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TTC ridership is growing – as is the need for subsidies from the city

Jan 27, 2007 04:30 AM
Paul Moloney
city hall bureau

The good news is Toronto Transit Commission ridership is projected to hit 454 million rides this year, close to the record of 463.5 million rides set in 1988.

The bad news is that wage and fuel costs are also rising and, subsequently, the TTC says it will need an operating subsidy of as much as $279.8 million from Toronto taxpayers in 2007, compared to $246.3 million last year.

Because fares only cover about three-quarters of the operating costs, the system relies on city council to fund the difference. The more riders, the greater the subsidy required.

“The more we do to attract riders, the more it costs the city to provide that transit,” said Councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park). Perks, a member of council’s budget committee, is assigned with Councillor Kyle Rae to review the transit file.

Meanwhile, the TTC is struggling to provide adequate service. “There are increasing complaints about delays,” said Rae (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale).

To hold the subsidy to last year’s level would mean trimming $33.5 million in transit costs, or raising fares. The review has just begun, said Rae, who noted that TTC management just filed their numbers Thursday afternoon.

The final transit subsidy will be set when city council approves its 2007 operating budget in April.