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TTC fares are going up, Moscoe warns

Current provincial gas-tax subsidy too little, Moscoe says

McGuinty warns Miller against any ticket price increases

PAUL MOLONEY AND ROBERT BENZIE
STAFF REPORTERS

TTC chair Howard Moscoe and Mayor David Miller insist a transit fare hike is inevitable next year, despite warnings from Premier Dalton McGuinty that such an increase would be a big mistake.

“If there’s one thing that’s inevitable in this city, it’s that taxes and TTC fares will go up,” Councillor Moscoe said yesterday. “It’s a question of when.”

Moscoe noted the Toronto Transit Commission is seeking an operating subsidy of $234 million next year, not counting capital expenditures for repairs and new equipment of $427 million.

The city is getting a half-cent per litre share of provincial gas taxes, worth $92 million in 2005, plus $76 million in capital grants, but it pales when compared to the days when the province paid half the operating subsidy and three-quarters of the capital costs, Moscoe said.

Ottawa is expected to turn over federal gas taxes next year, but it’s unclear whether the contribution will be $30 million or $80 million, he said.

Miller agreed. “Nobody wants to raise TTC fares. I certainly hope we don’t have to raise TTC fares, but given the budget pressures we may have to.”

Earlier in the day, McGuinty had warned Miller against making such a move.

“I was very concerned when I heard the mayor might be considering a fare increase. We’ve given him 81 million good reasons by way of the gas tax not to raise fares,” McGuinty said.

In an unusual move, the Premier returned to a press scrum at Queen’s Park to deliver a pointed message to Miller.

“Listen, we’re always willing to work with any of our municipal partners when it comes to addressing the … concerns that they might have,” he said. “I would be very, very loath if I were the mayor of Toronto to take any steps that would result in fare increases.”

McGuinty emphasized that increasing Toronto Transit Commission fares would cause problems for the city.

“The other thing to keep in mind is, if you raise fares everybody knows that acts as a disincentive to growth in ridership. But the way the gas tax works, if your ridership increases, you’re going to get more of the gas tax,” the Premier said.

“So I’d be very careful about taking any steps that would result in fare increases,” he said.

“We’ve contributed $81 million this year by way of the gas tax … I would encourage my colleagues on Parliament Hill to take a look at how quickly they can move when it comes to meeting their commitment.”

Municipal Affairs Minister John Gerretsen was more conciliatory than McGuinty. “We realize that the downloading that took place three, four, five years ago affected … Toronto probably to a greater extent than most other municipalities and they may need some additional help before the gas tax is fully implemented,” he said.

A 10-cent fare hike would generate an extra $20 million annually for the TTC. Fares last went up in 2002 by a dime, to $1.90 for tickets or tokens, which pushed the price of a monthly Metropass to $98.75.

“We’re all leery about the monthly pass going over $100,” Moscoe said. “It’s pretty tough for working people in this city to come up with $100 for the TTC.”




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