Mayor John Tory is not backing down from his request the TTC, like other city departments, shave 2.6 per cent from its operating budgets, even as the transit agency is reportedly struggling to find the savings without slashing service.
According to a newspaper report, a memo sent by CEO Andy Byford reveals the agency has identified about $82-million in savings next year, a number falling well short of the $231 million it would need to find given Tory’s target combined with a projected budget shortfall.
The letter says additional savings could only be found through cutting service, nixing Metropass discounts and delaying the Spadina subway extension opening — options Byford rejected as “unpalatable.”
Transit advocates say Tory’s request could have wide-ranging impacts for the millions of users on the aging system.
“It’s going to mean fare hikes and it’s going to mean service cuts and that’s going to be a disaster,” said TTC Riders Executive Director Jessica Bell.
“The TTC is already struggling to do what it needs to do with the riders that it has, and it’s a bad idea. We need more funding not less.”
Tory said he was confident the money can be found without impacting service, adding the city has invested more than $100 million in improving service since he took office.
“What we’re looking to do is get more inefficiencies out of the TTC… When you have a $1.7-billion organization, the notion you should be able to find 2.6 per cent and better ways to do things, and different wants to do things, is difficult but not impossible.”
Tory is reportedly considering calling in a task force to make the cuts if TTC management isn’t able to.
Bell says that if services were to decrease while fares go up this could make the problem of a projected ridership drop this year worse. The TTC is said to be considering raising fares 10 cents next year.
“People are going to leave and that’s the worst thing that can happen. When riders leave you get less fare revenue, and that creates a bigger budget hole.”
“It’s a race to the bottom. We need a race to the top.”
In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the TTC wrote, “The memo reflects a work-in-progress to-date by TTC staff -– it is not a final budget submission. As such, the TTC will neither comment on nor respond to the contents of the memo.”
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