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TTC has $60-million surplus

by David Nickle

Better than expected ridership in 2010 has pushed the Toronto Transit Commission into the black, leaving a $60 million surplus to help cushion the 2011 operating budget.

In total, the TTC is expected to finish the year with 477 million rides - 15 million more than was anticipated in the 2010 budget.

That’s good news for the new commission, which is coming in looking to quickly balance the operating and capital budgets for submission to the city’s budget committee.

Incoming TTC chair Karen Stintz suggested the fare increase last year might not have been necessary given the increased ridership.

“The TTC didn’t expect they would have a surplus when the decision was made about the fare increase - there was an expectation that ridership would decline,” she said. “We’re seeing a higher increase in ridership so that has created a higher increase in revenue than was expected.”

The TTC will decide what exactly to do with the revenue increase in January.

“We have a meeting on the budget and we will consider and deal with the surplus - but we are in a position this year where we don’t have to ask for an increased subsidy from the city,” she said, adding it was also unlikely that the commission would consider another fare increase in 2011.

“Mayor (Rob) Ford spoke about his intent not to have a fare increase and we’ll take that into the commission meeting as a guideline,” she said.

But she added that the commission would also look at increasing costs over the years.

“We want to make decisions that don’t put us at risk in future years but we also want to make decisions recognizing that we have had a year where the customer service focus has been an issue for the TTC. We do want to be respectful of the rider and the fare increase has an impact.”