Seventeen

Here we are again at this blog’s anniversary. Looking back over the past year, let alone ahead to the next one, I regret that I am not in an up-beat, optimistic mood.

A year ago, I wrote:

In Ontario, there is hope that opposition will coalesce to drive the Premier and his band of incompetent fools from office. Whether we will get a new band of fools remains to be seen, but a Toronto, an Ontario in which nobody named “Ford” has any power is long overdue. Simplistic, populist slogans and dogma are no replacement for competent, dare I say, inspiring government.

This year I really do want to look forward, even with some misgivings on the social and political landscape.

The NDP and Liberal opposition did not manage to seize power, and won’t even have a shot at this until 2026. Meanwhile, we are stuck with Doug Ford and his gang of rogues who will sell off the province to their pals. Between rhetoric for the cameras, and legislation working against any interest that does not contribute to his party, Ford’s reign brings fresh disasters at every turn.

If there were a credible alternate view at the municipal level, I might hope at least for some balance, an alternate voice, but Mayor Tory continues to focus on doing whatever he can to cheapen Toronto. Some effects are not immediately visible, but they are cumulative. The City’s ability to be great, to inspire citizens to hope for more, drifts further and further out of reach.

Both “leaders” share a common problem: their egos and their dislike of criticism or opposition. They are right and everyone else is wrong, part of a rabble opposition who can be dismissed, if need be by legislative fiat.

On the transit front, their respective agencies echo this stance. Metrolinx and the TTC are run by CEOs who want things their way, and who answer, if that is the word, to boards utterly unwilling to challenge their rule (or under marching orders to shut up and vote the right way).

Without question, three years of the pandemic have stretched every agency thin. The lights stay on, flickering, only by infusion of special subsidies that already wane and could disappear within one fiscal year. That environment gave management a chance to take more power from their boards who, especially at the TTC, had many other problems as Councillors. That power will not likely be clawed back and delegated authority will be the “new normal”.

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Waterfront East LRT Villiers Island Loop Proposal

Design of the Waterfront East LRT is still underway by Waterfront Toronto and the TTC. Whether this project will be funded in the near future and built remains to be seen, but one issue is now settled, pending public feedback and formal approval.

The question has always been “where will the line end”, at least in the interim configuration before the full buildout of trackage in the Port Lands.

Here is an overview map of the area. Note that it shows the configuration the rerouted Don River, and the new alignments of Cherry Street and of Queens Quay.

  • Starting at Union Station, the segment in red south and east along Queens Quay to the portal west of Yonge is a TTC design task that is now underway.
  • The blue segment along Queens Quay east to Cherry is a Waterfront Toronto design project. Note that it crosses a partly filled Parliament Slip (purple) rather than dodging north to Lake Shore Boulevard as Queens Quay does today.
  • The yellow segment is on New Cherry Street and Commissioners Street. It will include an extension of the streetcar network south from Distillery Loop and east via Commissioners Street. For those who are familiar with the area, New Cherry and the transit right-of-way will cross the Keating Channel on two new bridges (the red ones for those who know them).
  • Various extensions (dotted black lines) are proposed:
    • South via Cherry to Polson Street. This will take the line over the new Don River and will require twinning the existing yellow bridge where New Cherry makes the transition into Old Cherry as it crosses the new Don River.
    • East via Commissioners to Leslie Barns making a second connection to this major TTC site and a possible service through the eastern Port Lands. This will require twinning the double-span orange bridge which will carry Commissioners Street over the new Don River.
    • North via an extended Broadview Avenue to connect with GO and the Ontario Line at East Harbour Station and thence north to Queen Street.
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Holes in the Road

Service on 501 Queen, 504 King, 29/929 Dufferin and 503 Kingston Road has been affected by two major water/sewer repairs both of which struck over the weekend of January 21-22, 2023.

Updated: The south end loop for the 29 Dufferin local service has been extended into Exhibition Place.

Updated: 501 Queen streetcars are now looping via Sunnyside Loop rather than around Roncesvalles Carhouse.

The intersection of King & University is closed due to a water main break which both undermined the road and flooded St. Andrew Station. The station was closed for a time, but reopened on the afternoon of January 22. The station is not currently accessible due to water damage of escalators and the elevator between the platform and concourse levels.

