could cut that at least in half, to 75 cents. A day. He finds this unacceptably punitive? And I think that someone who is heading anywhere close to the core would think long and hard about skipping the TTC and driving all the way in, given what parking in the core will cost ($12/day and up is typical). With all respect to Stephen and Joseph, the TTC could and should be charging parking for riders like them, and I bet a fair number would gladly pay it.


  27. Aaron: just because we have a car does not mean that we have gobloads of money to throw at the TTC. To us, it is an additional expense which not only makes us angry, but possibly pondering other forms of transportation other than the TTC. We’d be just like the other guys who are due to be hit by the upcoming pass increase. The whole point is this: any increase can be a deterrent, whether it be a metropass increase across the board, or a targetted group of riders such as drivers.


  28. Let me just clarify that my main issue for my particular situation is that it is unjust for me to pay a WHOLE extra fare, or in this case, an extra YRT pass of $85.00 just for me to go the distance of 5 KM from Highway 7 to Steeles Ave. It is economically better for me to drive to Downsview WITH another passenger then for both of us to pay $170 to cross the distance of 5 Kilometers. Will the YRT pass be any use to us after Monday-Friday? I’m definately sure it will not. TTC Metropass is a great value but the rest of them are not worth it, at all.

    Having said that, me driving to a station does not save me MUCH more time then me taking the VIVA bus. For one, the route is completely express once it enters 416 with the only real stop at York University. It drives *aggressively* through traffic to get where it needs to go. It can speed and do whatever it wants and NOT possibly be caught by a police officer. It has seats more comfortable then a bus or subway and even has a TV showing weather forecasts and other such information. In the end it takes 5 minutes more then driving.

    It’s a great service, and it would lure me out of driving to Downsview in the hectic traffic but, it’s not worth my money if I live SOOOO Close to Steeles Ave. Now in Stephen Chung’s case, if he’s from Mississauga, there is no service like VIVA, so he takes the fastest route possible to the subway station.

    The point I stress on is that, for as long as the fare system in the GTA is UNJUST!! Parking at TTC Stations should be free for Metropass users. That is all I am trying to say here.

    I am not anti-transit. If VIVA had separate lane ways on Highway 7 I would even pay the extra YRT pass if it cut my commute down in half. However, it will not happen any time soon. I’m part of an average income family and so I am looking at the most economical way to commute. Is that so hard to understand? Does the term “Family” even exist in Toronto anymore?????

    Steve: I agree that the fare system is unjust (although possibly without the caps and punctuation). Oddly enough, the discussion about free parking is another thread in that overall debate — who do we subsidize, who do we stiff for extra fares? As and when fare systems are harmonized, Steeles Avenue as a fare boundary will disappear.

    Mind you, the image of conductors in late 19th C uniforms coming through the Spadina trains with coffee pot fareboxes is amusing.

    As for families, there are zillions of them in Toronto and I, as a single person, am tired of the subsidies they receive. However, I recognize this as part of the established financial order and don’t take cheap shots at them.


  29. There is an affordability factor, and there are those for whom an extra charge for parking on top of the Metropass would be a financial hardship.

    My point is simply that the extra outlay that you say would cause you to perhaps stop taking the TTC and just drive is far too low, and unrealistic. You fail to account for the extra gas you would burn, the delays you might encounter, not to mention the extra stress of a rush hour commute, a daily drive at peak times from Mississauga to DT Toronto would introduce into your life.

    What would avoiding these things be worth to you? Whatever that is, it has to be included in your calculation. Therefore, I would argue that the extra parking amount should be larger than $30, perhaps a lot larger. I pay the same amount to go from Riverdale to DT as you do to come in from Mississauga, and you can park for free besides.

    I think that you recognize a good deal when you see it, and I certainly don’t fault you for that. But you would be better off to accept that perhaps some things are too good to continue.


  30. For the record, I no longer work in Downtown Toronto, however, my fiancee still does. She too however now carpools with some of her workmates to Kipling where they go to their place of business. My arguments regarding parking are based on not only my experiences but also hers as well.

    Aaron: I don’t think you have ever worked downtown, have you? You mentioned that a major increase in pass fees for parkers should mitigate any parking fees incurred downtown. You forget one thing: that in many businesses parking costs is covered by the business itself. In my case, while my metropass was never covered by the business, I chose to commute downtown via TTC. I could have travelled downtown and dealt with all the stress of rush hour commutes, but would it have been worth it for free parking downtown? Not for me personally, but I also missed out on car allowance benefits that were given to those who took the free parking spots. In my fiancee’s case, her and her carpooling workmates had the option for parking downtown, but they never took it because their metropasses were covered.

    The outlay that you mention is not as cheap as you think it is when you fail to factor benefits that downtown businesses convey to their workers for parking in downtown lots. And remember: these are the same guys who are asking for more expressways downtown.

    So please, don’t pick on parkers because of perceived outlays. Some are already doing the right thing by sacrificing these perks and choosing to take TTC. Do not punish them further for that, or they just might take those perks. And going back to my expressway comment, now you have an even greater argument for that expressway that few people want, but so many other people disdain.


  31. Stephen: In fact, I do work downtown, but for a company that offers neither free metropasses nor free parking. Having access to either one of these would certainly change the calculation.


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