Editorial Archive

Our budget strategy to improve the TTC

Toronto Mayor John Tory 2/13/17 10:12 AM

The following is an editorial by Toronto Mayor John Tory, which originally appeared in the Toronto Sun and 24 Hours Toronto (print and online Feb. 13, 2017). Mayor Tory, TTC Chair Josh Colle and Commissioner Mary Fragedakis were at Broadview Station to make a budget statement this morning (Feb. 13). City Council considers the 2017 Capital and Operating Budgets this week.

By Mayor John Tory

The No. 1 priority for Toronto residents continues to be their ability to move around the city.

Transit riders want a transit system that works for them. That’s understandable, and as a mayor dedicated to improving congestion, I want a system that gives people a real alternative to driving.

TTC users not only talk to me about the need for building new transit like SmartTrack, but about improving the existing TTC service as well. They talk about crowding, the long waits and of course the greatest fear all TTC riders have – short turns.

That’s why the City’s 2017 budget is investing $80 million more into the TTC than last year. The TTC and its Wheel-Trans service will have a total operating budget of $1.95 billion if Council approves it this week.

This will make transit service better for the people of Toronto.

Now there has been some misinformation out there about the 2017 budget and the TTC so I want to be clear and set the record straight. The 2017 budget does not decrease TTC service and it does not cut any bus or streetcar routes.

In a tough budget year, it is a tremendous accomplishment that we are able to increase spending on the TTC while still keeping the proposed property tax increase at the rate of inflation. I’m proud of TTC Chair Josh Colle for being a strong transit advocate and Budget Chief Gary Crawford for making the hard decisions elsewhere in the budget to make these investments possible.

What specifically does the budget accomplish for those who ride the TTC?

Here are 10 highlights that I’ll be talking about Monday morning:
1. Running 800 subway cars, 200 streetcars and 1,900 buses to transport 544 million riders this year.
2. Providing funding to carry one million more Wheel-Trans passengers than last year.
3. Giving more powers to Transit Enforcement Officers to help keep traffic moving, freeing up police resources for where they’re needed most.
4. Buying 783 new buses.
5. Finishing the rollout of PRESTO across the system.
6. Upgrading signals on Line 1 Yonge-University so we can run subway trains more frequently and more reliably.
7. Opening the subway extension to York University.
8. Continuing the opening of the subway earlier on Sundays.
9. Keeping the provision for kids to ride free on the TTC.
10. Continuing work on the Scarborough Subway Extension.

There is still a lot more work to do to address TTC service and transit expansion in Toronto. But I am proud this year’s budget invests $80 million more into the TTC.

The 2017 budget and the TTC, under Chair Colle’s leadership, will make a difference in the way people get around the city.

At Executive Committee last week, I asked the TTC’s Chief Financial and Administration Officer Vincent Rodo about this year’s budget.

Rodo – a 30-year veteran of TTC budgeting – summed it up unequivocally.

“$80 million is by a long shot the largest single-year increase we’ve ever had,” he told the committee.

That’s good news for transit riders and it is good news for our city.

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