Updated October 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm:
This article and accompanying charts have been updated to include data from 2010-2013. (A further update was added on October 13 to show the breakdown of declining reserve funds.)
We hear a lot from every government about how much money they shovel out the door to support transit in Toronto, but it is useful to look at just how much they are spending, where it goes, and most importantly whether there are ongoing increases in funding levels.
There are ten charts in the file linked here:
The first two show operating subsidies in two formats: one with the values stacked to show the total subsidy received by the TTC each year, and one with lines tracking the level of subsidy from each source. In both cases, the section labelled “Ontario” (in red) is for special “one time” subsidies while the gas tax is shown separately.
The gas tax subsidy devoted to operations has remained flat at $91.6-million since it began in 2006. This tax actually arrives at the city in a lump sum for capital and operating, and the city has chosen to dedicate the same amount each year to operating.
Since 2009, the city has absorbed all of the increased operating subsidy of the TTC, although there has been a notable clawback in the Ford years.
The next two charts show capital subsidies in the same two formats. Again, the lion’s share of the subsidy is now borne by the city. The next largest chunk is Ontario subsidies other than the gas tax. These are important because this large share of the overall capital program will dwindle as projects end. Of $301-million in Ontario subsidy for 2013, the breakdown was:
- $71.6-million from gas tax
- $58.6-million from the “Quick Win” reserve, primarily for the subway resignalling project
- $3.6-million from the Ontario portion of the Canada Strategic Infrastructure reserve
- $145.3-million from the Spadina subway extension fund
- $21.5-million for the new streetcar program
- $0.6-million for residual costs on the Transit City program early in 2013.
Over 2/3 of the total provincial capital subsidy in 2013 actually came from reserves, funds that were set up with money from Queens Park years ago when times were good and held in trust by the city.
The amount of Ontario gas tax has fluctuated from year to year between roughly $69- and $75-million depending on the total tax given to Toronto less the $91.6m reserved for the operating subsidy.
Contributions by the Canadian government in 2013 of $257-million were made up of:
- $154.4-million from gas tax
- $3.5-million from the Canadian Strategic Infrastructure Fund
- $99.1-million for the Spadina subway extension
The federal gas tax amount given to Toronto has not changed since 2010. Contributions from CSIF are winding down, and the subway funding is project-specific.
The “Other” category of capital subsidy is almost entirely money from York Region for its share of the Spadina extension.
The fifth chart tracks payments from various sources. In some cases these values are the same as those in the Capital Subsidy chart, but in others the amounts can vary because some money travels to or from reserve accounts.
Those reserve accounts have been dwindling since 2008. When times were good, governments, and especially Queen’s Park, were happy to shovel money out the door as a “current expense” to reduce their surplus, such as it might be, and to sequester the money in accounts outside of the government’s books. Of several funds that were created, the only ones that still have any money in them are the CSIF reserve ($15.3m) and the “Quick Wins” reserve ($133.9m) at the end of 2013.
(The negative reserves accumulating to 2006 were accounts receivable for funding programs that had been announced by Ottawa and Queen’s Park, but not actually implemented. The TTC recouped this money in 2007.)
The reserves are charted in two ways: as total amounts by source government, and as individual amounts within each reserve fund.
The reserves shown on this chart do not include the Spadina Subway fund because money for that project is handled differently by each government. Some made a lump sum payment into a trust managed by the City of Toronto, while others pay-as-you-play making contributions as the project progresses.
Spending on the Spadina subway extension is shared between Toronto, York Region, Queen’s Park and Ottawa based on an agreed formula. The federal contribution is capped, and it is unclear what will happen if the project exceeds its total budget.
Transit City spending was subsidized by Metrolinx up until early 2013 to a total of $248m. Part of this will be the sunk costs of work on the SRT replacement that may be chargeable to Toronto as part of the settlement of the Scarborough Subway project. The remainder relates to the Eglinton, Sheppard and Finch lines. These are now completely Metrolinx projects, and this item should disappear in the 2014 financial statements.
The Low Floor LRV (streetcar) project is funded 1/3 by Queen’s Park, and the amounts shown as revenue are the Ontario share.
A few common threads run through these numbers:
- Gas tax revenues at both the provincial and federal levels have been static more or less since these subsidies were introduced.
