Updated January 4, 2023 at 6pm:
- Change in fares clarified to include 10 cent increase in Youth (Student) fares.
- Comparative table of budgets amended to update 2022 budget and add 2023 budget numbers.
- Overview of proposed service changes added.
Where there are substantial changes from the original version, I have retained the old text, but formatted it with strikethroughs so that readers can see what has changed.
There is much more to write about in the Budget Reports, both Operating and Capital, but I will leave that to separate articles.
Mayor John Tory announced increased funding of $53 million for the TTC in 2023. To put this in context, the total TTC budget for 2022 was $2.28 billion for the conventional and Wheel-Trans systems. The total TTC subsidy will rise from $905.7 to $958.7 million. This has been presented as a “big thing”, but it is comparable to (even somewhat below) past increases. The City has fairly regularly boosted TTC funding at above inflationary rates.
Tory’s announcement highlighted system safety with:
- the proposed hiring of 50 more Special Constables adding to an existing complement of about 80, and
- doubling of the Streets-To-Homes workers assigned to the TTC from 10 to 20.
The budget focuses on four areas:
- System safety (as above).
- Service improvements in priority Neighbourhood Improvement Areas and on lines that are overcrowded.
- Increased cleaning of streetcars on busy routes to counter a rising problem of litter.
- Fare changes (see below).
On the revenue side, fares will go up for some riders, down for others:
- Single adult and youth (aka student) fares will go up by 10 cents.
- Fares for pass holders and seniors will not change
(there was no mention of student fares).
- The “Fair Pass” discount program which allows low-income adults to pay at the senior’s rate will be expanded to make 50,000 more people eligible.
The announcement gave the impression that the $53 million was intended primarily for safety initiatives. However, the 70 new staff must be recruited and trained.
Assuming they are on the budget for 9 months, this only eats up a small part of this even allowing for the very high salary of Special Constables. For example, at $100k each, this would only amount to $7 million.
The projected cost of the additional Special Constables, the Streets-to-Homes workers and the streetcar cleaning is $4.4 million. The projected cost of the expanded Fair Pass program is $2.0 million to be funded from the TTC’s budget rather than through the Social Development department.
As for service improvements, the TTC has a habit of putting them off as long as possible to minimize current year budget effects. We do not know whether planned improvements will occur as soon as possible (Spring 2023) or if we must wait until the Fall to see more buses on the street.
From the budget details, we now know that service cuts are coming during some periods on the streetcar, and particularly on the rapid transit network. The overall weekly hours of service will drop in Spring 2023 from the current 95% of pre-pandemic level to 91%.
Defending his record as Mayor, John Tory claimed responsibility for three key TTC initiatives: the Fair Pass, the Two Hour Transfer and Free Rides for Children. Of these, only the last was actually a Tory initiative. Both the Fair Pass and the time-based transfer arose from years of public advocacy that met the usual response “we can’t afford it”, at least until they were deemed politically worthwhile.Continue reading