Dufferin is blocked north of Springhurst (the north side of Dufferin Gate Loop) due to a sewer failure. This affects the 29/929 Dufferin bus routes as well as the 501 Queen streetcar which has been using Dufferin Loop as a western terminus during the King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles project.

501 Queen

The Queen car has been rerouted west to Sunnyside Loop Roncesvalles where it loops using the carhouse runaround track. Sunnyside Loop is not yet available as a terminus. (Updated Jan. 25/23)

29/929 Dufferin

The Dufferin bus services are making a long loop around Liberty Village instead of running south to Dufferin Loop.

Update: This loop has been revised for the 29 service to include Exhibition Place. Also, although the 929 express service is shown as operating east to Strachan, some buses make a shorter loop and turn south from King closer to Dufferin.

504 King

The King streetcars and buses are operating on a much-modified route due to the closure at University Avenue.

  • 504A cars would normally operate between Dufferin Loop and Distillery Loop. They are running between Broadview Station and Distillery Loop
  • 504B cars would normally operate between Exhibition Loop and Broadview Station Loop. They are running between Broadview Station and Church Street looping as shown below.
  • 504C buses are in theory providing service to River. However, many of these never get east of Bathurst Street (their normal terminus) due to congestion over the diversion route. Parallel service through the construction zone operates eastbound via Adelaide and westbound via Wellington as shown below, and these buses terminate at River Street.

Information in vehicle tracking/prediction apps is rather scrambled because many vehicles are not where they are supposed to be on the schedule, and extra buses operating on the 504C are not tracked at all.

503 Kingston Road

The 503 Kingston Road streetcars are currently operating as buses and their normal loop downtown would be via York, Richmond and University. This has been changed to run via York, Queen and Bay.

There are no firm dates for reopening the streets and resuming normal service at either location.

Apologies for the soft images here. This is what the TTC provides on its site.

TTC Board Meeting: January 19, 2023

The TTC held a regular Board Meeting on January 19 with a rather light agenda.

Although there was the usual CEO’s Report, there was no discussion on the item. In past articles I have written about the shortcomings of this report, and that ties in with a major item later in the agenda.

The second report and presentation covered subway and streetcar closures for capital works in 2022 with details of the 2023 plan and a brief outlook into 2024. My article about this report has been updated with a few new maps and clarifications.

There was one deputant who spoke about facilitating subway replacement shuttles with paid duty officers and TTC staff to direct traffic, and the need for TTC to have more powers to do this so that they can supplement the available police. This evolved into a discussion of special constable powers that wandered quite substantially from the topic under discussion. It never really addressed the basic concern that subway shuttles can be mired in traffic.

One Commissioner asked about posting more information about projects, and for a moment I hoped this would turn into a discussion about the chaotic state of public information and operation of replacement services. Alas, the interest was more in the usual “good news” type of publicity saying to the public “look at the great maintenance we are doing”. Riders just want to know where to find reliable replacement service through the blizzard of outdated or inaccurate notices that appear both in hard copy and online.

At the beginning of a new Board’s term, an important briefing covers the duties and responsibilities of Board members under various law and regulations, notably the duty of care for safety of employees and passengers. The presentation was given by the TTC’s General Counsel, Michael Atlas, and the Chief Safety Officer, Betty Hasserjian.

It is not sufficient that the Board know that management is regularly monitoring and auditing the organization, but that there is a reporting mechanism to ensure the Board knows what is happening. This is supposed to occur via the CEO’s Report, but past experience shows that the Board rarely questions whether the data, the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in that report tell a complete and accurate story. This shows up commonly in the wide gap between the quality of service riders complain of constantly and the much rosier view in the CEO’s Report.

In the course of her presentation, Hasserjian noted that the reporting requirements for major incidents on the system were approved by the Board in July 2021. What she did not mention was that this came after a big wake-up call to the Board when they discovered that a “near miss” between subway trains had occurred in June 2020 at Osgoode Station, but it was not reported to the Board until the story surfaced in the Toronto Star on June 4, 2021.