- Reserves created mainly before the financial crisis of late 2008 are now substantially depleted and nothing has replaced this source of funding.
- The responsibility for operating and capital funding (except for project-specific accounts such as the Spadina subway extension) falls overwhelmingly on the City of Toronto.
Original article from September 6, 2010:
As a follow-up to my previous articles, I dove into past financial reports from the TTC going back to 2000. Most of these are not available online, but my hard-copy archives go back a very long way.
TTC subsidies are a branch of higher mathematics. Indeed, there are many philosophical discussions about them and competing claims for which governments pay more, or less, or nothing at all. This article is intended to present the information in one convenient place.
You will have to take it on faith that I have not garbled the information here, and you really don’t want the underlying spreadsheet, trust me. It took hours to get all of the year-to-year information to balance. That’s my problem, not yours.
Everyone loves pictures, and so we begin with a set of charts. You may want to open these concurrently with the discussion so that you can follow along.
2000-2009 Operating & Capital Subsidy Summaries
In each of these charts I have used colours appropriate to the political stripe of the source for funds. Toronto is environmentally green, Ontario is Liberal Red, Ottawa is Tory Blue, and the small contribution from others (mainly Waterfront Toronto and York Region) is gray. Gas tax subsidies are shown separately to identify this ongoing program by contrast with one-time, project-oriented funding.
This is the simplest of the charts, and it tracks the gradual rise in operating subsidies paid to the TTC, most of which is borne by the City of Toronto. For 2010, the bar will be higher, and will be entirely green. The sections in red are one-time Ontario contributions to the operating budget. Those in pink are the gas tax revenue diverted to operations from capital. This practice ended in 2009.
Note that this subsidy includes the cost of Wheel-Trans which receives no special subsidy from Queen’s Park. By 2009, this amounted to $77-million.
Looking at this chart, it is important to remember that this is the subsidy, not the total budget, and the percentage change in the budget is different from the change in the subsidy depending on the relative contribution of fares in each year.
Capital Subsidies (As Spent)
The Capital Subsidy chart shows current year spending for capital projects in each year. As we will see below, this is completely different from payments received from Queen’s Park and Ottawa.
In the early years, the City capital spending is high because the last stage of the Sheppard Subway project was paid for with City funds.
Federal and Provincial contributions kick in starting in 2002. As we will see on the next chart, much of this was in the form of announcements, and the money did not actually flow for a few years until the agreements were signed. The City carried these costs on its books and eventually was reimbursed. I have allocated the moneys to the years in which they were spent, not to when they were received, to give a proper historical view.
In 2005, gas taxes came into play. There was a base allocation, and in 2005, a special allocation from Ottawa. The amounts settle down in 2006-2009 (note that Federal contribution outweighs the Provincial one in 2009 because some Ontario money goes to the Operating budget).
What is important in this chart is that the gas taxes come nowhere near the level needed to fund TTC capital spending at a time when the big-ticket projects are only in the early stages. Any move to shift the funding source away from general revenue or reserves to the gas tax will require a large increase in that tax.
A note about the Spadina Subway extension: This project is managed by the TTC and funded by four governments. The proportions of the funding are (roughly):
- 20% City of Toronto
- 13% York Region
- 40% Ontario
- 27% Ottawa
Ontario’s contribution as well as $75-million from Ottawa sits in a reserve called the “Move Ontario Trust” which is administered by the Province. The total project revenue includes an estimated $189.1-million in interest earnings on this fund, and I have pro-rated the interest to the two governments.
For 2008 and 2009, spending on the Spadina project has been credited to each of the four governments in proportion to their share of the entire project. Whether this is how they actually paid, I don’t know as the financial statements treat the project as a single expense. Total spending on Spadina for the two years was only $107.5m as the project did not enter its main construction phase until 2010.
Capital Subsidies (As Received)
The Capital Payments chart shows a very different picture from the “as spent” chart. The amounts for the City of Toronto and for “Other” are identical because these are both “pay as you play” contributions. However, from 2001 to 2006, governments promised more than they delivered because the paperwork took precedence.
In 2007, Ontario made settlement payments to the City for many of its then-outstanding subsidy programs. This included payments for costs incurred in previous years.
Also in 2007, Ottawa made a large contribution via the “Public Transit Capital Trust”.
