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TTC considering 10-cent fare increase

Proposed hike would likely affect pass, token, ticket buyers

Joseph Hall

Some TTC riders can expect a 10-cent-per-ride fare increase this year despite a $12 million surplus carried over from 2000, commission chair Brian Ashton says.

The increase would likely be felt by customers who buy adult passes or buy groups of tickets and tokens at a discounted price. The $2 cash fare would likely remain, according to TTC chief general manager Rick Ducharme.

While rising ridership figures, expected to total more than 410 million, pushed last year’s revenues well beyond projected levels, city budget woes are likely to leave the system short of its operating needs in 2001, Ashton says.

“We may have a $12 million surplus, but we have $25 million in pressures in our operating budget including inflation, fuel prices, labour and so on,” Ashton said.

“We’re predicting that fares might be one of the revenue streams we may have to approach in order to balance our business.”

Ashton said any fare increase would “not dig deep into customers’ pockets” and that a dime would likely be a reasonable increase.

The TTC received about $144 million in operating subsidies from the city last year, while covering an unprecedented 81 per cent of its fuel and labour costs from the fare box.

Most major North American transit systems receive 50 per cent or more of their operating expenses from government sources.

Despite this, Ashton said, the system might be hard-pressed to get the same subsidy as last year, let alone increase its share from the city.

“So, we likely may need to look at fares to make up any difference,” Ashton said.

A 10-cent fare increase could be expected to raise about $20 million annually for the system.

Any fare increase would likely be felt by adult pass and token users, Ducharme said.

He said people who opt for the $2 cash fare will still pay more to the system than ticket or token users, even if the latter fork out a dime more for each ride.

Usually sold in groups, tokens and tickets cost less per ride than the $2 cash fare.

“We get a premium from people who use the toonie and that premium will still be there,” Ducharme said.

The $2 cash fare would likely remain, says the TTC’s general manager

“Our fare right now (for tokens) is $1.70. If we go to $1.80 it’s still cheaper than throwing two dollars in.”

Increasing the cash fare would erode the convenience factor of throwing in a single toonie and cut back on use of the cash fare, Ducharme said.

TTC general secretary Vince Rodo says the system’s 2000 surplus came as a result of the additional 5 million riders the commission was able to attract. He said the system also saw an increase in the use of the $2 cash fare, which gave it an additional 30 cents per ride.

Ducharme said yesterday the TTC will continue to lobby for a portion of the province’s gasoline tax, despite a rejection of the idea earlier this week by the Conservative government.

TTC staff, who were supposed to divulge the system’s 2001 budget requirements at yesterday’s monthly commission meeting, put off discussions until financial aid talks between city and provincial officials are completed.