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Fare hike unlikely despite TTC woes

By ZEN RURYK, CITY HALL BUREAU CHIEF

Transit riders could face another fare hike this year as TTC commissioners grapple with a $33.5-million budget shortfall.

However, two commissioners — Councillors Michael Thompson and Peter Milczyn — yesterday offered assurances that TTC customers will not face their third consecutive annual fare increase.

“Clearly, we are trying to encourage more people to ride the TTC,” said Thompson, who added that fare hikes discourage people from hopping on buses and subways.

“(A fare increase) is not a first option in my view; quite frankly, I think that’s an option that shouldn’t be on the table at this time,” he said.

Milczyn predicted that the transit commission and Toronto’s budget committee will not have the appetite to boost fares.

Transit officials will have to find some savings to help balance the TTC budget, he said.

SURPLUS MAY BE USED

When the agency’s 2006 finances are finalized, there may be a surplus which can be used to help offset the shortfall, he said.

TTC commissioners will take their first look at this year’s budget tomorrow. It calls for the city to provide a subsidy of $246 million.

The one-way adult cash fare last year went up 25 cents to $2.75. The TTC also bumped up the price of a ticket or token, sold in packages of five or 10, by a dime to $2.10 each.

In 2005, the cash fare went up by 25 cents to $2.50. Riders also had to pay more for tickets and tokens — a 10 cents increase that drove up the price to $2 apiece.

Topping the TTC’s list of increased expenses is the $25.6 million it will pay out this year in higher wages. Fuel and hydro costs are also adding $11 million to the budget.

Plans call for the TTC to boost rush-hour service in the fall when it deploys 100 extra buses.




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