See: The “Near Miss” At Osgoode Station

There was a presentation on the incident in a private session of the Board on June 16, 2021 at which they approved the following:

That the TTC Board direct the Chief Executive Officer to alert the Board when an incident meeting the identified thresholds for escalation occurs and subsequently report to the Board once a comprehensive review or investigation has been completed.

The new policy was presented at the July 2021 public meeting.

The TTC has implemented an Escalation and Notification Protocol, which requires that the Board be advised of all incidents that meet the following criteria:
1. Any Level 3 investigation. Level 3 investigations are conducted for our most serious incidents under the supervision of Senior Management and review and approval by the Executive. For occupational incidents, these investigations will address incidents where the amount and type of hazardous energy involved would most likely result in a fatality. For customer or public incidents, the consequence would be multiple fatalities.
2. Any near miss of revenue trains on the mainline.
3. Any safety investigation involving a 3rd party review.
4. Any matter at the discretion of the CEO or Chief Safety Officer.

It is truly astounding that such a policy was not already in place, and that it took a “near miss” plus a year’s delay and media reporting to trigger its inclusion. One small but key word in point four is “or” that allows the Chief Safety Officer to bypass the CEO.

Needless to say, there was nothing in the CEO’s Report presented at the July 2020 Board Meeting about the incident.

The fundamental point about “oversight” by a Board of Directors is that they have an active role. It is not to micromanage day-to-day operations, but to set policies and directions, and to ensure that there are reliable mechanisms in place for them to monitor how these are carried out.

This is summarized in Atlas’ presentation at page 5 where he lists the typical involvement of Directors of a corporation:

  • strategic planning
  • risk management
  • oversight/supervision of management
  • organization‘s values and policies
  • ensuring obligations to stakeholders are understood and met
  • major corporate decisions

Sadly the TTC Board does very little of this work preferring to rubber stamp management proposals and assume that all is well. One glaring problem, particularly concerning in today’s financial situation, is that past attempts to form a Budget Committee or to organize a meeting simply to discuss overall corporate direction have foundered for lack of interest.

There is an Audit & Risk Management Committee, and it does review management plans and performance, to the degree that these are reported. This is an exception to a generally laissez faire attitude.

The Board should not trust that all is well until the next crisis appears out of the blue on the front pages.

KQQR Update: January 16, 2023

On a day that hinted vaguely of, dare I say it, Spring, I visited King-Queen-Queensway-Roncesvalles to see the current state of affairs.

In brief:

  • All track is assembled and concrete placement is underway for the north gate (Roncesvalles Avenue) entrance of the carhouse.
  • Eastbound road traffic on The Queensway is now using the new curb lane.
  • Construction of the track foundation between Glendale and Parkside is underway.
  • Overhead contact wire is up at Sunnyside Loop, although the work to attach it to hangers is not yet finished.

One might think it possible we will see streetcar service at least to Sunnyside on Queen and on Roncesvalles to Dundas West Station this Winter-Spring. Schedule details for the mid-February and late-March changes have not yet been announced.

At the very least, long-suffering residents of Roncesvalles should get their buses back between The Queensway and Howard Park in a few weeks unless the project is delayed in some mysterious way even longer.

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TTC Subway & Streetcar Infrastructure Projects 2023-24 (Updated)

The TTC has published its planned schedule for various streetcar infrastructure inspection and repair projects for 2023, and a look-ahead to 2024.

See: Subway Closure and Streetcar Diversions – 2022 Review and 2023/2024 Forecast

This article was updated on January 19, 2023 at 8:45 pm with additional illustrations from a staff presentation to the TTC Board.

See: Board Report Briefing Subway Closure & Streetcar Diversions – 2022 Review and 2023/2024 Forecast

Subway

The full list of closures begins on p 13 of the report. There is a variety of full weekend, early closing and late opening events (check the legend to the chart).

There are fewer Line 1 closures in 2023 due to ATC (Automatic Train Control) than in 2022 because the main work is complete. However, there is a follow-up phase that will require some weekend closures for testing and implementation. Other work affecting Line 1 includes repair of station finishes on the University subway, elevator installation at Lawrence, various track replacements, and preliminary work at Finch for the Yonge North Subway Extension.