Both the Ontario and Ottawa funds have earned interest while the reserves created with them were spent. By the end of 2009, the Ottawa funding was exhausted, and much of the Ontario funding was spent or earmarked for the near future.
In 2008, Ontario made a large contribution under the MoveOntario2020 program that pays a bit toward the Transit City projects, but mainly is intended for the Yonge Subway signal project. Much of this was unspent at yearend 2009, and it is unclear how the accounting will be handled in future years now that Transit City projects are to be owned by the Province.
The two large red bars for 2007-8 on the “as received” chart show how Ontario shovelled money to transit projects and reserves when they had cash to spare, but not as an organized, predictable funding source. By 2009, Provincial spending consisted almost entirely of Gas Tax revenue.
With the move to Ontario ownership of the Transit City lines, it will become more difficult to track all of the funding because payments will not show up on the TTC accounts. For example, Ottawa is paying 1/3 of the Sheppard East LRT, but this transaction is entirely at a Provincial level. TTC work on the project will be billed to Metrolinx, but this will not represent the full cost. For this we will have to depend on the openness, such as it might be, of the Metrolinx financial statements.
Receivables and Reserves
The final chart shows the buildup of subsidies that had been booked by the TTC but not paid by Ontario and Ottawa up to 2006.
In 2007 and 2008, large payments by both governments established reserves against which the TTC will draw.
Note that this does not include the Spadina Subway extension funds because these are held by the Province, not by the City. Moreover, any funding promises that are not accompanied by actual cash are omitted as they do not form part of the TTC’s financial statements. In any event, such promises represent future spending and would have no effect on the proportions or amounts in past years.
“Any move to shift the funding source away from general revenue or reserves to the gas tax will require a large increase in that tax.”
But there was a large increase in that tax last July 1, when gasoline became fully taxable by the new HST. This amounted to an extra 8% tax on gasoline. At $1.00/ litre, this is an 8 cents per litre tax. Since the existing provincial excise tax is 14.7 cents per litre, this is a provincial gas tax increase of over 50%. I think that this counts as a large increase.
I note that even with this tax increase, car drivers are still heavily subsidised and do not pay anywhere near the cost of their irresponsible habit.
But one key question I have is this: what happens to the money? Is it going to be passed on with the existing excise tax? Or vanish into general revenue?
Steve: Almost certainly vanish into general revenue.
Don’t forget about the subsidised “free” parking that a great many single-occupant automobiles make use of. Some employees also get “free” parking that does not get included as a taxable benefit either.
It is also an open question as to whether the HST is revenue neutral, as McGuinty claims, or revenue positive, as some of us seem to think, or revenue negative, as evidenced by the fact that Flaherty and Harper had to kick in $4 billion or so to Ontario to convince McGuinty to sign onto the program.
McGuinty claims that the HST is revenue neutral because, for the revenue that rises (tax on gas, certain foods, et cetera), other taxes have been cut to compensate (income taxes, mostly). It’s also worth pointing out that there are cases where the PST used to apply, but which no longer applies, because businesses which were GST exempt but not PST exempt, are now HST exempt. McGuinty has already trotted forward companies which are no longer paying PST, saving themselves money, and passing on that savings to consumers.
The analysis of HST has always been very high-level. I have read an article from the Accounting association and I hoped that the contributors would explain a difference between PST, GST and HST. Instead the arcticle was an example of macro-economic analysis without relating to micro-economics. The company where my wife works in T.O., was supposed to have profitted from HST;yet two months later the accounts payable section is as confused as ever and they would like to get some detailed input from CRA about the collection and payments of the tax, which is unfortunately not forthcoming.
Hopefully Toronto comes to grip about funding the operating subsidy – I am pretty sure even Calgary supports a larger operating (in absolute numbers) subsidy than Toronto does. Hopefully the moves to more directly attach the TTC budgeting process to city council will also include an attitude of responsibility and funding it.
“Who Subsidizes The TTC?” The Conservative government in Ottawa, the Liberal government at Queen’s Park, and the Ford Administration at City Hall.
What do you guys think of Ari Goldkind? I am a left leaning and am switching from Olivia Chow to Ari Goldkind. Why? Well, until a few weeks ago I had not even heard of this Goldkind dude but he is awesome. Blinded at age 10 (in a very unfortunate incident) in one eye, he has worked his way to success.
