March 17, 2016 7:44 am
Updated: March 17, 2016 7:45 am

TTC faces $30 million budget shortfall due to low ridership

WATCH ABOVE: Thousands of bus commuters in Toronto should feel a less crowded and quicker ride during rush hour after 50 new buses were added to 24 routes over the weekend. Cindy Pom reports.

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Taxpayers may be on the hook for a $30 million budget shortfall at the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) due to declining ridership numbers so far this year.

A staff report to be presented at next week’s board meeting indicates ridership is already four million below target just three months into the year.

If the trend continues, there could be 13 million fewer riders than predicted by year’s end, the report said.

The estimated 2016 ridership numbers were projected at 553 million but may actually be in the range of 540 million.

However, the report noted the decline has been consistent over the past several years.

“Observed ridership has decreased and this is consistent with the year-over-year decrease in revenue ridership,” the report added.

Some of the issues being blamed for the decline include price increases for adult metropasses in 2014 and 2015, poor results from service enhancements and slow employment growth.

VIDEO: City wants to cut TTC subway delays in half

“The sharp decline in the employment forecast is very significant because historically, employment has been the single best predictor of TTC ridership,” said the report.

However, the TTC said it isn’t alone in the declining ridership game.

Cities such as Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver have also reported low ridership numbers for the third quarter of last year, the report said.

Solutions recommended to offset the budget shortfall include a potential freeze in service additions, review of metropass sales, expense reductions, pulling money from the TTC Fare Stabilization Fund or having the city cover part of the costs.

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