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TTC deficit forces belt-tightening

Tess Kalinowski
Published On Sat Oct 24 2009

Riders will have to put up with overcrowding on some TTC routes a little longer than planned in light of a projected $22 million shortfall in the operating budget.

While the TTC took steps to reduce some overcrowding this week, more widespread relief will have to wait until the middle of 2010, said Scott Haskill, of the TTC’s service planning division.

“It’s not like suddenly people will be on more crowded buses. The real message is there’s no reduction in service. We’re not making cuts,” said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

Discretionary overtime will be reduced and the commission is taking a second look at its plans for hiring and training additional operators.

But the TTC is still hiring replacements as needed.

The recession and lower ridership gains than expected are being blamed for the deficit, pegged at $17.4 million last month. All this has created speculation that a fare hike may be in the offing.

Ridership is expected to fall about 2 million short of the 473 million rides that had been expected this year - but it was still 1.9 per cent higher in the first eight months of 2009 than in the same period last year.

Higher unemployment and the city workers’ strike this summer were the main reasons for the ridership shortfall, according to a TTC report.