[Text of comment deleted due to personal comments about specific individuals.]
Ari Goldkind is the only one among the top 4 candidates who was not born with a gold spoon in his mouth and worked hard to put one on his own.
Steve: I think that Goldkind benefits from the lack of scrutiny any minor candidate might have coupled with his ability to provoke unpleasant responses from some candidates in public debates.
Thanks for the update to this post, Steve.
I’m curious about 2 things.
1. can you give a general comment on how much the amount of subsidy provided to public transit in Toronto compare to subsidy provided to other agencies, namely in the 905 region outside of Toronto.
I ask this for 2 reasons.
First, because, in general, it seems that Toronto has older buses, keeps their buses longer (18 years, going down to 15 if everything works out), and is often the last to invest in technological improvements (“modern” 20 year old fareboxes instead of gravity boxes, GPS tracking, automated announcements, the PRESTO card)….I know that the TTC is a much more massive system and its total operating costs and capital costs are on a wholly different scale to the 905 systems…but are things proportional? As a comparison, I’m recalling (correctly or incorrectly, I’m not sure) that only 40% of the operating costs in Mississauga come from fares.
Second, because a big portion of The Big Move ($300 million annually) was supposed to be dedicated to local public transit…and that seems to have essentially “disappeared” (well, the money never actually appeared but no one is talking about it now). I’m concerned because this money could have quite been useful to help the TTC and the 905 agencies improve the quality of their services…but no one is interested in this beyond (it seems) Olivia Chow making it a point in her campaign. Over in Mississauga neither mayoral candidate has any plan to actually improve bus service…they’re simply reading from the John Tory playbook with new, unrealistic rapid transit lines (ironically both want to connect Mississauga to SmartTrack) that cannot be built in less than 5 years. The new Minister of Transport has not mentioned money for local transit, and I don’t think Metrolinx has mentioned it since May 2013.
Steve: Toronto receives a lower subsidy as a percentage of total operating costs than any other municipality in Ontario. This is compounded by the fact that many capital subsidy programs have wound down over the past decade and these have not been proportionately replaced by gas tax revenue. Because Toronto has a large rail network, it has ongoing operating and capital repair expenses substantially higher than other cities. These capital repairs are now substantially funded from city tax revenue.
When comparing subsidy levels, it is important to remember that what is argued to be “fair” can be the result of historical practice. For example, some in Toronto regard a 2/3 recovery of costs from fares and miscellaneous revenues as an ideal, but this is simply the level at which operations were subsidized back when the Davis formula came into being in the early 70s. Even then, the question has always been “2/3 of what?” If Toronto decides that it wants to run a higher quality of service — be that better loading standards, or five-minute service until 2:00 am — this will affect the cost recovery figures. In a shared cost environment, Ontario will not accept that its exposure to subsidy costs should be open ended just because a municipality feels generous.
Too much of the debate about subsidies focuses on percentage cost recovery, not on quantity and quality of service. This has always coloured debates about GO Transit which is ever so proud of its high rate, but that has come at the expense of service expansion into less profitable territories and time periods. If the goal is to improve service and divert riders to transit, then a high cost recovery rate may actually work against this goal. Conversely, if a municipal goal is to hold down transit subsidy expenses, then the quality of service is driven by how much revenue plus subsidy is likely to be available, not by a deliberate plan to expand transit usage through attractive service. A worst case situation can be a system that runs enough service to “show the flag”, but not enough to be truly competitive except to captive riders, and the subsidy is seen by many as a waste, or as a quasi charity service to the least well off.
As for technical improvements, yes the TTC is hidebound. Sometimes this is with good reason, other times it is just sheer pig-headed resistance to change. On the lifespan of vehicles, the TTC is a large system and has the resources to get the most out of capital investments in vehicles. When buses were robust enough to last 20 years, this was just good business sense. Don’t forget that rail vehicles are expected to last at least 30, and the biggest problem with more recent generations has been technological obsolescence of subsystems long before the basic components — bodies, trucks, motors – are beyond repair. Smaller transit systems never developed such in-house capabilities, and for them it is more cost-effective to replace vehicles on a shorter service span (allowing of course for the fact that a bus will last longer if it isn’t used much or as in as strenuous a duty cycle as in Toronto).