On Line 2, there will be work at Kipling to add a new storage track, preparatory work at Kennedy for Scarborough Subway Extension, preparatory work on the east end of the line for ATC installation, and some track replacement work. As usual there will be several late openings of service on Sundays for beam replacement on the Prince Edward Viaduct.

Many closures involve only an early shutdown of subway service to give a longer overnight maintenance window than would be possible with normal hours of service.

Streetcar

There is a long list of events for the streetcar system, but many of them are short interruptions of overnight/weekend work for inspections or minor repairs.

The major trackwork planned in 2023 is listed both in the report (starting on p 19) and on the TOInview map of City construction projects. The schedule implies that a good chunk of the streetcar system will be shut down at various times during the year. The Ontario Line contributes some of this to the Queen car, but the long-suffering riders on King do not get a break either after years of work at King-Queen-Roncesvalles. Note that Adelaide from York to Victoria is a Metrolinx project and so does not appear in this list.

Some of the dates in the TTC list do not align with info on TOInview. This is very common.

Parts of the schedule simply do not make sense. Some projects have far more time reserved than they should take based on past experience. Some projects will block the routes from carhouses in the east end to the rest of the network either via Queen Street or via Coxwell and Gerrard Streets, and times for these overlap.

Update: The TTC confirms that planned work on Gerrard Street will not occur at the same time as projects on Queen will block access to Leslie Barns and Russell Carhouse. See the map at the end of this section for a graphic view of the planned work.

Details of the Broadview Station Loop expansion are not yet available, nor is it confirmed whether this will actually occur.

I hope to get clarification of what is going on from the TTC.

  • Feb 27-Mar 26: King Street West from Close to Strachan
  • Mar 10-Oct 29: Dufferin Loop
  • Mar 24-Nov 28: Queen Street East from Carlaw to Leslie & Leslie to Greenwood
  • Mar 31-Apr 7: Intersection of King & Church
  • May 1-Nov 29: York from Queen to Adelaide (Ontario Line diversion)
  • May 6-July 8: Intersection of Lower Gerrard & Coxwell
  • May 6-Nov 21: Russell Yard
  • May 14-Nov 8: Broadview from Gerrard to Broadview Station
  • June 18-July 29: Intersection of King & Parliament
  • July 30-Nov 18: Metrolinx work at Queen/Degrassi overpass
  • Sept 3-Oct 2: Broadview Station Loop
  • Sept 7-Oct 29: Queen from Parliament to River & Davies to Broadview
  • Oct 8-Dec 16: Oakwood Loop
  • Oct 16-Feb12: St. Clair West Station Loop

The report does not list specifics for 2024, but info already appears on the TOInview map. It is not clear how some of this work will interact with Metrolinx Ontario Line construction at King & Bathurst. There is a proposed track and lane realignment at Bathurst & Fleet, but it is not clear whether this will actually occur, or if the planned work is simply replacement of existing special work as is. Details of the Spadina Station streetcar loop expansion are not yet available.

  • St. Clair & Yonge
  • St. Clair & Bathurst
  • Queen St. W from O’Hara to Triller
  • King St. W from Strachan to Spadina
  • King & Queen (Don Bridge)
  • Bathurst St. from Queen to Front
  • Bathurst & Queen
  • Bathurst & Fleet
  • College St. from Bay to Yonge
  • Main & Gerrard
  • Russell Yard (continuing from 2023)
  • Expansion of the streetcar platform at Spadina Station Loop

Update: The following map was included in the staff presentation to the Board on January 19, 2023.

This map contains several geographic errors:

  • The project labelled Queen & Yonge points at King & Spadina.
  • The project for St. Clair & Bathurst is shown east of St. Clair West Station rather than west of it.
  • The project for St. Clair & Earlscourt is shown well west of Lansdowne rather than east of it.
  • Carstops on Queen East at Wineva and at Waverley are shown as west of Kingston Road rather than east of it.
  • The project for Queen & Jarvis is shown well west of Yonge.
  • The project for Fleet Loop actually points to Exhibition Loop.

There are a few more, but my point in cataloguing them is that this is sloppy work and it speaks to the quality of information presented to the Board by management.

Pantograph Conversion

Gradually, and several years behind the original target date, the TTC has converted overhead wiring designed for trolley poles first to a hybrid pole/pantograph configuration, and then to pure pantograph style. A map of the current status was included in the staff presentation.

