TTC Budget Report: Raise the Fares

The TTC staff report recommending a fare increase is now available on the TTC’s website.  This will be formally considered at the Commission meeting on November 17, but of course this subject has already been discussed at length in the media and on blogs.

The new price for adult tokens will be $2.50, up 25 cents, with all other fares increased roughly pro-rata.  The one exception is the Metropass for which the proposed fare multiple (the ratio between the pass price and the token price) would be bumped by the equivalent of two fares.  This places the burden of the fare increase disproportionately on the Metropass users.

The TTC projects essentially flat ridership and service for 2010 relative to 2009.  Projected riding is 473-million, up only 2-million over the likely 2009 level.  Other than the full-year effect of service changes added during 2009, no major service improvements are planned for 2010.

A particularly striking comment in the report is that TTC costs are expected to rise next year by 7% and to continue rising at that rate for the foreseeable future.  A number of factors are cited, but they don’t all make sense over an extended period.

  • Labour costs.  The TTC is committed to wage increases at the currently contracted levels, but unless there is a major change in economic circumstances, the next round of bargaining will almost certainly result in a lower rate of increase.
  • Energy costs.  It is unclear whether all of the TTC’s energy costs (diesel fuel, electric power) will rise at greater than the rate of inflation and if so, by how much.
  • General inflation.  Since labour and energy are already out of the mix, this only affects costs such as materials.
  • Annualized service increases.  This affects only 2009.
  • Low floor bus adjustments.  By the end of 2009, high-floor buses are planned to be less than 10% of the bus fleet, and by 2013, last of them will be retired.  The capacity adjustment for changing to low-floor buses will be completely worked into the system substantially in 2010 when 58 of the remaining 100 “New Look”s are retired.
  • Construction and congestion adjustments.  Some additional construction effects can be expected as programs such as watermain replacement ramp up, but this will hit a new plateau at some point.
  • Increased vehicle and facility maintenance requirements.  I can understand better facility maintenance (although stations are covered in a separate bullet), but if anything the vehicle maintenance costs should start to drop with the implementation of large new fleets of vehicles in all modes.

If we are looking at a sustained 7% growth in the TTC’s operating budget, even without service improvements, the underlying reasons must be clearly understood.  This has very serious implications for transit funding, service and fares in the coming decade. Continue reading

Eglinton LRT Update (Revised)

At its meeting on November 17, the TTC will consider a report on the Eglinton LRT Transit Project Assessment.  A few items have caught my eye already:

  • Another round of public meetings starting from November 23 to December 10 will present the final version of the design.
  • The scheme for handling left turns has been modified from that shown in the original plan.
  • Construction is proposed for three stages, but service will not reach the airport until 2020.  The section west from Eglinton West Station to Commerce Blvd. would open in 2016, the east section to Kennedy in 2018, and the airport link in 2020.  Promoters of the Pan Am Games might have questions about that timetable.
  • The Silver Dart alignment to the airport remains the preferred option, and the line will not serve the hotel strip on Dixon Road.
  • The station formerly located at Brentcliffe is now at Laird.

Revised November 13, 10:15 am:

The process for handling Commission approval of the Transit Project Assessment is rather odd because only the Executive Summary is available at this time.  Full details of the proposal have not been provided, and yet the Commission is being asked to sign off on the TPA.

This begs the question of how the TTC can “approve” an assessment when the document is not before them and may not yet exist in final form. Continue reading