The TTC has passed a proposed Operating Budget for 2013 including, in principle, a five-cent increase to the adult fare. This budget now goes to the City of Toronto’s Budget Committee and Council for discussion and approval of the 2013 operating subsidy.
There are two components to the budget report: the budget for the “regular” TTC system and the one for Wheel-Trans.
Item Regular Wheel-Trans ($000) ($000) Fare Revenue $1,061,000 $ 5,546 Other Income 67,106 Total Income $1,128,106 $ 5,546 Expenses $1,548,794 $ 102,488 Subsidy Required 420,688 96,942 Subsidy Available * 410,951 96,823 Shortfall 9,737 119
The “Subsidy Available” shown above is based on premise that the 2012 subsidy, adjusted for the cost of arbitrated labour settlements, will be provided as a “flat lined” City subsidy in 2013. TTC management intend to continue looking for savings within the budget to whittle down the shortfall. CEO Andy Byford is adamant that he does not want to cut service, and this is the first of many challenges for TTC supporters on Council.
The operating subsidy for the regular system in 2012 was $374.1m. Adjusting for arbitrated pay increases going back to April 2011, the “flat line” value for 2013 is $411.0m, an increase of 9.9% to bring 2010 rates up to 2013. It is entirely possible that budget hawks will want an absolute freeze in subsidies. If so, then the TTC would have a big hole to fill in its budget.
Service on the regular system will be increased to meet a projected ridership of 528-million, but there is no provision for improved loading standards or minimum service levels. This is a 2.7% increase over the projected 2012 ridership of 514m. Projections for 2013 only months ago set ridership at 520m, an unreasonably low figure. With the higher number, the budget does not have a built-in shortfall in planned service.
On Wheel-Trans, there is a one-time saving by the removal of ambulatory dialysis patients from the eligibility list. This was originally intended to happen in 2012, but the decision’s effect was staved off by diverting $5m intended as subsidy for regular service to the Wheel-Trans budget. TTC Chair Karen Stintz speaks of this as a “good news” story because it is claimed that alternative transport has been found for these riders. Whether this is true, or to what degree costs are being transferred back onto riders, remains to be seen. There were no deputations at the Commission Meeting on this subject.
The fare increase is half of the amount approved in principle during the 2012 budget debates when standard ten cent increases were proposed for years 2013-15. At a five cent level, the increase is 1.9% for adult token fares. On a weighted average basis across all fare types, the increase is 1.7%. (Cash and child fares are unchanged; senior/student fares go up by 2.9% because a five cents is a larger proportion of the 2012 fare than for adults.) The proposed new fare schedule is Appendix C of the budget report.
The shortfall could be eliminated by a ten cent fare increase which is projected to raise an additional $14m net of the effect of lost riding. For many years, TTC riding tracked employment levels in Toronto, but this relationship ended at about 2009. System usage continues to rise even though employment is stagnant through a combination of discretionary and off-peak riding. Metropass sales continue to climb because the pricing, net of various incentives including discounts for various groups and the transit tax rebate, make passes an attractive way to purchase transit service.