RICHARD LAUTENS/TORONTO STAR
‘I welcome the premier to ride in on his white horse and save us,’ Moscoe says
Feb. 8, 2006. 05:37 PM
STAFF REPORTER THESTAR.COM
The TTC will raise fares across the board on April 1.
At a special meeting today, transit commissioners argued about how much to raise fares to cover a $16.5 million shortfall.
They decided a cash fare would go up 25 cents from $2.50 to $2.75, tickets and token would increase 10 cents to $2.10 from $2 each and the cost of a monthly Metropass would climb a dollar to $99.75 from $98.75.
The only way to avoid the increases would be if Premier Dalton McGuinty intervened with more provincial money.
“I welcome the premier to ride in on his white horse and save us,” said TTC chairman Howard Moscoe, who apologized to riders after saying city council’s budget committee was responsible for the increases.
Councillor Jane Pitfield, who has announced she is running for mayor, argued against the increases.
“We have to stand up for the riders,” she said. “This is taking the easy way out,” she continued, adding that money to cover the shortfall could have been found by making cutbacks in selected areas.
Moscoe insisted that he wasn’t prepared to make cuts to marginal routes. He added that the increases would cost the average TTC rider about $60 more a year.
Some commissioners had tried to defer the meeting, arguing there wasn’t enough time to prepare. The meeting was called on 24 hours’ notice.
The two-hour meeting featured heated debates.
TTC general manager Rick Ducharme argued for an increase of between 15 and 20 cents for tickets and tokens but Moscoe wanted to hold the increase to 10 cents.
The 10-cent fare increase will net the transit commission $9 million.
Last year, tickets and tokens went up by 10 cents, to $2 from $1.90, while the cash fare rose to $2.50 from $2.25.
A fare hike became inevitable after city council’s budget committee recommended limiting the taxpayer subsidy for the TTC to $246.3 million.
While that is a 7 per cent increase from 2005, the TTC was looking for a 2006 subsidy of $263 million, citing a $27 million increase this year in fuel costs and $25 million more for negotiated wage hikes.
The TTC has argued in the past that with riders covering more than 80 per cent of the cost of operating the TTC, it is by far the least-funded mass transit system in North America and one of the least-funded in the world.
Last year, for the first time in years, the TTC drew more riders (430 million) than anticipated (424 million) but service didn’t keep up with demand. The service level has been the same since 2001, when ridership was forecast to be 420 million.
For 2006, ridership is expected to top 437 million and is on its way back to its 1988 peak of 463 million.
With files from Star staff