By Sasha Lindsay-Ramnarine
The five-cent fare increase approved by the TTC this week is being criticized by some.
“The TTC’s fare increase is a Band-aid solution and it’s a really bad solution,” Franz Hartmann, executive director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, told Humber News.
Coun. Peter Milczyn for Etobicoke-Lakeshore told CTV the TTC shortfall of $28 million would have to be made up either through a property tax increase or a fare increase.
“Choose your poison,” Milczyn told CTV Toronto.
But Hartmann said that people “shouldn’t have to choose between property taxes increasing or fares increasing.”
In addition to the outcry over fares, union leaders are not happy.
The TTC also voted Thursday to outsource numerous cleaning jobs, causing union leaders to threaten job action.
Local 113 members left city hall shouting “where’s the respect,” after the TTC voted 4-3, in favour of contracting out of approximately 150 cleaning jobs, in an effort to save about $4.2 million, according to CTV Toronto.
TTC spokesman, Danny Nicholson told Humber News that “no one will lose their jobs. They will be deployed elsewhere.”
Nicholson said the fare increase would cover the TTC’s operating and capital budget.
“The TTC is one of the most efficient transit operations in North America. But Toronto does not receive any operating subsidies from Ontario and the federal government,” said Nicholson.
“Seventy per cent for operating costs is taken directly from the fare box,” said Nicholson.
With ridership continuing to grow, operating costs will keep increasing.
“About 528 million passengers are expected in 2013,” Nicholson said. “We have to hire more drivers and buy more buses.”
Hartmann told Humber News that he “appreciates that budgets are tight but any shortfall should be fared for through property taxes, not fare increasing.”
“This is a drop in the ocean sort of savings,” said Hartmann.
Also, there is potential for significant environmental damage.
“Everybody benefits from using the TTC. The entire Ontario economy suffers if transit suffers. It is also bad for the environment . . . more greenhouse gas emissions, smog and traffic congestion,” said Hartmann.
The fare increase also highlights the issue of a lack of government presence.
“This fare increase distracts from what the real problem is. They need to go to the provincial and federal government and say enough already, come to the table.”
According to CTV, the final vote on the fare hike should take place later this fall.