Gravity fareboxes are old fashioned, but for Toronto’s fare system they worked. Many cities that implemented fare cards did so as a replacement for obsolete and expensive technology and/or business practices. That was not the situation in Toronto. Sadly, Presto was as much a technology brainchild of Queen’s Park like so many others where we had to invent for ourselves something that was already available in the market. Presto itself was constrained in its first version by the then-available technology and the lack of a communication system for real-time interaction with fareboxes on buses far from urban centres. Just like the TTC clung to gravity fareboxes, Queen’s Park clung to Mark I Presto well beyond the point where the technology could not handle the more complex demands of regional travel. TTC had good reason not to move to a system that was utterly incapable of handling its fare volumes and route structure.
GPS tracking was not available when the TTC’s fleet monitoring system was introduced, but they certainly did not rush to embrace the technology. One big problem with CIS is that it is limited by the technology on which it was implemented, and this will only be fixed in the next few years as the long overdue CIS Mark II comes into being. As for use of the data to analyze service (a frequent topic here), that was part of the original spec, but it was never developed because TTC Operations didn’t see any value in this (I am paraphrasing comments from internal sources here). Considering that the TTC is still managing service with the same printed run guides they were using half a century ago, Ops has not progressed very much.
Stop announcements were actually what brought GPS to TTC vehicles, and these were implemented only after a bitter fight about accessibility that left the TTC looking rather foolish.
2. After Metrolinx introduce their plan for revenue tools in May 2013, they started talking about an independent public transport trust fund which would administer the funds. They made it sound like this would be a new thing, leading to objections about new bureaucracy and questions about their competence (in the wake of the various scandals the Liberal government was facing at the time) … but you clearly indicate that such a trust fund already exists to funnel gas tax funding.
Steve: Er, no, it does not. The gas tax revenue flows to the local municipalities directly. The only trust fund currently in Toronto is the one for the Spadina extension, and it holds the up front contributions from participating partners (to the degree that each of them chose this route, Ottawa preferring to make payments as and when money was actually spent).
I am curious to know if the existing trust can be repurposed, or if Big Move revenue tools can be funneled through the existing trust, allowing gas tax funds to be kept separate from Big Move Revenue Tools, but ensuring that funds are eventually spent on transit projects.
In June 2013 I was suggesting to Glen Murray that by funneling Revenue Tools funds through the existing trust, it would suggest a larger amount of funds were actually available for transit, which would in turn build up the confidence and trust that Ontario really needed, post-economic crisis, post-scandal and post 30 years of failing to make necessary investments in transit.
Steve: The problem with confidence is less the mechanism for holding any money, but the ongoing political interference in transit plans. Can you say “Scarborough Subway”? How many other cases might we see where local or provincial politicians gerrymander supposedly “professional” plans to suit short-term political ends? There is no “trust” mechanism on earth than can prevent political interference, especially when there is a collective will (as in Scarborough) to distort the process.
Do you have any thoughts on points 1. & 2. (especially in light of the current Big Move revenue arrangements)?
Steve: And if you can actually figure out what the Big Move’s revenue arrangements actually are, you will get a gold star. Basically, Queen’s Park makes them up as it goes along based on year-to-year budget requirements. There is no big pot of money sitting in a trust fund, only the annual allocations, such as they might be, to Metrolinx. Metrolinx produces multi-year budget projections, but they are all subject to year-to-year decisions. As projects like Eglinton ramp up, some of that funding “hardens” in the sense that it is unavoidable, but this can also cause other projects to be pushed back if there isn’t money to launch them. Just look at what happened to Transit City in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
The gas tax has not be adjusted for inflation since 1992, stuck at 14.7¢ a litre. Aviation fuel tax has had some adjustment, but not the gasoline tax. There is an HST on gasoline, however, as vehicles get more fuel efficient (IE. hybrid) or even running on electricity only, revenue on the gasoline tax is going down, especially with inflation.
There is also a 10c per litre federal excise tax, upon which HST is also charged.
The purpose of the excise tax was to help eliminate the deficit during the Chretien/Martin days. After the deficit was eliminated (and returned, only to be supposedly on its way to elimination just in time for the next election), one would hope that the tax would either be eliminated or, even better, be dedicated to public transit.
