TTC boss Webster feels riders' pain

Toronto Transit Commission general manager Gary Webster says he feels the pain of riders being asked to pay higher fares for reduced service.

Blames budget woes for cuts to bus, streetcar routes

The 504 King streetcar is one of dozens of TTC surface routes slated for service reductions. (Andrew Lupton/CBC)

Toronto Transit Commission general manager Gary Webster said he feels the pain of riders being asked to pay higher fares for reduced service.

Webster was a guest on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Friday, one day after the TTC announced it would reduce service on 56 bus and six streetcar routes.

TTC chair Karen Stintz also confirmed Thursday that a 10-cent fare increase in 2012 is likely.

The service reductions are part of cuts Mayor Rob Ford mandated across all departments as the city struggles to curtail a budget shortfall of $774 million.

Webster admits the fare increase and service reductions are bad news, but said the TTC’s budget problems are to blame.

"The harsh reality of where we are from a financial perspective … is that if a fare increase is approved, our customers are going to be asked to pay more for getting less and that’s clearly not what we want to do," he said. "But that’s unfortunately how we have to respond in the budget situation that we’re in."

Busy routes slated for service cuts

Bus routes that will see reduced service include the 25 Don Mills, 29 Dufferin, 35 Jane and the Airport Rocket. The 501 Queen and 504 King street cars will also have reduced service.

The cuts will mean longer wait times and more crowding on TTC vehicles, something Webster said he regrets.

"I know [customers] are not happy," he said. "I know this is not minor stuff for some of the routes. When you reduce service or raise fares, people leave the system. And that’s clearly not what we’re trying to do.

"We’re hoping that as much as people don’t like what we’re doing … perhaps they can accept it and trust that we’re working hard to get an agreement in place with all the funding partners so that we can lead ridership when it grows in the future.

"It’s not normal for us to be cutting service at the same time we’re asking our customers to pay more for it, but unfortunately that’s where we are at the moment in time with our budget."