Transit fares set to rise

Fare increases approved Tuesday by the TTC were necessary to prevent more drastic cuts, the transit body’s chair says.

As expected, Adam Giambrone and the rest of the board voted to raise fares for 2010 to address a sizeable shortfall in the TTC’s operating budget.

Starting January 3, cash fares will rise by 25 cents to $3 per ride while adult monthly metropasses will jump from $96 to $121. In addition, the price for a student metropass will increase by $10 to $99 per month and the price of tokens will climb to $2.50.

According to Giambrone, the fare hikes were necessary deficit because of a budget shortfall exceeding $100 million and the alternative would have been unthinkable.

“No one wants fare increases,” the councillor for Davenport admitted. “[But] the alternative was a cut to service which no wanted either.”

Giambrone says the TTC was mindful about the economic impact facing underprivileged groups and chopped the fare hike for the adult metropass. Earlier reports had indicated that the price would have risen to $126 per month.

In addition, college and university students can now qualify for the same monthly rate as their high school counterparts.

“[Post-secondary] students spoke very clearly about being able to have a monthly rate,” Giambrone said. “So the commission opted to adopt a post-secondary pass as part of the free increases.”

The fare hikes are expected to address about half of the budget shortfall facing the TTC next year. Still, Giambrone is hopeful that the funding gap will be managed through the assistance of the city and will not come at the expense of service or job reduction.

“I know that the city is pursuing an intergovernmental strategy with the province [to increase funding],” he said. “We’re working with the city’s budget committee on that.”

Giambrone said that once fare hikes and efficiencies are accounted for the budget deficit could drop by $10 million.

The TTC board also voted to approve an environmental assessment for the new Eglinton crosstown LRT which will stretch from Scarborough in the east to Pearson International Airport in the west. City Council will vote whether or not to approve the plan at the next session scheduled for later this month.