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TTC outlines ambitious plan

Wants subway construction to be continuous

‘Serious’ about $310M-a-year investment


The TTC has a $135-million-a-year solution that will add about 45 million new riders through a series of transit-friendly projects and a $175 million proposal for a “continuous subway construction program.”

TTC commissioners will debate on Wednesday a staff report entitled “Increasing Transit Ridership,” which outlines how best to invest millions of dollars to implement the transit authority’s ridership growth strategy.

“Are we serious? Absolutely,” said Bill Dawson, the TTC’s superintendent of service planning. “This is a continuation of what we have been recommending over a number of years.”

The ridership growth strategy is now two years old. A complement to the city’s official plan, it envisions a transit city but has so far largely been restricted to adding 100 new buses on suburban routes.

The report to be debated Wednesday is the blueprint that lays out the plan for the more ambitious elements of the ridership growth strategy.

“The report is a high-level summary that says we are doing these things and we can move forward,” said Dawson. “Piece by piece, we’re making progress.”

There are many items on Wednesday’s agenda that indicate the TTC is modernizing itself. There will be updates on vending machines for Metropasses, the GTA-wide fare-card project, the long-range possibilities for light rail transit on hydro corridors or replacing streetcars, a pilot project for bike racks on the front of buses, and the expected approval of advertising and information screens at subway stations.

But the “Increasing Transit Ridership” report is the most aggressive. It divides spending increases into three groups, which can be staged over a decade.

Group 1 recommendations, which total $64.3 million annually and can be quickly implemented, include:

  • $19.1 million to improve peak and off-peak service.

  • $30 million to introduce surface rapid transit to six major avenues over 10 years.

  • $9.1 million to reduce the Metropass by $5

  • About $6 million for other fare incentives.

Group 2 recommendations require additional subsidies of $70.8 million annually. They include:

  • $20.2 million for fare reductions for all passengers.

  • $30.4 million for full service on all routes, including maximum wait times of 20 minutes.

  • $15 million to upgrade rapid transit on three more avenues.

  • $1.5 million to expand the Scarborough RT.

Staff are also recommending Group 3: a continuous subway construction program at a cost of about $175 million a year.

Of course it all takes money, something the city and the TTC are notoriously short of. The TTC is currently dealing with a demand for more money from its workforce. Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113 are in a legal position to strike but have promised to stay on the job until at least Wednesday. Negotiations are continuing.

The city is hoping for increased sources of revenue from Ottawa and Queen’s Park through gas tax money and from a new City of Toronto Act that will give city hall more autonomy.