Editorial Archive

Affordable, sustained funding is key to improved transit

5/24/13 6:00 AM

Last week, I called for an increase in affordable transit funding to keep Toronto moving.

Not so long ago, the TTC was funded by a formula that saw operating costs split 50-50 between the City and the Province. This arrangement reflected the importance of Toronto’s transit to Ontario’s economy. The City does apply a percentage of the provincial gas tax towards the TTC’s operating subsidy and the Province still invests in capital projects, such as the acquisition of new vehicles. This is certainly appreciated, but since 1997, the TTC’s operating costs have been borne almost exclusively by Toronto property taxpayers, and through the farebox by TTC riders.

This has led to the TTC becoming one of the most efficient transit systems in the western world with 70 per cent of its operating costs recovered from fares alone. 

By comparison, Sydney’s RailCorp receives the inverse; that is they are subsidized by the state of New South Wales to the tune of 70 per cent, with the balance coming from fares.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of Toronto’s arrangement, I am certainly clear on one thing, namely that the TTC cannot continue to accommodate millions more rides without an affordable increase in subsidy.  The TTC’s subsidy has been frozen for the last two years, during which we have absorbed the cost of providing 28 million additional rides.

These are tough times, and the TTC will, of course, continue to look for internal efficiencies to minimize the cost of our operations. But to run the third largest transit system in North America, we need to
know more than a few months in advance, the funds that will be available so we can plan for the forthcoming year’s worth of service. And that funding needs to reflect the exponential ridership growth in
Toronto as the city expands.

As head of the TTC, I am calling for a return to an affordable, sustained funding stream from the City and Province that will allow the TTC to continue to improve your transit system.

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