Transit advocacy group TTCriders has awarded Ontario’s transportation minister its very first Sardine Award for what it calls his government’s poor funding record for public transit.

MPP Glen Murray was not in his Cabbagetown constituency office at 514 Parliament St. in Toronto when nearly 100 people carrying signs and donning sardine hats gathered at the door Friday afternoon.

The advocacy group gave Murray the award “because the Liberal Government has for years refused to regularly contribute fair funding to the TTC, even though it has had the power to do so,” member Jennifer Huang said in a news release.

In a statement emailed to CityNews, the minister shot back at the group saying his government has pledged $50-billion in spending on capital expansion projects in the GTA.

“I think to give the provincial government the ‘sardine award’ is a joke when the federal government has the worst record in the OECD for investments in transit, and the City of Toronto has more revenue options for funding transit than any other city in Canada, thanks to the City of Toronto Act, and chooses not to use them.

“I’m hoping the group takes their energy to the governments actually not investing in transit, instead of protesting in front of a government that’s dedicated to transportation infrastructure expansion and is funding 90 per cent of the cost of rapid transit expansion in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.”

TTCriders is demanding the provincial government dedicate $700-million annually to the TTC to improve service and reduce fares.

According to the group, if Toronto received subsidies on par with other North American cities, like Vancouver, the TTC budget could grow by about $1-billion to around $2.5-billion.

Last month, the group launched a social media campaign asking riders to share pictures of their crowded and frustrating commutes, using the hashtag #TTCsardines. The campaign goal was to send politicians a strong message that more transit funding is needed for the TTC, the group said.

Protesters rode the streetcar to MPP Glen Murray's Cabbagetown constituency office March 28, 2014. HANDOUT/TTC Riders

Protesters rode the streetcar to MPP Glen Murray's Cabbagetown constituency office March 28, 2014. HANDOUT/TTC Riders

Protesters rode the streetcar to MPP Glen Murray's Cabbagetown constituency office March 28, 2014. HANDOUT/TTC Riders

Protesters rode the streetcar to MPP Glen Murray's Cabbagetown constituency office March 28, 2014. HANDOUT/TTC Riders

Protesters rode the streetcar to MPP Glen Murray's Cabbagetown constituency office March 28, 2014. HANDOUT/TTC Riders

Protesters rode the streetcar to MPP Glen Murray's Cabbagetown constituency office March 28, 2014. HANDOUT/TTC Riders