The TTC board has approved a new transit plan that recommends a slew of changes, including all-door boarding on streetcars and time-based transfers, but where it would find the money to pay them is still up for debate.
The Opportunities to Improve Transit Service in Toronto report, which was released on Friday, will go before city council next week, where funding options will be discussed at the last session before the Oct. 27 municipal election.
“This is an ask, this is putting it on the table,” said TTC Chair Maria Augimeri.
TTC CEO Andy Byford said service improvements should be implemented as soon as possible.
“We can’t expect customers to wait seven to 10 years to achieve improvements, so the whole point of this report was to identify those things that could and should, in our professional opinion, be done right now,” he said.
“If we don’t take steps to improve the customer’s experience now, I think the TTC will slowly decline.”
The report, which suggests nine ways to improve the TTC, sparked a lively debate on the future of transit in Toronto. Mayor Rob Ford said the time-based transfers open the system up to fraudsters. He also shot down the all-door boarding proposal based on the need to hire more enforcement staff. (See all the proposals in the full report below)
“The TTC does not have the money to hire more people. If they can come up with a plan to reallocate employees … that’s a different story.”
Ford does support adding more express bus routes and overnight service where needed. He also offered an olive branch with respect to streetcars, a transit mode he has famously dismissed in the past.
“The facts are the facts, the streetcars are the service we currently offer and I want to make the most of every city service,” Ford said.
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If all nine recommendations come to fruition, the TTC’s 2015 operating budget would swell by $19 million, and up to $69 million by 2018.
On Monday, mayoral candidate John Tory said it is “irresponsible” to have a report that calls for TTC improvements without a financial plan to pay for it. He warns the recommendations would require a tax or fare hike.
Chow said she was “happy” that the TTC agrees the city “needs improved bus services.”
Mayor Rob Ford said if re-elected he will commit $30 million of the $100 million in savings he plans to find in the city’s budget to funding TTC improvements.
“I know where the money can be found,” Ford told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday morning.
“My top priority is keeping more money in your pocket where it belongs.”
The announcement came ahead of a TTC board meeting at 10 a.m. at Toronto City Hall.
The board is considering several new recommendations aimed at improving service and speeding up commutes, many of which Ford said he supports.
However, Ford said he does not support the $288-million price tag for all the report’s recommendations.
“This afternoon the TTC will discuss a multi-year plan that will dramatically improve transit in this great city. The only problem, folks, is the TTC does not have a plan to pay for it,” said Ford.
Read the TTC report below: