The head of the TTC has vowed to press the provincial and federal governments for more funding for the cash-strapped transit system, arguing that financial support isn’t keeping pace with increasing ridership.
“The TTC simply cannot continue to accommodate millions more rides without an affordable increase in subsidy,” CEO Andy Byford said during a speech at the Empire Club in Toronto on Monday.
The TTC will carry 528 million riders this year, he said, and those riders cover about 70 per cent of the operating costs. It’s one of the lowest subsidies “in the western hemisphere,” Byford said.
Click here to read the full speech.
While he praised TTC chair Karen Stintz, he said support needs to come from across Toronto council – which is polarized, at best, on transit – and other elected officials.
“TTC needs to work on regaining the trust of our elected officials,” Byford said, adding that accountability from management and front line personnel is one of his goals for the TTC.
“I also need time and sustained funding if this bold plan is to succeed…Funding is a real issue.”
Byford did not say when he planned to lobby the provincial and federal governments.
The speech came just days after Toronto’s city council voted to reject a laundry list of potential revenue tools to fund transit.
A fuel tax, parking levy, road tolls, property tax hike and transit fare increase were among the 14 measures rejected, while councillors refused to reject or explicitly endorse a sales tax and development charges.
Ontario, under Metrolinx, is in the midst of a transit expansion plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area called the Big Move, a plan the province says will reduced gridlock and improve economic activity in the region.
The Big Move is expected to cost $50 billion over 25 years to fund projects including a downtown relief line in Toronto, a Yonge subway extension and rapid transit in Brampton and Hamilton.