Welcome to the department of Best Intentions. I’m still working on the backlog of ideas for articles while leading a life that does not include staring at the Word Press Edit screen.
Ideas in the pipeline, not necessarily in this order, include:
- TTC streetcar fleet planning for the “legacy” system
- Review of the Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis for the Yonge Subway Richmond Hill Extension
- Transit City update
- Steeles West Station design
- Queen Car Split operational review (pending arrival of the TTC vehicle monitoring data for October)
- A discussion of TTC fares
In response to long-term funding constraints at the City of Toronto, the TTC has amended its Capital Budget to remove about $548-million from the 2010-2019 plan.
“Remove” is not quite the right word, but to explain what is going on, I will first give a short tutorial on how TTC capital planning works.
Above and Below the Line
Capital projects are classified into major groups with the following hierarchy:
- State of Good Repair & Safety
- Legislated Requirements
- Capacity Enhancement
In theory, expansion comes last, at least if it has to compete with funding for groups that rank higher in the list. However, much of the provincial and federal funding is project-based, and this tends to focus on major expansion projects.
“Below the Line” projects are those without funding. Originally, this category was reserved for large projects, such as the Richmond Hill Subway, that were a gleam in someone’s eye, but for which funding had not yet been committed. However, this clear distinction has blurred, particularly starting in 2010.
There is a major problem with the term “State of Good Repair and Safety” because, in some cases, a project may be a “nice to do”, not a “need to do”. If everything is lumped into this category, we are back to the old budgeting style where there is really no distinction made, everything is “top priority”, and funding cutbacks require politicians to perform line-by-line budget surgery.