Day after TTC fare hike announced, city finds cash to avoid increase
(Written for Town Crier Jan. 11)
Looks like there won’t be a TTC fare increase after all.
One day after Mayor Rob Ford begrudgingly announced a 10 cent transit hike to make up a $24 million budget gap the city declared its delivering an extra $16 million to the TTC and will let the transit commission axe $8 million in unspecified cuts at a later date.
“Fare increases and service cuts are the last options the TTC looks at,” TTC chair Karen Stintz told the Town Crier. “We want to make sure the fares remain affordable for those who are dependent on transit.”
The cancellation was made possible after city staff was able to find the money needed to keep fares at current levels.
“The city manager was able to identify the $16 million so that our (TTC) subsidy could be increased and we were able to manage ($8 million) through unspecified cuts,” said Stintz.“We have $8 million that we will have to manage (cut) throughout the year. It won’t be a service cut.”
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross didn’t have details on where the $8 million in cuts would come from, but hoped to have more information on Wednesday when the TTC meets to vote on its budget.
St. Paul’s Councillor Joe Mihevc is surprised the TTC is allowed to move forward with $8 million in “unspecified reductions” given Ford’s insistence yesterday the city budget contain no unspecified cuts.
Mihevc said the budget process under Ford is showing signs of inexperience or political optics with the announcement and then reversal of a TTC fare increase within 24 hours.
“It is either inexperience jitters and not knowing the TTC and transit culture in this city or it is highly manipulative politics those seem to be the two options,” said Mihevc, former TTC chair.
While the fare increase may be off the table there’s still a plan to push ahead with shorter hours for 48 bus routes and spending that money to improve busier routes.
Stintz said the cuts, which will come into effect on March 27 are about reallocating service from underused routes to those with high demand.
Mihevc plans to fight to keep service at the existing levels on the threatened routes. He’ll be advocating for the TTC to find internal savings, ask other levels of government for money and if all else fails raise fares rather than cut service.
“They (riders) want the service and are willing to pay extra,” he said.
“Do not cut service, raise the fares (instead).”