TTC Operating & Capital Budgets For 2008

The covering reports for the 2008 budgets are now available on the TTC’s website, although as usual there are severe formatting problems and the tables don’t display at all.  Once I have “real” reports, I will scan and publish the pictures here.

The TTC is supposed to be converting to PDF format.  Given that their IT Strategic Plan [sic] (also on the agenda for November 14) includes items that are six years old and counting, my guess is that we will see PDFs only after a multi-gazillion-dollar website redesign.

In the Operating Budget, we learn that the TTC is a bit shy of cash for next year, $13.6-million to be exact, to which must be added the cost of any contract settlement.  The annualized cost of a 1% increase in wages is about $8-million according to the report, although I have problems with this statement.  It implies that total wage costs for unionized staff are $800-million before any benefits are added, and before the cost of materials, fuel, power, fixed plant operations and, oh yes, those pesky non-union managerial staff.  I will return to this once I have a chance to review the detailed budget figures.

Ridership is growing, and is forecast to rise to 464-million next year.  However, we also learn than this year’s projected ridership, 454-million, is about 10-million high because the TTC overestimated Metropass usage.  Poof!  Ten million rides gone from the 2007 projection.  This may be the first time the TTC has lost rideship due to an accounting error.

An ironic side effect is, of course, that with fewer notional “riders”, the revenue per rider has gone up without the TTC lifting a finger (well maybe a few fingers to dip the quill pen into the inkpot).

Try telling people jammed onto the subway that there are really 10-million less of them.

The Ridership Growth Strategy kicks in next fall along with, if we are lucky, improvements to get service simply back to the TTC’s own standards early in 2008.  There has been no definitive announcement on the timing of this change, although February had been mentioned by some at TTC.

The story in the Capital Budget is much darker.  As I reported a few weeks ago, the TTC will scrape by in 2008 within the City’s budget target but future years are grim without major increases in subsidy from any government willing to lend a hand.  There is no funding in place for the proposed new streetcar order, and this needs to be sorted out by next spring if the procurement process is to continue on schedule.  This is only the first of several major unfunded projects.

(There is a followup report on the streetcar project listed on tomorrow’s Supplementary Agenda, but the report is not yet online.)

As the TTC rightly points out, we are in the “unusual” (their term) or “ludicrous” (my term) position of having a $1.5-billion shortfall in the base capital budget while, simultaneously, the Spadina/York Subway extension us fully funded.  If anyone says “the cupboard is bare”, we know where to look.  Anyone who feigns surprise that this extension has elbowed other projects off of the table deserves a dunce’s cap (in TTC colours of course).

Meanwhile, both the new streetcar procurement and Transit City are getting more expensive as cost estimates are refined.  This is not making friends among Councillors who want so badly to be pro-transit, but who are sideswiped by the TTC’s inability to price their projects.

Finally, there is a long report about Transit City laying out the rationale for the choice of lines and in particular the selection of Sheppard East, Etobicoke-Finch and Eglinton-Crosstown as the candidates for the first three Environmental Assessments.  There isn’t much here that we haven’t seen before, and some of the discussions about how to fit new LRT lines onto streets echo the comments in earlier posts on this site.  Transit City was designed to fit with known planning goals and to serve those communities with reasonable expectation of demand.  This is, of course, totally contrary to good transit system design where lobbying and political favouritism win out over, dare I say it, common sense.

10 thoughts on “TTC Operating & Capital Budgets For 2008

  1. PDF usage needs to be reduced, not expanded, given that the majority of documents can be expressed in standards-compliant HTML. The Web redesign will probably not run more than $300,000, but that is merely an informed estimate.

    Steve: A little clarity here. Given the prevalence of ways in which PDFs can be generated and the fact that they are reasonably well understood as file types even by computer neophytes, I would hope that the TTC would have converted some time ago. It is also the format used by the City’s website, and I am baffled by the fact the TTC doesn’t just become one more committee agenda within that structure.

    As for the website cost estimate, we shall see whether this suffers scope creep the way so many other projects do.

    By the way, the planned migration from the current format was triggered by my discovery of a data leak in the format currently used. It was possible to see draft versions of text in some of the online reports.


  2. I fear that the enivronmental assessments for an Eglinton line will remain just that : an assessment.

    While it would be a rail-fan’s dream, not just a people-moving stroke of genius, to have a streetcar (sic) line along Eglinton, what sort of opposition would it face from the many merchants, homeowners, etc. who don’t want to undergo the temporary hassle of tunneling through the central core.

    I’m assuming, as well, that there is enough of a tunnel hued out west of Eglinton West Stn. to be utilized as an LRT tunnel. Is that one reason why this line gets a first look?

