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TTC good news is bad news

Revenue fails to keep up with ridership as travellers opt for passes

Jul 10, 2007 11:21 AM
John Spears
Staff Reporter

Record numbers of riders and a higher than expected demand for weekly and monthly passes mean the Toronto Transit Commission will need $6.7 million more from the city next year, says chief general manager Gary Webster.

Webster told the city’s budget committee he needs to hire 54 bus drivers to reduce overcrowding on TTC buses.

The TTC expects to serve 462 million riders in 2007 – matching the record ridership of the 1980s, Webster said.

But while ridership is up, revenue isn’t. About 40 per cent of TTC customer now buy weekly or monthly passes, Webster said. That’s a couple of percentage points higher than expected.

Because pass users are paying less per ride, the TTC’s revenue is less than expected.

To make up the revenue and serve the extra demand, the TTC will need an extra $6.7 million annually, he said.

Webster said he’ll be able to get extra buses on the road by November to ease overcrowding – which means he’ll need an extra $640,000 in 2007. He said he can offer the service by using more drivers, without buying more vehicles.

But the city’s budget committee balked at rubber-stamping the request.

Councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park) said the city doesn’t have any more spare cash than the TTC.

“No one knows where the $640,000 is” for this year, he said.

The budget committee told their own staff and the TTC to report back in September on what other spending would have to be sacrificed to find the extra money for the TTC.