Budget season brings some of the more extreme and ill-informed statements from the Poo-Bahs who govern our fair city. For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the Gilbert & Sullivan operatta “The Mikado”, the Oxford Dictionary defines the name/term thus:
A person having much influence or holding many offices at the same time, especially one perceived as pompously self-important.
Throughout the development of the TTC Operating Budget, a central question has been that of projected ridership and the service it will require. The accept wisdom goes roughly like this:
- We expected lots and lots of new riders in 2016, but we aimed rather high, a “stretch target” as CEO Andy Byford described it.
- They didn’t all show up. This led to a shortfall both in ridership and in revenue compared to the original 2016 budget.
- Service improvements were planned for fall 2016 based on the target numbers, but as there are fewer riders, the improvements were not required.
- Ridership for 2017 is projected to be only barely above 2016 levels, and the service operating in fall 2016 is adequate to handle the demand.
- There is no provision in the 2017 budget for service increases beyond the full-year effect of changes made partway through 2016.
All of this is quite plausible, but it runs headlong into conflicts with other factors. The most recent of these is a letter from Mayor Tory and TTC Chair Josh Colle to Bombardier complaining about the late delivery of streetcars.