Councillor slams TTC fare hike, privatization of jobs

Barring a change of heart from the Toronto City Council, some transit riders will be spending a little more every time they take TTC.

A new operating budget, which includes a five-cent fare increase, has been approved in principle by the Toronto Transit Commission.

But one city councillor says the fare hike will hit the working poor hardest.

Councillor Janet Davis, who does not sit on the transit commission, said the fare increase will hit those least capable of paying.

“I would prefer if there was no fare hike,” Davis said. “It will be a burden. I know there are a lot of people in this city who can’t afford an additional five cents a trip. We’ll have to wait and see what other options emerge through the budget process.”

Davis spoke at the commission meeting on Thursday, but not on the fare increase. The Ward 31 councillor instead voiced her dislike with the commission’s approval to contract out to the private sector 159 bus cleaning jobs, for a reported savings over $4 million.

Davis also said it is not in the best interests of the city to contract out to the lowest bidder.

“It’s sad to see that the City of Toronto is supporting this slide to the lowest common denominator in workplace practices,” she said.

“I believe we’re seeing a continuing trend at the city of eliminating decent jobs and contracting out of services across the whole corporation. I don’t think this contributes to building an economy. It contributes to putting more and more families into poverty. “

The commission says the increase could generate as much as $18 million in 2013, although the budgeting process isn’t fully completed yet. TTC spokesperson Danny Nicholson says the increase stemms from the assumption that the city will be providing the same funding as last year.

“(The fare increase) is approved in principal. The only thing that could possibly change it depends on what kind of subsidy we get from the City of Toronto,” Nicholson said. “Last year we received $411 million and we [were] basically told to expect no increase.”

The fare hike wouldn’t change much for casual TTC user, as cash fare will remain the same. But those who depend on the TTC as their main form of transportation could find themselves paying a little more as of Jan. 1.

“This will be in bulk fare,” Nicholson said. “So if you buy the tokens, the weekly pass or the metro pass. But cash fare remains the same at $3.00.”

The TTC has seen a steady increase in ridership over the last ten years, and expects to move roughly 514 million riders by the end of 2012, and 528 million in 2013.

Nicholson says increased in ridership is the main factor in the fare increase.

“As our ridership increases, it costs us more money to provide services, “ he said. “We have to hire drivers to meet ridership demands. We have to purchase more vehicles.

“So as our ridership increases – and it’s been going up every year for well over ten years now – our operating costs go up as well to meet service.”