Mayor says city budget contains $80M in new money for cash-strapped TTC

Toronto Mayor John Tory announced on Monday that the city will allocate an additional $80 million in to the cash-strapped Toronto Transit Commission.

John Tory handed flyers to commuters on Monday to explain new transit investments

Toronto Mayor John Tory says the city will spend an additional $80 million on the cash-strapped TTC in its 2017 budget. (Linda Ward/CBC)

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city will allocate an additional $80 million to the cash-strapped Toronto Transit Commission in its 2017 budget.

Tory, who made the announcement at Broadview station on Monday, said the new money means the city will spend more on the TTC than it ever has in the transit system's history.

"The number one priority for Toronto residents continues to be help that we can give them moving about the city more easily," Tory said at the start of morning rush hour.

"It's essential to our way of life, it connects people to opportunity, and it's something that we have to focus on after decades of neglect."

TTC budget pegged at $1.95B

Tory said he wanted to ensure that riders know the budget, which will be voted on by council on Wednesday, actually increases funding for the transit system.

According to the TTC's chief financial and administration officer Vincent Rodo, the money is the "largest single year increase" in TTC history.

The TTC and its Wheel-Trans service will have an operating budget of $1.95 billion if approved by council.
Toronto Mayor John Tory tells reporters at Broadview station that the TTC is important to the city's economy. (CBC)

Tory said the new money is welcome news for the transit system. He handed out flyers at the station and talked to commuters to promote the increase in funding.

2.6% budget cut not implemented

Tory said the new money means funding one million more Wheel-Trans rides, finishing the rollout of the Presto system, opening the subway extension to York University, and continuing work on the one-stop Scarborough subway expansion.

It also means running 800 subway cars, 200 streetcars and 1,900 buses to carry 544 million riders this year, buying 783 new buses and upgrading signals on Line 1 to ensure subway trains on that line can run more frequently and with fewer stoppages.

And it means continuing to open the subway earlier on Sundays and continuing to allow children 12 and under to ride free on the TTC.

Tory acknowledged that he asked the TTC last year, along with every other city department, to find 2.6 per cent in savings in its budget. But he said the savings were "proposals" and not implemented in the TTC's case.

"We realized, when we saw the list, that sure, there were things that you could do but we chose not to do them," Tory said.
Josh Colle, TTC chair and Toronto councillor, said the TTC is undergoing a major transformation that will ultimately improve service. (CBC)

Toronto Coun. Josh Colle, TTC chair and who accompanied Tory to Broadview station, said the new money should be good news for the TTC's "very patient and loyal" customers.

"As you know, the TTC is under serious transformation right now," Colle said.

"It will make the system look like a new one to all of us, with a new Presto system, revitalized stations that are accessible, expansion of Wheels-Trans, 70 new streetcars, opening of a new subway, the first since 2002, which is good news for all riders," he said.

"With these improvements, the customer experience should improve for everyone and that's the goal of all this."