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10,000,000 Riders Lost in Decade

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Photo caption: Potential customers don’t care for standing in the rain at bus stops. Most of them use their own cars rather than get wet. In the past 10 years, TTC has increased its equipment and taken over franchises of four private bus companies in the Metro area, yet is moving fewer passengers than in 1948.

The Toronto Transit Commission is the most important agency for moving people from one part of the Metro area to another. In 1947, the TTC carried 307,590,938 revenue passengers. It owned 1,576 vehicles: 963 street cars, 544 buses and coaches, 69 trolley coaches.

Last year, the TTC carried between 295,000,000 and 298,000,000 revenue passengers (the figures have not yet been completely audited). It owned 1,725 vehicles: 907 street cars, 544 buses and coaches, 140 trolley coaches and 134 subway cars.

In the decade, the Metro area population increased by 385,000 persons, yet the TTC’s passenger load dropped by nearly 10,000,000 riders. In the same period, the TTC assumed the franchises of several privately-owned bus companies, two of which carried substantial numbers of passengers in the eastern suburbs.

What has happened?

Ten years ago, the TTC had a captive public. Autos were still in rather short supply as a result of the Second World War. Industry and business were still centred in the city and its immediate suburbs.

In the past 10 years, most of the industrial expansion has taken place in the suburbs. The TTC’s pattern of operations is still focussed on the city, where it carries its largest passenger loads.

It is estimated that 660,000 of Metro’s residents work for a living. Now, if they were all carried to and from their places of employment by the TTC, they would a revenue passenger load in excess of 316,800,000 a year. Considerably in excess, because many would have to pay two fares under the zone system.

Obviously, a large proportion of the working folk drive to work, particularly if their jobs are in suburban offices and factories. The TTC’s services are spread rather thinly in the suburbs, for they are designed to move people from the suburbs to the city, rather than from suburb to suburb.

Further, the development of shopping centres in the suburbs has taken business from the TTC as well as from the downtown stores. Huge new office buildings have been put up in the central city, but the numbers of persons entering and leaving the downtown area have not increased in proportion to either the new accommodation, or the area population.

Counts of persons entering and leaving the area bounded by Dundas, Jarvis, Front Sts. and University Ave. have produced the following statistics:

In 1930, with a Metro area population of 822,000, there were 547,000 person-trips into and out of the area; the TTC carried 71 per cent of this movement. In 1939, area population was 903,000; there were 500,000 person-trips, the TTC carried 49 per cent of the movement.

By 1945, the area population was 985,000 persons; there were 569,000 person-trips across the downtown cordon, and the TTC carried 80 per cent of the movement. In 1956, area population was 1,311,000; there were 733,000 person-trips downtown, and the TTC moved 57 per cent of the passengers.

After the Yonge St. subway was built, the TTC put out questionnaires. It was estimated that 13 per cent of northern motor commuters were parking their cars in North Toronto, and completing their trips downtown by subway. The TTC hopes to persuade at least an equal percentage of eastern and western auto commuters to do the same thing when the east-west transit line is completed 10 years hence.

But traffic counts made when the TTC questionnaires were circulated failed to show any appreciable diminution of motor traffic from the northern suburbs, let alone 13 per cent. And the east-west transit line will not provide transportation for people living and working in the outer suburbs. They will still use their autos.