Of course, one can only hope that dedicated federal funding for public transit would come over and above the existing and confusing funds already provided from various sources.
I often wonder how much more we would be able to accomplish if financing and funding transit and infrastructure projects were not so confusing and overly complicated.
By the way Steve, thanks for all the feedback and the clarifications.
The really important thing, at least in my mind would be to have stable, reliable operating funding for transit. Ideally this funding would grow with city growth, and inflation. All taxes on fuel including excise and HST on drawn from within the region would be useful source of funding, as at least the HST portion would float with the price of gas. I think these funds should be seen as long term funds, essentially permanent.
The Fed is now at the point or being back to the point they should be running a surplus, and many Canadian cities have substantial infrastructure deficits. These represent major barriers to continued growth. Ideally a stable federal fund for capital expenditures should also be put in place. If the federal funding was $6 billion, then the province of Ontario should receive something on the order of $2.5. A steady capital funding increase from each of the province and federal government would have a massive impact. Year one of the federal money would cover all the extra buses required plus the garage space. Years 2, 3, 4 would cover the other basic capital deficits and repairs. After this, we could start looking at creating real efficiency, where the operating money could be made to go further. These funds can be negotiated, but locked for longer periods as well, at least a decade at a time. Perhaps projects should need approval, but once received, money should flow to set pots and held.
Ideally this type of stable funding would also permit these agencies to be placed at somewhat greater arms length positions, with governance charged with achieving understood goals. Travel time, ridership growth (most notably in the outer 416 and 905) and service delivery. Placing the money as part of a annual polity issue, by definition makes these agencies subservient to the whim of the day.
Of course this type of stable funding will not be popular with those in power, as it will reduce their ability to tinker, and sway plans to win elections. However, that is a reason to demand this type of funding. The last 4 years, and the 20 prior clarify why this needs to be done this way. There was a expressed need for an Eglinton transit way of some kind 30 years ago, an expressed need for a bypass to Yonge Bloor 25 years ago. A plan for a subway to Don Mills & Eg 40 years ago.
Toronto with these plans already in place would be different, and would have other problems, but I suspect they would be easier to address.
You should research sir. Back in late 80/90, the Eg West stubway (EgW to York Centre) had just as pathetic rider projections as the Shep Stubway. Neither rated a subway at the time.
Actually, this is based on the plans done then (Transit 2000 etc.) Please note I said a transit way, and not a subway. The plan (per the TTC long before subway was proposed) in my mind indicated either a Bus Way or an LRT. You are certainly correct it did not support a subway. However I did not suggest a subway, but a transit way. People need to get past the idea that “transitway” and subway are the same thing. Ottawa had a very successful transitway (busway), that I rode in the 1980s, that is only now being upgraded to a LRT line.
There are a number of other areas that could benefit from transitways in Toronto, that do not come even vaguely close to justifying subway. Eglinton does not justify subway, then or now, nor does Sheppard (east or west) nor does Finch. However, I think Finch West certainly justifies a Transitway, and likely as an LRT. Sheppard East, likely deserves a transitway, however, it is less clear that this needs to be LRT, and perhaps should instead be a busway (although it would be at the high end), it does not even come close to subway.
Yes the Eglinton West line was originally proposed as a busway, not a stubway. It was changed to subway when Network 2011 was introduced. I believe the change was based on the idea that each “centre” in each municipality in Toronto should have a subway connection.
The Sheppard Line would have connected North York and Scarborough Centres. The DRL would have connected to East York Centre. The Eglinton Line would have connected to the proposed York Centre and if I recall correctly, Etobicoke Centre would have been included in redevelopment of Islington Station.
I agree with Malcolm N though…we should have built a Sheppard LRT with a tunnel running from Allen to Bayview, and surface running to points east and west. Yes, the cost of the tunnel would have been significant but the line would only be tunneled where necessary (as compared to the subway which today has to be fully grade separated thanks to noise issues), and the length of the km of rapid transit would have been enough to make a huge difference on travel patterns along and near those corridors.
I am not convinced that the tunnel would have needed to come quite as far west as you suggest, however, yes this would be the jist, from my perspective. I get very frustrated that express transit is seen as by definition subway. It could be that now, if a bus way had been constructed along Eglinton, we would be discussing a higher order of transit than that, but in the face of a different development, travel, ridership and traffic patterns. Busway in Ottawa was huge. If planners had been left alone in Scarborough we would have had an LRT.
