Signal upgrades on the Bloor-Danforth subway line, new buses on the city's highly travelled bus routes, and repairs and upgrades that will make the city's transit system fully accessible are just some of the projects the TTC will fund with the up to $840 million that's on the way from the federal government.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Toronto Friday to announce the funding, which will come from the $3.4 billion in transit money announced in March's federal budget.  

Trudeau said that while the money "won't solve every funding challenge the TTC is facing," the announcement is unique in three ways:

  • Toronto will receive the money this year.

  • The federal government will fund up to 50 per cent of the cost of approved projects.

  • How the money will be spent is up to the city, not Ottawa. 

"Reliable public transit isn't a convenience, it's a necessity," Trudeau said. He described the money as a "very good start" in helping the city and province pay for expensive, badly needed TTC upgrades, including new vehicles and signals. 

The prime minister also made a joke about the Toronto Raptors' playoff run. 

"I hear Jurassic Park is a pretty popular destination for TTC users these days," he said. 

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the cash infusion will help ensure that the transit system is reliable, efficient, modern and safe.

Signal upgrades on Line 2, the Bloor-Danforth line, not only mean more reliable service by reducing break-downs and delays, Tory said. More trains can be added to the line to move more people, the mayor added. 

The funds will also go toward new buses, he said, and towards projects that will help the TTC meet its immovable deadline of 2025 to make the system fully accessible with elevators and escalators.

The federal government's transit funding for cities across the country is based on ridership, rather than population, which is important for Toronto, Tory said.

"The size of our population does not tell the whole story in terms of what the TTC pulls off each and every day," Tory said, noting that in 2015, the TTC set a record high of 538 million rides.

"Toronto's transit system, like our roads, doesn't just serve the people of Toronto. It is at the heart of a very vibrant dynamic region of this country."

'Absolutely transformative'

TTC CEO Andy Byford called the money "absolutely transformative."

"At the end of the day the TTC has a 10-year capital expenditure requirement of around $9 billion and we're currently $2.7 billion short of that target," Byford said, noting that Friday's announcement knocks a third off that shortfall.

The funding will also go to other expenditures that the public doesn't see, such as repairs to pumps, drainage and ventilation, Byford said.

"Things if you don't get it right, the system grinds to a halt," he said. 

Many of the plans for these projects have been drawn up and are "shovel-ready," he said, so work can begin as soon as funding comes through.

Trudeau noted that Friday's announcement marked phase one of a two-part transit funding plan. Phase two funding will go toward new projects.

"The first phase is just that: a first phase," Trudeau said.

Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said the announcement is part of a "transit Renaissance" happening because all three levels of government are working together. 

Trudeau made the announcement this morning at the TTC's Greenwood subway yard.