Service Cuts Coming in 2011? (Updated)

Updated January 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm:

CITY-TV reports that according to TTC Chair Karen Stintz, the City’s budget allocation for operating subsidy to the TTC will remain at the same level in 2011 as in 2010.  This would be an increase over actual spending in 2010 because the TTC ran a “surplus”, at least on paper.

From the Chief General Manager’s Report up to the end of October 2010 we know that the projected subsidy requirement was running about $60-million below the originally budgetted level.  Of the expected $430m subsidy, only about $370m would actually be needed.  Some of this “surplus” arises from better than expected riding and fare revenue, and partly from some operating cost savings that may not be repeatable (an unexpected dip in fuel cost, for example).

If the TTC had been required to take a 5% cut relative to budget levels, this would have meant a $21.5m cutback in subsidy, but since they actually only used $370m, they would still be ahead of the game.  Getting the whole $430m is a bonus.  However, the total TTC budget is about $1.37-billion, and a 5% increase would not be unexpected given the combined effect of wage, service and materials increases.  That would eat up roughly $64-million.

Stintz confirmed that there will be some service cuts in 2011.  One important budget pressure is the “Customer Service” file which will trigger new spending in many areas.  This is a challenge for the TTC and a delicate balancing act — if service gets worse, it will be hard to deliver that service with a smile.

The bigger challenge for the TTC and for Council is the multi-year view of budgets.  There won’t be a big “surplus” (actually underspending relative to budget) in coming years, and real dollars will have to be found either on the revenue or expense side of the ledger.  Council is supposed to be moving to multi-year budgeting, but there is not yet anything definitive on this nor on the effect for medium range transit policies.

As I write this, a special TTC meeting to deal with budget matters is rumoured for next week, but it has not yet been publicly announced.  The City Budget Launch meeting on Monday, January 10 may provide more details.

The original article from December 23, 2010, follows below.

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