S(L)RT Open Houses Announced

Two open houses for the conversion of the SRT to LRT and its extension to Malvern have been announced:

March 8, 2010  6:30pm – 9:00pm

Jean Vanier Catholic Secondary School, 959 Midland Avenue (north of Eglinton)

March 11, 2010  6:30pm – 9:00pm

Chinese Cultural Centre, 5183 Sheppard Avenue East (at Progress Ave)

These meetings will discuss the conversion and extension plans, as well as the Kennedy Station changes needed to accommodate all of the new LRT lines.

GO Transit To Raise and Standardize Fares (Updated)

Updated February 22 at 4:00 pm

As expected, the Metrolinx Board approved the proposed increase in GO Transit fares at its recent meeting.  The contrast with the debates about TTC budgets and fares was quite striking.  The greatest potential for discord came with the presentation of an anti-increase petition.

The bottom line for this increase is “to ensure fiscal responsibility and meet the needs of a growing market of commuters” (presentation to the Board, page 2).  That’s shorthand for keeping the subsidy requirement under control, paying for the operations we have now and giving us some headroom to do more.

GO customers are, after all, from a very different market than the TTC.  Their median family income is $100k, they live well outside the core, and auto travel is already an established part of their lifestyle.  85% are fully employed, 9% are students and 1% are seniors.  They are travelling on GO overwhelmingly by choice and good service, in all aspects, matters.

40% of GO riders use monthly passes and another 40% use 10-trip tickets.  This is not unlike the TTC where the monthly pass accounts for over half of the adult trips, and a large majority of those remaining use token fares.

The purpose of the fare increase was to raise revenue by $14.6m in fiscal 2010.  Provincial subsidy will also jump for 2010 from $52.6m to $72.1m, but over half of this changes adjusts for one-time revenue in 2009/10 that allowed for a lower subsidy in that year.  GO’s total operating budget is $386.7m, and they expect to carry 56m rides.

By comparison, the TTC’s fare increase is project to raise somewhere between $36m and $50m depending on which figures you believe.  In 2010, the City will carry the entire $430m TTC subsidy while Queen’s Park spends its way through this budget cycle propping up Ontario’s economy.  The TTC’s proposed total operating budget is $1.37b, and they expect to carry 462m rides.

GO’s workforce, including contract staff, is 1,938.  The TTC’s proposed “conventional system” workforce for 2010 (as discussed in another thread), excluding contractors, is 10,491.  This number omits Wheel Trans, Capital Projects and Toronto Coach Terminal.

The TTC’s budget is only 3.5 times GO’s, but there are far more staff (5.4:1) and riders (8.2:1).  The subsidy per rider on GO is $1.29.  On the TTC it is about $0.93.

Earlier, I mentioned the potential for discord at the Metrolinx meeting.  The protocols for these meetings accept the public’s presence only grudgingly, unlike meetings for municipal agencies such as the TTC where in camera discussions are allowed on only a handful of grounds.  There are no deputations at Metrolinx, unlike the City of Toronto where a long history of public involvement would be impossible to silence.

The Directors, with few exceptions, ask no questions in the public session, and everything has clearly been worked out beforehand.  They’re just one big happy family.

Alas, thanks to an email slip-up, Metrolinx’ attitude slipped into view.  An internal email from Rob Prichard, Metrolinx CEO, was cc:ed to the petion’s originator in error.  From this, the clear intent was to give the petition as little exposure at the meeting as possible and assume that the Board would ignore it.  They did.

The original article from February 12 follows the break.

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