Mayors traditionally take a back seat during the first budget process of their tenure, but John Tory has jumped into the driver’s seat – the TTC driver’s seat — with an “historic” investment in transit.
Tory is calling for a raft of changes to the TTC — including a 10-cent fare hike and free rides for children 12 and under — as part of a $95 million investment in transit.
The changes would take effect March 1, pending approval by the TTC and city council.
The investment would allow the transit agency to make a number of other changes, including up to two more trains on lines 1 and 2 during rush hours, 50 new buses, and the reinstatement of bus and streetcar service cut under the Ford administration.
The 10-cent fare hike would exclude cash fares and increase Metropass prices from $133.75 to $141.50 per month.
Tory promised a freeze on TTC fares as part of his election campaign but he said the changes are “long overdue and absolutely necessary.”
He called the decision to raise fares a “difficult choice,” but laid the blame at the feet of the Ford administration.
“I was not fully able to comprehend and see put in front of me all of the facts as to the scope and the extent of the transit cutbacks imposed by the previous administration,” Tory said.
Explore the below interactive map and chart of transit monthly fares by city; data courtesy of Canadian Urban Transit Association. Mobile viewers or to view a larger version, click here.
Tory called the cuts under the Ford administration “deliberate decisions to reduce service and increase crowding.”
He promised the “reasonable increase in fares” will be accompanied by an increase in service.
In addition to the free fares for children and increased rush hour service the plan calls for the following improvements:
- Ten-minute or better bus and streetcar service on key routes from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. six days a week (9 a.m. on Sundays)
- Reduced wait times and crowding at off-peak times
- Reduced wait times and crowding on 21 of the busiest routes during morning and afternoon rush hours
- Proof-of-payment and all-door boarding on all streetcar routes
- Expansion of the Express Bus network, adding four new routes to a network that serves 34-million rides annually
- Expanding the Blue Night Network, adding 12 routes to the 22-route network that serves 4-million rides annually
- Route management improvements designed to reduce short-turns, bunching and gapping of bus and streetcar routes
- Additional resources to focus on subway reliability around signals, track and communications systems
The mayor was joined by TTC chair Josh Colle (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence) and CEO Andy Byford to make the announcement at Joyce Public School, in the Lawrence Avenue and Caledonia Road area, on Monday morning.
Byford called the announcement “an historic day for the TTC.”
“We have a mayor that clearly believes in public transit and that makes the job exponentially easier,” Byford said.
The union representing TTC employees said it “welcomed” the service improvement announcement but that the measures were “too modest to make the kind of difference Torontonians want” and that riders are once again asked “to bear the burden of years of TTC underfunding.”
ATU Local 113 president Bob Kinnear said the union was led to believe that the mayor was making a funding announcement.
“The 10-cent fare increase is not really ‘funding,’ it’s another tax on transit users who already pay more to run their system than anywhere else in North America,” he said in a statement.
Last November, the union issued its own report on Toronto’s transit future, which calls for substantially more funding, particularly for more vehicles, than Tory’s plans.
“We need far more buses than are being proposed and many more streetcars,” he said. “We need more investment in maintenance, which will actually save money, and we need a lot more space to put all these new vehicles.”
Kinnear also wondered where the provincial and federal governments fit into the plan.
The investment would come as part of the city’s 2015 budget, which will be unveiled at a committee meeting on Tuesday.
Traditionally the first budget of a mayor’s term is drafted largely by staff, who start the process before the mayor is sworn in.
But Tory has actively participated in this budget, including Monday’s TTC announcement.
He also requested retiring city manager Joe Pennachetti stay on for one last round.
The TTC accounted for about one-sixth of the city’s 2014 budget of $9.6 billion.