On the day he's set to table the city's budget, Toronto Mayor John Tory defended his plan to raise most TTC fares, saying the move restores critical service cuts made under previous mayor Rob Ford that Tory says were "starving" the transit system.

"People are going to pay a little bit more but get a lot more," Tory said Tuesday in an interview with Matt Galloway on CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

"When I saw the scope of cuts made under previous administration … those had to be restored."

Yesterday Tory announced a plan to make the TTC free for kids under 12, while raising fares for almost every other rider.

The proposed changes include:

  • A fare increase of 10 cents for tokens to $2.80, while the cash fare stays at $3.
  • An adult monthly Metropass will jump to $141.50 from $133.75

Tory said that while the increases mean riders will pay more, they will receive better service in return. The mayor says while letting kids rider free will cost $7 million in lost annual revenue, the fare boost will generate about $43 million to put toward service improvements including:

  • 50 new buses and a storage facility for them.
  • 10-minute bus and streetcar service six days a week.
  • Two more rush-hour subway trains on the Yonge-University and Bloor-Danforth lines.

The move to raise TTC fares runs counter to a promise Tory made during the election to freeze fares.

When asked about that reversal by Galloway on Monday, Tory said he realized during meetings with TTC staff in the weeks after his election that an increase was needed to restore service to acceptable levels.

"I'm not going to make excuses," he said. "As I got further informed …  I did realize the depth of the cuts that had been imposed by the previous administration … deliberately allowing crowding levels on buses to increase."

Tory's plans must be approved as part of the budget process.

Tory said he will present a budget with a tax increase below the rate of inflation. Its release will begin weeks of discussion, consultation and debate before the budget's final approval in early spring.

The mayor said the budget includes some increases in fees, we mentioned that water rates will rise, but he said there are no plans to bring back other revenue tools, such as the vehicle tax.

"It's a responsible budget that keeps taxes at a responsible level and that invests in the city," said Tory.