Toronto Takes a Financial Hit From Lost Transit Riding

At its virtual meeting on May 13, the TTC Board will consider a report on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on TTC ridership and finances.

As an agency whose revenue depends heavily on fares paid by riders, any downturn in transit demand has a critical effect on TTC finances. This is compounded by the system’s reduced capacity to provide adequate distancing between riders, and so the amount of service required remains high even though there are far fewer riders. The report provides the simple explanation of the math:

  • Ridership has stabilized at about 20 per cent of normal demand.
  • Vehicle capacity is only 30 percent of normal conditions.
  • Operating 80 percent of normal service produces 24 percent of normal capacity.

The situation varies across the system with the subway and streetcar networks hardest hit because they serve the financial district downtown. Proportionately more people who would normally travel to this area are staying home or using other modes (walking, cycling, autos) to make their trips. The numbers below are based on Presto taps as a surrogate for demand. This is not the same as “ridership” because some trips do not involve a tap to enter a vehicle or station (pre-paid areas), and some taps represent transfers, not new trips. The proportional changes tell the story.

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