There are some problems with this map which is based off of a track plan that is itself out of date. “Wrong way” track has been removed from the one-way streets downtown, although it still appears here. Also, some work is underway on King West even this is not shown with the orange “in progress” colour. The intersection of King & Shaw had already been converted to Hybrid format when I visited it a month ago. (There are other errors in the map, but please don’t bother commenting with fixes.)

One amusing relic is the legend “Hillsdale Ave” on Lake Shore Blvd West. This was the site of a long-removed wye, the last in the system, and the street is called “Hillside Ave”. “Hillsdale” is in North Toronto.

Again, this is an unfortunate example of how the “official” records of the system are out of sync with actual conditions in the field.

TTC Board Meeting Update: January 9, 2023

The TTC Board met today to consider its 2023 Operating and Capital budget. To nobody’s surprise, they were adopted as written in spite of numerous public deputations and a few attempts by the Board to tweak the recommendations.

For detailed background on the budgets, see:

In the course of the meeting two fairly standard devices were used to limit debate, although one of them proved to be deeply out of order. I will come to that later in the article.

As is common for meetings where there are many pesky public deputations, the speaking time was limited to three minutes each. Questions were rarely asked for clarification or to draw out more information. Making a deputation at the TTC can be quite disheartening when almost nobody sitting around the table wants to hear you.

The Fare Increase

A thread running through many presentations, and indeed now part of the official line, is that transit is important for people who cannot afford to drive. This creates a political dynamic where transit is a service for the poor while roads are for everyone else. TTC has long benefited from strong “choice” ridership, but the shift to work-from-home has stripped a large population of riders who commute by choice out of their customer base.

Ironically, we are still building transit megaprojects for core-oriented commuting. That tap is very hard to turn off because of the many interests in construction and development. Buses in the poorer suburbs, not so much.

The proposed ten cent fare increase effective Monday, April 3, 2023 for single adult and youth fares was approved, as was a scheme to make about 50,000 more low income people eligible for the “Fair Pass”.

Several deputants as well as Board member Councillor Moise argued that the structure of the fare increase would hurt low income riders disproportionately because they are less likely to afford monthly passes for which there is no increase. This is certainly true for riders who do not travel enough to make a pass worth buying, or who cannot afford to lay out a month’s transit fare in a single payment. As to the Fair Pass, some members of the Board seemed unaware that there is a broad range of “low income” riders who are not poor enough to qualify for this pass.

The issue of fares as a social subsidy is a complicated one, along with the question of how much riders of any class should pay toward the cost of transit. There is supposed to be a Fare Policy Study coming to the TTC Board later in 2023, and this should be the context for a debate on all aspects of the issue. It should receive more than a perfunctory, dismissive debate for an already-decided fare increase.

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TTC 2023-2037 Capital Plan & Budget

The TTC’s capital plans cover a wide array of projects related to maintenance and enhancement of the transit system. For planning purposes, this is presented with a rolling 15-year window updated year-by-year. For budget purposes, a 10-year version is produced to feed into the City’s rolling plans.

Separate, but related, is the Real Estate Investment Plan which identifies property requirements for many projects. Some of these are well known, some are only at the “what if” stage for possible future inclusion in the capital plan. This raises awareness of potential needs so that property can be protected and acquired if necessary to keep future options open.

Major points in this article include:

  • The TTC 15-year capital plan now sits at $38 billion, and even that does not include possible projects such as the Waterfront LRT.
  • About two thirds of the capital plan is not funded, in the sense that the source of money to actually pay for projects is unknown. This affects some current projects such as replacement of subway cars that are partly funded, but cannot proceed until the TTC is certain it can pay for the entire contract.
  • Bus replacement and electrification plans run out of money in 2025.
  • A very large portion of the plan involves renewal and upgrading of subway infrastructure. Focus on the subway threatens to distract from need of the surface system which is essential to the network’s operation.
  • The scale of planned spending on system growth and improvement dwarfs the shortfall in the Operating Budget that will lead to service cuts in 2023. There is no reconciliation of the parsimony of the operating plans for transit service with the scope of capital plans for expansion and improvement.
  • Some future funding included in the budget assumes continuation of existing streams from other governments. This is not guaranteed.
  • Absent new funding, the State of Good Repair backlog is projected to rise to over $6 billion in the coming decade.
  • There is a growing problem that the TTC owns buses, streetcars and subway trains it cannot afford to operate.
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TTC 2023 Operating Budget

This article is a deeper dive into the budget for 2023 following up from my first cut on the subject yesterday (January 4).

