TTC board promises added value with TTC fare hike

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As of January 2016, Torontonians will be paying an extra 25 cents for a cash TTC fare and an extra 10 cents for a token.

The decision was made at the Toronto Transit Commission’s board meeting Monday night. The room was packed with protestors and concerned citizens reciting depositions about the TTC’s operations budget, particularly the proposed fare hike. Dozens of people lined up to offer their suggestions—increasing property tax, free service for seniors, asking city council to subsidize the costs using revenue tools. After each deposition, board members would ask the, questions about their transit use and method of payment.

The final decision was made after nearly three hours of debate. The decision: raise the cost of cash tickets and tokens, while freezing the price of a metropass. The cost for seniors and students will also remain the same. Children will continue to ride for free.

This was the sixth time board members have reviewed the 2016 TTC and Wheel-Trans Operating Budgets; yet, members were just as reluctant to raise fares as they were the first time. At the end of the day, it came down to simple math. Without a fare increase, the TTC would have to find $58.4 million in subsidies to make up the funds, and as vice-chair Alan Heisey said, “the province is not going to arrive on a white horse and save us.”

The fare hike will bring in about $17 million in much needed revenue. The TTC board will then have to ask the city for a $41 million subsidy increase in 2016.

TTC CEO Andy Byford made it clear that along with fare increases, customers should expect better service.  “As with anything, there is a tipping point,” he said in the meeting. “There is a direct correlation between what you are getting in terms of value for your money.” Mayor John Tory agreed, telling reporters that he thinks the cost of the TTC should be adjusted ever year.

The TTC wants to improve reliability of the Queen and King streetcars, ensure fast service during peak hours, and earlier opening times on Sundays—8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. They also want to boost the express-bus network.

The board will continue to try and look for ways of creating revenue. Some of the proposed ideas included doubling the price for parking, as well as merchandising and licensing of the TTC name.

On a side note: Bombardier refused to send a representative to meet with the TTC board to discuss the delays with their new streetcars. 

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