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TTC pledges more service in budget

Many routes would be beefed up to draw riders

By Joseph Hall
Toronto Star Transportation Reporter - December 15, 1999

TTC staff are predicting that next year will be Y2 “okay” for Canada’s largest transit system - promising new services to attract more riders in the commission’s 2000 operating budget.

“We said, ‘Do we move forward in a more positive approach and lead ridership, or sit back and wait for people to come?’ ” said Rick Ducharme, the system’s chief general manager, who released budget details yesterday.

“And we decided we’d take the more positive approach to it.”

Ducharme, who is presenting his first operating budget since being named to the system’s top administrative post in August, promised to increase rush hour subway services on both the Yonge/University/Spadina and the Bloor/Danforth lines.

He also said he would beef up many bus routes in anticipation of new riders brought on by the surging Toronto economy in the coming years.

TTC staff estimate that continued economic growth in the city will bring at least 2 per cent more passengers to the system next year, increasing ridership from a predicted 392 million in 1999 to up to 405 million in 2000.

Staff say that number will rise to 410 million in 2001, based on standard prediction models of economic growth and ridership.

But Ducharme said the current deployment of subway and surface vehicles could not comfortably accommodate those passenger increases.

“The only way to do this is to put more service out on the street to grab the ridership,” he said. “The buses are full now. We have to get more of them out there … or we could stymie people from using the system.”

Over the next six months, the TTC would like to:

  • Add five more rush-hour trains to the Yonge/University/Spadina subway line and three more trains to the Bloor/Danforth line.
  • Decrease waiting times between trains during off-peak hours from six to five minutes.
  • Add buses and streetcars to its most heavily used surface lines.
  • Use express buses to augment the Scarborough Rapid Transit line.
  • Open the Harbourfront Light Rail Transit to Exhibition Place.

The city will also be asked to allow the TTC to beef up its reserve fund to forestall any fare increases for at least two years.

‘The buses are full now. We have to get more of them out there.’

- Rick Ducharme
TTC’s chief general manager

To be voted on Friday by the commission, the budget also promises the service increases while holding the city’s TTC operating subsidy at $149 million for the third year in a row.

City budget chief Tom Jakobek said he has yet to see the TTC budget but sticking to the $149 million subsidy would be a good “general guideline.”

Ducharme said added revenues from predicted passenger increases would pay for most of the beefed-up services as well as inflation, wage increases and rising fuel costs.

To go beyond 2000, the TTC’s fare-freeze scenario is contingent on the city voting to add $4 million next year to its $149 million operating subsidy.

Alternatively, a fare increase could be avoided for the long term if a labour arbitrator awards TTC workers less than the 3 per cent annual wage increase they could be entitled to.

Unionized workers settled a two-day strike last April when the system agreed to have an arbitrator decide on a final wage increase that could range from 2 to 3 per cent a year over a three-year contract.