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TTC proposes fare hike, subway shut-down


Globe and Mail Update

July 19, 2007 at 3:21 PM EDT

TORONTO β€” Toronto officials are warning of massive spending cuts in the wake of the defeat of Mayor David Miller’s new proposed taxes, including the possible mothballing of the Sheppard Subway line and a dramatic 25-cent fare hike for transit riders.

Toronto Transit Commission Adam Giambrone warned Thursday that the nine-member panel that oversees the transit agency, Canada’s largest, would meet in an emergency session on Friday to discuss massive cuts.

City treasury officials have told the TTC to slash $30-million from its $1.1-billion budget this year, and $100-million from next year, Mr. Giambrone said. Shutting the Sheppard subway, used by 40,000 people a day, would save $10-million in 2008, he said.

β€œThis is extremely traumatic,” Mr. Giambrone told reporters on Thursday, comparing the slashing to the budget cuts the TTC suffered in the 1990s. Rush hour commuters head for the exit at Union Station, most likely heading for the GO trains and busses and home.

Mr. Miller asked all city departments to cut their costs after city councillors, in a surprise defeat for the mayor, deferred consideration of two proposed new taxes on Monday until after the provincial election in October.

The two taxes, a levy of up to 2 per cent on home sales and a $60 fee on motor vehicle registrations, would have brought $350-million a year in an effort to deal with the city’s chronic budget shortfall, estimated at well over $500-million for 2008.

But the mayor and his allies never made such specific threats of service reductions, such as shutting down the $1-billion Sheppard Subway, in advance of Monday’s vote.

Critics of the mayor, who have said the city needs to cut costs, accused him and his supporters or fear mongering, threatening to cut vital services after losing a key vote.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who opposed the taxes, pointed out that even in the council session that ended Wednesday, councillors approved $1-million to buy an ailing local theatre β€” even as bureaucrats were scrambling to draw up cost-cutting plans.