See:

Updated January 6, 2023 at 2:10pm: Of all the tables included in this article, I realized that I had not included the full budgets showing functional breakdowns, as opposed to individual line items. These have been added at the end.

The annual budget cycle is always a challenge because the document comes to the TTC Board at the last minute before it must be passed and forwarded to Council. This year, the situation was complicated by the election (normally we would see the budget reports in December, not January), and by the new “strong mayor” system in which the Mayor effectively dictates the budget by setting the City’s proposed subsidy ceiling. We have many new Board members most of whom have no experience with TTC budgets, and who will not know “which rocks to look under”.

Even worse, the Mayor’s press conference announcing the budget made no mention of planned service cuts coming in Spring 2023 and gave the impression that this “core service” was defended. That can, at best, be called “misdirection” in the hope that nobody would notice what was happening and focus on the “good news”.

Here, in much more detail than I had time for in the first article, is the budget information distilled from the TTC’s 55-page report.

Key points (the TL/DR version):

  • The City will give the TTC $53 million more in subsidy in 2023 than 2022. This is pitched as being in support of more security, safety and cleanliness on the system, although the cost of those changes is less than 10% of that amount.
  • The same argument is advanced for proceeds from a fare increase (10 cents on single fares for adults and youth/students) projected at roughly $16 million.
  • The effect is that new funding is advertised for a politically unassailable purpose even though it will mainly pay for other aspects of TTC operations.
  • The year-over-year increase in City subsidy is lower than in some past years and should not be seen as a generous windfall. This is in part possible because of underspending in 2022 which leaves headroom for 2023 without as much additional City money as would otherwise be required.
  • The cost of beginning operations on Lines 5 and 6 will eat up over $40 million in 2023 and even more in 2024. At the same time, the TTC proposes service cuts elsewhere that will save about $46 million nominally in the name of matching service to demand. What is actually happening is that most of the network is paying for two new rapid transit lines through service cuts.
  • Crowding standards for off-peak service will be substantially changed to permit more riders on buses, streetcars and subway trains. On buses, the off-peak standard will be only slightly less than the peak standard. Combined with chronic unreliability of service, this will lead to more full buses and will discourage riding during the period when recovery to pre-pandemic levels is strong.
  • Headway maxima will be raised so that rapid transit service could operate as infrequently as every 10 minutes during periods of light demand. For buses and streetcars, there is no guarantee that the existing Ten Minute Network will be preserved.
  • The changes to Service Standards (crowding and maximum headways) are not explicitly listed in the report’s recommendations and would be missed by someone only browsing early pages, a not unusual situation for TTC Board members and Councillors.
  • The TTC has not published any details of planned service changes even though, for April 2023 implementation, they are certainly in the early stages of planning. The TTC and Council were clearly expected to approve the changes sight-unseen, possibly without even realizing they were buried in the budget. TTC management must be forced to reveal the details of what they plan.
  • The budget provides for additional operators who will be used to fill open crews to reduce or eliminate the incidence of service gaps caused by missing buses and streetcars. This is a change and improvement from using “run as directed” vehicles to the extent that operators are available to drive them.
  • Even this austerity service is possible only with additional subsidy of $336 million which the City/TTC will seek from the provincial and federal governments.
  • Ridership recovery is stronger on weekends, and among concession fare groups (seniors, youth, students). This type of riding is less affected by work-from-home.
  • Projections for future budgets in 2024 and 2025 include no provision for additional service beyond that which will be operated in 2023.
  • The TTC claims it will pursue a ridership recovery program, but its budgetary plans suggest that service will remain below 2022 levels for 2023 through 2025. This, coupled with chronic service reliability problems, is not a recipe for winning back riders.
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TTC 2023 Budget: A Bit More Subsidy, But …

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.

See: TTC Operating Budget Report

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.

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