TTC outlines ways to improve streetcar, bus service

The TTC has made a list of initiatives that could help improve service for riders in the short term, though they would require substantial budget increases to implement.
A new report from the TTC lists ways of improving service for riders in the short term. Among the suggestions are allowing passengers to board streetcars at their front and back entrances. (CBC)

Letting people board streetcars at the front and back is just one way the TTC believes it could improve service for its customers.

Another is the introduction of so-called time-based transfers, which would allow riders to get on and off the transit system several times within a prescribed period of time.

These are two initiatives the TTC has outlined in a new report, which it says could be brought forward in the short-to-medium term. Others include putting more buses and streetcars on the road, as well as operating all bus routes all day, every day.

The TTC says that while there are some big-ticket transit improvements under consideration or under construction — like the Eglinton Crosstown LRT — they will not be in operation for a number of years. And thus there is a need to make improvements in the interim. The issue is that these initiatives come with a considerable price tag.

The initiatives outlined in the TTC’s report would require an additional $19.4 million in spending next year, ramping up to an additional $69.2 million in operating costs by 2018.

To implement its full list of initiatives, the TTC would also need $288 million over a five-year period to cover things such as new streetcars and buses.

There are concerns that such improvements would result in a fare hike.

Looking at the list of the proposed initiatives, Meredith Binns said they may benefit riders, but she's not sure the public is willing to pay more for better service.

"I think people already feel that the TTC costs a lot," she said.

Several mayoral candidates were asked Sunday about the TTC proposals.

"It's always a challenge with all of these kinds of reports that come forward. It's not just are they good ideas and can they be implemented, but of course, how are we going to pay for them?" John Tory said.

Karen Stintz said she believes the TTC report is a step in the right direction.

"I'm very committed to the transit plans for expansion that we have, but I also recognize that those transit plans are years out. And we also need to do things today to improve the quality of service that we have right now," she said in an interview.

Olivia Chow said she was pleased to see a call to improving bus service, as she has been calling for — though she was also supportive of the proposed changes to streetcar boarding and time-based transfers.

"What is clear is that TTC is saying we need to move people faster now," she said.

The TTC board meets on Tuesday and will discuss the report.

With a report from the CBC's Tashauna Reid