Toronto

TTC planning 10 cent fare hike on April 1, new budget documents show

TTC staff are recommending the fare increase to provide more revenue, with a rise expected across the board except for adult cash fares.

Staff say recommended increase could provide roughly $26M in added revenue

TTC staff are recommending the fare increase to provide more revenue, with a rise expected across the board except for adult cash fares. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Transit riders, brace yourselves for another fare increase.

Starting on April 1, the TTC has plans to hike fares by 10 cents, according to new operating budget documents released on Friday. The recommended increase would apply across the board with the exception of adult cash fares, which would stay at $3.25.

That means tokens and adult fares paid by the PRESTO e-purse would cost $3.10, up from $3. Seniors' cash fares, tickets and PRESTO payments would also rise, along with student fares and monthly passes.

TTC staff say the increase could provide roughly $26 million in added revenue.

Previous decisions and "unavoidable pressures" necessiate the rise, according to the report to the TTC board from the transit commision's chief financial officer Dan Wright.

"We believe all customers should enjoy the freedom, independence and flexibility to travel anywhere on the public transit system... We are also aware that a 10 cent fare increase will be an affordability issue for some TTC customers," Wright's report continues.

City council is also being asked to increase its transit subsidy by $22 million. 

97% of TTC's non-subsidy revenue comes from fares

With some 97 per cent of the TTC's non-subsidy operating revenue coming from the fare box, the commision "has relatively limited options to increase revenues outside of fare and subsidy increases," Wright's report said.

As noted in a 2018 report from the non-partisan transit advocacy group CodeRedTO, Toronto's transit system relies on fare revenue more than any other city in North America.

Coupled with its low subsidies and no dedicated revenue sources, the TTC in a "unique and vulnerable positision," the group's report concluded.

Transit rider advocacy group TTCRiders argues that regardless of the transit system's financial situation, leaving riders to foot the bill isn't ideal.

TTCRiders members Helen Lee, left, and Anna Lermer, right, are among those slamming the proposed fare hikes. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

"We're not impressed," said board member Helen Lee. "It seems to be an annual exercise of TTC riders being asked to fund the operations of the TTC when it should be the city, it should be the province."

In 2017, single adult ride fares increased from $2.90 per token to $3 along with proportional increases to PRESTO rides and monthly passes. The year before, adult cash fares were raised from $3 to $3.25.

Lee also suggested the latest budget recommendations won't "move the needle" on transit service improvements, instead calling for higher city subsidies.

'Budgetary pressures' facing TTC

Following the public release of the budget documents, a statement from TTC board chair Jaye Robinson noted the "significant" investments made in recent years, including the two-hour transfer and new trains on Line 1, and the "long-term budgetary pressures" facing the service. 

Robinson did not comment further, writing she would not want to "influence the decision-making" of her fellow board members and pledged to listen to transit users, staff, and the board at next week's scheduled meeting.

In total, the new budget documents from the TTC are calling for the board to greenlight $2 million in expenditures and $763 million in requested city subsidies to support a projected ridership of nearly 530 million revenue rides in 2019.

The request also comes a day after Mayor John Tory announced a new plan to speed up the construction of the downtown relief line by "at least" two years, which would require $162 million in new funding in the TTC's capital budget.

City council will need to approve that funding.

The proposed increase also comes amid the province's controversial planned takeover of the TTC subway system, which the PC government has framed as a way to enable more expansion.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Pelley is a CBC News reporter based in Toronto. Currently covering how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting Canadians, in Toronto and beyond. Contact her at: lauren.pelley@cbc.ca

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