    Steve: Eglinton makes it to the first round because it is a vital cross-town link between the other future routes and has huge potential for new riding. Oddly enough, some merchants are concerned about the business they will lose because the stops will be further apart and the pedestrian traffic patterns will change.

    I am not certain of how much of the subway was actually built. Considering that it was done to subway clearances, it may require modification to get headroom for overhead power distribution. Also, if the TTC is planning to make provision for future conversion to full subway, they have to think how they will convert a low platform LRT station to a high platform subway one.


  3. You were talking about online distribution of documents, not the convenience of people who are stuck with Windows NT and a firewall that sometimes blocks your site. Only a small subset of documents online should be PDFs. They should never be used for routine text-and-graphics documents.

    Steve: I’m not trying to argue for PDFs, merely pointing out that organizations full of stone-age management might actually be open to using a technology that they may have seen once or twice and that is also part of the City’s recently redesigned report management system. In other words, the TTC has no excuse, and doesn’t have to learn or acquire any new technology to publish their documents in a friendlier way. Whether this is an ideal way is a topic for a separate discussion.

    The comments you see in MS Word “HTML” exports on the TTC site are still there, by the way. Viewing source or looking at a document in no-CSS view exposes even greater numbers of additions and deletions, none of which should survive to see the light of day online.

    Steve: Yes, I know. I spotted this some time ago when copying text from a report into a post and discovering that I got more than I expected. They’ve been told, and they claim to have cleaned up their act, but it’s still MS Word with all its problems.


  4. The inaccurate projection seems less an accounting error than the result of poor or non-existent market research. Or maybe staff were just encouraged to be “positive” in their projections.


  5. Eglington might pose a challenge, when it comes to dealing with the merchant especially in “little West Indies” (Where I live). The area, while pretty vibrant, is not that strong economically, and considering the TTC’s track record with construction, this area may be hit hard by the construction.

    It will be interesting to see how the TTC will deal with construction at the major intersection along Eglinton. There doesn’t seem to be much room along Eglinton.


  6. Wth regard to Steve’s notation regarding low and high tunnel platforms on David Cavlovic’s comment, it is possible if stations are designed for both types of operation from the beginning. One has only to look at the tram subways in Brussels where stations are half low and half high profile. The number 2 subway on the ring was originally designed this way and now that line is a full Metro.

    For tram usage one end of the platform is used, for Metro the other end is used, with short Metro trains initially while the low end is then filled in and brought up to Metro level. This was also done in some of the Stuttgart tram tunnels where they were built to operate at first with trams and then with high floor LRVs as now operated everywhere but on one last line. They also changed from meter to standard gauge using three rail sections everywhere, with eventual removal of the inner rail. Currently Route 15 is the last low floor tram in Stuttgart and operates in the same tunnels and stations as the high floor LRVs, with no difficulty. As soon as the last line converts in the very near future, no doubt they’ll fill in (or simply discontue) tyhe loiw floor areas. It can be done IF planned from the beginning. The TTC probably has no clue these operations ever existed.

    I don’t think I can attach illustrations to a comment but I’ll send a couple to Steve by regular eMail and IF he chooses to do so perhaps they can be inserted.

    Steve: I will likely do this in a new thread sometime over the weekend.


  7. David Cavlovic wrote, “…what sort of opposition would it face from the many merchants, homeowners, etc. who don’t want to undergo the temporary hassle of tunneling through the central core.”

    I had to chuckle when I read that. In the battle over Yonge Street north of Steeles, the folks at SubwayNow have the merchants and residents of Thornhill convinced that tunneling has practically zero disruption. In their words from their site, “With new subway building techniques, much of the action takes place underground and out of sight.”

    I’m sure we all remember how there was no surface disruption when the Sheppard line was tunnelled. 😉


  8. Eglinton LRT looks like a good early bird. It is destined to attract rides, and it can be connected to the rest of streetcar network via a service link to St Clair.

    If the cost is too steep to build the whole Eglinton Crosstown at once, then Phase 1 could run from Allen Rd to Martin Grove. It will still attract a lot of riders.

    Finch W and Sheppard E LRT are great long-term, but if they are build early, each will need its own carhouse :). There is no way to connect them to other parts of the network without Jane, Don Mills, and Malvern lines.

    Additional problems with building Finch W LRT early are the lack of connection to Spadina subway (which means shifting some riders from Spadina to overloaded Yonge), and that the Finch rail might be disrupted later for the subway construction at Keele.


  9. John F. Bromley said, “…regarding low and high tunnel platforms [snip], it is possible if stations are designed for both types of operation from the beginning.”

    This is the case with the downtown (subway) stations on Pittsburgh’s LRT. These platforms have a short low section at one end as PCC streetcars operated after it opened in 1985 until the Overbrook line closed in 1993.

    Though not used anymore, the low sections still remain. There are photos of the Gateway and Steel Plaza stations at


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