One of the things I think that many forget, is that while you can whine and complain to get what you want, somehow, memory politics, irritation all come into play eventually.
Toronto as a whole can only get so much money, beyond that it cannot get more than something that matches what other jurisdictions get (or less Toronto is, after all, Toronto) thus while Scarborough pushes for capital money from the federal government, the rest of the country sees Ontario as a whole, and Toronto specifically. The provincial government will be conscious of the seats in question, but will still see Toronto as a whole.
Toronto can only get so much money before the rest of the province votes as a block against the higher taxes associated with buying Toronto transit that is not fit to purpose but fit for votes. This is like the gas plants, Torontonians, may see the relocation as correcting a mistake, the rest of the province sees that NIMBY votes in Toronto area (yes I know not in the city) being bought off, a billion dollars at a time.
Scarborough, is, with its demands for transit that is not really required or effective setting limits on what the city as a whole and the region can get in the future. That $3.6 billion, or more the to point $1.7 billion more to get less, means that the voters in the rest of the province noticed.
I would be willing to bet that it will cost the GTA about $5 billion in other transit funding in the future. The $15b will now be a harder cap to break, even though this waste means that more will be required. The rest of the province is aware of LRT (which elsewhere is being celebrated) is being seen as not good enough for Toronto.
We all know the engineers, city planners, transit planners all recommended LRT, just the Toronto voter (yes I know just Scarborough) was too good to do that.
I wonder how that makes the voters and taxpayers in Ottawa, where there busway is finally becoming an LRT feel, or KW who finally have a possible LRT in the offing, or London, Windsor, Kingston, Kingston, who are still looking for help to pay for basic buses and service. There are real governance and operational reasons to not push for more expensive service (both capital and operations) than appropriate, but not only is subway more expensive to build, it is more expensive to maintain, and by the way, costs a lot in perception too. It will mean Toronto needs more dollars, and will have burnt its good will with too much of the rest of the province. This is the type of spoiled brat behaviour (yes I know only Scarborough) that makes the city look like bully or a spoiled brat. Both help other party’s form coalitions that are centred around the notion of being anti Toronto.
With the three major mayoral candidates promising a freeze on TTC fares have they though about how to replace the lost revenue? Will they raise taxes, steal the money from somewhere else or look for more efficiencies? It does not bode well for transit to promise fare freezes without explaining what the effect will be.
I think Robert, that some discussion with regards to what an election campaign has become, and to revise the old adage:
needs to be revisited to something like:
I can see that John Tory has learned the import of this, Rob and Doug had it down from the start, and Olivia appears to struggle a little. She seems to be hard put to get past exaggeration, understatement and moderate distortion. The old Mexican saying “a poor politician is a poor politician” would not really work in Toronto, it would need to be closer to “a poor deceiver is a poor receiver” the receiver part being of votes.
I would love to see a proper analysis done in terms the nature of the inverse relationship in this election, in terms of the appropriateness of transit platform and number of votes actually influenced by it. I know this would be near impossible to do, but the immediate impact on polls is fairly clear. Soknacki never got going, Chow collapsed on promising best advice, Tory took off based on fantasy, and “Subway subway subway” has gone a long ways to offset a character that would likely top the most hated local politician of all time (and may actually solidify that lead in the coming decades as people realise the impact of his policies).
Having said that, based on voter behaviour, if the pols are actually interested in winning they had better keep their real thoughts on a truly workable transit scheme and funding to themselves, at least for a little longer (because lord knows the 2 leading candidates certainly have not shared these ideas to date).
The issue with the TTC is like Via Rail and GO, subsidies are mostly direct, which makes them very visible. Automobile Subsidies are conveniently buried deep in respective budgets.
I hate the idea of using gas taxes to support transit, because they are self-defeating, if 10% of the traffic moved from private motor vehicle to transit, then while transit would need more funding, the amount of gas tax would be reduced by 10%.
Really though to be most effective, transit needs subsidies that are fixed well in advance. For example if the TTC knows it has $250 million this year, $255 million next year and $260 million the year after, it’s a lot easier to figure out your budget, then it is to have a big ? under subsidies. It’s also easier to figure out what you can build and run with that money.