TTC staff today released a proposed 2021 operating budget that protects service where it is needed most while remaining flexible enough to adjust service should post-pandemic demand increase. The budget proposes freezing fares next year.
"The Safe Restart funding we have secured from the federal and provincial governments has helped ensure the 2021 TTC budget protects service and puts more service on our busiest routes during the pandemic," said Mayor John Tory. "This proposed budget also keeps the cost of transit affordable by freezing fares - this is the right thing to do given the economic impact of COVID-19 on people and is one more way we can help residents get through this crisis."
"With the global pandemic having significantly reduced our revenues, this is without a doubt the most challenging budget in the TTC's 99-year history," said TTC Chair Jaye Robinson. "We know that provincial and federal supports will help offset this year's shortfall, but it's essential we plan for 2021 in a way that allows us to continue to provide demand-responsive service to those relying on us now more than ever."
The $2.15-billion operating budgets for both conventional and Wheel-Trans services envision a flatlined city subsidy of $789.8 million with additional pandemic-related costs of $796.4 million. Based on reduced ridership projections, revenues are expected to be just $566.8 million, down from last year's predicted revenues of $1.353 billion.
At the heart of the TTC's 2021 operating budget is its Demand Responsive Service Plan. Under that plan, bus service will be restored to pre-pandemic levels overall, matching capacity with demand. Streetcar, subway and Wheel-Trans service will be maintained at modified 2020 levels, while allowing for restoration to 2020 budgeted levels later in 2021 should ridership increase.
"Over the past nine months of the pandemic, the bus network has continued to be the real workhorse of the TTC, which is why it needs to be our priority for service in 2021," said TTC CEO Rick Leary. "The majority of people riding transit during the pandemic are reliant on buses more than any other mode. These are customers doing essential jobs, many of whom live in Toronto's Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. That's why we are also proposing freezing fares this year - an increase when ridership is already significantly lower than normal would disproportionately impact those customers in an inequitable way without raising significant revenues."
In addition to flexible, demand-based service, the 2021 budget includes funding for:
- Vehicle maintenance programs to ensure repairs are completed proactively prior to failure, to maintain strong, safe vehicle performance.
- Diversity and inclusion initiatives contained in the Embrace Diversity Action Plan, including enhanced training for all employees and diversity outreach programs designed to ensure that the TTC's workforce is representative of the community it serves.
- Improvements to call wait times for Wheel-Trans customers through the implementation of call overflow service.
- Provision of capacity for business continuity and emergency management operations;
- Preparation for ModernTO and cybersecurity implementation.
- Preparations for Line 5 Eglinton LRT operations, which opens in 2022.
- Other initiatives, such as work on service integration with regional partners and an automated shuttle service, helping ensure the TTC is ready for, and resilient to, changes in the future.
The 2021 staff-recommended Capital Budget is almost $1.32 billion, including $902.7 million for Infrastructure projects and $411.8 million for Vehicle projects. Consistent with the 10-year Capital Plan, more than 60 per cent is dedicated to state of good repair funding while the balance enables the TTC to begin or continue work on critical service improvement projects and complete vehicle related procurements.
This builds on important work that started in 2020 such as:
- Implementing a Fleet Procurement Strategy and Plan to procure vehicle replacements with the City's $1.1 billion in new funding: 13 of 60 streetcars; 300 of 1,422 buses; 70 of 512 Wheel Trans buses and planning for future subway train procurement;
- Beginning planning and early works for the Bloor-Yonge Capacity Improvement; Line 1 and 2 Capacity Enhancements and the ATC Line 2 capital projects.
- Accelerating critical asbestos removal to ensure ATC Line 1 installation is completed on schedule.
- Speeding up critical subway track and other SOGR work that is possible because of reduced ridership.
The TTC Board will hold a special virtual meeting regarding the 2021 Operating and Capital Budgets on Mon., Dec. 21, 2020. The meeting will begin online at 10 a.m. and be streamed live on the Official TTC YouTube Channel.
The TTC Board will conduct the meeting using an online video conferencing platform. During the COVID-19 pandemic, TTC Board meetings are being conducted by electronic means. Commissioners, TTC staff and the public are expected to participate in meetings remotely. These measures are necessary to comply with physical distancing requirements and a Provincial Order that limits public gatherings.
The public can register to make deputations by submitting a request through the online form.
Deputations will be by way of written correspondence or by telephone only, and more information will be provided upon registration. The deadline to register is Fri., Dec. 18 at 12 noon.
Details of the virtual meeting are as follows:
Date: Mon., Dec. 21, 2020.
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Live-streamed on the Official TTC YouTube Channel.
View the agenda.